Do you ever wonder what it was all for?
What all those years of schooling did for you?
Or if all the working was for anything beyond getting paid?
Have you ever just woken up one day desperate to take a different path?
One far less traveled and even less advised or even discussed in your mainstream education and employment as an option. (Or mainstream anything for that matter).
I did, repeatedly and I just couldn’t shake the thought that I can not continue living my life this way. The cracks were starting to show. The wake up early, stressfully commute for hours, smile and nod pretending I love it just became too much.
“Can I seriously do this to myself every day of my life until I’m like 67 (or older!) and can retire?”
But it wasn’t always that way.
If I am anyone, I am Miss Education and Miss Employed.
If there was a contest, I’d surely be crowned queen. So it’s ironic that I am naming myself “miseducation” and “misemployed.”
Overeducated and Underinspired
I was always so excited on the first day of school. Smiling and so excited to just learn.
I basically had this look on my face almost every first day of school from ages 4 to (excuse me as I go try and figure out when the last time I graduated was… okay so 2013)
(*Ammendment, I received a letter in the mail a few weeks ago congratulating me on graduating this year. For a good ten minutes, I had no idea what they were talking about. I go to school so much I didn’t even remember that I graduated in 2016. Cleary I didn’t go to the ceremony.)
And the few years that I did not find myself gainfully-enrolled in a “new program that would surely provide me with the knowledge and skills I needed to progress me pass go, collecting more than $200 and living on blue, you know park ave” (years 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016 for the record), I was always wondering if I should be.
“Should I be continuing my education?”
Most assuredly my future and employment prospects would be brighter with more letters after my name as if my name wasn’t long enough already. Right?
(Hey Twitter, btw not cool how my first and last name are apparently too long to be my handle.) Nadalie (another name with Es and Ls) Bardowell, B.A.H., M.A., C.C.P.R. (not sure what the abbreviation for a Certificate in French Language and Culture is – the forgotten piece of paper).
My Real Curriculum Vitae
Each time I graduated from post-secondary (that’s college/university for the non-Canadians), I was fresh faced and starry-eyed about my future, but within a few short months (even less sometimes), I became grim-faced and frightened when confronted with the reality of my future.
My CV should really read:
- 2009: “What do you mean it’s a global recession and there are no jobs?”
- My response: Started taking portraits and began my first legit business to make some money as I worked a few “dead end” jobs until I went for the Masters
- 2013: “What do you mean I have no employable skills, I have TWO degrees?”
- My response: Applied for more jobs than I can recount, then 6 months later I was enrolled in College, to get some “employable skills”
- 2014: “What do you mean I have to compete with hundreds of other grads for this one position?”
- My response: Kept doing portraits and now weddings too, then found a “steady” retail job all while continuing to apply “real jobs”
Is it just me, or is there always something more I need to “make it?” When am I enough?
I did eventually land an internship “in the industry,” that became my “dream industry job.”
Almost two years later, I quit said job because I realized it wasn’t actually my dream, so I accepted a job that “gave back,” to then get fired from said “passion job,” to end up as the self-employed, unemployed person that I am today.
Got it? Maybe read that a few times or read more about my adventures in misemployment here.
Working World Woes
With just three years in “the official working world,” I have amassed a depressing list of observations and conclusions (prepare yourself for the longest run-on sentence in history).
I recognized that my particular set of skills, talents, personality and passion not only don’t fit in but were:
- stifled by the confinements of cubicles,
- dismissed as “too qualified,”
- simultaneously underpaid and underemployed,
- the mundanity of coffee breaks,
- the silence of “working environments,”
- the pretense of small talk,
- the pressure of serving modern masters,
- the frustrations of “old thinking and outdated belief systems,”
- the sacrifice of my body and best hours for another’s dream,
- the lack of recognition and slowness of promises of upward mobility,
- the lack of diversity in agencies and firms,
- the clotting of morning and evening traffic,
- the burden of pretending, the pressure to just fit in,
- the genuine blindness to the world and a myriad of intensifying health problems,
- and so on and so on.
Basically, I was dying from the inside out, and it was starting to show on the outside.
These outside signs included a mind-crushing headache that would just not leave me alone, no matter how often I popped extra strength Tylenol. Does this count as overusing drugs?
Craft My Own Course
What I haven’t mentioned as yet is that my self-learning and dappling in entrepreneurship over the last few years as a photographer, graphic designer, web designer (and basically anything anyone would pay me for) was all that was keeping me sane.
My escape was learning as much as I could about just about everything that strikes my fancy – from cake decorating, photography, French and Spanish to logo design, web design and most recently Calligraphy.
I realized that not only did I enjoy creating beautiful things, but people actually paid me for using my talents and skills.
Somehow I became a self-employed, freelancer, surviving “outside the system,” while the system dubs me “unemployed” (I’ll accept that EI cheque thank you).
And in all honesty, there is no program or job that can truly teach me everything I’m curious about understanding and mastering. I would have to take several degrees and work multiple jobs.
The choice is simple, just live it, research it, talk about it, ask about it, read about it, and then write about it.
When I find myself in “a rut” my usual choice is to get more education or find a new job, and I will confess to you that I have been tempted to “go for the PhD” (as if I wouldn’t be trading five years of my life).
Nothing but save for my staunch belief that more school just delays my enviable reality: “Girl, you are already overeducated, yet underinterested, playing a role you weren’t meant to play, denying your true self, stifling your authentic voice by living according to societal expectations beat”.
I do not need any more pieces of paper (my diplomas are in my closet, I think) or employers to validate my identity or even finance my lifestyle.
I have realized that I cannot be devoted to institutions and systems that demand high investments of time, money and energy, but provide hardly any return (well for them on my student loans and high mark-ups on my low cost of labor).
