Friday, April 13, 2012

You get what you see... Just don't be a prat

It's a Friday night and in an attempt to console myself in running a road race with 50,000 people on the weekend, I have turned to the bottle.  Well let's say it's more of a box of wine, than a bottle.

Also, running seems unlikely with a road race of 50,000 people.  Let's call that as it is -- a scenic stroll with the potential of treading in something unseemly...

Digression, my biggest failing.  That's not why I am here.

I was reading the blogosphere tonight and I came across a post by my friend and fellow furry super-hero, Jesse.  His topic of discussion was expanded in a post by Jason -- someone else who has had the misfortune to meet me.

Their posts all related to being yourself in all things. How this is the secret of success.

For some reason, my drunken self decided this was also an important topic -- probably in a "You're so right mate! *belch*" kind of way.

When I went to New York last year, I had the opportunity to meet many people I had only known on-line.  It should have been a nervous event.  I was travelling thousands of miles to meet a group of people I didn't actually know.  I was going to spend the whole weekend with them, probably in a state of incapacity.  Well that was the plan anyway.

I had even invited Krista to come and bunk with me in the same room.  Even though our social interactions had only progressed to throwing drunken comments to other barefoot runners (who we also wouldn't recognise outside of their avatar).

The overwhelming feeling I had during the alcohol hazed weekend, is that everyone was just how I thought they would be.

Through our drunken and usually late night shenanigans on-line, we had not pretended to be something we weren't.  We had not made comments to impress others.  We had not held back our ideas in case we had offended.  We did not tolerate people who clearly were trying to be pretend they were something different.

We were like minded people who felt that being ourselves was important. Our meeting in New York, just validated that.

It wasn't until after I returned from New York, did I realise that this is probably unusual.

I am not comfortable trying to be someone else.  We have all tried when we are young.  We all want to be 21 when we are in fact 17.  I realised whilst in my teens, that I pretty much suck at pretending to be something else.  I find it too exhausting and annoying.

Since then, I forged my own path.  It has led into some interesting times.  However, I soon realised that forging my own path and being myself doesn't prevent doors from opening; they make more and exciting doors open.

Let me tell you a story to explain the person I am... (Yes, the story involves me being drunk).

I was 21 and I had just finished my degree in Economics.  I was in the process of applying for jobs and post-grad courses. I had undertaken a post-grad course in education.  A week before I attended the obligatory induction meet-and-greet beer party, I was asked to an interview for a managerial position at a top-end bar in the west end of London.  The interview was scheduled for an hour after the college party finished.  That was just enough time to go from the party to the interview.

Needless to say, I turned up at the interview a Little worse for wear.  In fact I think I may have accidentally pee'd myself on a run to an underground tube train.  So not only did I smell like the brewery I was applying for, I probably smelt a little like the guy that was continually sitting on it's front step.

As you can tell, I perhaps wasn't too stressed about getting the job.

The interview progressed in a bit of a drunken slur (well I was the one with the slur, the interviewer thought 4pm was probably a little early).  I was asked the usual questions:
"What is your five year plan?" I responded, "I don't have one, I couldn't predict where I would be five years ago, what makes you think I can do that now?
"What are your plans for this position?" I answered, "Not to get fired" 
"What do you think you can contribute to this organisation?" Deadpan I replied, "Entertainment"

Then they asked the killer final question.  The one that usually invokes stony silence.
"Do you have anything you wish to ask us?" I looked the interviewer straight in the face and asked, "Give me one good reason why I should work for your company?"

Let's say I don't think this was what he was expecting the drunk girl, looking like the wicked witch of the west because the only outfit she had that looked suitable for an interview was the one she used to wear to the goth club, to say.  Not let's not forget the drunken burps and the slight pong of urine.

I stumbled out of the interview and managed to get back home on the evening commute train.  I was avoided by everyone in their business suits on the way home -- mainly because I think they were worried about a dry cleaning bill if I threw up on them.

A week later I received a letter telling me I had be given the job.  I turned them down.

I realised then, that if you are honest in what you do and how you act with others, then opportunities will come your way.  You don't need to be something you aren't to get what you deserve in life.

