Missing someone else’s target, but finding yours

Society, church and our families have certain expectations of us. Indeed, we also have certain expectations of ourselves.  A general expectation is that people should complete high school, have some kind of training and get a job.  However, what happens when someone does not hit the expected target ?  What do you do when you are surrounded by successful people whose achievements seem to magnify your failures?  Of course, you will look dull and maybe even seem lazy because people will assume that you are not studying or working enough.

I know a young lady, Harriet, who was not doing well in college where she was taking a marketing course.  She failed all the subjects even after repeating.  Her younger sisters on the other hand, were doing very well and leaving her in the dust of their success.  I was chatting to her one day and asked how school was going since I had not been aware of her struggle.  She said she had stopped taking her marketing course.  In my surprise, I asked her why.  She said she did not want to continue wasting her brother’s money as she was failing all her classes.  She had now started taking design and tailoring lessons and she seemed quite embarrassed about it.  I said this made sense because she had always been very good with her hands and was business savvy. She seemed surprised at my response.  She had had many small business ventures from childhood and made profits, so why not pursue that which she was good at and was already successful in? Cut a long story short – Harriet has now had a booming tailoring business for many years, and may I add that her products do not come cheap because she is very good at what she does.  There is also a queue of people waiting for her services.

Harriet’s situation is a perfect example of one missing other people’s targets but finding one’s.  I am glad that Harriet went against society’s expectation of having an office job (which most people in Zambia view as something to aspire to) but instead did that which she is excellent in, even though it is a lowly career in our society’s eyes.  Harriet missed the mark society set for her but in the process found her own – one of achievement and fulfillment.

Have we let society tell us how to live our lives even if we know that something else is better for us?  How have we rectified our mistakes and gone on to do that which we are good at and then succeeded in it?

I am currently at a crossroads in my life.  I know what my heart has wanted to do for many years whose financial benefits may not come easy, if ever, but there is something else that I am expected to do and whose monetary benefits would be more immediate.  I guess it is time to follow my own blog post’s advice and do that which I really want to and I am sure will succeed in – after all I have done something similar and been more successful than I ever imagined.  There have been no monetary gains in the activity I succeeded in, but the impact on countless people has continued long after I moved on.  I can never compare the feeling I got (and still get through memories) with having more money.

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Otto von Münchow
    Nov 13, 2019 @ 00:09:03

    Money has been perceived as an indicator of success – and of course we all need money to survive. But in my view it’s not a goal in and of itself. What we do with our lives is all up to us to find out, not by expectations of the rest of the society. I hope you will be able to pursue your hear’s desire.


  2. roughwighting
    Oct 15, 2019 @ 11:35:17

    My sister-in-law “followed the money” in her career, and in the 25 years I’ve known her, she has never enjoyed her work, and always can’t wait for the weekend. But she has made a lot of money and will have a big retirement stash. Me? I followed my heart. I haven’t earned a lot of money, but I have found joy in every singe moment of every singe day in my jobs as writer and editor and writing teacher. To me, that is much more than money – I’ve earned a happy life.


    • Zambian Lady
      Oct 15, 2019 @ 17:30:25

      It is unfortunate that society looks at success as having a lot of money and not other criteria. Money is good to have (I know since I have been dirt poor before), but there are other things that make life great and enjoyable. I hope your sister-in-law will find joy in something at least.


  3. derrickjknight
    Oct 09, 2019 @ 07:53:02

    I began my working life in Marine Insurance. I failed the very last exam for the Fellowship of the Chartered Insurance Institute because my heart was not in it. Life’s circumstances led me to Social Work and I never looked back. I am with Harriet


  4. tanjabrittonwriter
    Oct 09, 2019 @ 03:37:53

    I hope the choice will become clear to you, Harriet, without too much agony.
    Best wishes,


  5. arlingwoman
    Oct 08, 2019 @ 23:44:29

    Good luck with your decision. Harriet’s story is familiar; not everyone wants or has the skills for the same thing–I’m glad she found her calling.


  6. Jill Weatherholt
    Oct 08, 2019 @ 19:25:59

    Good for Harriet! I’m glad you shared her story. I feel sorry for those who believe money will make them happier. Maybe they don’t put their phones down and listen to their heart. Good luck with your decision.


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