Monday, 5 January 2009 @ 1.53pm
Lesson #1: We are still a divided nation
One of my duties as an AE here, is to read through all major newspapers published to look for any news on any of our clients while also cutting out ads which are done by us, a competitor, or simply one we think is worth filing. Every day, I read about seven to eight newspapers - three English, two Malay and two Chinese (I know - talented aren't I?)
Having majored in Media and Communications, I understood that different newspapers will use different styles and angles to cover a particular news piece. After a few weeks of flipping through the papers, I started to notice something. We are still a divided nation. All major news will be covered, but the Malay papers will focus more on news of fellow Malays, while the Chinese papers will feature more news on their Chinese counterparts.
It is not just evident in newspapers. I was shocked on the eve of New Year's eve when I invited one of my colleagues to join myself and Eddie for the NYE's celebrations at Pavilion. Her reply was, "but I'll be the only Chinese there" and politely declined. I was extremely surprised that anyone would still reject an invitation based on the fact that majority of the company would be of a different race.
In uni, I was the only foreigner. Most used to look at me like I wouldn't understand a word they were saying. There were those with a little more life experience that treated me no different. But boy, were they all surprised when I opened my mouth and spoke. I remember walking with my lecturer to collect a paper he'd already graded. On the way there, he said, "Anna, I must say, when you first joined my class, I was a little doubtful that you'd be able to handle Philosophy of Culture. But after your presentation and after reading your paper, I must say I'm very impressed at your ability to not only speak, but write in a language that's not originally your own."
After uni, I impressed prospective employers during interviews with my spoken and written English and even landed a job as Editor. I'm not your typical Malay girl and I'm ashamed to say that I'm not very fluent in my own mother tongue. I try to practice. I'm mercilessly made fun of by Frank Moore, but also glad that he and Martha takes me as I am and even try to teach me a thing or two. I guess...in a twisted sort of way, I'm attracted to Eddie because I think we balance each other out and are able to give (hopefully) our future children the best of both worlds. (Come to think about it...I'm quite impressed with how well Eddie and I have been able to communicate with each other since day one).
So back to my point, we may claim to be a land of all races. Embracing each other's culture and all, but take a look around you. Read the newspapers (and not just the major English ones). I don't need to look that far. In the last nine years, at uni and at work (both jobs except Get Crafty), I have been surrounded by races other than my own. And I have had to brave my way into becoming one of them. But not everyone is willing to do what I do. So when are we going to brave each other's races and stop being a divided nation?
Lesson #2: Strength, courage and confidence comes from within
I have gone through a lot this year - physically, mentally and emotionally. I have had to deal with sleepless nights, endless fights, ridiculous demands and I had nowhere to vent. There was a stretch of time where all I did was work, work, work. Mondays to Fridays was work from 9am to 7pm, then Kostari from 9pm till I was falling asleep in front of my computer at around 2 or 3am. Weekends were Get Crafty on Saturdays from 10am to 8pm, followed by Kostari at around 10pm till 4am. Sundays were meetings on Kostari or going back into office to prepare for Monday meetings.
There were times when I really felt like I had nothing left. Times where I felt I was losing hope. Especially when things were tense at home. I think that's why I threw myself into more work than I could handle. That way everything became a distraction from what was really going on. That was also why I cherished the days, hours and nights where I got to see Eddie, I got to escape for a little while. I also looked forward to going back to Teluk Intan. When I'm there, I'm Kak Anna. I'm being pulled by Maksu, Maklong, Paklong, Umie and Ayah and all of Eddie's cousins and siblings all the time to eat, go somewhere or do something that I don't have time to think. It was the journey back that both Eddie and I didn't really look forward to. In fact, when we're on MRR2, that's when our attitudes harden to 'KL-mode'.
I've learnt that strength and confidence comes from within. It comes from a place deep inside that is sparked by a motivation that only you can create. It's no use complaining and whining when something gets a little tough. Just get up and do it. Be proactive. It always helps if you have people you can count on. People who understand and people who are there to help you find a solution. Besides, you can always cry in the shower or in the car when you're alone.