Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ambition's Evolutions

My youngest recollection of an ambition, one which my parents and cousins still bring up from time to time, was a unique one. From a young age I knew I was different. And by that I don't mean that I'm gay, but that I knew I was destined for greater things, to be above all.

I wanted to be Sebastian the crab.

As I grew older I must have realised that the closest I'd ever get to that would probably be joining the cast of Disney on Ice and wearing an 10kg plushie suit of my crustacean hero. But knowing my butterlimbness (because I slip and fall too, not just drop things), I'd have probably sliced myself into four with those terrifying blades of glory. I'd probably be lipsyncing to Undar da see too, and not actually singing it, a fact I never would stand for, given the unfounded pride I have in my mellifluous voice.

In secondary school I discovered my passion for acting. Unfortunately I never quite got the roles I wanted - I was always pushed to play female roles. And my teacher always made me do that faux-Singaporean-caring-mother voice that Koh Chieng Mun did for Dolly in Under One Roof. I didn't like it one bit. I got into the ELDDS executive committee and moved to backstage management and abit of directing those couple of times when my teacher instructed me to put the performers into shape. Sounds wow, absolutely isn't. I loved comedy, but the comedy my teacher wanted me to do wasn't the comedy I wanted to do. I love Arrested Development, Ricky Gervais, and Catherine Tate. Enough? And as for my parents, they were worried about my ability to survive in the acting industry. Competitive, number one, and they worried about my being just too nice to people. I'm to this day still learning how to be a fucking arsehole when required. So they were rightly worried that I'd be conned into trafficking drugs and get fucked big time when I got caught. Hey, that's their impression of the industry. Can't say I absolutely disagree.

They kept pushing me to try for newscasting, which involved, in their opinion, having to study hard, get into the prestigious NTU Mass Comm course (or was it NUS I forgot), and flying high the traditional Singaporean way. I was essentially, an Academics FAIL, and with 17 points for O levels my parents sent me to UB@SIM to be part of the pioneering batch of B.A. in Communication students. Neither parents nor students had the faintest idea what was in store for us, and honestly I doubt the management staff did either. But it turned out to be a wacky angry melodramatic rollercoaster ride I'll be wont to forget (but probably will anyway), and for two years all I could give to the magical question was, "I have no idea. But somewhere in the media definitely."

My Public Relations module was a failure. I was interested in the subject because I was eager to be proven wrong that all PR folks are lying bastards (I know now only a few are). But my lecturer was a China lady with a heavy accent and kinda no idea what she was talking about herself. At least though I now knew abit about this curious profession, this calculated dance between brand and customer. At the same time Tech65 started picking up and as the closest thing to a communication professional I happily volunteered to be communicator for Tech65, spreading the word about what we do, attending events to stuff my face with sauteed Wagyu beef and ride on the Flyer (before the motor started rusting), and baiting companies to drop us test products. I started getting into contact with amazing PR professionals like Brian Koh, Tania Chew, Pat Law, Melvin Yuan... oh my God the list could go on for... well one more line but I still don't wanna type it all out. And as I talked to them about this whole industry I found myself staring at the beautiful crossroads of public relations and social media.

And I threw myself at it. My ambition finally took serious, concrete, almost tangible form. I subscribed to PR news sources on the net. Started reading PR books. Started perking up at every advertisement, or campaign, or PR news release or contact, approving of and criticizing practitioners' techniques and tactics, deciding what I will and will not do in the future.

I'm glad. Ambition isn't something that shapes itself up in time for your 22nd or 24th birthday. But a colossal series of events brought me to where I am today. Or else I'd still be floating about, and when I happily receive the kick in the arse out of NS on 4th June 2010, I'd stumble and fall into an immense world, speeding too fast to sit me down and counsel me on my life and what I'd like to do with it.

My ambition, or should I say dreams now that I'm older than 5, may change in a few years time. I don't know. All I know is for all the risk that comes with it, I could never survive working in a place I don't belong.

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