Unmistakable callingBy Samantha Coronado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Much of my life appears to have been absolutely random. I read too many stories, played too many street games, drew on too many surfaces, and transferred to too many schools. Like a renaissance woman who knew a little about a lot, I was a Jill of all trades but a master of none. Shamelessly ambitious, I never knew what I wanted to be because I was asked to pick just one.
Imagine the identity crisis I had in just picking a college course in high school. My projection only went beyond high school graduation, but there I was with a college application form waiting to be ticked. Figuring that I did well in social studies even without studying, I chose sociology; not wanting to wear a uniform, I strove to make it to the University of the Philippines. It never occurred to me to consider anything beyond college, or that sociology is not considered a “marketable” course and that UP is known to be a hell hole of intimidating people from all over the nation. Then again, I threw all my cares to the wind, thinking that when all else failed, I’d be a lawyer like the men in my family.
After ridiculously thick readings and a bunch of dizzying theories halfway through college, I felt the urge to shift courses to either journalism or psychology, being addicted to writing and after getting an uno for an elective. My parents, however, would not allow me to spend a year beyond four, or else I would have to finance my own education. I felt stuck before I actually developed a liking for my course during the latter semesters and finishing it “on time.”
It was not without 2012 becoming my most challenging year, marked by many transitions and decision-making in a terribly short span of time. The last three months of college were enough to make me feel stressed, sentimental, and scared all at once. As I enlisted for 18 units with thesis (a dreadful combination in my school), I knew I might not be able to enjoy my senior year because my days would constantly be about anxiety spells and piled-up paperwork coupled with job fairs and resumé-making. As I said, I never knew what I specifically wanted to be, so my extracurricular activities were just as random. What fighting chance did I have against people who were sure since they were seven years old what they wanted to be when they grew up?
Somehow, somewhere, I jumped into the online business wagon with my high school friends a few months after I turned 18. We were only looking for summer jobs, but unable to find the time, we collaborated on something in our friend’s living room during the sweaty season. To our surprise, it was profitable—enough for me to survive for weeks without an allowance and, in two years, to be struggling yet financially independent until I graduated last April.
It was one of those classic jobs that didn’t feel like work, that came naturally, and that I would prefer to academics any time. Although being a businesswoman was initially not on my list, the experience gave me enough confidence to consider it as a path.
Yet, I realized that having a relatively fat bank account as a teenager really wasn’t enough. It never made me go on crazy shopping sprees for clothes or gadgets because deep inside, I knew that there are better ways to spend money that could add value somewhere else. It dawned on me that the blessing was a ticket to be put to use in a greater way, and that through it, I could probably make a difference.
That’s when my dreams became synonymous to social entrepreneurship. We actually had a word for it! My safety net of taking up law took the back seat and gave way to something that had been inexorably forming.
A lot of things suddenly made sense when I encountered that term: why my first dream was to be a saint, not because I was a good kid but because I found the idea of doing mission work and volunteering attractive; why I was good at handling money and have never been broke even if I only had a P10 allowance back in grade school; why I splurge on books about leadership and marketing while others read about vampires and werewolves; and why I never had the desire to work for a multinational company, thinking that I want my contributions to have a better impact.
It made sense why it was a sense of social justice that made me consider law despite not being good at arguing or studying, why seeing people sleeping on the streets never stopped bothering me, and why I was so idealistic that I still believe that people can change the world.
All these realizations arrived after a 4-year course and a 20-year life that initially didn’t make sense. How frustrating that is! But how relieving that things finally clicked.
Now, I find that things are falling into place. I quit my pre-graduation first job as a home-based, dollar-earning researcher. I moved into the city while struggling to pay the bills with entry-level pay. More and more, I thank my family for emphasizing independence, and appreciate my church who has always taught that the God I am serving is a big one. And just recently, I found a community of like-minded social-entrepreneur wannabes whom I can actually talk to, with voice trembling, about my dreams without ever having to be bashful about it.
There are actually stories of people who are building the nation through business with the same principles that my heart leaps for!
But although I am all worked up with my newfound direction, I still don’t have it all. There is impatience, discouragement, and fear in every corner. But from time to time, I am in awe in realizing that it was only early this year that completing my thesis was as far as I thought I could go. Just knowing where I’m going assures me that I am on my way and I can start imagining my trajectory.
Random as it seemed for the longest time, my life is according to a plan, after all. The timing and pace were just a little different than what is expected. I haven’t proven anything yet, but as I entered the world of twentysomethings, the years to come promised to be an exciting story to watch unfold.
Samantha Coronado, 20, is a fresh sociology graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is now a PR practitioner and co-owner of Flaired Hair Extensions, and dreams of becoming a social entrepreneur someday.
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