Almost everyone who has been through secondary school knows that if you were in the sciences you were considered as being smarter than the fellows who were in the arts or business classes; it was assumed they were the ones who didn’t make the cut into the sciences. The world is on the move and no one wants to be left behind so governments are emphasizing STEM and parents are ensuring that this is the world their children find themselves in. We are failing to see that progress is wholesome; it involves the development of all sectors, all fields, all disciplines. There are courses only a few students dare venture into not because they are worthless but because there is no space or appreciation for them in Africa.
It was settled that I was going to be a doctor when I was younger because I did that thing that almost all children used to do by saying I would be a doctor when I grow up. By the time I was getting to secondary school and had to pick I knew formulae and chemical equations should be far from me. By final year of secondary school, it was assumed that I would study law because apparently it was the best I could do in the way of ‘not wasting my brain’. Presently, most of the time when people ask me what I am studying and I say “international relations” I can see that they must think I have no idea what I am doing.
The mentality that success lies in only certain careers is outmoded and is honestly doing a lot of harm to progress. We cannot all be lawyers or doctors or accountants or engineers. We are built for different things but a lot of people are afraid because there is a path that has already been beaten for all members of their family or they are afraid because they are embarrassed to say the thing they are passionate about or most commonly, they are afraid to pick a career because there is no money in it. I cannot lie and say I do not have some of these fears but we must learn to trust ourselves, to envision the future we want and the goals we want to accomplish and then dare to take those first steps.
A lecturer in my department once told me when I was in crisis about what I would do in terms of career that I should find the thing I want to contribute to my society and work my way from there. I do not believe that there are worthless disciplines or unnecessary careers because in building the right societies and communities we need all the help we can get. We need our doctors, our engineers and inventors definitely, but, we also need our writers, our psychologists, our musicians. We need to stop existing within boxes that are not built to accommodate Africa’s growth. Do away with the boxes, live from the inside out and if there is no existing niche for the career you want then create it. See the importance in the work every individual does by understanding that whatever it is you do whether building bridges or debating foreign policy or whipping up mouthwatering meals, we are all working and moving in the direction of development.