I’m married to a guy with 2 master degrees, while for me, it’s been 9 years since I had anything to do with academics life. I worked for 5 years in the industry related to my degree, geology, and took a whole different direction after I resigned. Now, I’m doing things mostly related to art and communication. The good news: I have never been asked about what major I took in university to get any job or freelance project. Even when I got asked, I would answer honestly and people would only say, “Oh, that’s interesting. What a pivot.”
Despite the fact that academic background would not affect my ‘career’ (if I really have one), there’s always a part of me wondering: how would it feel, to learn something that I’m genuinely interested and curious about. While I did pretty good and liked geology as a part of Earth Science, my psychology test result I took in high school told me that I was suitable most to these majors:
- Mass communication
- Design and visual communication
- International relation
For years, I kept telling my husband that someday, I’d like to apply for a scholarship for a master degree. He, as a Chevening alumni, has always been supportive but I personally would wait for a better time in terms of family planning. He agreed but suggested that I should also think about this master degree plan thoroughly.
Why do I want to do this? (for personal pride? external validation because everyone is doing it? pure curiosity? career step?) What major I would take? (art? communication?) Why should anyone give a scholarship to ME? What have I done and achieved? What impact and benefit I can bring? To whom would it benefit?
This conversation stuck and it still sticks today. I’m turning 31 this year, I’ve passed the phase of wanting to experience living abroad so I can put “Part time student, full time traveler” on my Instagram bio. I have kid and I’m pretty much ‘settled’ on my current industry (which isn’t really strict about degree). Yet the dream stays, or I may call it today… a mid-long term goal.
I’m still not sure about which university or what major I would take, but I can say that I’ve been consistently interested in women empowerment, specifically in mothers. As a context, it doesn’t put women without kids in any less important position, but to focus more on the struggle that I can relate more.
I became a mother and a freelancer in 2016. In 2017, I started to create comics and visual content about motherhood on Instagram. I shared it as personal notes and at the same time, a little protest, an anti-thesis of ‘perfect young mama-grams’ who seemed to handle everything perfectly: cute kids, back into good shapes in no time, and always in a good mood.
At the same time, I struggled establishing my freelance career. I even had someone to help me with my baby and the house, but being a working at home mom is not easy. Even though working at home / working from home is a modern lifestyle that can be a modern solution for modern women to be empowered and empower at the same time.
In short, there are MANY expectations for modern mom. To be a good mom by classic definition: to take care of the family and the house, with kids eating healthy homemade food, to be smart and intellectually never-stop-growing, to do something with their education / degree (having good career / inspirational hobbies, etc), etc.
In fact, I was just talking about mothers in a very particular socioeconomic class. These are very exclusive subjects indeed. We haven’t talked about literacy, financial and economic issues, healthcare, and still very far from talking about domestic violence.
However, when we talk about motherhood, we’re talking about something we all have in common: the future.
Mothers are raising the next generation; the future; ours. When mothers are empowered, feeling secure and able to make peace with themselves, they will raise kids with the more or less the same feeling: secure and peaceful. Mothers with good critical thinking skills will raise open minded kids who will think twice before hating things they don’t know.
I’m aware that it takes a village to raise a child, but if I think about it, it was my mother whom I discussed with when a classmate in elementary school said bad things about other religion (I went to moderate Islamic school and my mom used to be an Adventist Christian before converting to Islam).
I can go on and on and on about how great the impact can be when mothers are empowered. As much as believe that empowering mothers means investing for the future, I also believe that motherhood isn’t limited to the role of a woman raising kids and taking care of the family. We are also talking about moms on play dates, mamas on parents’ committee at school, mothers who do social gathering in the neighborhood, or mommies on group chat. I have this group chat consists of female friends I meet in International Student Festival, and a lot of conversations are fruitful and inspiring (although I must admit that others conversation are more on the ‘fun’ side ;P)
Now, let’s get back to me and my plan so we can end this blog post.
In the past 3 years, I’ve been trying to communicate and talk with other mothers through visual communication, such as comic, illustration, infographic, or simple animation / cartoon. I’ve been sharing about making peace with ourselves, self-acceptance, writing and evaluating goals, the importance of literacy and critical thinking, creativity and productivity through blog, social media, and comic book.
I actually tried other format such as podcast or offline events, but visual and written contents are what I’m doing most. Besides, I’ve been incorporating the spirit of motherhood and family theme in commercial projects or collaboration. They are proven working because most of the brands I’ve worked with respect the value of women empowerment.
So far, I think it’s safe to raise a hypothesis that visual communication through online content, including illustration, comic and cartoon, is one of the effective ways to influence and empower women, including mothers in this era. Illustration, comic, and cartoon can also be inclusive when they are crafted with value and having purposes.
So far, that’s what I have in mind to answer my husband’s questions regarding the dream / goal / plan. I know I have very limited knowledge and experience about this but I’m willing to learn more. Do I need a master degree? I think it would be interesting to see it from academic / social science points of view, to discuss with data and statistics, to get out of my bubble and have a reason to talk with more people. But for now, I guess I’ll keep this writing here as a personal motivation.
Maybe later, after more years of experience being a mother and talking with more mothers :)