Monday, August 30, 2010

Whores of this society

Please do not be offended by the title. It's provocative, but it is not as R-rated as you think. 

It was the hundredth time that Celine read her resume and motivation letter that day; she needed to send her folder first thing the next morning and that two-page Curriculum Vitae and letter had to be neat, flawless, picture perfect. Once more, she checked if there were any misspellings; made sure again that the punctuation was correct and asked friends one last time whether the content was downright coherent. Celine was delighted with the format she had chosen, it was professional and it fitted her personal taste as well. Finally, she looked at it from afar and as she put the folder in the envelope, it sent shivers down her spine. She had never felt more excited.  

Celine worked on that two-page resume and motivation letter for days. It all started with an advertisement in the paper -- a job offer, the job offer. Since she can remember, she always dreamt of writing for that kind of magazine; and her chance had finally come. She understood immediately that the employer would get thousands of applications, consequently, hers had to shine: she needed to flaunt her best, be the very best. All her hopes for the (near) future were enclosed in that three-page little bastard

The young lady dared to dream big. If there were the slightest chance to get an interview... Scratch that. Celine was mad enough to think she could land her dream job. Indeed, it was possible to dream. She knew she had something to offer, but it was not enough. She had to... sell her resume, and just pray they'd buy it. 

Today's society is all about competition. The job market, especially in the art department, has become so hard nowadays that each time such an opportunity arises -- given the rarity -- we are compelled to exude not only excellence, but uniqueness as well. Writer? Painter? Musician? Photographer? So many scripts want to be published, tons of paintings hope to make a gallery their home, thousands of singing birds wish to be heard and millions of photographs want to be sold... How many of us aspire to make a living out of our passion? It does not help that the the art department often lacks resources to begin with, but acknowledging the fact that the number of unique individuals having a similar dream increases thick and fast... Unsurprisingly, a real chance at achieving the dream becomes limited since more and more people queue up for the exact same 'vocation'.

This tough competition may force us to bring out the very best in us, as required, but the frustration and disappointment endured is like a bad joke told repeatedly given the reality: we are aware that it's a fight against millions, and only the 'most' gifted -- the luckiest -- will eventually get a breakthrough. It is not only about hard work or exceptional talent anymore, it is not even about confidence or lack thereof as a matter of fact. Like in Celine's case, it's all about embracing once in a lifetime opportunities. Count how many of us actually get that chance. So not only do we thrive for perfection in our resumes and act extremely competent in interviews or auditions, but many of us will do about anything to make it. We want to sell.

Having addressed this topic, I suddenly couldn't help but compare all the Celine's to the ladies and men working the streets. Although perhaps an offensive analogy, what is really the distinct difference? They might be selling their precious bodies for money, but in hindsight, aren't we all selling something fundamental 'about us' at some point in our lives as well? Think creativity, talent, beauty, imagination or abilities. The irony of it is that these attributes are, in my humble opinion, absolutely priceless. 

I started thinking thoroughly about these times we put a price(less) tag on ourselves. No matter how bizarre this sounds, we do have to sell 'ourselves' in resumes, we show off. In interviews, we persuade employers into buying our competence and personality. In the hope of making a living out of our dream one day, we bet on our so-called talent to work out. It might be insensitive to compare ourselves and these specific traits to products that are for sale. Nevertheless, our present-day, competitive world pushes us to believe that this is the only way the game is played. Knowing that we have something special to offer is not enough, because doing what we love for our very 'own' happiness will not automatically bring food on the table. In the end, we truthfully rely upon selling ourselves if we aspire to get ahead. Artists do not do it for the wrong reasons, they do not live their passion for money; but artists need money, just like everyone else. The only difference is that (struggling) artists despise the thought of getting a real job. 

'Take the thing you love and make it your life.'  

Truth is: many of us might never get the chance to stand out the way we hoped and worked for, but it does not stop us of from ever trying, does it? We dare to dream big because even how aggressive the competition has become, giving up is not an option. It's a tough call, but we must believe we are tougher. We look up to those who have made it -- and pray that we will be that successful someday. Indeed, God willing, one day we will not only get to shine like a star, but we will be stars.