19. Passing the interview

“In a one-click-please-answer-me-now world where Google is at the top of the food chain in technology, it is expected that one can easily answer the questions cited. But no, it’s not the case.”

NOBODY LIKES to be rejected. It is an innate need for us to be accepted, appreciated, and valued by other people. It’s one of the reasons why there’s awarding ceremonies, recognition days, and ‘best’ and ‘most outstanding’ titles that the world societies give to deserving individuals.

But we’ve all gone through it or faced it. A simple job interview maybe weeks or months after school or college graduation. By then, with all the might that we have, we faced men and women in suits, ties, and leather shoes. It’s no longer a joke. Everything’s real and we’ve got to cope or else we’ll be left behind in life.

Come to think of it. For more than a decade, we’ve unconsciously prepared for this momentous event. Yes, we want to be successful, to earn money, to buy everything that we want. We want to enjoy, be in a more comfortable position, and sip hot green tea in an island in the Pacific. We crave for meaning among the millions of things around us. But nobody told us the Dos and Don’ts in an interview.

Hearts pumping. Sweats everywhere. Minds juggling.

What are your weaknesses? How about your strengths? Where do you see yourself 5 years from now? What is your greatest achievement? Why do you want to work here? Why should we hire you?

In a one-click-please-answer-me-now world where Google is at the top of the food chain in technology, it is expected that one can easily answer the questions cited. But no, it’s not the case. Because some of us memorize what we’ve got to say for the Big Day, we forget the essentials why managers and executives sit down to talk to us (some do it over Skype or through a telephone call). One can easily sense if the provided was based on a script in a computer or smartphone somewhere. The interviewers are not dumb to fail in measuring you up. Interviews happen to gauge you, your values, your virtues, your principles, your outlook, and you, the whole package. Accepting you means saying yes to a future that they cannot foresee with your talents and capabilities. It’s a form of investment.

Failing an interview happens. It happens to those who are not qualified or to those who did not prepare: being oblivious, not following the dress code, being impolite, unorganized resume, missing documents, wandering mind. To be accepted and appreciated and valued is something that we all long for. But first, we should ask: Do I really want this? Did I make the necessary preparations? Can I imagine myself working in this corporation, company, or entity?

It is not easy to pass an interview. But if you’re chosen and if you’re deserving of a nod, of a yes, of the opportunity, expect that you’ll exit the door with a smile on your face or you’ll wave goodbye at the person on the other side of the screen with gratitude in your heart.

18. One train ride, two weathers

“I find it fascinating how the train’s doors can be one’s windows on this journey.”

EVERYDAY, I ride the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) to go to work. Most of the time it’s crowded. But sometimes, seats are empty, the existence of air conditioning units can be felt because of the cold breeze coming out of them, and the passengers vibrantly chatting to each other; men and women and children, all collected in a closed, moving machine.

But in a rare occasion, while cruising through the highway, I observed how weather changed. At the Guadalupe station, it’s raining so hard that you can imagine yourself enveloped in your white, comfy bed sheet in your room. The vehicles on the street are stuck and wet. Small and large, private and public, they have the same fate. But four stations later and after few kilometers, the concrete road below seems untouched by a raindrop. It’s like you’re looking at a different world. And with wonder, you realize that you became a link to two dimensions.

I find it fascinating how the train’s doors can be one’s windows on this journey. They say that the MRT reveals who we really are. But I think it also reveals the variations in different places, the weather, the people, the clouds above. It reveals the complexities of the things around us, that what’s happening to one place can’t be expected to unfold to another. Nothing is really the same or equal. We can choose to think of all the complaints that we wanted to address to its management whenever we’re informed that a defective train causes the delay or we can choose to just enjoy the ride.

And at the end of the day, it all boils down to our perception, to our eyes, to us.

17. The sun’s up

“We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.”

WHEN DID you last look up at the sky to appreciate the heat and light coming out from the sun? When did you last pause to see the finer details of life?

We’re all busy doing a lot of stuffs. There’s a mountain of responsibilities and deadlines that have to be met and sometimes, these things exhaust us. I know the feeling. I understand. But because of all these things, we sometimes forget to give ourselves a break; to reflect and once and for all determine to ourselves the essentials of everyday existence, the reason behind everything, our ends.

While we understand that everything that we see is fleeting, we’re consumed by our own doing. We are spirited away from the meaning of everything because of all the noise, news, frenzy, trends, and flash reports.

Today is a start to do otherwise.

Give thanks and smile at the Starbucks crew who prepared your drink and wrote your name on its container. Help that old woman at the stairs on her way to the train station’s ticket booth. Press that up or down button when you see a hopeful passenger rushing to get inside the elevator when you got off. Yes, even if she’s few meters away; sacrifice a lit bit.

If you have spare time, remind yourself of the joy you had when one afternoon you just stared at how nature moves: the ants as they transport their food or tirelessly search for one, the waves of the ocean that bring peace inside, the wind that caresses you every time, and the sun as she continuously glows with your appreciation or not.

And say, “There’s more to life than this.”

16. Published

“I believe that everyone’s a storyteller but the challenge is to have a grasp on what’s worth writing about.”

WHEN I first held a copy of Philippine Daily Inquirer years ago (the largest and greatest of Philippine broadsheets) and realized that they accept column article submissions, I told myself that someday, I should get published there. I fell in love with its opinion column ‘Young Blood’ where the twenty-something and below gets featured. It was then that I dreamt of being a writer.

I’m still a work in progress, every aspiring writer will tell you that. But after getting published, it kindled hope in me to be a regular contributor. It became a catalyst for me to be a better observer, a finer listener, and to pause more. A lot of things are going on and it is our job to translate them into words. Sometimes I sulk after learning that an unexpected thing happened which is natural.

