Dear Barbados Free Press,
I’m a struggling 21yr old. I read your blog daily and I’m intrigued, yet saddened, by the amount of bullshit we, Barbadians deal with.
I believe more so than ever that the approach to economic stability isn’t through traditional policy but through a reinvigorated industry…of sorts.
I’m a student at the [soon-to-be] defunct University of the West Indies.
Quite literally, I find no solace in the idea of investing so much resources in a degree from the institution. As a young person, I believe that I need to go against the norm in order to sustain a comfortable living on this island.
I think I’m going well so far but I seek to challenge the diverse faculties of your readership.
How do I maintain a good thing without fucking it up?
James (last name withheld by BFP)
BFP’s Robert replies:
I am hardly the person you should be asking for advice, but Marcus is gone somewhere better and Cliverton is probably still hungover at 2pm, so I am the one who opened your email.
Your frustration comes through, but I would encourage you to try and take the high road with your language. Gutter talk does not elevate you in the minds of others no matter how common it is with your peers or in the entertainment media.
You’re on to something though when you doubt that your ‘investment’ in higher learning will be returned. This entire island is proof enough of that. We are supposed to have one of the most highly educated populations in the Caribbean, and perhaps we do in a very narrow sense of the word ‘educated’. Barbados has the highest educated shop clerks anywhere. Every one of those shop clerks was lied to – told that their education would enable them to buy a nice home, support a family and raise their children to have better lives.
Meet 20 people on the street in B’town and (I say with tongue in cheek but in truth also) it is likely that of those 20 people:
- 7 are economists
- 3 are bankers
- 3 are teachers, professors, consults or somewhere in academia
- 4 are unemployed
- 2 are unhappily underemployed in the private sector
- Only 1 will be able to build a wall, install a toilet, wire a home or repair a motor car.
Be the one person who can build or repair things. Work hard for someone else first. Be reliable. Break the island-time syndrome that infects about 90% of the people on this rock – who couldn’t hold a job in London or New York if their lives depended upon it.
When you have your knowledge and your good reputation established: go into business for yourself.
Or… you can get your degree in creative social issues or whatever other nonsense they teach at UWI and spend the rest of your life wondering why you can’t afford to travel and are always living hand-to-mouth.
That’s my advice to you James. I’m sure some of our readers will disagree, and some will agree. In the end though, you are your own man and you will decide.