We all have that one person who has had an immense influence on us. For me, that person is my older brother – Tornike.
When I was young and about to make some very important decisions about my future and where that future would be, Tornike did something that would affect me forever.
Like any other Georgian student in early 2000s, Tornike did not have many opportunities of continuing his studies abroad. However, he worked hard and studied at one of the most prestigious business schools in the country. After four years of difficult classes and long nights, he started his job at the Georgian branch of one of the best audit companies in the world –PricewaterhouseCoopers. (PwC) This was an amazing achievement, and indeed we were all very proud of him.
Only, it was not his somewhat straightforward path to career success that deeply affected me.
Tornike had always been interested in music. Ever since he was a teenager, he had managed to dedicate some time to, what was unfortunately, only “a hobby.” Pursuing music in a post-soviet Georgia was very difficult; the musical industry was definitely not one of the very few viable career destinations. With a lot of social and financial pressure, he had initially chosen a safer career in business. But, this would not last for long. Right at what could have become the peak of his career at the company, Tornike gave up his PwC job and decided to become a full-time musician. At the age of 25, he applied and got accepted at the Georgian Musical Conservatoire.
I still remember the disappointed faces of my grandparents, unable to grasp why my brother would commit something they considered “a career suicide.” I remember how my mother, eager to support my brother’s pursuit of his passion, but still upset, quietly suggested “Maybe, you could find more time for music without giving up your job?”
But, he could not. Tornike had chosen to fully pursue what he loved; he had faced and overcome an unimaginable social pressure to do so.
I, myself, had always been good at achieving goals that were clearly set. Many times, I had imagined myself at some Georgian university, rarely using my beloved English – a language I would love to continue my studies in. Like my brother, I would go to a top Georgian university and work at some foreign company afterwards. My family would surely be proud.
However, what “behaving like my brother” meant changed very quickly. Now, it meant taking risks, pursuing my passions and not succumbing to the suffocating pressure of conventional life paths. I realized that, I, too could aim at whatever I wanted; at least, I could try; he had tried.
Several years later, here I am, writing this piece. In retrospect, I see that, had it not been for my brother, I would not be where I am now. I would not be studying at one of the top universities of a country that is several thousand miles away from home. I would be afraid of trying things I had never thought possible. I would have a different definition of possible.
Up to this day, Tornike, currently at the Royal Academy of Aarhus, Denmark, keeps fighting for his dream. Every time I speak to him, I remember that person, who, despite a very real danger of financial instability, against all odds, decided to pursue his passion; I remember a person who believed in himself when nobody else did, a person who made me believe in myself. And at that very moment, I am sure - no matter the odds, he will succeed.