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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The End of the Affair

I have never had a problem writing about myself, my feelings, or my relationships. I got used to sharing everything with you - I mean everything - including the things that make people blush in our society. Today I am struggling with words. I am not sure how to express myself while saving the little face that I have left. Ok! Ok! It is not that dramatic; it is just hard - so hard - to say that it is over. The end has come. The day that I have dreaded for many years has come and I have to be a big girl and do the right thing. I have to quit the game - it is no longer my game.

12 years ago I was a fresh graduate full of energy and dreams. I was born with a natural strength and will power that I knew could get me anywhere I wanted to go. Paul Malcom, the director of sales and marketing at the Cairo Marriott in 1996 saw the piranha-like elements in my character that were perfectly hidden behind my soft demure facade and he honored me with the title that has changed my life - he appointed me as the public relations coordinator of the hotel. He made me a proud little girl. I would flash my business card whenever and wherever possible. I would make sure that everyone who crossed my path got to know what an important job I had. Were it possible I would have put on my name tag all the time.

In less than a month my media database and relationships mushroomed and my learning curve skyrocketed. I was a PR genius driven by ambition and an unquenchable thirst for achievement and growth. I used to scan each and every newspaper and magazine for creative press releases, events, and what have you. I looked up to the PR stars and divas at the time as I secretly competed with each one of them. I had a secret file where I kept count of their published material versus mine and I took note of every successful event they ever created and tested my own creativity on how to make their events better were I in their shoes.

Other than taking courses, reading books, surfing sites, and jotting down my own ideas for when the time was right, I had timeframes for my career. By the age of 24 I was the youngest PR manager in Egypt and my name began shining next to the divas that I looked up to. By the age of 27 I became the youngest director of PR in Egypt and the most expensive. There was a time when I outshined everyone and I used to compete with no one but myself and whenever I reached a benchmark, I raised the par even higher. I became a PR diva myself and my media relations were never better.

On my way up, and sitting there on the top, I forgot to look at the stars that I used to covet. I did not notice how many fell from the sky, how many ceased to shine, and how many grew into stagnation. Only when I turned 30 that I began noticing the changes. I was slowly and gradually falling out of love with the job. My passion and drive was fading along with my media relationships and power. It was a slow process that only reflected on the dim light that I, as a once shining star, was emitting. I began looking for the names that I once scanned the papers for, only to realize that they have been replaced by other names; names and faces that I never noticed before. Some of the familiar names were still there but they seemed weak and faint as though their power had given up on them.

I got into the Ritz-Carlton as the youngest director of PR and one of the most successful and while I was left there to rot, my peers took charge of areas and regions. I watched the young sales people set foot in the hotel as young promising executives and, in the six years that my career came to a standstill, they got promoted to assistant managers, managers, now directors, and will soon head whole sales and marketing teams. Where would that leave me? Exactly where I started seven years back and exactly where I will be seven years from now! A dead end! I will always be the PR girl; little Murva - as one of my GMs used to call me. No matter how big I grew, I will never be on the board of executives - why? Because I will always report to the director of sales and marketing.

The title could change - be it marketing communication or communications - yet the job will always be the same, the boss will always be the same, if not worse, and the GM will always call me for pictures and press releases. Getting an area position now seems like a mirage - not because it is hard, but rather because it is just another title! I will never be looked at or treated as the qualified marketer that I am. I will always be locked up in a box in the sales and marketing department. I will always have a regional dickhead who, at the back of his stupid head, thinks that PR girls should keep their mouths shut while the marketing gurus talk. I will always have someone confusing my title with my experience and turning me into an order taker.
The past three, almost four, years of my life were like an eye-opener. I found the perfect outlet for my marketing knowledge and experience when I began teaching at the AUC. I finally have a chance to create a second line of people who will grow into great marketers. I have also embarked on a career in training - silly hoteliers who have seen nothing outside their little Barbie world think little of trainers and believe that anything outside their hotel is not a career. No one explained to them that a trainer is a consultant in his field and that I have finally found my decent respected position in the training room as a business partner not as the idiotic toy they want me to be.

