Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anticipation, Soul-Searching, and Job Hunting

Where have I been this past week? Why have I been keeping a low profile?

I don’t know. The whole week has felt like I’ve been stuck in suspended animation, or like some kind of unproductive vacuum. I thought since my classes were through I’d enjoy a little bit of downtime, AKA the bum life, and then once I’d had my fill, I’d get back to blogging and catch up on other responsibilities. I fully intended to put my remaining vacation days to good use.

So what happened?

The first few days, like I said, I allotted for compulsory slothfulness after another school term. I ate, slept, watched TV, surfed the net all day, and worked out, and I was happy. At first I enjoyed it, no more deadlines to beat, no pressing or urgent demands! And for the first time in months I had time to watch television again. I’d been so busy that I couldn’t remember the last time I sat down like a couch potato in front of the television, and most of the shows I watched, I would just stream or download for me to watch at a later time. I got my news straight from Twitter, and to hold a remote control in my hands again was so refreshing! But to my dismay, just when I had the time to watch TV, nothing good was on and I would settle for re-runs and cartoons.

I even got over my heartbreak over the Hunter X Hunter remake and started watching the new show on Animax. I thought maybe nostalgia would do me some good. But I discovered, instead of tugging on my heartstrings and bringing back fond memories of my childhood, I was disgusted by it. And I used to be such a huge fan! The story was the same, the quality of the animation was much improved, that’s for sure, but since it’s a remake, it’s was in essence, the same as the original, yet it no longer made me feel the way it did back then. It didn’t conjure up or evoke any of the positive feelings I associated with it, or at least I thought I did. I was so confused, until it dawned on me, that it wasn’t the show at all, it was I who had changed. It was me. I was only ten when I first watched it, and how impressionable I was at that age! I related and identified with the protagonist Gon, I loved the adventure, and I was a kid. But a decade later, unbelievable as it seems, at twenty years old, watching it again, I just scoffed at how naïve Gon was, no, still is (duh, he’s a character who hasn’t aged) and I felt derision at his blind faith, his idealism. That was how I used to be. How I was. What made him endearing and cute when I was ten, makes him a brat now that I’m twenty! And I hate myself for hating it, at every turn, how Gon would succeed, and I would inwardly scream, it’s not like that at all in real life, there are no happy endings! It’s an awful thing, learning that you’ve become jaded and disillusioned—an adult. Good and bad are now relative, when once I had certainty. And what I once loved, now stirs nothing but contempt in my heart. It’s so hard to admit, like swallowing a bitter pill. Love into mockery, into scorn!

I couldn’t stand it, and I stopped watching it. It was too painful, knowing I’d lost faith in one of my childhood heroes. I know it’s just an anime, but it meant so much to me, growing up. It’s one of my references to this day. Reality is, I’ve grown up, and I’m not so sure if that’s a good thing. And when I think of my life, between ages ten and twenty, I’m not sure exactly where or when I changed. I think I first realized that I was getting older, when in another cartoon, Hey, Arnold!, they stayed as fourth graders, and never changed, while I went onto the fifth grade, and left them behind, but I just dismissed it back then as nonsense.

Here and now, however it happened, gradually or overnight, I don’t know. But I’m a pop culture animal, and I’ve noticed, even in the other television shows I watch, how different I am now. In Once Upon a Time, I root for the Evil Queen Regina, and I completely sympathize with her cause of bringing down Snow White. As a kid, my favorite Disney Princess was Snow White, but in the show, I just want to gouge her eyes out. Why does she get her happy ending? What’s so good about her, anyway? What makes her better than everyone else, that she gets a happily ever after with Prince Charming? When “good” conquers “evil” it’s all sunshine and daisies, but when “evil” gets the upper hand, it’s foul? How unfair! Good has an agenda for its own good, the status quo, the monopoly of happy endings! Well, how about the rest? Don’t they deserve a chance at happiness? Why can’t Regina get her justice?! What’s with the dichotomy between good and evil!? Regina, whose happiness was stolen from her by a spoiled princess Snow White, is evil for getting revenge? And Snow White, an adulteress by right, gets forgiven because she’s “good” at heart? Not in my book! I know must sound like a lunatic, blathering on and on about shows and being all devil’s advocate like. I can’t help it. I’m affected. Boo. Instead of shows making me relaxed, they got me even more uptight.

