Rashida Mustafa of Chennai is an educator and mentor with over five years of experience encompassing writing, editing, strategic content planning and project management. In this blog, she talks about how her fondness of writing propelled her professional growth at different junctures of her career.
In our minds, youth is synonymous with exploration and carefree optimism, a time to grow up before the responsibilities of adulthood threaten to crush you. It may be so, but the journey is ultimately a combination of myriad possibilities.
Today, in my mid-thirties, I have realised that success and growth aren’t always linear. My own career trajectory—which was non-existent all through my twenties—has only now come to full bloom upon overcoming the fear of the unknown and taking calculated risks with small but sure-footed steps.
Ever since I was little, I harboured a dream to become a writer of literary fiction—the kind which would change the world’s notion of how one perceived fiction. However, my tryst with writing came to an abrupt end after having soaked the literary greats during my undergraduate program. Despite having a purpose, I was unable to design a plan to get there, for several years. I came to accept it as a passing fancy, a pipe dream.
I spent my twenties devoted to family; content, for the most part, and yet there were days that left me feeling listless and despondent. It wasn’t so much the inactivity but the dissatisfaction stemmed from the thought of not knowing what I was truly capable of doing. Was there a niche I would ever find, where I could comfortably nestle in, or remain a bystander, watching life blur past me?
In my early thirties, a strong impulse propelled me into action. My first steps on the proverbial climb to success was up an educational institution’s employment hierarchy—that of MSB Educational Institute, Chennai. Teaching came naturally to me, the very first vocation I took to, after many acquaintances convinced me I was suited for the role. This was a serendipity that altered my life and paved the way for possibilities. I was told that a teacher receives appreciation in the form of ‘responsibilities’, and I proudly donned the hat of multiple professions in the field of education.
As a facilitator, I got the opportunity to train students for the Harvard Mock United Nation simulations thrice. However, my hallmark project in MSB Educational Institute, Chennai, is that of Young Authors: a programme where I assist students with a flair for writing in becoming published authors. With three seasons successfully completed, this initiative is poised to commence its fourth season, and now accepts registrations from all MSB institutes across the globe. It’s incredible how these challenges taught me skills and life lessons, from planning and management to putting one hundred percent effort into things I want to do, even when it feels daunting.
Also, I dedicate a considerable amount of time to GirlzFTW, an international community that empowers and mentors young women. Here, I got selected as an in-house storyteller and had many of my pieces featured on their website. I have the opportunity to mentor a young student from Zambia and aid her in bettering her life with leadership skills, vision boards, and goal setting. As a result, I found my voice and my need to advocate for women’s financial independence and gender equality.
Another significant opportunity that came my way was when I was offered a job as a writing consultant for a software company.I found myself balancing three professions: as an educator, a technical writer, and a mentor, by the end of 2022. I am now a full-time employee at Digient Technologies, in the role of Business Analyst and Technical Writer.
Interestingly, the seed of writing that was planted in me decades ago, became the roots of my professional growth.
In many ways, life appears to have come full circle in the subsequent years, although I have not yet completed the process; there’s much to learn and aspire for! To discover my true calling is like putting a Chinese puzzle together; there’s a pattern in mind that I wish to work out in experiences, but my choices do not always fit the spaces, or, if they do, they do not match the design. It’s easy to think that we’re not worthy of achieving success or getting what we want—however, I keep on trying because I know that others have succeeded, and so will I.