I watched one of my favourite movies, The Devil Wears Prada, again today. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to it, because it’s a somewhat typical chick flick. Maybe I love how Anne Hathaway looks. Maybe I love looking at the gorgeous girls and beautiful clothes. Maybe because it’s like a dream I can live in for one and a half hours: working in New York, in one of the biggest publication companies in the world, wearing divine outfits to work that’s free, having a cook for a boyfriend and living with him, having warm, affectionate friends…
When I watched it today, I felt I had more in common with Andy Sachs, the protagonist, than just dreaming to be like her.
Andy Sachs: Fresh graduate looking for her first job
Andy Sachs: Takes up a job because of the opportunity she thinks she will gain
Andy Sachs: Feels when she does something right, it’s unacknowledged but gets the hairdryer treatment when she messes up because she’s still new
Andy Sachs: Thinks she is trying her best but her colleagues doesn’t because they are putting far more effort than she is
Andy Sachs: Believes (in the end) that work shouldn’t consume her and that she doesn’t want to do hurtful things to get ahead in the rat race
I’ve always liked the ending, because I felt she made the right choice in leaving the shitty job. I’m sure I would’ve left much earlier if I were her. The character’s friends and family wanted her to quit the job too, as it was taking so much of her time, not to mention the unreasonable demands by her dragon lady boss and how she was turning into someone her loved ones didn’t understand.
While life in the movies are often exaggerated, I thought the ending offered a good lesson to people about work. Now that I’m actually working, I see that the ending is unrealistic. The fact is that if you want to work your way up, you have to put in more effort than your peers. And among the things your boss would count as effort is by seeing the amount of time you spend at the office.
This is where I would not excel in, work wise. I’ve said before that if I am more in love with my job, I would probably not mind putting more time in. I’m questioning that statement now… As a kid, whether I enjoyed school or not, I always wanted to get home ASAP. When the bell rang, I would immediately rush out of class (as soon as the teacher allowed, of course) so that I could beat the human traffic, students who would jam up the stairwell as they go down leisurely. I would be sticky, sweaty, hungry and tired after a day of studying, so I felt it was pointless to take my time when I could get a head start and be home early. This has been a habit I have practised my entire schooling life, including college; then it was also wiser to get home early, since most of the time classes were over before the rush hour, so it would be silly to get stuck in a traffic jam because it not only wasted time but petrol! I don’t think my habit means I loved school less than those who took their time to get home or stayed back for whatever reasons – I’m sure you know how much I loved college!
Working now, the situation is different. My time to go home does not anymore depend on the clock, but on how urgent my workload is, or how demanding my company’s clients are, or how strict my bosses are. Currently, it is a slow period for my company, so I get to go home by the clock. But once the real work begins, I will be at its mercy. As it is, I think I am gaining a not-so-positive reputation for my on-the-dot leaving of office at the end of the day, because all my colleagues do not leave on time even when it’s not a busy season. They usually go home around half an hour after working hours are over. While they sometimes come in late, some of them even come earlier to work. If compared, I can never measure up – they come in earlier and leave later!
At school, the question of how much effort I was putting in never really came up. Most of the time, I was aware of where I stood in each subject; that’s to say, if I was weak in a certain subject it was because I made a conscious decision not to focus on it, and there was no consequence because my parents never punished me for bad grades. They basically left me to deal with educational issues on my own. At college, my grades belonged in the top half of the class and for some reason, my course came more naturally to me than school had ever been. It was no walk in the park, but I never felt like I was struggling to pass classes. If I wanted to better myself then, all I had to do was pick up my books, and I could do it anytime I wanted to. I suppose it was also easy to me because half the time I would not do most of the homework we were assigned to do (the ungraded ones, that is) and sometimes needed help from friends when the lecturers asked for answers in class orally. 😛
I’m barely one month into this job, so I’m still making many mistakes and hopefully am learning from them. I wonder, though, if I am ever settled in there, will I always be considered less committed and not putting in as much effort as others because I like to go home ASAP? And if I work elsewhere some day, will this habit of mine be my weakness? I suppose I need to evaluate this aspect of me…