I completely embrace the idea of “[Growing] where you’re planted”. We should do all within our power and creativity to extract the best from every situation, wherever life’s journey takes us.
This expression is however misunderstood by many who have endured hardships, feeling duty-bound and attempting unnecessary and futile heroics in oppressive and unhealthy environments. It’s particularly heart-wrenching when young professionals get caught in such scenarios.
Today, I want to shed some light on this issue through my personal experience, as I believe that for some of us, there comes a point in our careers – having carefully gauged our circumstances – when me must decide to pursue new opportunities in completely new environments.
So please bear with me as I ditch my usual “eloquence” for a more candid, down-to-earth literary style – perhaps more befitting of this blog than anywhere else. But the essence of this piece is my mutual connection with professionals, young and old, the world over, with a deep desire to optimize their skills and professional competencies – which quite frankly for me, have been grossly under-utilized, and even stifled in my home country.
Now don’t be mistaken, I love my country with all my heart. My family lives there, and all those beautiful memories of my childhood were made right there, in my tiny suburban community, just minutes away from everything – schools, beaches, my church, the capital, the tennis courts that I grew up on, you name it. But I cannot help but believe that my present circumstances are no coincidence.
Spreading Your Wings
I have big dreams, very big dreams, and no one knows this more than my family members. So I could only imagine how painful it is for them to look at me everyday in my quest for new opportunities, only to emerge disappointed.
In fact, the most painful part of chasing these seemingly elusive dreams, is the thought of how much it breaks my mother’s heart when she thinks of how gifted her sons are, and how much we struggle for opportunities in our own country. That’s just not right – but that’s how life goes sometimes.
As for me, I have reached my breaking-point in breaking hearts – the hearts of the people dearest to me. The time has indeed come for me to spread my wings and conquer new territory, in search of new opportunities.
Moving to a New City
In my naivety, I would often make these sweeping statements of how I would impact my nation, start new businesses, create employment opportunities and inspire young people, bring about social and political change, and boost the economy; and while I do believe that I have the capacity to achieve all these things, I must also acknowledge that there are many other youths in my home country who share similar dreams.
However, they too recognize how daunting a task it is for political outsiders with limited financial resources to effect change in an extremely polarized political culture – or whatever the specific scenario might be in your country.
I have no doubt that I will someday be able to implement my ideas for the development of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, to which I will give no timelines – I will simply leave it at “someday”; but with limited opportunities for honest upward mobility (in my fields of interest) in my home-country, I have decided to pursue opportunities elsewhere.
I am currently in New York exploring new opportunities – basically trying to get a sense of what the city has to offer along my lines of professional interest. But even when I’m not networking here, something about this city piques my curiosity and inspires creativity. New York is definitely a city for big thinkers with a penchant for hard work.
So don’t be too surprised if within the next month or two, I start checking-in from New York, or some other captivating city. My circumstances totally demand it, and my conscience will not allow me to be comfortable with a life unfulfilled.
I keep asking myself, what are the chances of not finding at least a handful of opportunities as a highly-trained and skilled graduate in a vibrant, diverse, and multi-cultural city?
I have visited New York, London and DC on numerous occasions over the last 13 years, and they are all cities that I can easily see myself living and working in. However, I have chosen to remain open-minded about this pending decision – particularly considering that it is one that requires the input of my wife, who also has her personal preferences.
The Power of Networking
Too numerous are the accounts of persons who have absolutely regretted their decisions to migrate to big cities in search of new opportunities; so there is some measure of caution on my part where this decision is concerned.
I have however seen and read many accounts of persons who have taken full advantage of their moves, ultimately landing some incredible opportunities, all of which seem to boil down to effective networking – something that I consistently emphasize on my social media pages, LinkedIn in particular.
The account of Irish Fashion & Lifestyle Blogger Erika Fox of Retro Flame in her move to New York – initially as an intern, and now on an extended US visa – is a perfect example of the power of effective networking. She however underscores the importance of extensive research on the city to which you’re intending to move.
It must be noted that Erika is an incredibly hard worker, with an immensely creative mind, and a go-getter attitude that is absolutely necessary for success in her industry, and in the incredibly competitive New York Fashion & Lifestyle market.
Researching Every Possible Detail About Your Move
While effective networking can sometimes stand on its own – particularly if you already have reliable contacts in the cities that you are looking to move to – it is totally worth it to undertake extensive research on visa options, paid internships or professional-level jobs, accommodation (rental or lease arrangements), cost of living, networking opportunities, and local culture. It certainly helps to have relatives or family members already living in the city.
I could talk all day about the many projects that I would love to undertake within the United Nations, the World Bank or some other major international organization, or even a startup with a clear vision for future global impact. But what if my plans in this regard do not capitalize as quickly as I would expect? How would I respond to such a situation?
As much as I would love to remain incredibly hopeful about my future prospects in International Development work – in light of my experience and years of academic training – I am today opting not to become myopic or single-minded in my professional outlook.
In fact, my first exposure to formal training at the university level, came at the age of 16 – three years prior to even commencing my undergraduate studies. It was in the area of Journalism, and I have never stopped writing – though my writing style has since evolved significantly.
Today, I am a firm believer in the power of storytelling – whether in mainstream media or international development. Thankfully, the internet and social media offers an ocean of opportunities for creating online content, and your ability to organically capture an audience with your work, creates endless possibilities.
So do not expect me to be marketing myself as a clichéd researcher with a PhD in a field that few persons other than myself really care about. No! That’s ridiculous!
I am a skilled writer and content creator with training in Land & Property Management, Surveying & Land Information, Disaster Risk Reduction, Journalism, Broadcasting, and Film Production, and will welcome the opportunity to work with organizations that share a common interest in any of the fields that I have listed here.
Decision Pending but Very Likely
My decision to migrate is by no means final – although, technically, I have made the move already; but the seed of a decision has indeed been planted and may soon take root.
I have many ties to my home country – emotional, family and otherwise. But no tie should ever be too strong to keep you from pursuing your dreams or simply exploring new opportunities that will ultimately benefit yourself and those dearest to you.
So whether you’re contemplating changing your job, career, or moving to a new city or country altogether, hopefully this story inspires you on your journey.