I have to share these words with whole sincerity because many of us are not yet kicked by reality. A dear friend tagged me with a letter by A.Jadaone back when I freshly graduated and it hit me. Years after, I gave her a reply (see below).
Dear Fresh Grad,
I think I saw you yesterday along Makati Avenue, clutching a brown envelope—inside are your resumés, right?—wearing the most smart casual attire your closet will allow, waiting for the traffic light to change to red. You looked a little flustered. Why, did your job interview not go so well? It’s your fifth interview in six weeks, I hear? Don’t worry, they always say “don’t call us, we’ll call you” to almost everybody. Hindi ka nag-iisa. Oh, your best friend nailed her interview on the first try? And your other ka-barkada too? Well. Good for them. Wag ka lang inggitera.
I know, I know. You’ve already imagined yourself in your dream job immediately after graduation, getting paid—and a lot at that—doing what you love to do, so “it doesn’t feel like work at all”, then changing the world on the side, while live feeding it on your Twitter. I must say, your imagination’s pretty impressive, and you must’ve been reading a lot of Steve Jobs. Darling, the Real World doesn’t work that way, and definitely not that fast. So your two friends who nailed it on their first try? I’ll bet you’ll spend at least one Friday night with them at a karaoke bar, singing all your angst away. Alanis’ Hand in My Pocket would be a good first song, by the way.
Soon, you’ll find a job yourself. It WON’T be your dream job, but hey, at least it will pay for your happy hour and Twitter. You will be asked to buy Starbucks for your boss’s guests, and while walking out of the office, you’ll tell the Universe, “Nag-graduate ako ng cum laude para lang bumili ng kape?” When you return, the boss will be angry to know that you forgot to put Splenda on his coffee, and the Universe will tell you, “E kape nga lang hindi mo mabili nang maayos, cum laude ka pa nyan ha.” You will print the wrong report. You will be yelled at for a lousy job someone else did, and you will be yelled at for a job you put your whole heart into. You will be told you’re stupid, and if you’re lucky, the whole office will be there to hear it. You will cry in your cubicle. You will lose the promotion to the boss’ son, or to someone less hardworking than you. You will learn about dirty office politics, and you will be frustrated to know that you can’t do anything about it. You will figure in a tsismis inside the office, and you’ll make your Twitter account private. You will see your friends going to Boracay, Bangkok and Europe, having the time of their lives, and there you are, living paycheck to paycheck, wishing you were born an Ayala, a Gokongwei, or a Gosling at least. You will think about quitting. You will lose the sparkle and the passion. You will forget about your ultimate dream when Real World crushes it right before your eyes.
But please don’t.
The truth is, you will never be as passionate as your Fresh Grad self ever again in your life. Make that passion last as long as you can. I don’t want to be dramatic, but really, that unique Fresh Grad sparkle? Once it’s gone, you can never take it back. Oo, parang virginity lang.
So while you’re there, savor the moment. Go make mistakes, while you’re still expected to be imperfect. Go cry in the cubicle, while your age allows it. Go sing Hand in My Pocket and You Learn at the karaoke, while you’re still “young and underpaid”. Go chase your dreams and change the world. The best time to change the world? It’s right after college, when you are so freaking sure you can. Then you will become 26. Then 28 (OMG!). Then 30. Then you will be busy looking for money to pay for the bills, or yelling at your assistant who printed the wrong report, and you will just forget about the world you badly wanted to change before.
How old are you again? Actually, I don’t really need to know. You were glowing from where I saw you, and that gave away your age. That kind of glow, definitely only a fresh grad can have. So stand up straight, clutch your resumés and your dreams tighter, and stay glowing as long as you can. Make the most of it. I swear, you’ll terribly miss it when it’s gone, and by that time, you can only just write about it.
An Ex-Fresh Grad
Dear Ex-Fresh Grad,
Thank you for your letter few years ago. You know what? You were right. Let me share my journey.
