Chapter 16: Marriage and Security

I will never forget this blog entry by one of my former officemates, Therese, on her engagement to her husband, Brian:

She tells him: “Magpakasal na kaya tayo? [Why don’t we get married already?]”

Sige. Wala tayong pera ha. [Sure. We don’t have money, okay.]

Okey lang. We’ll never have enough money anyway. [That’s okay. We’ll never have enough money anyway].”

Most engagement stories are the culmination of having spent enough time together to call your relationship secure. In the emotional sense, this is the point wherein you feel comfortable enough with each other after having weathered your own set of trials and tribulations in addition to becoming familiar with the less attractive bits like, such as say, the smell of each other’s fart. Of course, engaged individuals are expected to have a steady income or business by the time they put a ring on it.

Purely financial? What does security mean most engaged couples?

Therese and Brian’s engagement story stood out because their’s is a situation that Mark and I can relate to most and moreover, they earned my thumbs up of what an engagement should also be about–not just being in a comfortable place but entering the challenge of married life together.

When Mark and I first entertained the idea of tying the knot, it was in 2007 and we were two years into the relationship.

Magpakasal kaya tayo next year,” over a dinner of anchovy and garlic pasta from the Old Spaghetti House in Katipinan Avenue. I think the fact that we couldn’t care less about garlic breath is one indication of our increasing security with each other.

Sige! [Sure!]” Mark replied as though agreeing to a random game of Rock,Paper, Scissors. Of course we never took that plan seriously enough back then; not until we made it official in January 2009. But as the months rolled by, I realized that I couldn’t ignore the financial side any longer and that a marriage isn’t just a game of Bahay-Bahayan [House]. It wasn’t that we were taking our work for granted but we had to definitely strive towards having an income that was sustainable; one that could pay for more than just dinner-and-movie dates. Unfortunately one of my worst habits is procrastinating. I can be a good planner but I don’t always follow through. I’d like to believe that not all plans are feasible for various reasons like a lack of budget, but when things remain unrealized then something ought to be wrong with the way I manage my goals.

Getting engaged was probably one of the best things to happen to me in the past year and it also came at the right time: 2009 was my last year of working full time with my former employer and 2010 not only gave me more opportunities do freelance work, which in my case is more financially rewarding but it gave me time to finally begin my own marketing communications business called Root and Vine, which started operations in August. Even better, I feel lucky that without even trying to look for clients, two opportunities were presented to me–on the same month (and this is precisely the reason why I haven’t been able to blog much).

I was reluctant at first to work with these potential clients particularly because I still hadn’t completed my business registration, although I was about 90% done by the time I touched based with them. All papers, documents and permits will be accomplished by the first week of September but I decided to just go ahead and do business. However, the exhilaration of having one’s own company and beginning operations soon gave way to a new sense of nervousness that  I hadn’t felt since I started working in advertising. Now I have to think about profit, unique selling propositions and managing clients first hand. As a copywriter, I may have interfaced with clients as well, but I was more concentrated on creatives. As a former coordinator for campaign-related events, I also interacted  with suppliers in addition to clients but I was not on top of the project. Now, I have the responsibility of heading an entire campaign and holding the client’s hand.

It’s a tougher job but I feel more ready than ever. Moreover, there’s a lot of humility that comes with it. When you start a business, you don’t necessarily have “no boss to answer to” or “have your own time” as most people would like to believe of entrepreneurship. The truth is you become answerable to more people: clients, companies, consumers, suppliers. Your schedule becomes busier and more than ever, there is a need to brush up on your time management skills. Working with my former office mates is also a challenge. I don’t want to think that I’m much better than them because we’ve been in the industry for around the same amount of time and the reason why I invited them to work with me is because they have their own unique area of expertise in this business–a skills set that fills the void of my own areas for improvement. However, at the same time I need to maintain a take charge attitude. I suppose I’m more people-oriented that way.

At the root of it all, I personally believe that starting a business isn’t just there to make me feel like I’m ready for marriage. It becomes more than that.

Saving up for a wedding will just be the first of many financial endeavors that one will go through.

Entrepreneurship fulfills other things by providing me with an opportunity to service people. Advertising may be seen as a materialistic, somewhat shameless industry and I must admit that at several times, my colleagues and I have taken a step back to reflect on how our work tends to be all about the bottom line: making a sale. Of course we can’t get away from that because making money is all about sustaining lives and growing businesses. However, I realized that more than that, we must challenge the bottomline. As communications practitioners, we must consciously consider consumer education as a vital part of responsible advertising. A good place to start  is by being educated consumers ourselves. I’m not just talking about buying things, but the way we buy into ideas. During a workshop in my previous job, I learned that everyday, we are exposed to an average of 3,000 communication messages. Do we allow ourselves to absorb everything without passing these through a critical sieve? Do we outrightly purchase something just because it’s “hip n’  trendy” or do we take a step back and figure out if it’s something we need? Do we immediately agree with what we read in the papers and see on TV? When there is a more holistic way of approaching business–one that considers both profit and relationships with stakeholders and consumers– then I believe we have a more solid foundation for running an enterprise, which is crucial in the midst of an ever-changing socio-economic sphere. Even natural occurrences may affect business on the grand scale, as illustrated by the Ondoy floods of October 2009.  Simply put, business isn’t 100% secure and several challenges will challenge the way we run our organizations and threaten our relationships with stakeholders and consumers.

I also believe that our idea of security in a marriage or preparedness must also be challenged.  Marriage isn’t a “settling down” but it is entering into a new challenge and a lifetime that will be in constant flux.

The business of marriage is all about weathering new challenges together.

I know that people would like to see marriage as more than just a contract but I see a lot of parallelisms between it and an entrepreneurship. Both are all about nourishing relationships we have with people: our spouse, boss, assistant. Both are all about growth, whether its in our annual net profits or in our expanding household. Both are all about weathering the storm, in sickness and in health, in recession and progression.

In business as in marriage, security is all about embracing the challenges.

Published in: on September 6, 2010 at 11:35 am  Comments (3)  
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