This 21-year-old young woman has not succumbed to the big scary term called ‘career’. Instead she is ready to approach it with an open mind and a set of skills that her friends say are unique to her. Find out more about a budding artist from Delhi who believes sustainability and design could be her niche.
Labonie Roy, 21, Student, Delhi
Interviewed By Poorva Dinesh
Why did you decide to give us an interview on career?
At this stage of my life, career is a huge looming thing that I have to address and conquer. I have to figure out what I want to do in life. People think of ‘career’ as this big scary term, this mountainous challenge that they have to overcome. I think career could just be enjoying yourself and supporting yourself at the same time. It’s really important for me to build my career into something like that. Currently, I’m working in an upcycling design studio which deals with recycled materials. Both design and sustainability really appeal me. There are lots of opportunities in both but it’s also a rickety field. It takes a while to find one’s footing.
Are you looking for a career in sustainability or upcycling?
I’ve discussed this with my friends. One of them said that I have certain skills which are unique. The combination and end result of those skills is something that only I can achieve. I’m trying to build those skills and find my niche. I know it’s vague. I guess this is the freedom that our generation has. The fact that we have access to so many things and such brilliant, specific and wide education that we can create our own niches and careers through it. It’s important to recognize that privilege.
You must be having friends who come from a restricted field professionally, e.g. if someone is training to be a pilot, they will come out and work as a pilot in most cases. Whereas you come from a background which is quite flexible and you can mix and match to see where it takes you. Does it make you anxious as to where you are headed?
Most definitely. See, once you’re in an art school, you come out as a designer most probably. And once you specialize, that field becomes your life. By a certain age one tends to follow the path that others have paved already. For instance, if I want to be a doctor, I’ll follow the steps of my uncle who’s a doctor because it makes sense. However, people in my generation have to set their own goals, see how they can combine career with passion, and decide when to settle.
I’m really lucky that way because my parents have given me full freedom to choose what I want to achieve in life. I’d go nuts if I had a kid like me. That freedom itself is stressful, though. If they don’t give me any deadlines, I have to put them down myself. I haven’t been able to plan it all out yet but I’m working on it.
Have you given yourself a specific timeframe to achieve your goals?
I definitely want to support myself by the age of 25 at least. If I have not achieved my goals by that time, I think I would have failed. I have to use the time from now till then very productively.
Do you have goals regarding the kind of money you want to earn or lifestyle you want to live by then?
I have no idea in terms of money. But the kind of lifestyle I want to live, if it were in Auroville, it would be really cheap. I would not need more than Rs 16,000 a month. But it’ll be tough to maintain it in cities like Delhi or Bombay. I’m also interested in craft development which would involve a lot of travelling, so I’d like to have a small house in a city and travel for work. I don’t want anything extravagant. You see, both sustainability and design come with a sense of frugality. I don’t want to own a car or wear branded clothes, those are not my goals. As long as I’m comfortable and don’t have to worry about money, I’m good. But I also don’t want to work like a crazy person. It’s really important for me to preserve my integrity. For example, I don’t want to be charging Rs 6,000 for something that has cost me Rs 25. That way I don’t think I’d be making much money in this field. Maybe it sounds naïve. As long as my integrity is preserved and I’m comfortable, my goal is accomplished.
Did you always know you wanted to design? Was there a phase of confusion after you cleared 12th grade?
I’m still confused that way. I have major interests but bringing them together is the biggest challenge. From school onwards, I was sure I wanted to build and hone the particular set of skills I had. I studied science in school because I was interested in biology. I also studied history along with that because I wanted to know about societal development. In college, I switched to sociology because I wanted to learn about that. For me, it’s never been a unidirectional career approach. It’s been about collecting things on the way. Many people ask me till date why didn’t I just opt for an art school, which did concern me as well. I applied for one this year but when I thought of joining it, I felt that would just narrow it down too much. I want to broaden my experiences and skills. It’s not about what I want to do in life, it’s about what I want to do with what I have.
Do you face criticism from friends or family on your career approach?
I’m lucky when it comes to friends. They’re facing similar dilemmas and there’s a general support for each other. Relatives in the larger family circle or old classmates who are doing some management course enquire about my career plans and I tell them that I’m still figuring it out, which is a strange answer for them. It’s condescending sometimes when they say I’m a girl and that’s why I can do whatever I want. But I want to definitely support myself and be independent.
The last question is not related to the interview topic, but we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love means trust, support and understanding, and there’s just a fundamental amount of care that can’t be explained. It also means consistency.