MISSING OUT ON OUR DESTINY AS WE SCROLL THROUGH EVERYONE ELSE'S
A young woman was telling me about her businesses and dreams.
As she was talking I tried to recall what I was doing when I was around her age, and my memories only gave me flashbacks of being a fearful employee who, on her rare free nights, would be into excessive partying and drinking. But here she was, handling several businesses, joining advocacies and being her own boss — I found it amazing. But apparently, she didn’t. In truth, she is unhappy. I ask her why and she said it’s because she couldn’t wait to start her own brand. A brand? What brand? Her own brand.
Again I try to think of my young self, so did I ever think of starting my own brand? Never. But this time it wasn’t because I was too drunk to do it but because it was not a thing we did or pursued during my time. Back then, all were talents and employees with a few mega-corporations forcing us all to be competent and to be on our toes, lest we be laid off for no one is found to be indispensable.
But today’s different. There must be a million different brands out there on the internet, and more of them are sprouting all over the place. From all ages and races. Everyone has a channel on YouTube, everyone has a product, everyone is a boss, a founder, a business owner. And the more we watch this world saturate itself with well-executed and marketed ideas, by a plethora of personalities, we begin to see that this is beginning to happen to every single person in this world, “except me.”
I love the web. I love this whole world wide web. This is where I was able to establish my own and new public identity, tell my own story, build my own brand, became a founder and producer. It has enabled me to be all these on my list in many ways, yes. But I would never say that it is the reason which forced me to be any of these things.
On the other hand, I see so many young people fret their current jobs and situations in life just because they are not their “own brands” yet. Their dissatisfaction going through the roof because they are mere employees at 22 and 23. They feel so wrong about their lives even when they are within a good pay scale, trained by great bosses who could teach them great work ethics and pass on systematic and strategic approaches at work, all because they they’d rather build a brand on their own. Like Jessica Alba. Or the Kardashians. Or this bag company. Or this stationery line. Or this shoe store.
Christine Caine said it best, “My concern is that this generation will miss their destiny because they are too busy scrolling through everyone else’s.”
This is my concern, too. I started working for television networks at 12. I am turning 36 this year, and it was only in the last five ones did I find myself birthing things on my own, without the help of big companies. And while technology has helped me a lot, I built my own brand and created these things because I found confidence in the work experience to back my ideas, connections to cut through my world, and a real story that I want to tell and help everyone with. Surely it wasn’t because of the pressure to do it the way a colleague is running her life, as reported to me regularly by her social media accounts.
I guess all that I am saying today is this: Young Woman, it’s okay to not be anyone significant right now. It’s okay to be just an employee. It’s okay to not have a brand. It’s okay to not have a channel. It’s okay to not have a story to tell. It’s okay to postpone building a brand. It’s okay to run someone else’s business. And to a larger group of people, it’s okay to not have that room on Pinterest. It’s okay to not have that new phone. It’s okay to not have a smart watch. It’s okay to not travel many times in a year. It’s okay, really!
And by no means am I encouraging mediocrity but a halt. A halt to all the looking around and getting overly-inspired that you lose a good grip of what’s in front of you. Of making the most out of your current situation. Of enjoying your season. And of the patience to wait for a revelation of your destiny, with the openness to receive the truth that it may mean you are called to be the head of a body, or simply just one part of it.
Nevertheless, know that we are all world changers. By being a brand or not, we make this world go round.
I was once speaking to a sea of employees, all looking the same from the stage where I spoke in all glory. Their identification came to me only by the mere roll call of their departments, as mandated by the script — finance, sales and marketing, laboratory, product development — and it dawned on me how all of these people, actually go through the product I consume everyday with my child as they dutifully show up at work to mind the numbers, the packaging, the distribution, and all the other boring company things. I couldn’t help but thanking them. For ensuring my quality life as a mom, as they simply go to work everyday to report to their bosses about all these seemingly insignificant details.
Pinterest won’t publish your audit. Blogs won’t cover that. Magazines will only ask for it but never feature your excel sheets. But it doesn’t mean that your work is insignificant. Or that you, are even insignificant. Because one’s self-worth and success go beyond what this world will publish. Besides, it seems like the most significant people I have met in my life prove to be the ones who publish nothing of themselves.