20 February 2013

Rwanda: Hello Passion! Doing What You Love Most in Life

No, this piece is not about Valentine's Day! Last Sunday, I experienced something that inspired this op-ed about passion, professional passion that is. Before I continue, I want you to answer this question: are you passionate about your job? Keep your answer in mind as you read.

So, on Sunday, I went to the Bank of Kigali in Remera to do a transaction since that branch opens on Sunday. I walked in and looked like a lost sheep. Being new in the city, I don't really know how procedures work so I did what normal people do, I asked. The lady responded by asking why I was pretending since I knew where the forms were. That response caught me off guard. I had just come from church, so I really wanted to keep the peace.

I said I didn't know and she gestured just behind me. Then after filling the form, I asked her if she would receive me and she literally said she would think about it. After like five minutes, she called me into her office and started assisting me. She looked annoyed the whole time and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. How can doing your job annoy you so much?

I left the branch miffed myself and after some reflection, I realised that she was bitter. Bitterness is very hard to hide. It spreads into every corner of your life and people start to avoid you. Who wants to be around a bitter person?

It is true that bitterness comes from somewhere. Most people don't just wake up bitter. It is an accumulation of disappointment after disappointment, bad pay, not being valued, bad bosses, being passed over for promotion, doing everything and nothing at the same time compounded most likely with other personal problems. Even worse is when you are doing what you don't want to do but have to do because there aren't any other options at the moment.

The thing is if you always consider yourself a victim of life, you will always be a victim of life. Passion comes with doing what you love. So the first question to ask is: what exactly do I love to do? My first degree was in something that interested me but not something I loved. After a while of looking for a job in the field, I realised that I didn't really like the field to begin with.

Yes, in most cases, we start working in fields unrelated to both our education and desire but it should not stay like that. Your boss may be guilty of maltreating you or even life guilty of shoving you into a corner but if five years down the line, you are still in that corner, it ain't life's fault!

I am passionate about communications but for the first six years of my working life, I did whatever job would pay the bills. Waking up in the morning after studying half the night to go to a job was painful but my attitude was always: this is not where I will be in five years! You may not have had an option then but you do now so what is it you want to do in the long run?

But Nathalie, you are young you say! I can't go back now. I would answer that it depends on what your long term objective is. If opening your business is your dream, then plan, save up, take the risk and make it happen. People far worse off than you have done it and succeeded.

Maybe right now, you can't change jobs. Maybe you even feel stuck because you don't have the education or experience but there is always a way. For one, resources are available online. Second, try an internship for a month to see if this is really what you want. Do it on weekends.

While you wait to start your chosen career, get the skills, network with the right people (a skill in itself), express interest, take initiative (challenge yourself and if you fail, try again), train your replacement, have a positive attitude and treat people how you want to be treated because you never know where you will meet again.

There are some who think, I like my job but over the last few years, things have been hard. Let me suggest something that helped me; mentoring someone who needs your skills. Get out the me, me, and me routine. It revives passion!

In conclusion, you are not a victim so think ahead and position yourself so that in five years, you can do what you want to do.

Finally, treat people as you would like to be treated. Bitter is always a bad look.

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