Passion carries weight. To merely like something is an act of leisure, it requires only passive interest, amusing but otherwise undemanding of serious effort. Passion, on the other hand, is all-consuming. It requires a level of resilience not afforded to passivity. It may not always be enjoyable, you may try and fail time and again, but because of your ambition and belief in what you’re doing, you keep at it. This passion for me is science, it always has been and always will be.
At GCSE it was science, at A-Level it was science, and at university, it was biomedical science in particular. Whether it be the new advances made in the fight against COVID-19 or the research done by my professors and peers, no field has captured my attention as much as this one. Such evergreen curiosity is hard to extinguish.
So what would happen if, straight out of university, I embarked on a vocation unrelated to science altogether?
This is a story about jewellery. From necklaces to earrings, such objects seen as mere accessories to most people exist as whole philosophies to me. We make the conscious decision to ornament our bodies with these objects for reasons that go beyond decoration. Perhaps a gift from a close friend, a family heirloom, or even just something we choose to wear in the morning to give us an extra special feeling. All jewellery has a story behind it, and this is a story I want to share.
It started as a throwaway fantasy in my final year of university. I casually flirted with the idea of starting my own business with the level of seriousness one gives to a mundane shower thought, enough to keep me entertained for 15 minutes, but not enough to take out the front door. My degree was my main priority so everything else just fell by the wayside.
The end of university came, and personal circumstances rendered my plan to go straight into work redundant, leaving a big gaping hole of unclaimed time. Suddenly, a shower thought was beginning to turn into a full-fledged business plan.
However, the initial euphoria of kickstarting my idea into something tangible was cut short by my own stifling self-doubts and reservations about the career I was getting into and where this left the role of science in my life. It was a conflict of passion, to put it bluntly.
My concerns stemmed from the image I created as someone whose life ambitions belonged to scientific progress. I conjured up the scenario that if I decided to enter into this new and unfamiliar field, I would be inviting the people around me to scrutinise my proclaimed love for science and take it as less serious than it was. From future employers and partners to friends and family, what would they think when they found out I was starting a business which had nothing to do with the one field I had spent years of my life working towards?
Now, some of you may be reading this thinking that my conflict was a tad irrational. People all over the world choose to invest in projects and side-gigs all the time. For me to do the same was not only a positive venture but a perfectly normal one.
What I had realised was that my turmoil extended deeper than occupational insecurities; I felt like I had something to prove.
It took me a while to come to terms with my doubts and see that starting my jewellery business would take nothing away from my devotion to science. To assert that professionals who are serious about their work spend every waking moment of their lives working only in that profession is unrealistic and impractical. To think so single-mindedly about our interests only stumps the scope of creativity, as well as stifles one’s opportunities.
To make a slight correction to a statement made earlier, passion does not need to be all-consuming. By this, I mean that it does not need to be singular. You can be passionate about fashion and human rights with the same level of intensity, one does not devalue the other in its level of importance. I realised that plans, much like life, are never as clear-cut as that.
We shouldn’t allow the opinions of others to dictate or limit our choices, a cliche piece of advice I know, but one that must constantly be relayed. If you have career goals, pursue them. If you have multiple passions, then you must cherish them.
It’s been over five months since I started my business and the wave of support from those closest to me has been overwhelming. From earrings to necklaces, each piece I create is named after women both in and around my life who inspire and embrace me with the agency I need to push forward with my goals and ideas.
My business is named Simply Khushi, meaning “Simply Happiness”, a brand name intended to highlight the importance of sentiments behind a piece of jewellery. It is an undeniable reality of life that sometimes, we must push past our doubts to really achieve the goals and success we know we are capable of. From what I have learnt, passion speaks for itself, if you allow yourself the space to venture outside of what you know and take a risk, those around you will see that.
By Zoya Azam