Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Project

A few weeks ago I officially became unemployed (well sort of).  Although I achingly counted down each moment before I finally finished my job as a teacher, the feelings that greeted me as I speedily stepped out of that realm was not quite what I was hoping.  I honestly felt a little lost.  Dizzied by the uncertainty of planting the next step, I felt restless.  The first week was nice, I got to recharge and enjoy time completely to myself.  We all need those pauses every once in a while, but I think mine was a little too abrupt.  I went from being exhaustingly, almost unhappily swamped, to being completely free.  It was as though I had been stuck in the maddening city traffic jams, had finally made it onto the 15 freeway and was now driving steadily through a silent desert.  Only the occasional winds and splashes of colors dotted in the sky brought any sense of presence.  Though very relaxing, being idle comes with many problems.  Too much time on your hands -- too much time to let your mind wander into places that only bring stress.  

I told myself I'd take the month of September to really work on finding a job in this field that I've chosen, broadcast/journalism.  I turned down a job doing a live TV show for stupid reasons and was definitely left regretting what was really just a hasty call.  Don't you hate it when that happens?  You're faced with these decisions and you convince yourself that you've thought it through, worked out all the pros and cons, but when the bread has been baked, and the "next gig" you were hoping for doesn't come through, you sit and wonder during all the free time you have in the Land of Unemployment if you made the right decision.  

You know the fantasy that this generation was brought up on, the American dream, with all it's Disney magic, it all seems like a mock up sometimes.  We hear all these success stories after success stories and are told that we can have that too.  The trouble we have to face in our twenties is the harsh reality of how much work it takes, how many heartaches, how many let downs, and how many missed opportunities we'll have to endure before we get there.  No one can really prepare you for how trying it can be.  What is the American Dream anyways?  I guess that's a rant for another day.

Anyways, as I was struggling in my efforts to land a job, an idea struck me.  Seriously, it was God send.  Although dealing with the reality of life's hardships may be a growing pain every 20 something has had to endure throughout the ages, I feel as though the curse of anxiousness is definitely of our generation.  As we know, we live in this high speed world were everything we want or need is only a click away.  So when we're trying to find a job or pursue our dreams but feel as though we're only treading water, of course the lack of patience can start chipping away at our foundations.  I mean come on, it was less than a month and I already felt like my dreams had met a tragic fate as I watched it hit that patch of black ice and silently tumble over the edge of the frozen cliff.  It might seem pathetic, but I take rest in the fact that I know I'm not the only one feeling like I'm drowning in the kiddie pool when I don't see instant results.

Whenever I have those despondent moments of self pity, I always read the world news.  Nothing like a story of a little girl setting herself on fire in a suicide attempt because she's been forced to marry an abusive 70 year old man that really helps to put things in perspective for me.  So, instead of complaining, I started brainstorming.  As I was sitting at dinner with a friend, he said something very simple, yet striking.  He said, "It's not about the end product, who really knows where we'll end up, it's really about the process of getting there.  All those grueling hours of working your ass off and moving at a snails pace, that's what it's all about.  As long as you're moving forward and doing what you love."  After dinner, the word "process" kept ringing in my ear like an gong.  It's the processes.  You can't expect to be a CEO of a corporation if you don't know a lick about management or how to draft a business plan.  Similarly, I can't put so much stress on myself about getting a big broadcasting job if I haven't really acquired any skills in the field.  Aside from the little radio show I've been doing, my resume of experience is very diminutive.  

Back to this idea I had.  The reason I want to go into this field revolves around the fact that I really find people fascinating.  It doesn't really stop there, I want to use this as a platform to share the stories I've heard to others as a means to evoke change.  Whether it's to change people's perspectives, shed light on issues, or just bring about education, I just want to be a voice for others.  What I felt like the little voice inside of me was saying had to deal with the new conviction that I didn't necessarily need the job right now to be able to do that.  

I currently live in an area of Seoul that is heavily populated by foreigners.  When I say foreigners, I don't mean from the West, these people are from ALL over.  Just to give you an example, there's a Pinoy market across the street where titas and titos post up on the patio and watch the little ones run around.  Down the street is a little Nigerian food store, and across from that is a shop called "New World" which sells products from "home."  "Home" being Africa.  You see Filipinos interacting with Africans interacting with Koreans interacting with Americans interacting with Europeans interacting with Australians interacting with everyone else.  It's similar to the US in that my street is very diverse, but very dissimilar in the fact that these people haven't been diluted with American culture.  

What are all of these people doing in Korea?  Why Korea?  Some of them, mainly referring to the Africans, had to travel 24 hours to be able to make it to this tiny little East Asian peninsula.  Why Korea?  As I sat at the cafe on my street that I frequent, and scanned my surroundings, I realized that I was in a story gold mine.  This is where my idea came into play (the one I mentioned waaay up there, so if you're still following, here it comes).  I decided that it would be great practice to just strike up some conversations with these people, ask them questions, hear their stories, then maybe write about it.  It would be a good journalistic endeavor to get out there and sharpen some skills.  I drafted some questions, started formulating an edge and direction, and then, patiently waited at my cafe for my first subject.  Unfortunately, no one seemed very approachable that day.  

A few nights later, I was at the radio station doing my little segment.  In passing, I brought up my project idea to my host.  He suggested that I write a proposal and try to do it for Arirang.  If I were to get approved, I could do my project but get paid for it too!  I rushed home to get my proposal ready, tied up some last minute ideas, and tried to get as many prospective interviews for my list.  I submitted it and a few days later I found myself checking out a recorder for my first interview!  It's kind of crazy how I'm getting the chance to do this, but I'm definitely very thankful and super excited.  I know that it might not be anything big, but it's all part of the process right?  I have some interesting people lined up right now.  Today I'm interviewing a Korea American adoptee who has come back to Korea to teach English, but her primary reason is to find her birth parents.  I also met a North Korean defector who I'll be interviewing in a few weeks.  I'm hopeful that this whole process will be very educational for myself and for others who are able to tune in.  Will be keeping you posted!  

BTW...if you happened to read all of this, thanks for sticking with my wordy narration.  Sometimes you just gotta get it out!  Have a great day!             



omabu said...

anything you want!

christina said...

um um um um-azinggggg! :) :) :) let me know how it goes! i'd love to hear^^

SuJ said...

everything you're thinking about, this period of unemployment, of decisions, of cross-roads, is everything i'm thinking about right now, as well.

Carlifornia said...

I believe in you HJ!

We are ALL on this rollercoaster together.

Btw, nothing is more serene then that drive up the 15 freeway, nawmsayin!? ;)

Melissa said...

i'm your biggest fan hannah may. next to tum tum.

jHust said...

PTL!!! keep on truckin' Ma!!!

Erik G said...

Hey! I told you last week about LiNK and they're going to have a meeting sunday afternoon. I think you can meet some interesting people there. Hope everything's still going well ^^

s d v said...

for reaaal, lady. YAY to broadcast/journalism! i can just see it now-- ms.hj spreading stories and sparking change :]

like jhust said-- keep truckin' girl. we'll all get to where we're going soon enough <3

wherestigran said...

That's what its all about!! I deeply believe that you need to create a job instead of trying to fit into one. Very glad that you have found a source of inspiration, u can take it as far as you want :)