You are creative, so school is a deceit.
It was such a pleasant surprise to get an Instagram DM this evening
“Having gone through your inspiring page, I can proudly say you’re one of the best I’ve seen. You are doing a great job, bro. Keep it coming.”
…the DM read. Perhaps, the biggest compliment I’ve ever gotten? Me, a learner? One of the best? It means a lot to me because it comes from not just an average creative person nor some random people handed by hashtags, it came from someone who’s pretty much a decent Designer and someone I could look up to.
I am not yet where I want to be in life, but it inspires me to share my story about how I got into design, how I got to where I am now, and most importantly, inspire people who might be be thinking of following societal norms of having all the educational degrees instead of striving to be the best at what they know how to do best.
Time travel — back to when I was a little kid
I did not have all the pretty toys, but I loved buttons. I always fantasized about pressing a button whenever I saw one; they looked sexy and enticing. One day, I got whipped by my dad for unpacking his typewriter. Perhaps, “tech” is what I love, but my dad could not figure it out. My dad wanted me to be a Gynecologist. C’mon dad! My talent isn’t dealing with vagin*s and breasts.
Advancing to primary school, I was a brilliant kid, always topping the class and all that mattered to me was having my books in my head. I had little flair for drawing because I never had to read it like I would read my social studies exercise book. The few times I would take a pencil to make a sketch, I would create something good looking out of little shapes and scribbles. Somehow, I fell in love with what a classmate used to draw — football comics, so I learnt that from him. Perhaps, one of my natural gifts was art.
In 2004, when I was still in secondary school, I had my heart set on being a Banker. I wanted to be a banker not because my gift was money counting, but because the society painted bankers as rich people. The suit and tie lifestyle caught my fancy coupled with the pretty banking hall environment kept cool by air conditioners on every side.
Finding my passion
Little did I know that the button I loved to press as a kid would come back to haunt me. My closest cousin, “ND” who was studying Biochemistry bought a computer. I got even closer to him because an advanced kind of typewriter was here again, but this time, not my dad’s. He had DSTV in his room and our favourite TV stations were Discovery Channel and National Geographic. Whenever we were together all we talked about was science and technology.
The passion we had for technology led us to exploring programming with the new computer my cousin just got. ND, who is now a world class software engineer started exploring Visual Basic and Java. While he was more concerned about how the codes worked I was more concerned about how the front end looked — the user interface (UI). Hence, my journey into being a graphic designer had just began. I designed my first website when I was in secondary school.
Upon finishing secondary school, the next thing was tertiary studies — societal norms. I got admission to study Accountancy which was my preferred course. The flair of being a banker was still at the back of my mind. Why did I not enrol in computer science or information technology? In Nigerian secondary schools, it’s either you are in the science or arts department. As an aspiring accountant, I chose art. But this brought me to the conclusion — “School is not all you need for you to be the best at one or more of your talents”.
You are creative and google might be the best school after-all.
Everyone is born with a natural streak of creativity. Everything we do in ways unique to us is simple proof. The way we talk, how we think, the things we do, everything! We all have more than one talent. “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men” Proverbs 18:16. Only if we are able to discover just one, and never stop loving and developing it.
I got this little job in a manufacturing company while I was schooling. I was opportune to have access to a computer connected to the internet. While my colleagues would prefer watching America’s Got Talent, Nollywood movies on Youtube and Linda Ikejing, I’d use my time to learn more about what I love to do. I had to beg an IT staff in the company to help me install Photoshop because the company had put restrictions on external softwares. Within a short period of time, I had learned a lot about what I love that school would not teach me. All I did was Google, read, practice and Google again. As a matter of fact, I started to hate Accountancy in my second year. I was just going to school because of societal norms.
Hey! I am not trying to say one should not go to school. But true learning takes place when you perceive a need — when you have a void that needs to be filled, when you become curious about something. In the absence of a felt need, it is human nature to perceive any new information to be irrelevant or arbitrarily forced upon us, in which case we subconsciously categorize it as useless and mentally throw it away. Can you recall how much information you learnt in class that’s actually relevant to what you do today? Do you really use even 5% of what you learned in school today?
However, the society has misled people from finding their gifts by painting education to look like the ultimate pathway to success and fulfillment. It’s a big problem our society faces because through commission and omission, we are inadvertently trained not to be creative. As a consequence, our workplaces are full of people who have been trained to be uncreative. The result is mediocrity as evident in every sector in Nigeria. People are not doing what they love and what they are good at. Most people are sad inside. The issue of unemployment lingers because a lot of people are not creating. Would you get a job that has not been created? Now, that’s where entrepreneurship comes in.
Last month made it one year I joined Cregital as a Lead Creative Designer. A decent job that only required my skill. I never had to write an application backed with volumes of CV content. I am doing a job I love to do, and I am happy.
If you want to be educated, going to school can be one way to do it (it’s obviously not the only way). Figure out exactly what you are good at doing best, what makes you happy and devise a plan to reach your dreams. Your Internet subscription is probably a waste if all you do with it is tweet, read gossip blogs and waste your life doing irrelevant things on social media. In this tech age, information is on our fingertips. There’s a whole lot to learn.
Google and YouTube have helped lives. Your talent could be hand crafting. You can start a journey of being the best shoemaker by simply Googling “how to make shoes”. Youtube is also great! Look for people in your field who are good at what they do, connect with them, ask questions, study how they do what they do and try to do more. By so doing, development takes place, and in the nearest future, you could be described as one of the best.
Catch me on Twitter.