“The world is your oyster.” How many times in one life time have you come across this quote? Let’s dive into the overwhelm such a simple quote can bring about during or after completing school, deciding on a career path or starting that business that made others question your ability.

First, let’s explore an oyster, a type of mollusk with two shells, each containing a protective layer that covers its organs. This protective layer known as the mantle is responsible for safeguarding vital organs that keep it alive. Keeping in mind, nearly all high quality pearls are created by oysters, although pearl clams and mussels do exist, they are extremely rare.

Much like our upbringing we have our parents, the two main characters that form part of the shell and hold the responsibility for safeguarding the new generation. Then we have our own personal bodies with its own unique designs we have been blessed with at birth, covered in skin that protects our organs and to expand that outward the family we live with ensures we stay alive by having a roof over our head, education and all the necessities that come with our growing years.

Next is the forming of a pearl, the creating of this particular pearl is not done overnight I’m afraid, it takes some pearls 6 months to develop and up to four years for a larger pearl which ideally are the ones to be harvested. The formation of a pearl is often times seen as mystical in the eyes of those not aware of the process. In like of many natural processes, the birth of a pearl takes time and once the process is complete the result is STUNNING!

Bringing this process into focus we each have our own pearls from years passed at school, the certificate received after years of studying a chosen career, starting at a company or simply starting a business. Here we take inventory of the forming of these pearls that took as much time as it needed to develop, in so doing we are in awe of the beauty we get to share with others through our own personal development and learning experiences.

The creation of a pearl is simply in response to irritants, such as a grain of sand or other object. Once an irritant makes its way between the mollusk shell and mantle, the creature produces nacre, a protective coating that assists in reducing the irritation. Nacre is also referred to as mother-of-pearl, made up of microscopic crystals of calcium carbonate and lines the interior of the mollusk shell. The layers of nacre, coats the irritant eventually forming an iridescent gem, the pearl.

Now let’s go back to when you started school, an irritant that started to shape how you communicated with others, dealt with conflict or bullying, learnt and mastered a new subject, gathering the ability to ask for help, the societal norms that have now formed how you approach given hardships or blessings life throws at you. The manner in which we respond to the feedback aids in the development of our pearls, from the discomfort of leaving school to enter into a career or starting a business with only the vision in mind we start to face more challenges as we develop. These challenges could look like financial setbacks, relooking at the marketing structure or the fundamentals of what the success would look like in the next couple years and what will be needed to achieve it. In each given moment you have formed your pearls which is worn either proudly or as a shackle attached to your ankle as you start to move through new irritants in business and personal life.

 The pearl harvest, before the invention of cultured pearls in the early 20th Century, all pearls grew in the wild, thus making them extremely rare and valuable. Thanks to modern technology and careful oyster farming techniques, pearls can be harvested on a much larger scale than in the past. Cultured pearls develop under controlled conditions both in saltwater and freshwater all over the globe. Pearl farmers put the oysters in sheltered bays that have nutrient-rich waters aiding in feeding and growth, depositing layers of nacre so they can create pearls. Once the pearls are ready to be harvested, they are removed from the water and transported to harvesting facilities. Harvesters open the oysters, remove the pearls and in some cases, prepare the oysters to create more pearls.

Let’s take a look into how you harvest your own pearls that you have created overtime through school, gaining a matric certificate that could open the door into furthering your knowledge in a chosen field or embracing a gap year to dive into the working environment to have a better handle on where you would like to be or starting a business that adds value to others around you with the potential to grow in spaces you haven’t yet discovered. Each holding its own rare and valuable gems that can be shared with the world once the growth of your pearl has reached it’s time to go onto the market, thus either diving into the chosen career line or starting that business.

Taking the pearls to the market, despite the technological advances that allow pearl farmers to cultivate pearls on a much larger scale, in truth fewer than half of all the oysters will survive the nucleating process. Of those that survive, 20% of them create marketable pearls. The nucleating process involves pearl farmers selecting oysters, opening their shells, cutting into the mantle and depositing an irritant that causes them to create a pearl. Experts sort through thousands of pearls and separate them based on size, color and luster. Sorting is a difficult process and each pearl is handled hundreds of times to ensure that it fits into the appropriate category. In order to find 47 pearls for a perfectly matched 16-inch necklace, a pearl processor must cull through more than 10 000 pearls.

Noticing our external factors, there is not much that we can control when we are faced with irritants, only how we reduce it on our response to it. Over time we have developed many pearls, some may be misshaped and less appealing, where others may form part of the 16-inch necklace that we get to wear and possibly share with others. Yet each pearl created alongside other oysters is the gift we at times may over look as each one had to master their own ability in creating their pearls. Knowing that you have the ability to shape and form new pearls along your journey, be that in a career line or with a new business project, it is the experience gained over time that reaps the reward and understanding to achieve greater heights it is not done simply by oneself, there is a multitude of assistance, from the outer shell being your family environment, those irritants faced with grace and your own personal skill set to develop with the support of others as well as the trust in yourself to make the decided call. From leaving school to starting a business, the hardships faced along the way, give way to a new look on what can truly be uncovered should one harness the courage to accept the feedback and grow from the lessons of failure and success in equal measure. All the pearls we have created overtime are in constant development, where learning to unlearn and relearn creates larger, more valuable pearls. You get to wear your pearls regardless of what they look like and better yet, you can create new ones along the path of curious learning where you discover the greatness in those you surround yourself with.

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