Too much has been going on in my life on all fronts and I had no more room to keep anything within. I needed to vent; hence came the writing - my true voice! And writing led to my TV exposure ... and I finally got back the fulfillment that my original career has denied me. I am grateful for the options that I have been given and I am thankful for the God-given gifts that I was blessed with. I am lucky that I came across people who recognized my potential and I do not regret that I ever took those risks. I still remember his words when he interviewed me last May for my current position; "I am giving you a career" he said. I felt a slap on the face and, as I swallowed the insult, I felt that my victories, achievements, and success stories on all other fronts mean nothing to this man who thought that the world revolved around his hotel.

I know that some people will delete my number, others will not call me anymore, and others will not answer me when I call - but it's ok. I know that I will no longer have the backup of the corporate world but I also know that I will never be a nobody ... I will always be me .. the me that I have always been true to. I am finally free and happy .... I have resigned and ended the affair.

14 comments:

Rana said...

everytime I read your lines I fall in love with your wrting... this time I feel I am falling in love with a new "REAL" friend and human! Marwa I respect and like you more than words can describe I'm extremely proud of you and proud to know someone like you!

I cannot beleive he said he was giving you a career!!!

Sondos Shabayek said...

of course i would!
i advise you to be yourself... and if that means you resign then do it right away!
bosi i know that there's a wide gap between us in terms of both age and experience bt i have been thru a similar dilemma although i must admit a much easier one, i was working in dream with very promising prospects in both salary and title and it took me 3 months to get myself to quit and work for less than half the salary i used to take in e7na, bt i never regretted it... i felt i was going down the drain in dream and e7na revived me back... its all abt the priorities: my parents thought i was stupid to do tht (thts coz they thought of it financially and tv for them was more prestigiuois than journalism) ...i thought of it differently... hardly any one supported my decision, infact none ... bt it will forever remain a decision tht i will never ever regret...

and thts one final thing from me to you :)

To clutch at madness

conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls
something borrowed which we mistake as our own
ignorance is better than this; clutch at madness instead
always run from what seems to benefit yourself:
sip the poison and spill the water of life
revile those who flatter you
lend both interest and principal to the poor
let security go and be at home amid dangers
leave your good name behind and accept disgrace
i have lived with catious thinking
now i will make myself mad

Rumi :)

logic says you shouldnt resign... bt intution, ur intution says the opposite..
follow whts more true and genuine and trustworthy... and to hell with any one or any thing!

Riham Reda said...

Dear marwa.... now I understand what you told me earlier....
I respect your point of view... we should only FORCE our image through other people's heads.... and fight their ideas about the myth of the "PR girls" and impose our "re-branded look" i.e. the real business face... not the show face...
We have the experience and expertise in marketing... and we are the branding brain (not only pictures and press releases...etc)

Your decision is right... but in addition to that... but if I were you... I would have "F....." his/her brain inside out before leaving... and reporting it to the corporate office... :):)
You can always edit my comments written here to be able to publish them :):)

Cheers!!! I loved your actions and I think the same...

God said...

Congratulations:) You're too real for the corporate world anyway!

Amany Souka said...

well now i know the story, as long as your happy ya marwa then ur safe, goodluck in your new path and be sure that i will never be one of those who would loose your
number, just hope that you take my calls when you are a big star :) .
wish you all the best my dear friend.

Mo'men said...

There must be some kinda of virus in the air, cuz I'm quitting my job too... but you r walking away from your career for a "more meaningful" teaching experience, I made that step 2 years ago... I left a very promising career for the “Value” of teaching and research, but it back fired at me big time...
I don’t know about your settings at the AUC, for a long time I always thought that the AUC is the ONLY decent university in Egypt that still provides good education, but for some time now it has been degrading to the levels of other - so called international- universities!
My point is; I made the mistake of sacrificing a career for an academic position and it was a horrible experience for so many reasons and I advise to shift for a more rewarding job
“Those who can, do ... those who cannot teach”, How true is that?

Khaled Mostafa said...

