Updated: Apr 22, 2020
When I was 21 I sat with my grandmother one grey winter’s day and we were discussing my past and my career plans for the future. I had been successfully working various jobs since I was 14; receptionist in a real estate agency on the weekends, retail assistant in a ‘cool’ jeans store at the mall, waitress in a pumping sports bar at the habourside, and even a tele-survey chick where I would ring people at around dinner time and hassle them to meet my quota. As well as a number of other colourful tangents, and while I was always able to makes piles of money, all unfortunately left me feeling unfulfilled in someway. I had no direction, no plan, and really no idea what to do with my life.
During our chat my grandmother was sensing that I was feeling jaded about my life and my next steps. I had graduated from advertising college with a passion for a creative career, but due to the cost of my student loan repayments and the low entry level salary in ‘Adland’ I was working as a full time retail manager at the clothing store Espirit. I liked working there because fashion was always new and exciting, Espirit translated into Spirit, and they also had a corporate social responsibility program which aimed to give back to the world, (even if in hindsight it was not more than a lip service project), it was something I was happy to be part of. It was a pacifying relief for my inner activist, that I was not selling out completely. And beside I was good at it.
I looked at her and said “Nan I just want to do something that requires more than the IQ of a pot plant.” We both laughed, but she heard me and for the following years and right up until her sudden passing a few years ago she would regularly ask me if what I was doing required more than the IQ of a pot plant. It was our secret code for: Are you stretching into your potential? Are you being more than you thought you can be? Are you compromising by accepting the status quo and fitting in? Are you asking yourself how you can unleash your gifts, sharpen up your talents, risk, break the rules, be bold and be true and authentic to yourself?
My constant quest was, and still is, to know myself and live my true purpose, to find projects that are a meaningful use of my time, and discover what is ‘mine to do.’ There were days in the past where this search found me aching and crying out to the Universe to show me the way. I was desperate to make sense of this world and my place in it. And the more I reached out into the world for answers the more I was directed inwards.
I realised that the person I truly am is far greater than the average person that society presents as normal, and the everyday folks I was interacting with in stores and at the yoga studio and at parties where also truly more they they were presenting to me. In fact I believe everyone is greater than the simple politeness we often only share of ourselves in public. But people find themselves idling in this place of safety - I have come to call it the “Band of Bland”. The calm, smiley, albeit dead-pan and automated responses we share with strangers we interact with which leave us thinking the world is a shallow and two dimensional place.
I used to hate the word potential. People would always tell me You have so much potential, school teachers would say “she has so much potential if only she would apply herself, she is so distracted.” Every time I quit a shitty job my reference read: Bianca has potential …blah blah. And they would always be sad I was leaving stating that I had great potential to go anywhere in their organisation. And I could have, but the truth was since I was about 11 years old I have mostly been bored out of my brain. Everything I was doing and learning was painfully slow and uninspiring, thank God for my entrepreneurial mother who was always creating and making things to sell, starting new ventures and jetting off to far away places returning with futuristic treasures like CD players, hair crimpers, Guns ’n Roses tapes with swear words, Apple Macs and Nintendo Donkey Kong consoles. South Africa was pretty much a forgotten outpost in terms of innovation in the 80’s.
I still pretty much hate the word potential, and yes..I know hate is a very strong word. But I hate the word potential because it points out to me that I am not living my life to the full. I’m stuck in the ‘Land of Potential’, surrounded by glassy-eyed fans waiting for me to show them what I’m made of. It shows me I still have places to go and things to do. Not necessarily in the world either, but inside myself.
For example on one hand I am writing these stories and creating this website to share with you, the reader, in the hope you may learn something and be inspired by my message, and on the other hand the core reason I am doing is because I have to! If I don’t I won’t be able to sleep at night. I will find myself back in the world of potential, bored and frustrated, unengaged and uninspired. Back in the world of no-new-learning, politely sharing niceties in the “Band of Bland”.
I have no other choice but to to stretch and grow. Throw caution aside and show up, right now, in a world which is in need of all the warriors we can muster.