Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cover Girl

The new ESADE MBA brochures came out last week. I knew they were due to materialize around this time- as they do every year. For that reason, I walked into school one morning and there, on the wall, was a stack of brochures- with my very own face smiling back at me.

I have to admit, I was moderately surprised. I knew I was in the brochure but I didn't know I was on it. Of course, its fun to view oneself on any type of media- its like that “15 minutes of fame” thing. I’m not sure why humans get a kick out of visible recognition, but we do- from the reality TV craze to any type of artistic endeavor. As a writer, seeing my name in print is one of my greatest joys. For anyone in the film industry, I’m sure that seeing their names as the credits role brings an immense amount of satisfaction. For an artist, seeing one’s own works hanging on display in a public arena must bring with it indescribable joy. Therefore, when I saw the brochure, I couldn't help but smile.

My MBA class is comprised of over 100 students the face on the pamphlet could have easily been any one of us. I’m beyond certain that there is nothing more that I bring to the business school than any one of my other classmates- we are all comprised of individual strengths and diverse weaknesses- we have each faced various struggles within the MBA and we have each attained distinct goals. I know that there is no more reason for my image to be on display than anyone else’s. Because of this, it’s not an ego-thing. Instead, after grabbing a few copies (for posterity’s sake)- I leafed through the brochure and put it away.

Yet….it doesn't end there. Later in the day, as I was sorting through my bag for tomorrow’s classes and I caught a glimpse of the brochure, I finally realized how much the recognition means to me.

I was brought back to a moment nearly three years ago when I had an informational meeting with an ESADE representative in London. It was before I had finished my applications and before I was completely sure where I would go or if I would actually end up doing an MBA. Sitting in the Hyatt Regency in London’s Portman Square, resume in hand and a massive knot in my stomach- I introduced myself to the first person I had ever met from ESADE and she handed me a neat little information packet. It was then that the MBA became a reality. For the next few months before my trip to Spain for my interview, I took the “ESADE Full Time MBA” brochure with me everywhere. I flipped through it on my commutes and before I went to bed, I looked at the faces of the then-current students.

I was never one of those people with a path from the very beginning- in that, I didn't know when I was an undergraduate student that I would one day be an MBA. I had no idea what I would be. Therefore, when I flipped through the brochure and saw all these professional looking students in big blue classrooms, studious and determined, I wondered if I would ever make it there. I know that back then, I seriously doubted whether I would actually fit in- if I would ever belong.

Then, a few months later, I finally made it to ESADE where I was introduced to the school and a number of students and met with career services for my official interview. On the way out, I grabbed another brochure- the newest version. And again, I was fearful of the fact that these individuals, these students, would ever fit into my world. Rather, I in theirs.

And then the MBA began. The brochures still lined the walls we walk by everyday and every so often, I would pick one up and browse the photos of the faces I see around the halls, the profiles, the descriptions and the ideals I have come to know so well.

The MBA began so quickly and as I am sure any current student will note- we are thrown so aggressively into it that we stop wondering whether we will fit, whether we will make it, and if we belong.

I know I stopped wondering and simply started doing.

And amidst all this DOING, I’ve nearly reached the end…

And then the brochures came out today and there I was on the cover. I realized that I AM that person- the face that will represent the ESADE MBA for thousands more students who are considering an MBA, wondering where they will fit in, speculating as to whether they will make the cut, and basically- in the middle of some of the decisions that will change the course of their lives forever. Moreover, I looked at my face with a huge geeky grin smiling back at me and although I cant believe I am admitting this, I kind of got all choked up! I thought about that day, the first time I held an ESADE pamphlet in my hands, and had serious misgivings about my place in the whole MBA sphere. And here I am, today, representing at least a small part of the domain.

Of course, next year there will be a new brochure and although there will be plenty of uncirculated copies collecting dust- I will have my copy. And no, its not a degree, a medal of honor or a prestigious award- and I’m not attempting to make it into anything greater than it is. But what it does represent to me- is that I am an MBA student. I did an MBA. I did well enough, and gave enough of myself for the staff to acknowledge me and to allow my face to grace the cover of their brochure. And that's enough for me. For now at least.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness

As with most wedding receptions, guests are forced to suffer through numerous speeches with personal anecdotes that mean absolutely nothing to 99% of the people in attendance. Once in a while, we get the occasional comic who rustles up a few laughs. But beyond that, family and friends generally sit around picking at their plates, straining to maintain their plastic grins and feigned interest.  In contrast to what I have been trained to expect, there was one thing stated during a speech at a recent wedding that has resonated with me. The father of the bride coolly declared, mixed in with some other mushy stuff, that “there’s no such thing as happiness, just happy moments.”

Being that I have spent the greater portion of my life searching for the “happiness” that supposedly exists (yes, I even got the Japanese symbol for happiness tattooed on my back as a stupid 16 year old with a fake ID), this succinct idiom has put a new spin on everything I have been searching for. No happiness, huh? I wish someone had told me this before.

If there really is no such thing as happiness, which I could probably attest to, then I’m doing pretty well for myself. Meaning- in the “happy moments” department of my existence- I’ve accrued quite a few. Furthermore, when looking at my current status, I am sure that the proportion of happy to unhappy moments is distributed in a manner that quite favors the former part of the equation. 

I’m a pro-complainer. I’ve somehow inherited this lethal negativity with which I view my life. Some friends attribute it to the fact that I’ve done so much, that my threshold for excitement and satisfaction is too great. Others say it's the Jew in me. I’m not exactly sure what I should blame for this insatiable search for contentment- and the inability to oftentimes appreciate my current situation, but what I do know that I am continuously searching for something else. I am living one moment while waiting for the next- in hopes that I will find my happiness there, since it’s obviously not here. But then, if what this man said at the wedding is true, then I’ve actually found my happiness- I’ve had it all along. My happy moments have been amassed in abundance. 

I receive advice all the time. Of course this advice comes out of love and only good intentions, but it’s not easy to “just look at the bigger picture” or to “think about how much you have accomplished.” 

All sound guidance- but not very helpful, if you ask me.

Now, with this new knowledge that there really is no such thing as happiness- I can serenely revel in my “happy moments” and appreciate that no, it doesn't ever get any better than this.

In the beginning of the MBA, I made a few lists naming what I love about being here, the great moments in the MBA, and the advantages to living in Barcelona. Now, nearly a year later- this city has become familiar territory and school has morphed from something novel into something routine. And with this familiarization and passage of time- my happy moments have transformed and been modified into what makes me happy now- as a student finishing up her MBA, probably leaving Spain for a new country, and taking all the lessons I've learned and people I've encountered with me as little happy pieces of my happy moments right here, right now.