This blog has been inspired by an article I’ve recently read which included thoughts on the necessity for early decisions about one’s career path and advice regarding how to pursue what you want to do in life. I agree with the article only partially as I believe that sometimes life presents us with opportunities we didn’t even think about at the tender age of 14 when we can find ourselves at a crossroads to take a decision about what our career path may look like.
When I was 14, apparently the first time when young people begin having some ‘serious’ thoughts about their future, I wanted to become a singer. Singing was a long-lasting hobby of mine and I thought I had some talent. Living in deep communism and growing up in a family of dissidents, I did not really stand much of a chance in anything I wanted to do apart from what was allowed by the state; I still had hopes though and was considering this career.
My parents had a different view saying I should be realistic as I would never be able to pursue a career of a singer in Czechoslovakia. Naturally, I felt disappointed although they may have been right to shutter my idealistic dream, but I will never know. So, I went and tried to do something else with my life instead. First to a grammar school as I was quite academic where I also had sporadic lessons of English (Russian was a compulsory part of our curriculum from the age of eight and I found it quite easy to learn), and eventually selected chemistry as one of main mandatory specialisations: it was the easiest subject for me from all the available, and not very appealing, options as I already found a great interest in English and wanted to spend more time learning it in private lessons. Chemistry got me some interesting summer jobs in an oil refinery lab and in Semtin, an explosives manufacturer where Semtex had been developed, in my hometown of Pardubice. My grammar school studies were followed by four vain attempts to get to a university to study languages although without the necessary referral from the grammar school denied to me due to my family it was a mute point, but I tried anyway. At that time, I was making my own decisions so I kept persevering. My life dramatically changed after the Velvet Revolution when I was finally accepted and completed five years of university studies of English and Spanish.
Falling into the right career path…
At that time (in my twenties), I still did not know exactly what I wanted to do, so after I graduated, I was briefly teaching languages at a university in my hometown while translating movies and TV series scripts from English/Spanish to Czech for dubbing purposes for a couple of TV channels, and then moved to Prague to work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Diplomatic Protocol. I liked the latter a lot but when I got an unexpected offer from the Hilton Prague for a PR/Marketing Manager position, I didn’t hesitate. So in a way, I actually fell into my career by accident in my early thirties and since then I have never looked back. I love my job – it’s creative, ever changing, challenging and it’s about people.
History repeats itself (well, a bit)…
My son Mikulas, however, knew exactly what he wanted to do at the age of 14. When he came to me and said “Mum, I want to do musical theatre”, I had a long conversation with him. Despite having a profound interest in acting and taking advantage of every opportunity he had to act throughout his childhood, I never thought this would be the career he’d pursue. He’s a proof of how much the environment shapes you – looking at this confident person on stage, I hardly recognise that shy little boy who was leaving Prague almost 12 years ago.
We talked about his chosen profession being unreliable, unstable, insecure, unpredictable. However, despite my doubts and my very pragmatic view on the world, I will support and encourage him in his endeavours to achieve what he wants; I didn’t have that in my life, and was left to fight for everything on my own. Literally. Interestingly enough, some time ago I wrote an article on resilience, dreaming big and never giving up on dreams and aspirations. Unlike my son, I didn’t follow my original dream. I don’t think it matters anymore as I did find my ideal career path within which I still dream big, one which I thoroughly enjoy, and which is fulfilling and rewarding.
There are five fundamental lessons I learned during this journey:
- Be flexible as life sometimes takes us to directions we could have never envisaged.
- Have an open mind, which will enable you to learn, develop and grow even in unexpected areas, and strengthen your belief in yourself.
- Embrace a change, even if it’s a radical one.
- Persevere and be resilient as life sometimes puts seemingly insurmountable obstacles in our way to hinder progression.
- Dream big in everything you do and take action accordingly as life is worth living to the full on a personal as well as professional level.
I even dare dream big on behalf of my son when regularly reminding him that “I already see myself on the red carpet”. Next to him, naturally. No pressure, Mikulas.