I am sorry if that is just too honest, but no F***ing thank you. I’m also sorry for that too, I’ve got a bit of a potty mouth these days. Deal with it. I’m not holding back bombs especially when it comes to the failures of the education system to actually teach us anything relevant to life like umm finances and actually living, and totally lack of security in today’s employment system. Neither bet is a sure thing like they were and neither is evolving fast enough to address the deficit, and we need to stop pretending like they are.
Please allow me to amend my CV once more:
- 2016: “What do you mean I should amass more debt by going back to school or just keep applying for unfulfilling jobs so I can one day retire and then be free?”
- My Response: F that noise.
There is something seriously wrong with this logic, yet it remains the advice of the day. Just go to school, you’ll get a better job. Tell that to the millions being crushed by student debt.
Don’t Get it Twisted
Please, don’t misunderstand me, there are no absolutes (except birth and death).
YES, you can land your dream job because of your education and YES, you can find upward mobility and love your life. BUT, I’m going to take an educated (because you know I’m educated) guess that for MOST of US, this ain’t (I mean isn’t, cuss ya know, I’m educated) the case (at least not since the early 2000s).
So why are we programmed to feel the pressure to believe that it is?
Why is our entire society still built around systems that do not provide us with the tools for succeeding in this post-modern world?
Or perhaps it’s just me who doesn’t have the tools to want to succeed in this post-modern world?
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say it isn’t me, it’s the system.
The middle class is being squeezed out of existence, take a look at the economic data. These are FACTS. People are working multiple jobs to survive, and just barely survive. Something IS wrong, yet we continue on like it isn’t.
Why would I want this?
I am grateful for my brief encounter with the 9-5 (including awesome experiences like visiting with Toronto media and going to NYC) and my decade long experience with post-secondary institutions that have taught me so much, but I am so completely and utterly over pretending like I wasn’t always planning my escape every minute I daydreamed, crunching numbers like, “if I work for X years and pay off my OSAP, I’ll be free by like 2020.”
As if I wasn’t telling myself every day, “you can do this, you have to do this… just keep going, smile Nadalie smile.” All while ignoring my internal apocalypse.
All while ignoring my internal apocalypse.
My Revolution Will be Blogged
Today is the day.
I choose this day, Labour Day often cited as “the last day of freedom” as my independence day.
The day I officially begin to live the life I’ve been dreaming about, by marrying my ideas with action and this right here is my small act of revolt, as I struggle against my programming and push myself and anyone who will listen (or read) to throw off the shackles of expectation and defy every rule that doesn’t benefit them.
Don’t do it because they say so, don’t do it because it’s always been done that way.
Make choices for you.
The solution isn’t outside of you, it isn’t something you don’t already have, it’s all you boo!
“It’s All You Boo” Explained
In memoriam of my 8 years of post-secondary education, let me posit this blog, It’s All You Boo! to you in terms of a research proposal.
Feel free to skip these paragraphs, but if you do read them, do me the honor of doing so in your best British accent.
“I posit an inquiry into how we define and attain happiness and success through a series of authentic conversation (in common vernacular, “real talks”) and other qualitative research methodologies including but not limited to, in-depth interviews and questionaries.
Drawing on the success of others (in common vernacular, those who have “made it”), examining primary and secondary sources of this study group, I hypothesize that many of the common mythologies of success and happiness are actual misguiding falsehoods.
For example, “all businesses struggle in the beginning,” or “it takes at least 3 years for a business to make money.” As a society, we seem obsessed with mimicking the behavior of “successful people,” without ever questioning their reasoning (aka. the why). Allow me to elaborate, “successful people wake up at 5 a.m., so you should too.” Nowhere is there a realization that 5 a.m. is likely that successful person’s optimal waking time, not everyone’s optimal settings.
Applying the lean startup model used by many successful (in absolute terms, “dollars in the bank”) startups to my own ideas, I plan to execute and examine the validity of these “magical” almost “mythical creatures” of success.
I further hypothesize that the key factor to success and happiness, is the individual’s knowledge and acceptance of one’s self, having a driven purpose, a simple starting point, and quick launch, pivots using an entrepreneurial management style (as defined by Eric Ries in the Lean StartUp).
Furthermore, that many businesses and entrepreneurs flounder because they are overwhelmed to inaction by tools and techniques of success (ie. social media, sales, and marketing) rather than embracing the simplicity of their identity, purpose and reaching their customers with what they do know.
Simply put, recognizing that you are enough and embracing an approach to life that I have coined as “It’s all you boo.”
That right there was exhausting proof that I’m so over the rhetoric of higher education. Can I please just say what I mean and mean what I say?
It’s All You Boo! will explore the ideas, struggles, triumphs, myths and realities of success and happiness with brutal honesty and hilarity. Expect a new post every Sunday (or Monday if it’s a long weekend) that explores EVERYTHING from discovering your awesome self, overcoming your fears, discovering your superpower and starting a business. I believe if they can, I can, and if I can so can you! I am genuinely curious about not only how we feel about success and happiness, but why and how we can live it out daily. Podcast and videos coming soon too!
Okay life, you’ve presented me with:
- a random collection of talents and skills (feeling like Liam Nesson, “I have a particular set of skills…”),
- zero prospects and failure to meet all societal expectations,
- a natural disposition and optimal settings that don’t fit into any job description,
- an inquisitive nature and proven learning method,
- a commitment to share the honest truth (no matter how awkward, painful or embarrassing),
- a talent for the writing and speaking (hard to accept, but I accept it nonetheless),
- a hustler’s heart,
- a burning desire to be free (and help set others free too),
- and a belief that I can be happy and successful every day.
ps. Congratulations, you read it to the end!
Whew, I know, it was a long one. I promise this was a one-off post. I just REALLY wanted you to know where I’m coming from.