And in other news, Lady Gaga’s concert and the Impeachment Trial also consumed me in my idleness. I didn’t really care much for the controversy and the Satan issues, protest, and whatnot. I mean, Lady Gaga will always be her provocative, misunderstood self, and the Church will always be the Church, conservative and paranoid as ever. That’s life. Why be bothered? I mean, if the fans are truly fans, they wouldn’t care what the Church has to say. Why get riled up? Just go to the concert and get your money’s worth, end of discussion. And the Church has the right to its own opinions. Let’s all be informed and respect each other, enough with the vitriol. Personally, I don’t care for Lady Gaga’s politics and religion, but she puts on a good show, and I love to be entertained. It’s her music that I’m after, not what she stands for. Anyway, I didn’t watch her concert, way too expensive. I’ve never been to a legit concert, actually. Bands performing at high school fairs don’t count. I know, nothing compares to the real deal, but I wouldn’t spend just to be at a distance, so no big deal. But on the day of the concert, there were all these contests on Twitter giving away free tickets, so I thought why not, nothing to lose! Well, it wasn’t my lucky day. Still, it would have been a lot of fun, from what I heard from those who went.

As for the Impeachment Trial, I guess I’m more of a neutral observer. And watching the legal proceedings and arguments is so engrossing, so educational. I sometimes wonder if I’m cut out for Law School. Sometimes. But really, I’m more interested in seeing how it all plays out and turns out in the end, than I am invested in a conviction or acquittal. At this point I don’t believe in either side, I mean nobody’s clean, not one person is beyond reproach, nobody’s only a sinner, or a saint. Everyone lies. Everyone’s covering something up. They are all hypocrites. There are no innocents there, I’m sure, and I’m just curious to know what the consequences will be. When all is said and done, what’s next? Will the country be better off, whatever the outcome? What does it mean in the long run? It’s a precedent after all, for the three branches of government…

Heavy much? I know, So I tried focusing on more light-hearted things, like our fast-approaching trip to Singapore. I started looking up attractions and destinations, things like that, where to shop and dine, things to do and see. I Googled our hotel, even, and I was crushed when I learned it doesn’t have a swimming pool. I haven’t had the chance to debut my new bikini, and I thought Singapore would fix that, but alas, no. I’m going to bring my bikini anyway, just in case. You just never know. What I look forward to the most, is going to Universal Studios, without a doubt. I love amusement parks, roller coasters, rides, theme areas. It makes me feel young again, joyful and carefree. It’s weird how, when I think about it, at twenty, life’s barely begun, and yet, there are those times that I just feel so old. But I don’t really want to dwell on that stuff, when Singapore is waiting for me! I can’t wait. So much packing to do, outfit planning, oh my!  

Of course, before even getting into the jet-setting mood, there are all of the necessary preparations, like pre-enlistment and enrollment for the first semester, and getting my internship in order, that I have to take care of first. I can’t just drop everything and leave for Singapore without tying up loose ends and unfinished business. After all, June is just a blink away, and so is all of my official and school stuff that I have to get to, on the road to April 2013, God willing. So I set out to pave my way into senior year. But then I went into a slump, and it was hard for me to switch back into gear. Somehow, going from a super hectic second semester, to a brief activity-filled trip to Ilocos, and then back to school for daily summer classes, and finally going on vacation, apparently messed up my rhythm and activity patterns. It feels like playing back a song going on fast forward, then hitting pause, then stop, then play again, rewind, until you don’t know anymore where you were. This sense of disorientation, of listlessness just took over me, and I didn’t know how to get back to normal. I was at a loss. The ennui had somehow thrown me off course.