All I can say is that I totally understand where you're coming from, I'm in the same boat now, except that I have another major decision to make!

GOOD LUCK

Generally I think consulting is the best move for you, when you outgrow positions, the only thing you can do is multiply them laterally.

Aladdin said...

What a professional 'born-again' Egyptian FE-mail you are! :)

lonely man said...

As long as you can still pay for the rent....you are free to do whatever you want to do :)
r

Karim Nazih said...

Hey little murva...hehehe, u r simply amazing...i read ur note, i always read what u write and allow me to tell you that i adore the way u express urself and how u get ur frustration out of u...when i am reading ur words i feel that they are quite expressive (i always believe that this is a gift of Allah that not all ppl have) althought i dont know exactly what happened but i know that u r strong person, full of energy and among everything u r loved by others..so no matter what they say or do, never stop shaking the tree, put ur past behind u and keep looking forward...wishing u the best of luck in everything...dont forget that u r a star and a star shines anywhere it goes

Take care,
Karim

Abdelbadie said...

yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh....ya marwa..
even u?!!....
what is wrong with this world??!!! 7atta Marwa....

do u know marwa!! u were always my dream or at least when i think realistic, u were the benchmark of my dream....
almost since 10 years and when i first have seen u on newspapers and i have a special feeling to u and ur success story....
i was easily recognizing u once i look at the hotel pages....
u have to keep proud as u r of ur self and ur great endless success story.
did u forget that there r many ppl in our life their main goals to destruct the great ppl like u.... i belive u r fully aware about that stupid kind of ppl but sometimes we need someone for reminder...
whatever u hear or read from such stupid ppl, that must keep u confident and proud and u should realize that such ppl r exist only to give u more evidence for ur success and uniqueness...

our mistake that sometimes when we feel that we reached the top of our career we feel a desire for relaxing.... and this immediatly affect our career and then image...

my advice with this, is once i feel that i have reached the maximum or the top in my company or industry, i turn to another place, company and role...
i should not wait until they kick me out... like a football player like Hazem Imam...hehehe.

the good part of this hard situation is giving us a great opportunity to see ur pure human feelings.... u were always acting as a strong girl but here i feel u as really a little child who cry, laugh, hurted, hate and love.

u need to look inside ur self a pit more, u should feel ur self and be urself...as a human not as machine.... ur soul and heart need more attention from u....

whatever we reach in this world should not disturbe our attention for our self and out other life.... whether our other present life or next life on the other day...

sometimes i feel that in less than a second i would be shut down and be alone without anybody, fortune or career.... only to be with allah SW with my good and bad things i did in my life....

for me i feel very scary about that...coz i feel i have not done any thing worth.... so i'd be just a person born and died....

so what is benifits....nothing..
............................................................................................!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Marwaaaa....stop doing this to me...I really need to sleep and u just keep on keeping me awake with your writings...7aram 3alekyy...Now it's 2:00 am ya3ny...
Begad I'm speachless...

Marwa...Now I announce that u r officialy one of my biggest Inspiror in my career...

Mostafa El khafif

Marwa Rakha said...

Mostafa, the day I walked into that classroom and saw you, I remembered myself ... you have the same eyes ... not just the color .. the eagerness and the ambition was there .. welcome to my world:)

Anonymous said...

Now I have alot butterflies flying around inside my stomach :)

I donno how did u see it in me cos we haven't interact with each other for that much till now, but u r absolutely right!!

Small thing about me I'd like to share it with u...

I live with a believe in myself that always says to me...
" As long as you have the right input, and there is someone out there capable to do it...THEN YOU CAN DO IT AS WELL OR EVEN BETTER".

the thing is it's very hard to find the right and complete input...but it's not impossible it only takes more time :)...

I think I would be the happiest among ur new friends that u get to know everyday...cos as I said u'll not only be a friend u r my inspiror...

I'm a "BIG FAN...THIS IS STAN" :P...no I'm just kiddin don't worry :)

N.B.:
Butterflies still playing around inside :)

Mostafa El Khafif