When I was much younger—yes, in my teenage years—I was convinced I was meant to do great things before I reached the age of 21. I planned everything according to my desires and dreams. I already had a clear vision of what I wanted to be. In high school, I saw myself going into my dream university and finishing my dream course and graduating at the sweet age of 21. I didn’t expect things to turn out differently, and I didn’t see the need to have back-up plans. But time has this funny way of derailing well-laid plans, and I found myself heading toward a different direction.
I wanted to take “the road less traveled,” but the road I found myself in turned out to be more difficult than I had imagined. Every time a plan went amiss, I’d get frustrated, more so at the thought that I was growing older with no real, big achievement yet.
I wanted most of all to go to UST for my college (my dad being an alumnus of that school) and take Interior Design. But much to my dismay, I failed the entrance exam. It was far more painful than my failure to hurdle the entrance exam in another university. Yes, I also did not pass in Ateneo, and even if I did, I would have regretted taking Economics since I never really liked the subject.
From those mishits, I came face to face with the painful reality that dreams are harder to achieve than to imagine. But then I got something that I didn’t really expect or think about much: I took a late entrance exam at Assumption and passed, getting a slot in the Interior Design course. Actually, I had another choice, enrolling in a computer school, but Assumption looked more attractive.
However, after a year and a half, Assumption’s tuition fee had become too stiff for the family, and I didn’t want to burden my Kuya with my schooling. And so I decided to apply for a slot in the Clothing Technology program of UP Diliman. Out of the 20 applicants in the summer of 2003, I was fortunate enough to get one of the five slots. I was then 20 years old. Yes, 20, with only one more year to hit my target of graduating at 21. But I was no genius, and I was still unsure as to what I really wanted to do. So another target was about to be surely missed, another “mission” had become impossible.
Yes, at 20, I was again a freshman. With most of batchmates just 16 years old, I felt old, but I persevered. After four-and-a-half years, I graduated. Yes, at age 24, and three years behind schedule. But I was grateful because finally I had a degree—from the country’s premier state university at that. God truly works in mysterious ways.
I was offered employment right after my first job interview. But I was choosy and I didn’t seize the opportunity. I was later employed by a fashion company. I moved to another one later. But after two years in the industry, I became convinced that fashion is not my passion. So I resigned.
In those two years, I went into making fashion accessories on the side, and made a small extra income. But that venture eventually became just a hobby to which I turned for occasional diversion. I also got into video production, working for my cousin. He got me to write scripts, to work as his personal assistant—as a video transcriptionist, as a wardrobe stylist, and as a marketing officer for his 2010 indie film. Projects here were not a regular source of income, but I was grateful whenever there was some work for me. But I knew the film industry wasn’t for me.
At age 26, I decided to venture into online freelance writing. In this present job, my hours are flexible, and I work from home. I also enjoy writing about a variety of interesting topics, and I am satisfied with the pay, which is comparable to the salary I was receiving from the company I last worked with as a regular. And this I earn for writing 15 hours a week, 60 hours a month, as against the 45 hours of work—or 180 hours a month!—in my last employment. But still, I don’t feel secure in my job. I know this is not a stable arrangement at all, and “What if ‘my boss’ decides to end the ‘project’?” is a question that constantly haunts me. I know that if that happens, that would mean goodbye to my weekly income! Still I’m thankful for the present, and I tell myself not to worry too much as to what the future will bring. So what I do is save every peso that I can spare.
I have come to realize that I really love writing, and I believe I would feel comfortable to have this as a full-time career. But I also enjoy event-organizing for my family and friends, so I’m considering going into this business. But then I love traveling as well, and I have applied with several airlines to be a flight attendant (FA). For now, I’m focusing on my writing, and on those FA applications. I’m sure God will be with me and guide me to where I will fit best.
Where I am right now, doing what I am doing, was never a part of my plans. But God has led me through interesting paths. I just have to continue trusting in Him, as He’s sure to spring on me a lot more pleasant surprises than I can ever hope for.
At this point in my life, I have come to realize that age is just a number. But as you age, you grow wiser. Age may become at times a hindrance in an endeavor, like finding a job. But one should never be disheartened. Remember that God has bestowed on you many gifts. You just have to keep learning about yourself to be able to know what you’re really good at. From there, you will succeed.
Mylene Flores, 27, is a freelance writer. She also owns a travel blog that talks about cheap travels.
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