Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Rock and The Hard Place

Basically, I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I could learn to become at least somewhat satisfied with what I’ve been given thus far. This entails a good job with great work experience, living in a country with relatively good weather year-round and paying less than the equivalent of £8 for a week’s supply of petrol (probably the biggest perk living in Qatar, however, if civil infrastructure was remotely more efficient, there may not be the need for a 4 car average/family). This is the rock. 

I know, I know, I shouldn’t be complaining really, but isn’t that what being in your 20s is about? Not the complaining bit, but wanting more? I’m made to feel ungrateful at times when I express my listlessness and dissatisfaction with life, and not only by my elders, but friends that are my age, give or take. Their complacency scares me. 

I have a lovely girlfriend who is a couple of years older than I am. She moved here from America a few years ago, five to be exact. Let’s call her Nat. Nat hated being in Doha at the start. She’d expected things to be a lot easier considering her folks lived in the little peninsular and she was specifically looking to gain some valuable work experience in a booming economy, add to her savings nest and get the hell out of dodge. She got stuck. She is now trying very, very hard to like her rock. 

You see, it really isn’t that easy choosing between success + money versus the romantic allure of possibly more success, the image of the grass is always greener on the other side and in effect the ever-alluding happiness + adventure equation. I’ve been blogging for a few months about my desire to take the next step in my career/life. Qatar has given me so much and I am eternally grateful. It has catapulted me into the world of publishing and a luxury lifestyle I never thought I could have at such a young age. I haven’t saved as much as I would have liked to (ahem) but I have lived an incredibly comfortable life for the past year or so, traveling frequently to visit friends and family, spending on unnecessary frivolities, etc. So, what’s the hard place? 

That elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that boasts foreign lands, love, music, culture and overall, a Globetrekker-like rendition of life as an alien. Not the pudgy, green things with oversized heads, but the one Sting sang about (no Sting bashing here, ta). I know this post seems like a huge whinge, and in a way it is, but until you’ve been in a position where you’re offered the best of both worlds, when do you stop becoming sensible and responsible and decide to take the plunge into the ‘great unknown’? 

I’ve been given a variety of different answers when posing that question. The one I hate the most is, “You’re still young, what are you settled down in a job for?” Let me get this right: hundreds of thousands of fresh graduates in the Levant, the UK, Australia are struggling to find jobs many months into their search. Yet here I am being encouraged to abandon my post? How do I know when the next stroke of luck might hit? 

Yes, I said luck, because to be honest with you, I’ve lost all faith in the recruitment process as one that evaluates based on merit. Read my previous posts* on my attempts at employment with Sky and Al Jazeera. Now I know I can’t expect to have everything.. wait, why not? Let’s reevaluate. What is the recipe for success? 

The five pillars of success

  1. See (really see) what's possible
  2. Know specifically what you want to achieve
  3. Make good decisions
  4. Understand the tactics to get things done and to change minds
  5. Earn the trust and respect of the people around you
It sure seems like we spend all our time on #4.

This is a blog post from the legendary Seth Godin, who I’ve quoted several times on this blog since being directed onto his works by one of my mentors. I wholeheartedly agree and it scares me. We spend most of our time trying to convince others that we can do this or that. I sent several emails to the bureau chief at AJE London headquarters, trying to convince him that I can work in the news department in spite of my lack of experience in broadcasting. I know that I can, mind you. It’s not rocket science. I’m a qualified researcher if nothing else, with experience in print media, therefore my plea was completely justified. However, is that really what I wanted? 

I spent too much time on #4. I launched myself into #4 after steamrolling through the others. #5 is most important I believe. Ensuring others trust you, believe in your capabilities. That alone is a task that can take years to achieve, yet here I was, trying to compress a mountain of work into a molehill timespan of a few months. I could rattle on about this for hours to be honest. I spend most of my days consumed with the thought of more - what more can I be doing to get what I want? What is it that I want in the first place? How can I get people to see me for what I really am? Stereotypes, misconceptions, economic climates, politics, discrimination, lack of jobs, inexperience, etc. 

These are the issues in my way and many more that I am trying to overcome on this learning curve of mine. I hope a year from now when I look back at this post that I may have come across a few answers for myself. Meanwhile, if you feel, or have ever experienced what Im going through now, leave me a comment, I'd love to know what you think. 

*Disclaimer: My previous posts detailing my communication with the noted respective organisations is representative of a personal experience only. They are not critiques of the networks themselves, but of the recruitment process within which I was involved. Also, the title of this post is not in reference to the Cutting Crew album, thanks. 


  1. Hey great post there Reem, I totally get what your saying, and I'm experiencing what you are currently experiencing. It seems you are down and all I can say is don't stop believing.

    You remind of a small town girl, who was living in a lonely world. She then took the midnight train going anywhere. She was working hard to get her fill, and just wanted a thrill, paying anything in life so she can roll that dice. Why did she do that? Well some will win, some will lose, soem were just made to sing the blues. See Reem, the movie never ends, it just goes on and on. So don't stop believing, hold on to that feeling.

  2. Tamer, your responses are always so creative. And by creative, I mean I will beat u up when I see u next.

  3. number 4 is bullshit, a waste of time, there's no truth to it, it's just posturing. You're better off making number 4 - figure out who you are. that's what it takes to get a job--- go in there as yourself.

  4. Hiya Kid, yes you're absolutely right, and as Seth states, its pretty sad that we spend most of our time trying to fit into a specific mould when in actual fact, it's what sets us apart that will eventually take us to that success we're after.