I graduated at the age of 19 with BS in Agribusiness Management. Back then, I couldn’t wait to finish college so I could get a good job and help my parents support my younger siblings so they can have their diplomas as well and finally be my own boss (Entrepreneur). I also wanted to help the church, which was going through tough times, in putting up a building at that time. I wanted to go to Mindoro and help the Mangyan tribe. I wanted to put up an Early Childhood Education Center to nurture children (including my future child/children if God willing) with genuine values and quality education. I wanted to inspire the young generations that WE can make a difference. I had lots of dreams and so much passion for work with me at the time. I felt like I could change the world so swiftly–or at least my small community (to be more specific).
After I graduated from college, I rested for a couple of months to render my personal community service (mostly church-related). It was an intentional commitment and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Setting aside my quest for job for a while, I was confident that I could be employed easily since I graduated with flying colors by God’s grace. During my ‘rest mode’, I wrote several songs (mostly I cannot recall now haha) and spent quality time with my younger siblings, niece, nephews, and the youth groups I belong. See, I had so much inspiration back then. Little did I know, that same passion will gradually subside. What happened?
No one pressured me to look for a job until one day, I decided to look for one. I wanted to start earning my own money and make a change. I was very excited even if I did not know where to start (applying). I checked the Baguio Midland Courier, a local newspaper to look for a job suitable for me. “Oh there, there, and there!” I printed my professional resume with my most beautiful ID picture on it and went on my way. I’ve spent more money for fare, printing, and photocopies, NBI Clearance, Police Clearance, etc. and did a lot of walking under the sun, too. In my mind, I knew I can get that job right away. But NO! 🙂 I floated 1, 2, 3, 4….5 resumes, got interviewed in 3 and told, “we’ll call you back” –but no one called back. What’s the matter? Am I not good enough or Do they just feel inferior about hiring someone with flying colors? (I had really no idea of work politics at that time) How come? (uh-oh, was that my little pride?) Am I aiming too high? and many more disappointments came along… Maybe I put so much confidence on my diploma and not to God. So I prayed for a teachable heart and good motives.
I realized I just cannot do magic in order to get a high-paying job especially if I choose to get it the right way. Good thing that I am a person who doesn’t easily put my hopes down so I waited patiently until I got a call and hired as an English teacher in 2008. My starting salary was lower than what other people think. I worked as a working student (SPES) while studying in college and my salary was Php5,500/mo. Therefore, I didn’t bother accepting a job that offered me at least Php10,000-12,000 as a starting monthly salary. After all, it would be my first job. I knew I needed ample work experience for a better position with greater salary (Yaaasss, I had so much fresh-grad sparkle for the time being haha). It’s not my dream job but it’s true, you have to put a lot of work (much more than you expected) in order to work your way up. I was able to discipline myself to save up for my tuition fee so I can enroll for a master’s course a year after.
Ask me if I can relate to your letter? My answer is–Yes, definitely.. 🙂 I’ve had the-“Akala ko ganito, ganyan.. pero ang totoo, ganito pala-feeling” especially in the early stages of my life after college. Because you warned me, I never conditioned myself to work like a Queen. I know in my heart that it takes a long journey so we must learn to be content and thankful for what we have.
Now, I’m already 28 (not an English teacher anymore but I still can) and still learning from many new experiences along the way. Good or bad, I rejoice. All I can say is: WELCOME TO THE REAL WORLD! LIFE ON EARTH IS A RAT RACE. On top of this, I have learned to put my confidence in Him. For it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man (Ps118:8).
👣The Official Traveler
This post is wholeheartedly dedicated to the degree holders who became Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs); to the one who graduated with flying colors na nag-MS or nag-PhD pa pero taga-timpla ng kape (not literal, but idiomatic.. I’m sure you understand what I mean); and to the fresh graduates who are tirelessly searching for their ‘ideal’ job. This, too, shall pass. 🙂 This is the wheel of life. We, as passengers will have to enjoy the ride!