I knew I couldn’t just sit on my hands and be useless, there was no time for that. The future is NOW. However out of it I felt, there was no more room for indecisiveness, for self-doubt. And I worked on my resume, which was a challenge in itself. What’s relevant, what’s not? When is it considered embellishment and when is it downplaying? For instance, achievements, merits, what have you. I mean, who doesn’t want to be attractive or impressive on paper, who doesn’t want to highlight, showcase, emphasize qualifications? But of course, every claim has to be backed up. Walk the walk and talk the talk. College is supposed to prepare you for the real world, but you can only be taught so much in a classroom, the rest, has to be learned through real life experience. Ahem, resume-writing, and job hunting.

So I started sending out applications left and right, to the major networks, TV stations, radio stations, advertising agencies, production houses, companies, everywhere, really, as long as I’m qualified. Being a student of mass communication, though I’m a broadcast major, isn’t really a one way street, or limited to one career path, because communication as a skill set or discipline is needed in so many fields, not just in the mass media industry. Ideally I would want to be in production, because I’m more inclined to that, as it’s my track and it’s what I love, but I can be flexible, and besides, I believe all communication related fields have something to offer, a chance to learn more new things, so why encase myself rigidly in one thing and one thing only. It’s not like medicine or law, with more often than not, a linear career track.

There are those people who knew from the time they were little what they wanted to be—a doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut—I’m not one of those people. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out for myself where my strengths lie, and even now, I feel that I have open-ended prospects. If I gazed into a crystal ball for long term goals, I would have to say that it would be hazy because I honestly haven’t gotten it planned out yet. I think I want to try my hand at everything, and then decide. Experimentation versus commitment, is my deal.

Well, in any case, after sending out resumes, I thought I’d have to wait a bit before getting any hits, so to speak. I wasn’t expecting to get a call overnight. Not in the slightest. Lo and behold, the next morning my phone rang. It was an unregistered number and I answered it like I would any other call, possibly a wrong number, with a curt, if tentative “Hello?” Thank goodness I didn’t blurt out “Sino ‘to?” (Who’s this?) like an idiot. If I had known it was an HR representative, I’d have put on my business call persona. I’d have answered in my prepared dialogue, “Yes, this is she. May I help you?” I would have channeled my most professional, most sophisticated, most suave tone. I had no such luck. I mean I imagine I kept my dignity, but inwardly that had to be one of my most nerve-wracking phone calls ever. The voice on the other end of the line introduced herself and stated her purpose, and I pretty much did a silent double-take when I heard her ask me if I could come to their office the next day for an exam regarding my application for an intern position. I had to ask her to repeat the question. To make matters worse, Sun Cellular chose that, of all times, to have poor signal reception, and since the call was so choppy, the caller (sorry, no name dropping here) said she’d try again later. We hung up and shortly afterwards I received a text message with all the details…

I was in a trance like state, in a stupor of, I don’t know what to call it, I was simply taken aback. I felt winded, like I got punched in the gut. I don’t mean it like a figurative blow, I just didn’t see it coming, not so soon, at least. It came from out of nowhere. Just boom, and it laid me flat. Like a one punch knock out. My mind was this jumbled mess of questions, how, when, what, why, how, who. And when I finally wrapped my head around it, piecing together my fragmented thoughts—me, exam, office, tomorrow, Makati, intern—I started thinking furiously on what to do. Maybe to others it’s obvious, confirm ASAP, dimwit! But there I was, a job application virgin, and I had about short-circuited at the news! For shame. And here I’ve always regarded myself as being self-assured when it came to such matters. Eventually, I collected myself and replied that I was available.

Fate sealed. No backing out. That text message could never adequately convey the combined terror and adrenaline rush I felt then. When I told Mama and my sisters they were all, “calm yourself, woman!” It seems they’re more than eager to pack me off to the workplace. HAHA, I felt like a newly hatched chick poking my beak out and emerging from my protective shell, with my family coaxing me out, “Yes, go on, you can do it!” Oh, tough love. When I had settled down, I spent the rest of that day, putting together my outfit and my writing portfolio, in that order, yes. Somehow, the anxiety faded when I was absorbed in the process, and that night, I slept soundly.I woke up bright and early the next morning and got ready.

