I can’t tell you if I’ve ever certainly known what I fancied as a chosen career but I was however clear on what I wanted to study in tertiary, political studies. Growing up, I was quite the vocal child, inquisitive and always wanting to know more than what was on the surface level. My second option was Law. To tell you the truth, a friend of mine was so passionate about pursuing law that I figured it was something I could also do, had enough interest in, so threw it in as a second option. I was also interested in an English degree because, quite simply, I wanted to be a poet with an English degree, and I loved reading so why not?
When I was in high school, I was certain that I was going to be a performer of poetry. I wrote a lot and performed my poetry, the way I was so passionate about it made me believe like I was called and destined to light up stages with what I deemed were electric performances. So I figured I would add on English as a major in university and pair it with Politics, which would accommodate my inquisitive and political mind (I just happened to often find myself asking hard and sometimes unwelcome questions that would have whichever elder convinced that I should consider politics as a career path). By the time I was 20 years old and in my second year of university, I had become less passionate about being a performer of poetry and had become more interested in the world of politics. I liked being ‘in the know’, challenging thought processes and arguing over the current state of affairs. I was going to make a difference in my country, as a young woman I was going to stand with men and be heard and bring about visible change in communities, I was feisty! When I got my undergraduate degree it was a done deal that I was going to do my honours degree in politics. By the time I began my Masters’ degree in politics still, I had already started working for a communications company.
During my masters’ degree year, I just remember barely existing, what a lonely and busy year! I worked full time at this communications company whilst enrolled on a full time basis for my degree. My interest in politics waned as I opened up to a world of communications. And how I got into it was quite simple: my boss was enrolled at the same university for a master’s degree in politics too. It had been a while since she had been in school and requested my help with initially getting sources for her paper and then assisting with referencing. I was doing my honours degree at that time and in the following year started working for her. Winile was flamboyant, an impressive lady! She was clearly not just an older student but one who was doing well in business. So one day, I asked her to check with any of her friends (whom I just assumed owned multimillion Rand generating companies), if they needed extra hands to handle some work for them. She immediately requested that I help her with her paper and eventually I got into her company. A year later, and after graduating for my masters’ degree, I left Winile’s company and joined an entertainment company, which converged the world of television and social media. I worked there as a writer: social and online. I created content for websites and engaged audiences on social media pages and ensured that they were kept enticed and talking on the pages till the next episode of their favourite show, and the next, and the next… It was interesting enough until two years later. I then joined a television production company as a writer. When I was called for the job I immediately said I’d be able to do it and went on to speak to friends in the television industry who helped me with putting together a mock script. And that’s how I got in. I became a script writer and when the show ended, I joined another production company as a writer and researcher, still doing scripts but dabbling in other spaces too which has kept things interesting for me.
So that’s how I got to where I am today. I rolled into each job and I didn’t kick and scream my way into each one because I was quite thrilled by the prospect of learning something completely new and deciding for myself what space(s) I’d exist in. I had studied politics and English and went further with politics and that was that. I was never ever gung-ho about a specific career and I have come out pretty alright. Some people discover what it is that they want to do; they embark on that path and stick with it. For some it takes longer, it takes changing courses, changing jobs and trying out different careers to find that one thing that gets them leaping out of bed every morning.
If you haven’t decided on what it is that you really want to do, I say don’t be too hard on yourself. Explore. Move around. Try out new things. And if you have discovered your ‘thing’, if you know exactly what you want to do even for the next two years, do it. But don’t be too hard on yourself either, when you feel things change, when you find you lose interest where you are and develop curiosity over another field. Be open to things shifting and finding your ‘happy’ in a different space. If anything, it’s freeing.
All the best!
Nqobile ‘Billz’ Mkhatshwa