A year hence [September 12]

[My Anniversary Address :)] 

I could begin this way:

I did not write this to impress anybody. I don’t care if people find it rude or irritating to any random reader who might come across and pay modest attention to the inklings of my little mind. They could call it hypocrisy — but that’s just me. If you’re fine with it, fine. If you’re not, I won’t take that against you.

But on second thought, I can start with something relatively more polite and acceptable to the reading public:

I am most honoured to be given this rarest of opportunities to impart my thoughts on the chosen topic. It is my sheer pleasure to share my genuine gratitude to this credible institution for making dreams come true.

Nope. The second beginning is actually what you call irritating, and boring nonetheless.

So, while I am still pondering on how this essay could start, let me first rewind to a few months back in my life (like an MMK episode), a period where my short-term memory find me lost, literally and otherwise.

So, I was wearing this blue polo shirt I borrowed from a neighbour — imagine the same stuff male celebrities in the ‘90s used to wear. Yes, the loose ones. I know it sounds and looks gross to wear something similar these days when Justin Bieber is the definition of what’s ‘in’, but pardon your outlandish fellow here. haha

Back to my story. It was one fine Thursday morning, barely two months after college and I, ended our four-year-hate-love affair. Searching for my own special spot in this world, I asked for all sorts of career advice from legitimate and pseudo-authorities, vendors to teachers, parents to students and my pet cat, just so I could finally land a job somewhere. That’s an exaggeration of course, although close enough to reality.

Armed with a little of doubts and a little of confidence, I passed through a number of interviews and exams for jobs that ranged from being pre-school teacher to warehouse clerk and oddly to being hotel room boy. Imagine how desperate you could become finding your first job and, not really knowing which part of the mountain you want to trek?

At the end of every day of hopelessly and hopefully finding a job, I’d often ask myself what I have been looking for and I would still not find any answer until I fall asleep.

That Thursday, I was walking loosely with no real direction. Until I passed through the unfamiliar Alternate Road — I thought the name was symbolic, in some ways.

And that was where it all started. I braved to enter the four-storey building which has caught my eyes for the first time. With my neatly printed resume in long bond paper, I asked the universe to connive and be my guide. I applied, but without any clear expectations I had before. As usual, I just wanted to give it a try, cliché as it may sound.

But hey, the next thing I knew, I was being called for an exam a few weeks thereafter. And then, the all-important series of interviews followed. Came August and so did good news. Doors opened as I take on the very first job of my life. As they say, the rest is history.

Fast forward to 12 months after I signed the contract for a job I was completely clueless about, I am now part of a new family.

As may be expected for a first job, I was naive in many ways. I had no idea about anything. Good thing I was in equally good hands — colleagues, managers, utility personnel and canteen guys were all helpful.

The transition from being a fair-weathered average college student was challenging, I must say. Back then, I killed time spending long hours hopping from one canteen to another, raiding boarding houses, or awaiting day-end at the grassy grounds of my university. School was fairly in between.

Now, things are different. I had to consider a number of adjustments. Waking up early was on top of the list. You see, as a student I never experienced waking up at 4AM to catch the first trip. I thought everything was easy and convenient.

But more than the superficial, I had to gain maturity to suit the requisites of the workplace.

I cannot discount the training I gained from being a student, an NGO volunteer and a scholar. But things are different when you are off to face the ‘real world’. Rules are rules, whether you follow them or not. And bottom-line: non-compliance has a sure consequence. I remember receiving my first memo. It was as if tragedy befell on me, and then I realised later on that it was me who blew everything out of proportion. At least I learned from it, anyhow.

Yes, learning is a spectrum that doesn’t end. One helpful piece of advice I got from a former mentor I fondly call Fr. Jay, is you should never let a day pass without learning anything new, be it a difficult word, a political figure, a historical event, or a life lesson from anyone you will meet along.

I carry that piece of advice up to now. More than a workplace, my new-found home has been an avenue where learning is all around the corner. Learning happens in the strangest, even most awkward ways. I always revert to my naive childhood whenever I discover new things. It feels good to be a child always, free of pretensions, free of doubts, free of apprehensions yet full of enthusiasm and spontaneity.

But there are limitations, always. Sometimes, there are issues kids can’t handle that easy. That is when you need to unleash the adult, young adult in you. Every work entails a set of duties, responsibilities and challenges. But they are not enemies. Rather, they are stepping stones. Challenges are sometimes hard to beat but in the end, it wouldn’t matter if you hit them, what matters is that you gave full effort to achieve it somehow. That is the real meaning of triumph.

As Mahatma Gandhi puts it, “Satisfaction lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is victory.”

Importantly, my work has allowed me to channel a skill where I can somehow be good at, that is, writing. A college professor of mine once said that nobody has gained fame and fortune by being a writer, unless he dies and people start to appreciate his work. The same goes to many artists of the olden ages. Perhaps there is basis for the assumption. Nonetheless, I am fortunate to be able to do what I love while I also earn.

On top of these, developing a good working relationship with professionals is a skill you can’t read from books, or even ask Wikipedia about. It’s something you learn, day by day. While finding good friends is easy, finding frenemies is much easier. It all boils down to respect not only for people but also for ideas and beliefs.

Speaking in general terms, 12 months hasn’t changed me too dramatically. I am still the person who got lost nearly a year ago, only to find a new home. Getting lost is good sometimes; just make sure that you don’t lose yourself rather you find out that somehow, you became better while searching.

The search doesn’t stop. And I still need to find a good intro.


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