Being honest about who you are -- accepting your own faults -- will allow your strengths to shine.  Pretending to be something you aren't is a recipe for disaster, because eventually the facade will catch up with you.

Yes, I know the c in 'facade' should have a funny thing on it, but I am tipsy and if I go looking for it under special characters I will probably accidentally delete the entire post! You see - honesty!  Just be glad I am typing.  Actually, being able to type is probably something the internet is not too happy about.

The people who lie to get what they want, will fade and disappear.  This new age of social media will catch them in the end and those that are left standing are those who have integrity and self worth.  It might be drunken integrity and an over-inflated opinion of self-worth, but it will always be better than the guy who thinks adding a couple of extra grades on their CV will land them the top job.

There you go, drunken ramblings over.  The long and short moral of this story is - don't be a prat.  Be who you are in life and good things will come.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tactical withdrawal is not a defeat

I have just read Jason's post on the Barefoot Running University about how we can change our lives if we want to.  We should quit moaning and just make the changes to make our lives better.

I completely agree - Just STFU and do it!  I am very much of the ilk that life is what you make it and there is nothing you can't do if you really try.

However, I am also a believer in understanding which fights are worth fighting for.  Accepting defeat is not a weakness when you realise why you are doing it and you are in control of it.  Let's say it's not a defeat, but a tactical withdrawal instead.

So as you may know we have had our Permanent Residency declined because of D's Autism.  We could fight it, however, it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars, time and probably a lot of luck, hoping that the immigration officer is  having a nice day.

We love Canada, don't get me wrong and if we could, we would stay here forever, but we won't accept a solution that makes us less than residents.  The solution the Immigration department has mapped out for us will do just that.  We would be "tolerated visitors" with a PR stamp.  We won't do that.

The other situation is that the Canadian Immigration Department is now querying our work permits.  We could, but we never wanted to be in Canada on work permits indefinitely.  Why, when it means you get to stay?  Firstly, and most importantly for me, is the fact we can't vote.  Being part of the political process is important to me. I have balked and hated that I am unable to affect the country I live in.

Secondly, is the fact that although the work permits allow me to work, they don't allow me to re-train or work in schools.  They are also based on a one year period.  Many companies are reluctant to hire someone who may have to leave in less than a year.  At the moment, that's okay, I am not in a position to work, but in the future...

The fact that the Immigration Department is querying D's medical condition for the work permit is sending alarm signals.  The immigration lawyers believe that the next work permit issued will be the last - a "temporary measure whilst we investigate your situation further and then reject you" situation.

These are all conditions outside of our control and although it is something we could fight, the fight will make us compromise in ways that we cannot morally do.  We won't be Bullied by this country into making promises we have no way of guaranteeing we can keep.  I am not going to plan my life for the next 10 years, because in my experience that leads you to failure and stress.

If we are to be a part of this country, we want to be a full part of it.  Residency is a privilege not a right -- I understand that.  But obtaining qualified, educated and experienced workers as residents is not a privilege either.  A country has to prove that it is willing to take all a person has to offer and bring with them.  You can't just cherry-pick the parts you like and throw away the parts you don't.

Anyway, it appears at some point within the next 12 months we will be moving back to the UK.  Is this a defeat?  Not really.

I am glad we came here.  I am glad we have tried.  I don't want to leave, but I know that the fact we are going to have to leave at some point isn't our failing -- it's Canada's.  Standing up for ourselves and refusing to be bullied is not a failing it's a strength.

We are lucky that M is so well regarded in the industry, that getting a job should be quite easy.  It's very rare to have someone of his experience -- he has worked on pretty much every game console created since 1995.

So although, the move back to the UK can be seen as not trying hard enough, I fail to see it as that.  I see it as us utilising our rights as individuals to be respected by government.  We are taking our skills and going to go where they will be appreciated and where we will be accepted not only for our good parts, but the parts Canada is unwilling to recognise.

We aren't going to fight a battle that diminishes us.  We will use that energy to constructing something good from our lives and frankly that can be done anywhere.

Fighting, hate, rejection are all negative emotions that take away from us -- never add to us as a whole.  Working for the future, love and accepting others as we wish to be accepted is a positive force and that is what we are working on.

This isn't a defeat, it's a change of course that is bringing us peace and closer as a family.