PR as of today

“Press release.” An (in)famous term for the (sometimes) content that was usually found in the piles of papers and CDs that my last job required me to shorten, edit, and rephrase according to the style of certain lifestyle magazines. These texts were mostly composed of product release announcements of gadgets, cameras, beauty products, etc. etc. Magazine readers usually read these in their (slightly) edited form in the makeup guides and style ensemble pages of prominent fashion titles. The same applies to gadget reviews—although those require less of a delusion when written in review form.

Press release. The reuse of the previously explained term in the context of conversation. “Okay ganito kasi yung press release,” is a paraphrased way of beginning a conversation that will touch on a sensitive topic such as

a)    A break up

b)   Your current fling

c)    Somebody your friend is dating, and has been for a while

d)   The latest update on the juiciest chismis (ie how is the current affair going? or, are they officially still together?)

But since the announcement falls under the category, “press release,” certain information is withheld for the sake of presentation. Names have to be protected; some details are left vague to maintain an image. A persona, so to speak, such that the respect between peers is held and no awkward interactions will occur in the future.

I began this piece with the initial intention of publishing a “press release.” Was I to write it for my audience? Maybe not, as they’ve probably heard about this before hand—and I have no actual “market” to speak of. Those who do matter, those who are concerned, know what they need to know. For the neutral observer, it seems like a natural departure, just like any other phase that was bound to end.

Perhaps this is a press release to myself—a need for the self-assurance and confidence to say: as of yesterday, I have ceased my semi-independent lifestyle of being a full time, paid writer/editor. I am now among the check-to-check dependent workers, only I have one actual freelance payment to wait for as of the moment. To be more truthful, I am underemployed—no, unemployed.

My practical sensibilities feel shortchanged. The responses to the situation below would be enough to send my cautious, over prepared self into a panic:

“Turning into a non-working student must be really tough on the wallet.” -An old college friend, currently in law school

“Welcome to poverty. But you probably knew that.” -My CNF professor, Ma’m Roldan’s response when I introduced myself as a freelance writer

But as I said, and as she said, I know what I’m getting into. I am not unprepared and I am ready to face the consequences of this more difficult choice.

For the last few years, I had been dead set on seeking independence, forging a name for myself, and building a career. These are admirable goals, but my 22-year-old self wasn’t really sure what these required until the opportunities came up and I was lucky enough to attain them. I came into the working world with the determination to become a professional writer, hoping to be a worker that was paid to communicate ideas effectively. But I knew compromises had to be made in terms of the job I would first get since I had no formal training and only experience to fall back on. I began with an online writing gig, a job that continues in abundance, and what I am betting on as of the moment to pay the bills. Then I got my dream of working in a prominent, “wow!” inducing title. Soon enough, however, new dreams were made and that spectacle had to end.

Experience is the best teacher, and I am a lot less naive than me three years ago. I am aware of the realities of what I want for my future. Am I prepared to face these head on? In time. But for now, I have other steps to take to get there, and one of these require the “freedom” of working independently.

Poverty is greatly exaggerated, at least when I’m speaking to middle class working professionals and/or those who would like to experience the perks of a paycheck. I’ve accepted “poverty,” or at least, the limited consumer ability. Having burned salaries in a week, I do know the crippling (but unnecessary) state of locking one’s self at home to make it through another work week.

Having enough money lets me narrow down my spending capacity to what I need and what I truly want. I know that a good part of my savings will go to my yearly travel trip come March, but the sacrifice that entails to leave enough for everything else is one I’m willing to take. With travel, the cost should never be compromised for the experience.

Financial issues aside, I am also embarking on this “independent”, unemployed, but hopefully self-employed streak in order to focus on improving my craft as a creative writing student. Graduate studies are a priority, and the time, expenses, and sacrifices I have made and am making for each class are the ultimate means to that career end. Not only will I be able to say I’ve improved and learned, but I’ll also be able to use the credentials for a more stable, academic future.

Reality vs. expectation. No, this is not a press release. This is my own version of redefining what I want, while living with the consequences that aren’t in my control.  Not all choices are ours, but there are tough ones to make and I’ve made mine.

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