It was 839am when I awoke this morning. I rolled over, grabbed my phone, checked my email, then spent the next hour working while lying down.
Ten years ago, I would have been ecstatic.
Flashbacks are necessary at this point.
The alarm blares at exactly 6am, and I wake up overwhelmed with dread. I started working in my dream ad agency last May (right after labor day) and it has not been exactly what I thought it would be. For starters, my boss thinks I’m an idiot. She also charmingly reminds me of this every single day. Just last Monday, she eyed my floral hoop earrings then glared at the job order in my hand. She read it, flung it to her desk, and told me that I was doing it wrong again. “Shouldn’t you know this by now?” She was exasperated. I have never felt so small in my life. And i’m 4’9.
The week before that, she let me lead a discussion with the creative team. I stammered the entire time. Someone cracked at joke seemingly at my expense. I wanted to sob into my job order.
Am I really as incompetent as she thinks I am? Was this what I really wanted? Am I stupid or is she a terrible boss? Am I even a good fit for this industry? They are all so…. hip. So cool. What’s a nerd like me doing here? When will my seatmate stop playing the MYMP album?
I better stand up now. Maybe I can cry in the bathroom at lunch.
A gentle tap on my shoulder awakens me. He’s leaving for work, he says, but I’m free to sleep in a little bit before walking to Valero. Four nearly sleepless weeks have passed since we started production of these anniversary TVC’s, just enough time to gestate the dark baggies under my eyes. The only way I survived this was by crashing at my boyfriend’s pad to get in a few hours of sleep every night. He works in finance, and lives in the city. He also has trouble appreciating the many reasons why I still love my job despite the unforgiving hours.
Two years ago I had a dramatic parting with my first agency. I left with a firm (?) resolve never to work in advertising again. Now look at me! I’m still uncool, but my boss is satisfied with my work ethic. I HAVE A WORK ETHIC! See! This is why you should never say never.
I leave three hours early every single morning because I need to take my sister to La Salle before clocking in. No big deal, I enjoy listening to morning radio while putting on mascara in between traffic lights. I feel so grown-up, guys. I barely save any money, because I spend it all on food, booze, and parking fees. But hey, this is the way of the world, I’m told.
Urgh, I can hear my mom yelling from the kitchen. Yes, mom. I need coffee. Don’t you know professionals need coffee!
I work thirteen hours a day with the best people in world and I can’t possibly be any happier. I have two darling dogs who wake me up with slobbery kisses (and the occasional pee on the bed). Life is good. I love advertising! I LOVE EVERYONE!
Five more minutes. Zzzz.
I wake up from 8 hours of sleep. I have just started working for the first social network in the Philippines. My eyebags are gone (after working on them for so long, how dare they). I spent four years in happy zombie-like existence working for an ad agency, and now I have finally broken free. After much research, and with the help of my friend C, I decided to try my luck in digital advertising.
So far so good. I mean now I can finally sleep well at night. Too well, I think. I’m free to come in at 10am every morning, and my boss lets me leave after meetings are done. I’m so new at having this much free time that I’ve decided to take on new hobbies. I just don’t know what my new hobbies are yet.
My daily drive to work is uneventful. No need to rush, no need to traverse traffic while putting on make-up. Everything is just… fine. I am not used to this, but it’s a welcome break from a constant state of exhaustion. Nothing too difficult. Everything’s just.. quiet.
This is a good thing, right?
Oooh, we’re watching a movie tonight. What should I wear?
I wake-up at 11am to an empty apartment. I relish the idea that breakfast is entirely up to me everyday. Today it is mango pancakes. I better take the photo with my new camera and post it, so the whole world knows that I would make a great wife for anybody.
I eat in front of our tiny television set. Why I am not bothered by the fact that a) we have no beds, b) we have no curtains, and c) we have propped up a book with John Lloyd Cruz on the cover as a sort of altar by the TV is beyond me. In fact, I kind of like this semi-nomadic existence. I’m 25 and single. I am loving
After a couple or years taking it easy, I decided to get back into the groove of
stress things and experience what it’s like to be a Client. Now I get to call the shots. Agencies will now work for me. I am no longer a slave to external monsters!
My shift is brutal, spanning 13-14 hour days. This time though, I get to come in after lunch. Sure, this means extending my work hours until the wee hours but that’s completely fine with me. It is refreshing working with people who have never been in an agency. The hierarchy and politics of being in corporate is entirely new.
Am I happy? Sure! I never get to see anybody outside of work anymore. But hey! I love my new life! I am part of the biggest employer in the Philippines! I am living in the business district
sleeping on the floor in an apartment with no beds! I am single and completely hating loving it! I watch an episode of Sex and the City every night to feel powerful and feminine and…. single! Did I mention I was single?
Eep, that’s the Showtime opening credits. I better shower.
There’s a steaming cup of coffee on my dresser. I moved back into my parents’ house after 2 years of unpaid bills. Pathetic right? Independent woman my ass. But this set-up is so much better than being broke and exhausted in an apartment with no beds. Did I mention that all my former roommates have boyfriends now? And I’m still single and
hating loving it.
