By Isabelle Laureta
It’s been three years since I got my first job. I still remember how I felt when I got the text message from my then soon-to-be boss telling me I got it. It was, indeed, one for the books not only because I’ve reached another milestone in my life, but also because I’ve waited for it for so long. Six long months to be exact.
Yup, six months of sending resumés to companies without any assurance that they would read, received even. Six months of waking up to an empty email inbox, while hundreds of emails were on the sent folder, most of which were sent to my dream companies, and some, even, to “pwede na” companies. I was that desperate. Six months of braving the horrors of Metro Manila traffic to make it to nerve-racking interviews, only to be told they’d call me back and not hearing my phone ring for weeks after.
I deeply dreaded those months of being unemployed. I felt worthless. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for any company to take me in. But in retrospect, I’m glad I went through that—crippling self-doubt and all. Because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have learned the things one only would realize when faced with a situation that would greatly challenge one’s character, such as long-term unemployment.
Never compare yourself to others.
In those six months, while staying in our couch mindlessly scrolling through social media like the real couch potato that I was, I saw most of my batch mates getting jobs and building their own careers. “Why not me?” I thought. “I even topped some of these guys in one exam or another during college. So why them and not me?” See, it’s hard to be happy for other people when we’re at our lowest. But people have different timelines and stories. It’s always important to remember that just because somebody else got “there” first, doesn’t mean you won’t get there ever. You don’t even have that same “theres” as other people. Never look sideways, only ahead.
The world doesn’t owe you anything.
The problem with graduating from a prestigious university is that you’d think companies would go head over heels for you. Spoiler alert: they won’t. The qualifications you put on your resumé will only get you as far as an invitation for an interview. Everything that happens after that heavily relies on your competence, and at times, luck. So be humble, step down your high horse, and work hard. Live up to what you write on your resumé.
Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Of all the negative emotions I’ve felt during my forced hiatus, probably one of the worst is shame. Because I felt worthless, I didn’t think I deserved the help my friends and family offered me. I mean, why would anyone want to help someone who’s basically going nowhere? But probably the worst kind of person-going-no-where is one whose pride stands higher than the Mount Everest. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness. Neither is it an admission that you’re a lost cause. Sometimes, it simply means that some people are there for you no matter what. So let them be there.
No matter what happens, do not be disheartened.
The one thing that kept me going during those tough times was the thought that there was a job for me somewhere. That maybe there was a reason a particular company never called me back. That there was a plan for me. And even though things didn’t make any sense then, someday, it would. My big break was just waiting for me somewhere and things would get better. And hey, they did.
I was still blessed.
Every time I remember what I went through in those six months, I kept thinking of that meme from The Hangover series. “But did you die?” said Mr. Chow played by Ken Jeong. Well, no, I didn’t. In fact, I was far from being dead. I didn’t even starve because I was blessed with a family who didn’t let me. People still supported me and were willing to help me. Most important, I learned things I never would have if I had it easy.
They say diamonds were once coals that went through a lot of pressure before they became the beautiful sparkles we see on jewelry. And although I don’t consider myself a diamond just yet, I’m proud to say that I’m not a sad coal anymore. I’m glad to know I’m able to withstand such hardship, and I’m ready to face more.
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