Playing it safe is dangerous

When I finished high school I did not have a clear idea of what it is that I wanted to do or study. So instead of doing nothing I decided to join the workforce which was not necessarily a good idea but it beat being bored at home. For the 4 years that followed high school I worked all the while trying to figure out it is that I want out of life.

I remembered that I always enjoyed drawing and fashion design but I eventually decided on studying fashion buying and merchandise management part-time because it seemed like a safer choice with better job security in the long run. Once my studies were completed I started applying for jobs at the large fashion retailers (there are only 3 big retailers here in Cape Town anyway). My choice to work for a large corporation was me playing it safe again because these companies offered benefits such as pension and medical aid. Things were however not all glamorous as the media would have one believe, I mean I wouldn’t say it was all Devil wears Prada, but it wasn’t easy either. Over the past 6 years I have worked for 2 of South Africa’s biggest retailers first in the sourcing and imports department and then in the buying department before making my way back to sourcing and imports.

I started to realise that playing it safe has not worked out for me at all. In my pursuit for job security in a country that so often reminds you of its high unemployment rate I have lost sight of my passions. I was told that I must count my blessings and still be grateful that I have a job. Too many people cling onto their permanent jobs and after giving 40 years to the company take their pension payout and retire. That is not the life I want for myself. In all this I still studied, I completed my garment construction course and started studying towards a business management degree which I did not complete because it was of no interest to me.

Then a year ago I started blogging and for the first time in a really long time I felt excited about something. This was also my first eye opener and I started visualising a future that was not in fashion retail.  I’ve always wanted to write but fears of turning into a starving artist always deterred me. We are always warned that pursuing anything related to the arts is bound to bring you a life of poverty. Society has a wonderful way of dictating our decisions but this time I did not feel scared to do something new or out of the ordinary. My second eye opener came on my overseas trip to Europe, coming into contact with young people from all over the world I realised how conservative I am and how small my world view was. Things needed to change but I wasn’t sure what to do next all I knew was that I wanted to travel and write. This is a big change from what I have studied and worked towards all these years but by playing it safe I have moved too far away from the things that brings me joy.

After months of researching all my options I decided that teaching English in Thailand will be a big step for me towards achieving this goal. I also registered for my Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and I will have completed my first year by end of this year. Deciding to pack up everything you own is not a decision that was made lightly or overnight for that matter. I am starting to prepare myself financially, emotionally and mentally to leave behind my family, friends and country. I am not sure what the future holds but in a few short months I will embark on an adventure I am sure I will not regret. All that I do know is that I am no longer playing it safe.