I groan and roll over. Time check: 11am. Nowadays, more than 5 hours of sleep is rare. I am so exhausted. I work double shifts twice a month. I have no social life. Not much money either, because I’m still paying off my very first car. (All the women! Independent! Throw yo hands up at me! ♫) Pablo, my 5-year-old Toyota, is the
only love of my life. I only have money enough for a nice fashion magazine every payday. Other than that, it’s pretty much work work work work work.
Are there things that I wish I have now? Sure! I mean, ample sleeping hours is definitely very high on that list. Boyfriend? Di ko kailangan niyan.
Pero malungkot ako guys help. I literally cry at night. Please help.
All in all, I’m still very happy. I have never been as productive as I am now. I’m already mapping out the rest of my life here.
Pablo and I will be very happy together.
Badabing! I am up at 7am and I am unduly happy. For one thing, I finally get to eat breakfast at a decent hour. I have a brand new office and brand new friends.
Actually, you know what, everything is brand new.
Brand new apartment. WITH A BED! ALONE!
Brand new office address.
Brand new clients.
Brand new desk plant. I have named her Kim Kardashian.
Brand new working hours. NORMAL HOURS!
and best of all
A BRAND NEW BOYFRIEND! TAKE THAT HATERS!
The one thing that isn’t new: my job. After three years
slaving away working in the BPO industry, I am back in an ad agency. Now I can really be completely digital. My desk is right against a window, and it tickles me to no end to see normal people walking in the daylight. DAYLIGHT! No more working sobbing over a deck in a windowless room in the wee hours! No more missing birthday dinners! No more missing movies! I can finally see my friends and family again! I have a life!
The work is familiar to me, and that’s a good thing — for now. Agency life is pretty much like knowing how to ride a bike. It will always be something I can do. The rhythm is familiar. It feels like… home.
I get tired, yes. But the exhaustion is different. Two years ago, I’d spend Fridays fighting the urge not the pull my hair from sheer mental exertion. Now, the mental exercise is different. I’ve been toiling away in a BPO for so long that I forgot how refreshing it is to handle a handful of different clients. Different day, different strat.
I could be happier, yes. But it’s a process. I’ll trust the process.
It has been two years since I decided to do remote media work.
I work for a company that sells mobile ad units to agencies. In other words: I cater to agencies, who cater to brands, who cater to consumers. I have reached peak consumer slave. Hahaha.
On the plus side, I get to work anywhere that I want.
I’d work outside client’s offices, in cafes all over the city, sometimes even at the beach. The freedom I had long wanted is finally mine. I’m also done paying for the car, so now I can finally take a few choice vacations. I am alone working in country. It’s quite refreshing.
So here’s the catch: it gets so lonely.
Being alone and living alone meant being by myself 90% of the time. There is no work family to enjoy lunches with. There is nobody to greet you at home. My fiance (!!!!) visits me on weekends, but it’s the weekdays that get me.
Don’t get me wrong: I find my work fulfilling. Seeing business grow as a direct result of my efforts is supremely satisfying. I rationalize my loneliness by repeating that the freedom I enjoy cannot be bought. This elbow room to move at my own pace will allow my marriage to flourish without the ‘working wife has no time for personal life’ struggle.
And yet here I am struggling. Am I happy?
And so we’re back to June 2017.
Ten years ago I would have been ecstatic.
This obvious slowing down of my life’s pace differs vastly from my frenetic rhythm in 2007. I remind myself everyday: you wanted this. You wished for it. You got it.
So what have I learned so far in 12 years?
- Work is a blessing. – Sure, I have gripes about being in this industry. But there is also the fulfillment of accomplishing market-changing projects. (No room for anti-capitalist rhetoric here — yet. Let’s reserve that for future entries.) People’s homes and lives are changed as direct result of your work. (If anything, they might change their choice of shampoo because of you.) Most of the friends/created families I have gained in the past years were also because of my work. It is important to realize this.
- You will always want what you do not have. – I’m not a hypocrite. Wanting is part of my human experience. While I teach myself to appreciate what I have been given, the quest for a better things will always drive me. Better work hours, better pay, better circumstances, better height-to-weight ratio. I mean, look at me. It’s 2017 and I’m still after
John Lloyd’s bonesperfection. Allow yourself to want. It’s alright.
- It will never look exactly like you imagined. – The really odd thing about wanting perfection is that you will never find it. It drives you to do things: switch jobs, dump boyfriends, disengage from toxic friends, re-do passion projects, even buy a completely new wardrobe. This is one of my greatest lessons learned this year. I stopped expecting things to look exactly as they are in my head. Except John Lloyd, he looks perfect.
It is 829pm and I’m writing this while sitting in a cafe (yes, I eventually got up before I was sucked into the swirling vortex of email). I’ve worked all afternoon
on this blog. As I write this, I realize that I’m starting to really lean into this new lifestyle I’ve created for myself. My life may not look like I imagined in 2005, but I’m getting there.
I don’t love it yet, but I like where I’m headed.