Half way through week 7 I heard that one of my favourite TV shows was taking applications for contestants. I had never applied for a TV show and I was yet to complete a challenge that week so I thought – why not? Little did I realise how long the application would take…
I have never had a desire to be a contestant on a TV show. This might surprise some given my theatrical background. But really, I never watch game shows like ‘Deal or No Deal’ and the idea of being on a reality TV show like ‘Big Brother’ makes me run for the hills. That being said, I do love ‘The Apprentice’ (UK edition, not the terrible American one), and I used to be an avid viewer of ‘The Mole’ (the Australian version). TV shows involving real people undertaking challenges – that I like. And lo and behold the application on offer was for none other than ‘The Mole’. It hadn’t been shown on TV since I left Australia and now it was returning just like I had returned. Coincidence? Fate?
Logging on to the application website three things struck me immediately: (a) I had left my run quite late – applications were due to close in 3 days; (b) the questions being asked were excruciatingly probing; and (c) the application was long. Very, very, very, very, very, very long. Nevertheless I had set myself a challenge and I wanted to stick to it, so I launched in. Coming up for breath two hours later I realised it was not going to be a short process. I was less than a quarter of the way through the written application and I also had to make a video. Did I really want to do this? I genuinely had no desire to be on the show itself so why was I putting myself through the process? ‘Because I am stubborn and determined once I set my mind on something’, came my inner voice. Man sometimes that inner voice can be a pain in the arse.
As I got deeper into the application, the questions became more personal and probing.
- “What are your flaws?”
- “Have you ever had to lie to keep a secret or promise? Describe the circumstances. How did you feel?”
- “What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?”
Wow, I felt like I should have been lying on a couch in a therapists’ office.
- “What are / were your parents’ occupations and how has this influenced your life?”
Um, say what now? This application was sucking the marrow out of me!
Other difficult questions followed:
- “What do you think is the biggest problem society faces?”
- “What do you think of the immigration policy in Australia?”
- “What would you change about the world if you were in charge?”
(Helloooo Miss World).
Writing the answers to these and the numerous other questions was taking up more time than anticipated, and I had a lot of other important things to do (like pack for my imminent trip to Bangkok – a teaser for next weeks’ blog right there!). Did I really want to continue to spend my time on this? Was I willing to give up on the challenge for the week? ‘My god yes, give up, you don’t even want to be on the show. You are just doing this because you set yourself a challenge, not because you want to be on the show. Just go to bed, seriously, stop being a martyr’ my inner voice screamed having finally seen reason. So I did. I packed up the computer and I went to bed. No more application for me. I would just chalk it up as an experience to learn from, even if I didn’t complete the challenge.
Waking up the next morning I had a feeling akin to guilt. But why should I feel guilty? I hadn’t cheated anyone. No one would have to know that I didn’t complete my challenge for the week, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care. ‘Ah’, screamed my inner voice. ‘But you would know, you would care, and you are cheating yourself’. Man I need to shut that b!@#$ up! So back to the computer I went and continued to answer the probing and difficult questions. 25 pages of a word document later I felt that the application was as good as it was going to get. I admit I didn’t fuss over it. I didn’t even obsessively re-read over it four times or more like I would normally do for anything that I write. It was too long and I still had a video to shot. Oh yes, a video.
What could I say in three minutes or less that would showcase my talents, my outgoing personality, and my confidence in front of a camera? I have seen some of the tapes that people put together for these things – over the top much? That just isn’t me. Besides, I had only about four hours left to film it, upload it and send the application. Enter my niece from stage left. What better way to try and convince the viewers that I should be in the show then to have a cute 10-year-old pulling a puppy dog face and asking to see her Aunty on TV. Sure fire winner! After asking permission from a responsible adult as to whether it would be ok for her to be on the demo tape, I set about writing a very rough dialogue. I wanted it to be spontaneous but with a guide as to how the scene would play out. An introduction to me, an introduction to my niece, a little dance number, and cut. Fabulous. In and out in less than two minutes.
Several practices in pj’s (yep, I was still rocking the pj look at 3pm) and I was satisfied that we could pull it off without looking ridiculous.
