Notes to a young professional


On passion: They say to do what you love and it will not feel like work.

I rate this advice as mostly true; there is a small caveat. Unless and until you are actually able to live comfortably, that is, be reasonably compensated for your efforts or be otherwise financially stable, chances are your passion will, quite frequently, feel like work. Worse yet, it can also turn into a deep source of bitterness and resentment.

Very often, there is little correlation between hard work and financial reward. Society and our economic systems unfortunately just value some things more than others.

If you find yourself relying on your passion to pay the bills, know that it can be a long and arduous process, and the timing of success is almost entirely out of your control. It will likely be an undulating, winding and emotional ride. Yet there will be those days when everything else in your life has fallen apart, but the smallest achievement, new realisation, or compliment on a job well done shields you from the landslide that is slowly burying you. Savour and seize that moment of reprieve to take a breath and continue to dig your way out from under the rubble.

On trust: Do not let the temptation and desire to make friends in the workplace and professional settings cloud your instincts. Be guarded in what you share and the conversations you allow yourself to get into. As clichéd as it sounds, there are in fact a lot of people out there who are intimidated by the slightest sign of intelligence and competence in others, and will make it their business to block your professional progression. Do not give them free ammunition to win that war.

In a society like ours, be vigilant of those who wear their religion on their sleeve. False prophets have honed their skills well. They have perfected the art of using religion as a cover for malice and vindictiveness. Am I saying to avoid all religious people? Most certainly not. However, do not equate a facade of religiosity with morality and benevolence. You may find that the infidels have just as good, or even better, intentions for you than the devotees.

On patriotism: Do not let anyone make you feel that being critical of your country and its trajectory makes you unpatriotic. Patriotism manifests in different ways. It is not always immediately visible, constantly and outwardly vocal, or even a conscious realisation of the patriot.

However, when you find yourself struggling, but still willing to donate hours, days and months of your time to an act of national service that holds no certain rewards for you, yet keeps you from attending to the tasks that actually pay your bills or form part of your self-care routine, you will begin to understand what patriotism does feel like. You will discover that patriotism and an ever-so-frequent desire to jump on a plane and never return are not mutually exclusive.

On expectations: Whatever you do, do not assume that everyone sees the world the same way you do. It may seem obvious, but in fact can take conscious effort to truly realise. That way, you are not constantly disappointed when you encounter those that put professionalism, ethics and sense of duty to a greater good aside, in the name of a promotion, a pension, a healthy bank balance, and influence. Moreover, as it is in TT today, much like many other places around the world, these people will be rewarded. Fight to change it if you deem that to be your mission in life, but the sooner you learn that lesson, the better prepared you will be.

On regret: Despite all the harsh realisations of life, of adulthood, of broken dreams and of feelings of wasted years, really do try to not have regrets. Of course, that is always easier if you remember to take care of yourself on a daily basis and stay true to your authentic self. But, even if you find yourself in a place where you feel like you have devoted everything to a futile endeavour, wasted years pleasing others, or pretending to be something that you are not, know that every new day is a chance to take control, assess what happiness and fulfilment really mean to you, and decide what you want to do with your life.

Although the world is not always a fair place, do not let it get to you. Fight, fight, fight to keep your integrity, your (measured) optimism and your passion. On reflection, you may find that passion, as much as it can bring pain, can unknowingly provide the sustenance to save your life.

Ryan Darmanie is a professional urban planning and design consultant, and an avid observer of people, their habitat, and the resulting socio-economic and political dynamics. You can connect with him at or email him at


"Notes to a young professional"

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