Oh, and before I forget, I recently ran out of acne antibiotics, and I decided to try Panoxyl for a change because I noticed that my old medications didn’t seem to be working. My pimples dried up practically overnight, and I thought I’d found a keeper, but on the third day of using it, my entire face was inflamed, itchy, and a little bit swollen, and my skin felt rough, scaly, and dry! So the past few days I’ve been on anti-histamines and steroids, and on the day of my appointment, my skin had healed up considerably, though there were still residual rashes on parts of my forehead and cheeks. So I used as little makeup as possible, and I applied color corrector, like a foundation, instead of a concealer, to my whole face, to reduce the redness, and over that, just some setting powder. You can still see the blotchiness of my skin, but it’s way better than a few days ago that I looked like a had a nasty sun burn. I didn’t use blush, contour powder or highlighter anymore. And I wore Ever Bilena’s matte lipstick in Offbeat Pink, and applied a little bit of mascara and brown eyeliner.




As for my outfit, it was actually a tough call. As I’ve said, this was my first job interview ever, so I’ve never had occasion to dress, well, like a job interviewee before. And I wasn’t sure what would fit the bill. My wardrobe sorely lacks in blouses and skirts, or slacks. I have plenty of dresses, but most of them are just casual, printed dresses, and they’re all mostly short. Some of my other dress were too dressy, or too formal to be deemed appropriate either. I even searched on the internet for the proper attire. And one of the more helpful sites I found was Project Vanity, and I got a lot of tips and pointers from this post. After scouring my closet, I found the dress I bought for my newscast production from last year, a burgundy and gray dress with ruched sleeves/shoulders (?), a waistband with a garter, and an almost wrap around type of skirt. Classy, but still, very me.

I wore a black blazer over the dress and paired it with a simple shoulder bag. Thank goodness I own even the most basic of pieces, but I still had to borrow Mama’s shoes because almost all my shoes are the daily, walking, sandal kind. And for added polish, I wore a pair of pearl earrings. Not too overdone, in my opinion, just enough to appear poised. HAHA, c’mon, let me have my moment. Being all dressed up actually helped me get into the swing of things, I looked the part of the job seeker, and I felt the part too.

This is where things get hairy. The office was in Makati, and since Mama had business in the area, she drove me. We didn’t anticipate that Friday traffic along EDSA would be beyond hellish, and that it would take two hours to get there. We left the house at 8:15 and I got there, as in, I stepped off the curb in front of the building at 10:15 am, fifteen minutes late for my 10 am appointment. UGH! If we had only left at 8 am I’d have been right on time. And I hate being late! The butterflies in my stomach on the way there, were more out of fear of being late than the actual test and interview! I think I was gnawing on my cheek the whole ride while we were stuck in traffic, and I went through all the worst case scenarios in my head. Lesson learned though, going to Makati by car is actually a bad idea, and it’s better to take the train. Needless to say, I was frazzled and coupled with waiting for the elevator, I arrived at the office lobby past 10:20. I felt like my hair which I pulled back into a clip, by the way, had gotten mussed, like my skirt had gotten rumpled, even though I looked fine, I had that sort of mental disarray clouding my mind as I shuffled over to their receptionist and asked for my contact person.

I was given a form to fill out while waiting, so I sat in their lobby and quietly took in the new scenery, the office setup, observing their comings and goings with my downcast eyes. The representative who called me came for me shortly and accompanied me to another room where she administered a written exam. No leakage here, but it wasn’t unlike exams I’d had in school, only it was more job specific. There were some tricky items, some things you usually take for granted and don’t think about, but I took my time answering the questions and I think I fared well. I think. I hope. Anyway, I was given an hour, but I finished it in less. I handed it in and I was told to wait to be interviewed.

