Friday, January 12, 2007

My Alternative Careers: A Case of "Be Careful What You Pray For"

I'm experiencing the power of the written word. I should have entitled this blog "Adventures in Shopping" or "Successes in Writing", maybe then I would not be going through repeated bouts with impatience, no, perhaps I would be reaping the rewards of engaging in things I actually enjoyed doing. Instead I had to name this blog "Lessons in Waiting", and so periodically, maybe more often than normal people do, I go through such exasperating lessons.

I did not plan this and the options before me are not exactly to my liking. I am in-between jobs and my patience is (yet again) growing thin. I had lunch with my high school barkada earlier today. They asked me how long I have been jobless. I said, "About three weeks, including the holiday season". I received a first-class ganging-up from them. They said I had nothing to complain about because it had not been that long and I had more waiting to look forward to. Government appointments usually took one to two months, international organizations one up to five months, and the private sector three to four months, depending on how picky the candidate was.

Boy, was I picky. I met with a headhunter today to know my options outside of government and to practice my interview skills. She told me point-blank that the demand for lawyers among her clients was very low. She said she could easily find me a job but I had to consider doing a career shift. What were the things I was interested in?, she asked. I actually forgot all the alternative careers I listed down in this blog last year. She presumed I was good with numbers because of my Business Economics and Manila Science background. I said I was better with words, and said maybe I would consider a career in writing, to which she replied, "There's no money there, either."

I was not disheartened by this exchange. She continued to probe. She asked if I could do branding and communications work for corporations, because she had an opening there that fit my asking salary. She considered my Lingkod experience as a speaker and leader alongside my interest in gadgets and makeup and said she was mentally running through the job descriptions in her inbox.

Midway through the interview, we started talking about the difficulty of attending once-a-week bible study with the work hours we had to put in. She said she is a Christian but seldom injects that into her interviews. I was open about my faith that was why she recommended that I read "Sweet Spot", a book about using our God-given gifts in the workplace. She said she would help me but I had to pray hard, for I was not a typical candidate. I did not care about money, for she said I didn't ask for much in order to make a living, which made me re-think if I should have asked for more, and then made me thankful that at last I was learning to live simply... maybe. She asked that I be patient, for matching me with the right job would take time.

Before I left, she, like a typical female, complimented my suit, which was my new power suit as all the others were last worn two years ago and did not give me the confidence I needed to go back into the corporate world. Well, I was not exactly going back, just testing the waters while I waited for the government to make an offer. I left her office feeling grateful that I met her for it was, to me, a good interview. I was, however, sure that I was not ready to give up my profession again so soon, not for the money or the prestige of having a job now. I was willing to wait a bit more for that next job somewhere, in an imperfect workplace, where my imperfect self could offer my sweet spot once again. I could reconsider, just not that drastic a change this early in the game. I'm not discounting that possibility in the future but it would not be so simple and easy to do that anymore.

Yesterday I was invited to judge a speech contest by the English department of an all-girls high school. It was conducted per year level so I was there the whole day. I survived on three cups of coffee and the memories triggered by the display of talent before me. I loved speech fests when I was a student and saw my idealism in the words of the representatives of each section. I listened to each one intently and concentrated on what grade to give, for it was a complicated process to compare "Diction", "Pronunciation", etc., among four contestants in each year level.

One of the teachers told me that the contestants said they were terrified of "Judge No. 3" and refused to look at her because she was not smiling. She said that she told them in reply, "Oh that's because she's a lawyer". What's that got to do with my attempt at being poker-faced? If only they knew that I was rooting for them, but did not show it, as I was concentrating on listening and well, "judging". I was not the harshest judge, by the way, as a former Religion teacher, Judge No. 1, despite showing his dimpled smile while making eye contact with the contestants, gave grades of "57" and "60".

I cringed every time my credentials were announced by the emcees. It didn't sound right to me. Those things seemed to speak of a self I knew from the distant past. I could hear their "oohs" and "aahs" at achievements received ten years ago, which didn't seem that big a deal anymore, and I wanted to tell the students, "It's OK, it's just me, and that's a glorified way of putting that I'm out of a job right now. Don't get too impressed. You haven't heard of my failures yet." I wanted to say something like that but did not have the heart to break the illusion of credibility that the English teachers wanted to create, not just for me but for all the judges, to create role models for the youth. So maybe the parts of my story that were not so impressive deserved to be heard another day in another way, like here in this blog.

In reality, every morning I beg for the grace to have faith and to believe that there is something in store for me, after all these tears and anxieties. I am learning to trust in the Lord more for Him to sustain me - every bit of me - during this period of waiting, which my friends recommended that I enjoy. I will write that down in my "to do" list: Enjoy waiting. It's almost funny, like an oxymoron for impatient souls like me.

It's no wonder that Gay gave me the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World". Perfectionism, over-achieverism, and messianism (two words I have invented) have to be purged from my system. I'm reading it now and I'm hoping it could teach me to sit at Jesus' feet, to enjoy "one thing" - "the better part" - Communion with Him, and not busyness in the "kitchen" where I cook my plans and ambitions.

Seems like I have to speed up my learning on waiting. Otherwise, I'd be better off maintaining another blog, say for example "Triumphs in Holiness". Maybe those words could come true as well and I would be all the happier.

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