I can say that being idealistic is an important element to be able to write. You have to hope that there’s a better world ahead and you have to be part of the public discourse, a contributor, to get it. You may fail miserably, you can get rejected multiple times but these are all part of the process. I can’t think of a successful writer today who never experienced rejection.

To understand that there’s a gatekeeper who filters all of the submissions makes it beautiful. To understand that millions of people wanted to write but die dreaming about it places writing at a whole new level. I believe that everyone’s a storyteller but the challenge is to have a grasp on what’s worth writing about. We have our own gift, our own passion when it comes to creativity. We all have our own point of view which surely differs from others; different opinions on an issue or an idea. different mindsets.

But isn’t it true that every published work humbles you? It is not easy to generate ideas. You have to keep moving, keep believing, keep working. Yes, it’s work because you spend time, energy, and intellect to accomplish it. But since you enjoy doing it, time flies by without you knowing it.

I still have a lot of dreams but I hope that this will remind me every now and then that they are attainable. And I hope that it will do the same to you.

To just keep going. To write.

15. Pluviophiles

“It’s when raining that everything makes sense.”

I LOVE it whenever it rains. I like the cold weather, the bed weather, the suspension of classes (when I was still at school) because of the heavy rain. I like listening to the sound of every drop, the tiny and huge ones; the roof asking for mercy on its never-ending greetings.

They call us Pluviophiles, those who find joy and peace of mind during rainy days. For a number of times, I bicycled while it was raining, played basketball with my friends during a downpour, finished reading a book in one sitting while there’s a typhoon, and challenged myself to a 10K road run while everyone’s inside their houses watching programs on tv or savoring their hot, flavorful soup.

Rain cleanses our roads and reveals our inability to follow simple rules like throwing our garbage at the right place. Whenever it rains continuously, some areas become flooded. You can see plastic bottles and plastic bags floating; street kids diving into the murky water as if it’s a swimming pool.

Rain transforms us. More likely, traffic’s everywhere. People are on the rush to escape, to get off the road, to reach their destinations. But if you’re stuck, moods change, conversations become lighter, and we get to see and observe the little things around us.

It’s when raining that everything makes sense.

14. Having a mentor

“A great mentor does not just point to you the negatives but also the positives. They should meet you at your best and remind you that there’s still tomorrow even at your worst.”

CAN YOU consider your boss a caring mentor? How about your teacher at school? Or does your trainer constantly motivate you to reach your full potential?

We all need honest and sincere people in our lives. They are those who are willing to take the risk to divulge to us the areas where we can improve on, the part of our work where we miserably break, the shortcomings that we overlook. We need another set of eyes from those who truly want us to progress and not be stuck. Not for anything else, not for their personal gains, not for their biases, but because they feel that it’s the right thing to do and because jealousy and selfishness are not in their vocabulary. We receive absolution from them whenever we feel like we committed mistakes that we’re guilty of or whenever we fail them.

While it is true that there are times when we suffer just seeing our mentors, those moments that they share with us their lives is more important. They are supposed to inspire us. We listen to their feedback and adhere to their advice after careful analysis in our head.

Various books have been published about leadership, mentorship, and success. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers said that those who succeed in life do not just have talents. There are a lot of people who are talented but are not successful. He discussed the value of timing, influence, culture, and environment for one to stand out and reach their peak. And in the environment, our mentors are included.

Their presence in our lives is a game changer. Mentors pave the way for us to have a glimpse of another point of view. Another point of view means comparison. One gets to have the choice on what path to take, when to pull the trigger, and better understand the consequences of every decision.

A great mentor does not just point to you the negatives but also the positives. They should meet you at your best and remind you that there’s still tomorrow even at your worst. They’ve been there and done that. Their experiences are unquestionable only if you know each other very well. Trust is vital for any relationship to work.

If you have a mentor that you look up to, be grateful. Not everyone is given a chance to have one. They help us create things and with grit, make a difference.

13. Family dogs

“It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.”

I USED to hate dogs. I used to cringe every time I see one wandering on the streets under the open sky, near our house, or even inside my room. They’ll bark at you unceasingly if you’re a stranger to them. Some will bite you without any notice or voluntarily and confidently share their saliva by licking your feet, your hands or sometimes your toes.

I can still remember how I told myself that I will never touch a dog again. In my childhood, one afternoon, our family dog bit me on my right cheek while I was eating a crispy fried chicken leg. My mom immediately approached me and tried to disinfect the wound with soap and running water. Her grip of the nozzle is still vivid in my memory. I couldn’t understand the gravity of what happened and the possible consequences of being bitten by our dog then. I didn’t know that it has to be taken seriously.

After going through careful examinations in the hospital, my mom told me to be brave because I had to be injected with Rabies vaccine just to make sure. I took more than five shots. All the doctors were fond of saying the same thing every time they held my arms: “Be a man… It’s just like a bite of an ant.” 

But one day that fear vanished inside. Everything changed when my younger brother bought an apple head Chihuahua in a pet store in the neighboring city. My family named him Chua and he greets me whenever I get home. He runs so fast that those sleeping in our living room have no choice but to be awakened. No, it’s not because of his short loud cry but because he runs over them. He’s a consistent and amenable welcome committee member.

Wagging tail. Tiny paws. Hanging tongue.

I would play with him as he nuzzles my leg and my anxieties would temporarily exit my mind. My initial distaste for him transformed into delight. It was in his second month with us that the answer to why some owners sleep next to their dogs came to me.

With the right fit, fun will show itself naturally with them around. Give it some time.