This is a journal entry of a graphic designer who proved that you don’t need an MBA degree to be successful or happy or to be considered ‘respectable’. Here’s his colourful story.
It’s been a long time! As you’ve always known, I’ve never really been very good with the words. My interest has always been somewhere else – in drawings, doodles, sketches, graffiti and paintings.
I remember, when I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, my Aunt Saroja (the artistic one in the family, before I, of course, came along) brought home an oil painting. It was by an unknown artist and it pictured the sun setting behind the mountains, with the sea in front. It was no Picasso. But I remember being fascinated with it beyond words.
I would stare at it for endless hours. I would stand at different spots in our drawing room trying to study the painting from different angles. My parents were, frankly, amused. They couldn’t understand my fascination. For them, it was just a decorative piece that did its bit to add colour to the room. That’s all.
But I was clearly smitten. Seriously, I was in love! Every time I looked at the painting, I could feel my fingers tingling and a rush of joy in my heart. I started bugging my parents to get me a paint set so that I could recreate the painting. But they insisted that I would have to make do with crayons and sketch pens I had. After all, that’s all that was needed in school.
No amount of sulking or crying or stamping my feet could convince them. But finally, they did what most other parents do. Get straights ‘A’s in school, and the paint box was yours, they said. And like most other children, I bit the bait. I worked so hard, skipped going out to play and watching my favourite cartoons, to study all the time!
Needless, to say I topped my class. And the next day, my dad brought home a shiny, new paint box with ten colours in it. I was beyond ecstatic! And I got to work immediately. Of course, my painting turned out nothing like the one on the wall. The sun was just a big orange blob and the mountains looked like unimpressive ant hills. But at that time, I was super pleased!
And so the years continued. For every test I aced, my parents would buy me an art supply I had set my heart on. They didn’t think much of my art obsession. For them, it was just a hobby that I could pursue on the side. Art could never become the main star. After all, my grades would be nothing short of excellent. Why would I ‘waste’ my time pursuing a career in art? And I said nothing. After all, through my Commerce course in college, I found plenty of time to doodle and sketch and even try out a few designing software on the computer.
Things only began to unravel when I joined the MBA course. I had made my way to a prestigious MBA course in the country and my parents were thrilled. But as the days went on and the workload at the college began to mount, I could no longer find the time to do what I loved and that started to frustrate me. My precious art supplies started to gather dust in one corner of the room, as I tried to wrap my head around numbers and statistics and market trends. Soon, instead of me crunching numbers, I was starting to feel crushed under their weight.
My grades began to fall and my teachers started to look worried every time they looked at my reports. I was unhappy and no matter how much I tried to concentrate on my coursework, I simply couldn’t. After struggling for two terms, I finally spoke to my parents about my frustrations, my increasing disinterest in pursuing an MBA, and my inability to keep up with the work.
They obviously couldn’t understand it. I was such a bright boy, they insisted. But, in the end, they saw that I was unhappy and told me that they would be ‘ok’ if I quit the course. When they said that, I felt the world lifting from my shoulders and I felt lighter than I had in many years.
I spent the next year building up a portfolio and applying to design schools. I got into a top school, much to the delight of my parents and I topped my course at the end of two years. Of course, at the beginning of my career, the monies were less than mediocre. But now, after 7 years of relentless work, I just got offered the post of becoming the Head of Design at a leading Fortune 500 company.
It feels great to be at the top!