I love writing about topics that helps to either motivate or educate people as I am a firm believer that knowledge is power. If we can use this to help and uplift others we should. With the spirit of love and compassion of course. I am hoping that whatever I can offer through my writing will help someone one way or the other.
I am passionate about two things, helping others and the human brain, which is why I combined the two and specialised as a Neuropsychologist (The medium between psychology and medical brain science). I find joy in providing content for the Facebook group I created to help people know more about brain disorders that affect children. My free time is filled with spending time with my creator, teaching my fitness class or walks on the beach.
Most people in the world have now been touched one way or another by the current coronavirus pandemic. Most of us have encountered the effects of this, be it through contact with the virus itself or the ensuing impact on the economic and the job markets. In Seychelles, our economy has been hit pretty hard by the pandemic and we are definitely feeling the effects. Everyone talks about the financial burden of the socio-economic situation of Covid, but I will argue that we are not addressing the socio part of this, which is the emotional and mental toll it’s having on a lot of people. A large group of people have lost, or are in fear of losing their jobs during this pandemic.
Another population of people who were not spared are the returning graduates who were not already in service or in the system. So many of the young graduates who have returned enthused and excited to show the world what they are made have found themselves unable to find employment. A lot of them have found themselves having no choice, with the lack of jobs on the market, but to join and be placed on the Unemployment Relief Scheme (URS). This has in a way been a blessing as it brought some form or sense of comfort and relief to at least be in the employment market even on minimum wage. However, now with the new measures that are about to be in place, this will all change. The Unemployment Relief Scheme is said to end in February of this year. I can imagine the amount of uncertainty the graduates will now have to face especially with the possibility of unemployment on the horizon.
According to Martin Seligman, father of Positive Psychology, finding identity and purpose is a fundamental human requirement for happiness. Our identity and search for purpose as young people are often affected by so many factors. This often get in the way of us reaching purpose and pursuing our plans and dreams. As Seychellois youth, we may especially find this very difficult when our country affords so little to us, in terms of opportunities for growth. The education system teaches us that academic excellence is the way to achieving success but that is not always the case. With the pandemic situation, the stark reality is that skilled workers are being sought for more than academics. In some ways, our system has failed to provide us with the tools to develop resilience and ingenuity in situations where academic excellence does not equate to success and fulfilment. This pandemic has in a way halted most of our career aspirations and goals as young graduates.
I believe the current situation has shed light on some already existing issues that has put a lot of university graduates at a disadvantage. I have heard stories of young graduates feeling underappreciated and undervalued after finishing their studies in the past. As a result, a lot of young professionals become demotivated, lose their drive and are no longer seeking their purpose but instead settling for less. It’s true, Seychelles is now leading by example with having 2 young professionals in government as an MNA and Minister. However, the gap still exists, in the extent to which young people are given the opportunity, and the ability to grow and succeed in any field of their choice in our country. My fear that the pressures of the current pandemic will make this worse. Personally, I recently returned to the country after completing my master’s in Clinical Neuropsychology in the UK. I was struggling to find a job in my field. and had to accept that with the new reality, I will have to make do with what comes. I am lucky to have even found a job in the current situation, and I must say I was blessed. However, even if I still can’t do what I’m passionate about, I can say this experience taught me a lesson: Your career or lack thereof doesn’t define your potential.
I strongly believe this situation should not deter us from dreaming but rather inspire us to create opportunities to build the world we want to see and develop the spirit of entrepreneurship. The idea of change and thinking outside the “boxed mindset” our society has ingrained in us, can be scary. This is true, but I would argue that the most dangerous phrase in the English language is “we’ve always done it this way”. I think if this pandemic has taught us one thing is that we NEED and CAN adapt. We can change, and there is more than one way to skin a coconut (I love animals, so I refuse to use the term cat here).
I would like to challenge the young people who found themselves “stuck” during this pandemic. Think about how this may be your opportunity for growth in another area rather than a setback. This quote is from one of my childhood cartoons, Robots; ‘See a need? Fill a need!’. This can be applied to the present-day needs of sustainable entrepreneurship to ‘fill a Need’ I, for example, am the first to specialise in a field that I have been struggling to integrate in the country with the current economic climate. However, I decided that if I wasn’t able to practice, for now, I could still use my skills to practically help people. I personally feel there is a lack of education for parents about brain disorders affecting children. For example, Autism, ADHD, dyslexia, Developmental Language Disorder and so on. I was personally connected to this as a little girl, and my family is also affected. Realising the need, I decided to open a Facebook group to raise awareness and give information about these disorders.
This is not exactly entrepreneurship but more social action, but I hope you get my message. Using our coconuts to find creative ways to solve problems is the start of ingenuity and entrepreneurship. You can start by answering these questions: What are the needs you see in your country, society/community right now? How can your skills/knowledge be used to fill that need? Are there practical ways you can do this? Remember, you can always start small. Things like freelancing allows you to use the skills you have such as writing, teaching, graphic design, being tech-savvy etc., and outsource it to someone who needs it. For example, if you are an academic student you can use your skills to offer online tutoring lessons for kids who are stuck at home. The opportunities are endless. It’s true, at the moment there aren’t a lot of opportunities for us in Seychelles, but you can go out there and create these opportunities. You have Google and you have the internet, your possibilities are limitless with these.
You’ll be surprised at what you can come up with if you dig a little deeper. The truth is too many of us have become complacent. I truly feel that if we put on our thinking hats and start thinking practically, we can achieve so much. But if you truly believe you don’t have any skills then take an online course. I would recommend Coursera and Udemy for some free and affordable online courses as a start. Also explore what your Character Strengths are and in what way you can develop yourself (do the test using this link: authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu).
Dear young people, I urge you to think outside the box. Develop new skills and new ventures and let your imagination run free. You never know where it can take you. You can always become more than just one thing and you have the potential to move beyond what you thought was possible for yourself. You can either view this season as a setback or you can view it as an opportunity for change. Become more than what you thought you could be. Find out what your strengths are, use them, take a chance and try.