When You Know Nothing At All…

481262065_f11ad1fea5_oPlease sing that using the tune from Ronan Keating’s “When you say nothing at all…” I’m sure you sound like one of those drunken Chinese uncles at an open bar karaoke parlour. Stereotyping, is the 8th deadly sin. In Malaysia.

So say you have experiences. What kind of experiences and how long did you take to gain those experiences? 2 years? 5 years? 8 years? 25 years and 8 months?

If you come from a Corporate world, years of experiences and qualifications matter. Let’s just say, in the mainstream world, this matters. Put aside if you’re just at the desk folding cheque envelopes. If you sit at that desk for 5 years, you’re a senior. That’s 5 years of experiences.

I was jobless in 2010 to 2011. I come from a conventional corporate background, where freelancing is taboo (I was a corporate analyst, what the fuck is freelancing, right?!). Then I quit my job. Without any savings. To ‘pursue’ writing. At that point, I got a gig writing animation series. I have NO EXPERIENCE in writing scripts, let alone animation. But I was treated like a professional, and I learned through the process. Today, I am not a scriptwriter. The 10 episodes that I’ve written, does not entail me to call myself a qualified scriptwriter. I didn’t go to scriptwriting school. What I had was confidence to convince people that I can do it, and learn through the process. But that’s not enough. I don’t have a degree in script writing.

Come June 2011, I almost had a breakdown. I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. My dad took me out for coffee and had this pep talk about life. He said “There are two fundamentals in life. Qada’ dan Qadar’. Your fate and your destiny. Your circumstances will change, but not these two things. Because that talk was so powderful, I took his advice and went to an interview at a public university which I shall not name because my dad is a part time lecturer at that universiti pertahanan nasional malaysia. I interviewed for the position of an online editor. I got the job (6 months later). My pay, will go back to square one, like when I started working in 2006. The university is about 1 hour drive from home (excluding traffic). I took another offer, which pays twice of what the university was offering, and is just 30 minutes drive from home. My mother was devastated that I didn’t take that offer. She said if I work for 8 years, I could be a Pengarah Jabatan, which would grant me the same salary of what the other job offer that I took was offering me. I told my mother, I didn’t have the patience to wait and work for 8 years to finally earn what I could be earning right now. With that I also forgo the chances of furthering my Masters which could be fully subsidised by the university.

At that same time, I have become a performance poet. I didn’t study poetry nor literature. I acted like a professional while struggling to learn what spoken word was. The only thing I knew and was certain, that it was in me. I was lucky enough to be included into a collective and was paid to perform at a festival and also got the chance to perform in Jakarta as well. But when my other 3 brilliant poets have been doing spoken word for years, I have only started for 1.5 years. But this time around I enjoy so much performing on stage that I do want to call myself a performance poet. But not when I am shaking on stage. I still have stage frights.

In 2012, I accepted an offer to be a dubbing manager. I don’t have any experience in dubbing. What I was fortunate enough to have, was the confidence of bosses from Malaysia, Singapore, and Hong Kong to give me the chance and build the studio. We built the dubbing studio. It was built on Disney and international dubbing requirements. During one year of managing the dubbing studio, I learned the technicalities, the system, the creative process, translating and writing dubbing scripts, directing dubbing artists and I was living my life in full dolby surround system that even my ears now will catch the sound of lightbulb in a fully insulated room. I am not, a dubbing director nor a dubbing producer. I cannot say one year is enough to make me someone from the dubbing industry. But I can do crowd noise and adlibs for free.

My first job upon graduation is at an NGO. I was lucky, the NGO I applied for is owned by a former Prime Minister. I get to do amazing events. I get to be involved in the 2007 Perdana Global Peace Forum. I got to see how art is valued by the late Dato’ Syed Ahmad Jamal, when we were organising the Merdeka 50 Art Exhibition. I got to do research at all the past prime ministers memorials. That was a fun day trip.

Then I left the Foundation and joined a CSR consulting firm. I get to be among the few trained Socially Responsible Investment analysts in the region. I get to help organise the International CSR Conference for two years, where I get to meet people from the UNPRI, ILO and many Venture Capitals and Green Fund Banks.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to go for a meeting about an upcoming conference. The Conference Organiser personnel look at me as if I have no idea how to run a conference. Organising 3 international conferences doesn’t buy you credibility. Because you don’t have years of experience and a Public Relations degree.

Life is amazing, because when it throws you chances, you say, “HOI! Stop throwing those lemons la, Badigol! Sakit tau!!!”

Today, another slap was thrown on my face. I have no experiences in TV aside than watching it. Maybe carrying it. And sometimes slapping it when the bulb tries to be funky.

What I need now is faith.

Because chances are, when you know nothing at all, maybe you’re actually born for it.

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