As a part of my professional development package with my current place of employment, I’m consistently catching flights to other parts of the country to attend conferences and workshops. As I traveled back from a recent gathering in Boston, I was fortunate enough to be seated next to an off-duty flight attendant. Ya’ll… My nerves are bad when flying, so I decided to strike up a conversation with him in order to ease my in-air anxiety. After introductions, our conversation took a turn to talking about our careers paths and how we’ve ended up where we are today. He explained to me that he had many careers before making the switch to become a flight attendant. As the Career Consultant I am, I inquired as to what made him make the switch. He explained to me that in previous positions, he was in it for the money which caused him to forget about the things that were important to him. He went on to explain that his continuous chasing checks hindered his ability to chase his dreams.
Now turn to your neighbor and say….Message!
Hearing this made me reflect on how many of us chase dollar signs instead of going after what we really dream to be, in relation to our careers. As Black women, when thinking about a job, we often first and foremost think about survival. How am I going to put food on the table, provide shelter and clothing for my family, buy books, pay my student loans, and get gas in addition to having a social life and of getting my hair done. #Amen
For many of us, it sometimes feels like we are forced to chase the checks for the good of those who we care for. But what does this mean for our own dreams and aspirations? Do we neglect our responsibilities to become what we always wanted to be? What about when we feel pressure to provide for ourselves and those we are responsible for but end up losing ourselves in the process. Do we stop? This all begs the question, is it possible to lose sight of what we really could be by running after a check?
I recently read a tweet that stated “your salary is NOT a bribe to forget your dreams. Your salary can help you FUND your dreams. Your job provides experience FOR your dreams”. I wholeheartedly believe this. Some may call this learning to finesse the system. I know for a fact that I do not want to stay at the level that I am and that, eventually, I want to have my own business or organization that helps with career development from elementary school (because the K-12 pipeline is real) into adulthood.
I also know that I do not have the funds nor the time to fully dedicate myself to this dream because I actually need somewhere to lay my head and need to support my livelihood.
What I can say is through my current position I am taking advantage of all the resources, networks and foundational knowledge available in order to prepare myself for my long-term dream. I’m getting paid while also doing something that I love, that will eventually set me up for what I see to be my win in life. Does this make me a bad employee or not committed to where I am currently? Some may say yes. But this brings me to the idea that “you have to be… twice as good as them to get half of what they have” (Thank you Papa Pope).
We tend to feel guilty for neglecting or using our current place of employment as stepping stones to our career utopia as if our employers are not using us for goods and services. We feel that we have to go hard to be seen as professional or competent but what I have learned is that whatever opinion someone has of you will not change because you know how to correctly annunciate your words or are at the office before and after everyone else. There is something to be said about a woman savvy enough to do something she enjoys while also making her coin.
This all leads me to my main point: Never give up on what you want and believe in, even if it requires you to do something for the short term.
Get out of your experiences what you need from them but remember to start to create the blueprint for your own win. There is love in following your dreams no matter how much you have to sacrifice to achieve them!