I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few days now. I don’t know why but it seems so pretentious to write but at the same time I just have this burning need to get it out of me. I think it’s weird how you just have these ideas in your head that need to get out. Like if they stay trapped inside you might explode. It’s not often that I feel like that, usually I just write what I feel and that’s that but this time it was different. I guess it’s because it means so much to me given my current stand on life.
I had been questioning my own purpose for the longest time. Trying to understand my role in the world. I had always known that I wanted to make a difference, I had always known that this was my destiny, until it wasn’t. It’s strange how you can end up so jaded with the world.
I had worked in the non-profit sector for the longest time. In an array of fields, working with farm workers, education, environmental conservation. Across the board I discovered that just because people work for certain causes, doesn’t mean they believe in them. More often than should be the case, people work in these jobs because they need a salary. You can’t fight for injustice because you need a pay cheque, your heart will never be in the right place and the money certainly won’t match your expectations. No, if you work in the non profit world you’ve got to really and truly believe in the cause. Over the last ten years, I found more inequality within these places then on the ground. Staff members were treated with no respect. Like they should be thankful for having a job. I suppose in the current economic climate, that’s the truth, people are lucky to be employed but does that mean that it’s acceptable to be treated like sh*t just because you have a job? I don’t think so.
The most common issue was the salary thing. Executives are paid between R40 000 and R60 000 a month whereas certain staff members are earning under R4000 a month. I don’t know about you but I can’t in my head consolidate how people doing the work on the ground are living off that amount. Exploitation is rife in South Africa, it’s nothing new. More concerning is the amount of money that is misappropriated and being used for personal gain. In one instance, the director was using funding given to the organisation to furnish a private house. A company car which had been donated was given to their child. We all knew of these happenings but what can you do in those situations. Report them and everyone risks losing their jobs.
The stories could go on forever but I think you get the point. After one disappointment more than I could be bothered to handle I decided that the Non Profit sector was no longer a place I wanted to be. Not if people are more concerned with stealing money and power struggles than actually getting the job done. So I quit. For a couple of days after making the decision I felt relieved. More at ease than ever before. The days after that however, were a little scarier as I was faced with what next.
Ahh the age-old question of what to do with my life. I hadn’t had to think about that for a long time. I always known I wanted to make a difference. I spent a few days brainstorming and finally decided to take the rest of 2014 off and figure out my way forward. Luckily I came up with a plan which included blogging but more importantly was centred around starting my own business. I’m still working on that. Most importantly however, I realised that I need to do everything I can to be happy. I don’t want to wake up every day and feel sad about my life. I don’t want to look back on my life and wonder why did I put up with being treated badly.
I was called names in my last job, because a few of us were struggling with picking up the workload of a missing staff member and we asked for a bit of help. After being tasked as the spokesperson, I was labelled the troublemaker (and you can read my thoughts on that here). I decided in that moment that no one else will ever again have power over how I feel as I person. If there is one thing I am certain of, it’s that I am a good person and I have always lived my life with integrity. I will never allow anyone to take that away from me. After all, no job is worth putting up with your character being called into question. If you live your life in a way that makes you proud of who you are, there is no reason why another human being should take that away from you.
I was lucky enough to be in the position financially where I could walk away but I don’t think I would have tolerated that kind of treatment either way. At the end of the day, life is for living and if you’re not really loving the life you’re living, then you need to do some deep reflection and ask yourself what it would take to put yourself first. Don’t live someone else’s version of your life.