Because I arrived late, lunch hour had already struck, and of course everyone was on break. I just sat in the lobby, and in hindsight, it was a good thing I wore a blazer because their air-conditioning was really cold. I didn’t feel hungry at all, and it was as if time stood still. I was pretty deep in thought when I got called to their HR head’s office. When I think about it, it was a short distance away, but my legs were leaden and numb, heavy not with fear, but something else, that I can’t put my finger on. When I try to replay my interview in my head, I don’t remember all the things I said. I have the tendency to run my mouth and go into an all out gab fest when I feel tense or intimidated, but the HR head was very approachable, and put me at ease, so in that sense, I ended up talking my head off, anyway, opening up like the talkative person I am.

Since this was my first time getting interviewed, I don’t have any previous experiences to compare it to, so I don’t know if my interview was out of the ordinary in any way. Basically, I was asked what my expectations were, what I thought the company was all about, etc. Before I came there, I read about the company’s background, but my notions of what went on, what they did, were still vague. During my interview, it became more clear, what internship with the company would entail. The interview was pretty conversational and I had fun. Maybe I had too much fun. I’ve always pictured job interviews to be really serious and that I would have to be subdued and career-woman like. But somehow, I got to talking and talking, and talking. The HR head didn’t beat around the bush either and asked me what I was really after. I believe in being candid and forthcoming so that there won’t be any misunderstandings, and I honestly answered that my heart is in production, but I am always open to opportunities in a corporate setting, and willing to learn, improve, and add to my skills. After all, experience always redounds to knowledge, and nobody loses by gaining knowledge. Writing experience is always useful, whatever the field (am I giving it away?).

I totally understand the point that was being driven home, that they have to protect their interest, and what if I had committed to their company, and later got another offer, would I just up and leave? And I said, that would reflect poorly on my character, and I would only commit if I had a definite answer. And that answer would depend on my department, my finalized schedule, which I won’t find out until enrollment, and of course responses from other companies that I applied to. But once I commit, I will see it through. Was that a trick question? Was I too frank or tactless for my own good? Should I not have mentioned that I’m interested in other companies? I just don’t believe in subterfuge. It’s true that I’m looking, but then that’s the whole point of applying, isn’t it? In the same way, companies go through a selection process before hiring someone. Is there a subtle way of saying you’re waiting to get more calls? Was that a faux pas? Did I hurt my chances? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you one thing, the first time, was a first, and I shall credit that to another learning experience.

Towards the end, it was agreed that they would evaluate my application and on my part, once I knew my schedule and had made my own decision, that I should notify them ASAP. We shook hands and said goodbye and I pocketed the business card gleefully on my way out. I had done it. I had gotten through it, without making too big a fool of myself! I can only hope that I made a good impression and that my work and my exam result will speak for itself. A girl can hope.

I stepped into the elevator, and that’s when this monstrous hunger pang hit me, it was totally delayed while I was baring my soul in my interview. HAHA. Drama, I know. It was already halfway past noon, my interview lasted for almost half and hour, apparently, when I met up with Mama downstairs, she had finished her business too, and we went to the car, which was parked two blocks away! I was in a blazer and Mama’s shoes pinched my toes and when we got there I was in real pain. But I was glad, with another milestone crossed off my list! Like a boss. Or not. When we left, the parking fee amounted to a staggering 80 pesos! Wow. Gas, traffic, and parking fee, not to mention time, are all stacked up against me driving to Makati. Guess I really will have to commute if I do work there.

The rest of the afternoon, I tagged along with Mama on her errands, but I was spaced out the whole time, thinking about the events that had just transpired. I had all these mixed feelings, and I was deliberating whether I had pulled it off nicely or if I had screwed up, but only time will tell, and whatever happens, at least, I got something out of it. To learn something new about yourself, at the end of the day, to test yourself and your principles, and come out of it better, stronger, wiser, is always a win.

The best is yet to come.

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