An Awkward Crisis
“But [a grown-up] would always answer, “That’s a hat.” Then I wouldn’t talk about boa constrictors or jungles or stars. I would put myself on his level and talk about bridge and golf and politics and neckties…”
Le Petite Prince, otherwise known as “The Little Prince,” is a fascinating children’s tale that I recently read. To catch you up, I’ve been taking a beginner French course through work, and the instructor had asked us to study the story in order to improve our reading comprehension. At first, I didn’t really understand the story because:
1.) The text was above my understanding of French, and
2.) It didn’t follow the simple narrative of a fairy-tale
As we read more and more each week, I became quite obsessed with trying to understand the deeper meaning behind the children’s tale. The main character (Le Petite Prince), seemed to be facing some sort of existential crisis.
In short, I realized that the story depicted the differences between children and adults. As we grow older, we seem to lose our sense of imagination and joy. Our priorities in life become consumed with our status in society.
The strange behaviour of adults confused the little prince. He didn’t quite understand our need to “order people around, be admired and own everything,” and to be quite honest, the main character reminded me of myself.
Last year, I began my first corporate job at a law firm. As a recent graduate, I had such confidence instilled in me. The professors and culture at my university prepared me for a world of hard work, innovation and self-discovery. However, I was not prepared for jaded, uncaring people who were no longer amused by ideas, but instead, driven by money and power.
I was heartbroken on the day I stumbled upon a photojournalism exhibit in Brookfield Place. I came across stories and photographs of beautiful people in the world who were suffering. I felt compelled to write and figure out a career that would allow me to help people, or at least tell the stories of people who could not advocate for themselves.
That afternoon, I marched back to the firm I worked at and asked a lawyer (who had previous career in journalism), a myriad of questions. I asked her if she ever felt compelled to be a part of something bigger than herself? I asked her why did she stop writing, and why did she become a lawyer?
She stared at me, bewildered at the fact that I even stepped foot in her office. She took a deep breathe and calmly answered with a determined look in her eyes:
“No, I don’t feel that need to be a part of anything “bigger than myself,” Honestly, I went to journalism school because I was good at writing, but there’s no money in it. I became a lawyer because I thought it was interesting, I’m good at it and I earn a lot more money. I wouldn’t advise you to go to journalism school if that’s what you’re thinking….”
Everything she said was fair. However, I remember feeling so upset that day. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that people were suffering, and there wasn’t anything to do about it. I couldn’t comprehend the fact that she may have been a talented writer but didn’t feel the need to use her talents to speak up for others.
Life hit me hard that day, it was the first experience where I learned that people aren’t going to give you the advice that you’re looking for, nor will they agree with you.
That day, I was La Petite Princesse. I was young, naive and afraid of growing up. I wanted to imagine a world where we could be the best version of ourselves and help those in need with our big imagination and even bigger hearts.
Since then, I’ve been mindful of the fact that I never want to be solely driven by money and power, but as I continued my career, I saw how money could be the motive. I ‘suppose not everything is sunshine and rainbows, but I hope as we get older, we can be mindful of the fact that our inner child is still within us, and hopefully with each passing day, we can make this world a little brighter for les petits princes et princesses of the future.