There are a lot of things that I have said to people that part of me wishes that I hadn’t. Being discreet and keeping secrets has never been my forte. I remember when I was little, nearly every Christmas I would get so excited about what I had bought my family as gifts that I would try to get them to guess. Then if they were wrong I would tell them anyways. I understand that just because you want to say something, that does not mean it needs to be heard. I also understand that sometimes saying nothing really is the better policy, even if what you want to say is the truth. But still, I have said many things to many people that I should never have said. And although many people may think that I probably say too much, there are some other things that I keep secret.
Some secrets are small, like when I was little for some reason I would love to the skins of mandarin oranges. I also went through a phase where I would only drink flat pop (please don’t ask about that one!). Also, I love, I mean really love, corny, cheesy romantic comedies. They are my biggest guilty pleasure. Some of the secrets, though, are bigger.
There is a part of me that I don’t think anyone knows. Although, I am not sure if it is just a part to be honest. It is more like there is a version of myself, the version of who I want to be, the person I want to become. I think of her as the true Sarah. She is powerful, influential, smart, funny, and kicks ass at her job. She is also kind, and loyal. She also fights for the things that her values tell her are important. What are those things you ask? She believes in fairness, and integrity above nearly anything else. She wants to fix problems, but not just problems like how to sell more products, or how to make money by selling and trading stocks. She wants to solve the problems of the whole world. She loves big problems, like the healthcare system in Canada, or even bigger yet: climate change. Essentially, she wants to save the world.
I am not sure if I am the only person who has this hidden self or if everyone does. I would love to know, but unfortunately I don’t think people will ever show themselves to me. I think we are lucky if a handful of people, throughout life, will reveal their true selves to you. Part of me thinks that maybe this is the way it is suppose to be. So then why am I posting this online for everyone to read? To be honest, it was a conversation with one of my Rotman buddies that was the catalyst. We were talking about the pressure to conform to what others think you should do. In Rotman, there is huge pressure when it comes to what kind of career/job you want after Rotman. There is a sense that you must choose between Finance and Consulting. This is almost ironic, in that out of all masters programs, the MBA program actually provides the most diversity of options for careers that you can have after school than any other program. Yet, we all pressure ourselves and others into these roles.
This conversation made me remember an exercise that we did during orientation last year. We had to picture our lives in 10 years. Then we had to create goals for ourselves, and then prioritize those goals. Even though, most of my classmates made fun of the exercise, saying it was a waste of time, it made me really think of what I wanted. It made me realize that I did want to change the world somehow. It also made me realize that I would prioritize that goal over everything else; over having a big beautiful house, children, and even marriage. The sad part is that it didn’t hit me as much as it should have, because even though I realized those things I still hedged myself in first year. I hedged because I was/am afraid of failure, but also because of what other people might think. I may be able to put on a mask of self-confidence but deep down inside I am terrified.
At the end of the day we all want to enjoy our jobs/careers and we want to believe in what we are doing. I understand that for some people, being an investment banker at RBC or a consultant at McKinsey is fulfilling those needs. For me, that means that I have to forge my own path away from the traditional MBA fields; meaningful work is being a programme officer for the United Nations or maybe something else entirely. I need to find my place within the (much) wider business community. That is the other reason why I feel like I need everyone to know about this “other Sarah”, and what I want because I need to be held accountable. If people don’t know about it, then it would be very easy for me to hedge myself again, which would lead me to a job and career that is not one that I want. I want to find the place where I fit and where I feel like I am actually contributing in a meaningful way to me.
Being human means that we are social creatures. We want to have friends, actually in truth, we need to have friends, family, or some form of closeness to others. So venturing off on your own path is a scary and daunting task. But there are so many different types of people out there and so many different types of jobs and career paths; why push yourself into someone else’s mold? I bring this up because as the Class of 2014 at the Rotman School of Management begin to move along our separate paths, we should support each other. We should value that we are all individuals, and not pressure each other. Also as second years we should try to foster that attitude in the first years as well. People should feel free to take risks and feel that they won’t lose everything by failing a little. It is my belief that is the only way to really achieve greatness, and what better lasting tribute to Rotman (and more importantly ourselves) can we give but to be the greatest versions of ourselves as possible?