The Wonder Years

When we were young, carefree, without the restraints and constraints of the real world hanging on top of our heads. When we were free to roam and do as we pleased without a 9-5 or 6 or 7 routine hanging on top of our heads 5 days a week. When the biggest stress points were just exams in our life. When entertainment wasn’t mostly digital or technology based. When we could live with our heads up in the clouds. Those were great years. They were wonder years (yes the statement is a play on the old show which is also on some levels synonymous with the ideology of this post).

True the above outlined is pertinent only to the privileged class – somewhere along the lines of our SECs A to perhaps a little higher side C. So not getting into the division in fortunes over the more spread out SECs. That is better left for another blog post.

So coming back to the premise of this post.  The wonder years. How things can go from that to such a complicated pattern of dealing with different aspects of life and people and real life stresses is unbelievable. And it’s not just any one particular aspect of life. It is more or less in all areas. Work, personal life, professional life, future, operational day to day stuff, commuting for things, social, micro, macro. All. All of a sudden everything becomes pertinent to you which previously wasn’t. I mean let’s be honest, really honest with ourselves. How many of us truly cared about the GDP of the country or the IMF before we joined the ranks of salaried individuals or for some the family business. Or for that matter how much did our local residential body’s governing mechanisms and processes for xyz things matter to us. How many of us were interested in the economic policies that were taken up by the government? How many paid any attention to topics like circular debt? Very few I am sure.

It was a carefree time in our lives and we will always look back and cherish on them. I bet if I did a survey, some of the happiest memories would be of people either in their childhood or perhaps of their early parent-hood from their children’s birth to early growing up years.

But then again one must consider that the wonder years I am referring to were perhaps a better time overall in the context of the world. It was a more secure climate overall. Terrorism wasn’t as spread an evil as it is today. In the generation before me it was even better. I was talking to my aunt yesterday and we both agreed on this – even till my childhood I could at the very least take my bike and ride to my uncle’s place to play cricket with my cousins. During daytime and even at times during late evening. It was ok. And it’s not like I had a cellphone on me in those days. Nor did anyone else my age. Not that I recall. Not the case anymore by a long shot. It was even better for my parent’s generation. In retrospect their life was perhaps even more simpler and less complicated even though it did not have many of the technological conveniences that are present today.

I believe that will be an ongoing thought process for every generation to come. Maybe 50 years from now someone else will be writing a post along the same lines. And 50 years from that someone else.

All we can do is just look back upon our wonder years and reminisce. And smile at the memories.


Careers: Counseling and Alternates Required

I wrote about this about a month back ( and well over the past couple of days I have had various conversations with friends and felt like writing about this again. Career Counseling and the need for exploring / developing more alternative to ‘traditionally acceptable careers in Pakistan’. Both of these are extremely important areas which need to be focused on especially for a developing country like Pakistan. And especially when the job market isn’t exactly thriving.

We have been brought up by a society accustomed to acknowledging careers like Medicine, Law, Management (business, finance, marketing etc), engineering and Chartered Accountancy. And then there are some secondary careers which are Agency (Creative, Media and PR), Journalism (Editor, Reporter, News Anchor). But really apart from the above mentioned can you think of any other career or line of work which would be socially acceptable or completely comfortably acceptable to your family? I would doubt that. And even within the above mentioned there is always skepticism when it comes to the nature of the industry that one is working in or the function. For example when I left banking to join an activation agency a couple of my relatives were really very concerned. Most probably because for them the idea of ‘activation’ was very alien. My point is that resistance is there in terms of being socially acceptable. 

I sincerely think that if more careers are presented as an opportunity for people then it will help with unemployment. That of course is also quite largely connected with the kind of investment being made in the country and the creation of jobs but still.

It is good and positive to see that there are some people out there who are making it on their own with entrepreneurial work. The restaurant business has been around for some time along with catering. But more and more people are now getting into photography, make up, fashion, home baking etc. But it isn’t enough. There are so many other things that can be done and so many areas which can be improved and given more weightage and credence as a career. Chefs, journalism, creative people (agency, film makers etc), musicians, artists, sports, Psychologists, counseling, software, social work, development work, teaching, NGO work etc etc.

Another problem in this entire scenario is that people will often choose a career path that might not be perfect for them or match their personality/traits. And trust me it feels absolutely frustrating being stuck in a job with zero motivation or satisfaction. This is where it is important to have career counseling at school level. Before the student actually starts applying to Universities for his/her professional studies. Career Counseling will help kids realize their strengths, interests and inclination. It will guide on how to go about in exploring their options and how to decide. What kind of research they need to do. And what kind of information is important for them to have when coming to a very important decision in their life.

I was having a discussion with my cousin the other day and he was saying it is disheartening to see people working in jobs which aren’t their ‘dream jobs’ and are simply in it for the rat race just like everyone else to ensure Social Status, Financial Security and Livelihood. I think the above things are of grave importance when looking at this aspect of work life.