But what to wear? Nothing too outlandish (I didn’t want to be the loud and zany person), nothing too revealing (I didn’t want to take that mantel), and nothing too casual (I didn’t want to say that I didn’t care how I looked). I settled on jeans and an orange leopard print top; minimal make-up. Sexy in an understated way (if I do say so myself!).
Cue take 1. It lasted all of 30 seconds before I realised I had no idea what I was saying. Take 2 was much better but on the play back I realised that the background just did not work. A change of scenery was definitely required. In the end I settled on the front garden, and the camera was placed on a rubbish bin to shoot the video – class all the way, no expense spared! After an initial fumble of words on take 3, take 4 went off smoothly and was quite spontaneous and fun – we had a winner! Now to upload and send the application on its way.
The uploading process proved to be a lot trickier and more frustrating than I ever could have imagined. Now I am pretty au fait when it comes to computers (and when all else fails there is always Google to lend a helping hand), but I could not for the life of me reduce the file to the file size that was allowable for the application. I attempted all means of trying to make it smaller, but I just wasn’t getting any love back. As time ticked on I grew more and more frustrated and began wishing that my more tech savvy friends were close by like they used to be. But it was just me and the computer battling it out. I didn’t want to reshoot the video – it was now dark, my niece was tired, and besides, we had a good thing going in the final shoot. I just needed to shrink the damn thing to a more manageable size.
After a good two hours of struggle, yelling and cursing, I finally managed to get it to the allowable size to upload. Unfortunately the quality of the video suffered somewhat, but by that stage I was well and truly over it and just wanted to get rid of it once and for all! Hitting send I felt an intense feeling of relief. Application done! Project ‘packing for Bangkok’ could commence.
So what did I learn from my challenge this week? Well thanks to the probing questions, I learnt a hell of a lot about myself. I felt like I had delved into the depths of my psyche. Ideas and opinions rushed out of my head to my fingertips and before I knew it I had pages of material that I felt strongly about. I also got a feel for how my past had shaped my present thanks to the questions on upbringing, home towns and parents’ occupations, and how these had affected my thoughts and feelings on life. It really was a form of therapy in many ways. Of course, I did not over-share in the application. I was not going to reveal my full life history to complete strangers. God knows where that information could end up. But it did provide a lot of food for thought, and in some ways I was grateful for the chance to delve into such things. I am sure that when I read back over it in years to come it will be an interesting snapshot of my life at that moment. So despite the pain of the length of the application I am glad that I completed it as I did learn more about myself and that can never be a bad thing.
Completing the application also showed me I still have a long way to go before I accept Australia the way I did before I moved to the UK. I know I will never again feel the same as I did before I moved away, but I do hope one day to rekindle the love of my country, and to relinquish my soul’s desire for the UK. I know that those who haven’t lived abroad will never understand how you can feel like a foreigner in your own country, but I also know that I am not alone in this. I look forward to the day when I can truly call Australia my home again and not feel sad or frustrated about it.
I learnt that I can’t accept giving up on something that I have set out to complete, even when the going gets tough and even when I don’t covet the specific prize for successful completion (i.e. a TV show appearance).
I learnt that it is not always that outcome of a project that is the most important part of the project. It is what you learn along the way that can be more beneficial than the eventual outcome. Yes, completing a project brings a certain feeling of satisfaction, and sometimes the outcome of a project is useful (e.g. food, furniture, essay), but the insight that you get along the way can far outweigh the eventual outcome.
I learnt that a rubbish bin can make a pretty good camera stand.
I learnt useful technical skills that will no doubt come in handy again one day, along with gaining knowledge of many different types of computer programs one can use to make a run off the mill video that much more exciting.
I learnt that something that starts out looking easy may actually end up being a lot harder than you could ever have imagined, and that something that starts out looking hard could, in fact, end up being easy.
And finally I learnt that it is actually easier to start / continue on with a project then it is to sit around thinking about it and feeling uncomfortable for not doing it. You just have to dive in and give it your best shot, and don’t give up when the going gets tough. There are rewards to completing a project that far outweigh the difficulties you may experience along the way. So stop putting things off – make the effort to complete a shelved project today. I promise you will feel better for having done it.
As for me, next stop, Bangkok!
I leave you with a final thought for the day
“Smooth seas do not make skilful sailors” – African proverb