Leading to and subsequent to me voluntarily walking away from “secure” employment that was no longer serving any purpose in my life I find myself in a permanent state of meditation. I have been pondering on issues to do with self-actualization, a concept that is at the apex of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory.
Firstly let me expatiate on Maslow for the benefit of readers without a background in psychology, human resources management or related fields. Maslow’s hierarchy is a theory that divides human needs into five sequential categories. The categories are from bottom to top:
- Physiological needs (breathing, water, food and shelter)
- Safety needs (safety of body, sense of belonging, safety of family and safety of property)
- Social needs (education, employment, acquiring material things)
- Ego needs (self-respect and respect for others)
- Self-actualization (creativity, morality, self-transcendence)
My meditative state might have been induced by the reaction of many well-meaning people; including my peers and family members. You know, those doubtful glares when you tell people that you are leaving your job and you have nothing lined up at the moment but you have a plan and you are hopeful something good will come up soon. ‘How are you going to pay your bond’ or ‘do you have any idea how many qualified young people are out there looking for a job‘ or the classic ‘only white kids can pull that stunt, you do not have a trust fund remember’ type of glares.
That really got me labouring over the fact that the majority of people in this country are still struggling to satisfy their physiological needs. The plethora of civil protests (led by young people) we wake up to everyday in the name of clean drinking water, sanitation and the delivery of RDP houses could be used as evidence of this notion. As a form of protest or as a safety measure, parents in these communities feel compelled to temporarily keep their kids out of school and out of play. The sad truth is that the more things change the more they stay the same; we are still stuck in first base. I would like to live to see the day when young people of colour reach a state of self-actualization. Graduating from physiological, to safety, to social, to ego needs – graduating from success to substance therefore achieving self-transcendence.
Imagine what that individual achievement in mass would do for Mzantsi’s future 🙂