Picture yourself on a long walk. It’s initial purpose muddled. Your eyes focus on the ground as a reference point. You consider changing course, but such a shift would bring new uncertainties, even undermine the journey. You stumble. You lift your head and find yourself surrounded by contemporaries on similar paths. Some look for shortcuts, some settle along the way, some go off in new directions. What’s your next move?
Written by George Paftis
A double-edged blade swings, improving conditions for many while creating a whole new set of problems. Call it technology, Capitalism, or modern communications, it’s a landscape of social media, real-time feedback, ever-present critiques that serve to inspire and confuse young professionals as they attempt to define their place in the world.
Take art as an example. Art schools pump out painters by the thousands each spring. The art industry scoops some graduates up for instantaneous acclaim while the majority is tossed aside. How does a young artist thrive in such an environment? Does she attempt to nurture her creative impulses, seek to crack the market’s entry code, or just give up? In a profession where the purity and meaning behind the work are valued as much or more than technique, how are we to think that immediate judgment would not compromise and skew the artist’s original intentions? It’s no surprise that so many artistic icons throughout history have achieved accolades posthumously.
It’s not just art that has to cope with the convulsive vibrations of a perverse cultural milieu. One can look to financial publications and gossip columns alike to sense the altered roadmaps. Start-up entrepreneurs revolutionize commerce at an accelerating pace through some social platform or another. The gaggle of youth culture sucks at the teat and the mass communication experiment in co-existing network members continues. Bloggers, foodies, and fitness models now have the ability to make a living like never before, on the viral merit of their speech and the breadth of their followers. If looked at from the wrong perspective, though, could one not informed of the social dynamic be seduced on the fall premise that he or she could get rich without working?
An exciting time of explosive opportunity? Young professionals of previous generations had a limited number of industry verticals from which to choose a career. Today, high tech has expanded the pool and allows an individual to carve out an entirely new vertical.
What’s missing from this picture? How is it possible to navigate the walk without stumbling too far afield? Why not dream of jumping from point A to point Z powered by ambition? Values. Question the impact of actions. Consider the common good. The journey isn’t taken alone. A context does exist. Lift up your head and survey the landscape. Risk reaching out to collaborate with others.
Like the true artist, have the guts to follow your inner voice.