I am in the middle of a career change.
Being in this transitory period, I feel like I’m standing on anything but solid ground. I’ve read a book that describes being in this phase as comparable to being in a rocket floating in outer space. That rocket is traversing the open universe, having just taken off from a planet labeled “old identity” and trying to make its way to another planet labeled “new identity.” Such a state of hovering between two worlds, the book points out, is one of the most difficult, testing times one can go through in one’s career life. It’s true.
A nurse by profession, I worked a full four months as a staff nurse in a local private hospital before deciding I didn’t want to pursue a career in nursing. No, I don’t have horror stories of volunteering in a public hospital, handling over 100 patients every shift, all with no pay for two years. I have but this straight-out simple narrative of my (very) short-lived nursing career: I was a newly licensed RN (registered nurse) from the province who luckily was accepted for training in a well-known hospital in Quezon City, hired as a staff nurse after completing the mandatory two-month training, and worked there for four months before throwing in the towel.
My sudden resignation, packing up, and return to my home province shocked many. I had spent the last six years of my life studying and training to be a nurse, and when I finally became one and was blessed enough to land a job in one of the country’s best hospitals, I suddenly dropped everything just like that and walked away. Stopping at the start of a promising nursing career—it’s certainly not a sane move for a girl who’s always walked the straight and narrow path.
People who learned of my move called it a variety of things. Some called it immaturity, others chalked it up to homesickness, some called it guts, while still others considered it youthful fickleness. I, however, only had one word for it: freedom.
It was freedom to finally break out of the mold into which I had tried to fit myself the moment I graduated from high school. Nursing wasn’t my passion; I (along with many others, I believe) chose the course with the main end in view of one day working abroad as a nurse and raking in dollars. Thus, I was one of those teenagers who, as Gail Sheehy put it, slipped into “a ready-made form without much self-examination.” Doing this inevitably led to not only locking away a part of who I really was, but also chiseling off portions of myself to fit that ready-made mold—a process which I learned to be unhealthy for my body, torturous to my mind, and lethal to my spirit.
The moment I recognized this, I knew it was time for Plan B.
Only, I had no Plan B. When I handed in that resignation letter, I had no alternative job waiting for me. In fact, I had no idea of what to do with my life next. After all, the risk I took didn’t include life handing me a manual on how to go about the business of dealing with what’s next. In packing up and leaving, I thus officially jumped on the ever-growing bandwagon of twentysomethings who were, in a word, lost (or, in two words, lost and jobless).
The freedom resulting from that move, then, was initially not one of the soaring, inspiring kind you might imagine. It was more like going out of a cage after a long time inside, disheveled and limping a little from having to crumble in the process of finding out what I was really made of.
But I had to start somewhere. And that somewhere was myself.
It occurred to me that before I could regain a sense of purpose in my life, I needed to take a good look at myself first. Before I could get to comfortably click myself into that elusive career fit, my so-called niche in this world, I had to rediscover how I was naturally “shaped”—my strengths, my weaknesses, and most importantly, my passions. I wanted to be one of those people who took a chance on pursuing their passions and are now living their dreams, instead of continuing to be a member of the zombie workforce, waking up every day and going ho-hum-I-guess-I-gotta-do-this, deeming work as a necessary evil. More than steering me to just another job, I thus endeavored for this transition that will funnel me to the discovery of my calling.
For that to happen, I knew I had to go back to what I am genuinely passionate about. What is it, you ask? Well, you’re reading it. Writing has always been my greatest passion, and I know it will always be so. I have gone back to doing freelance writing for web content, and just recently, also for the print media. On the side, I’ve also taken up graduate studies to pursue another of my greatest passions: psychology. I hope to one day establish a career that merges both.
Transitioning through a career change is difficult and highly demanding of self-confidence, faith amidst uncertainty, and patience amidst edginess and anxiety. Like steering a spacecraft through the wide open universe, there is no rushing of the process, no matter how much fuel is in the tank, no matter how strong the human will to move forward, no matter the desire to see beyond what is. The laws of nature still prevail. Growth and easing into a new role take time.
I admit there are days when I still question whether the risk I took was worth it, or if I was better off with following the familiar, conventional path. Until I land and settle in the new planet I’m trying to get to, this continues to be a struggle. I’m still wobbling while I’m inside this space rocket trying to seek a new world that’s not even guaranteed to exist.
But though fears and uncertainties stubbornly went aboard with me on this ride, this trip is every bit as exhilarating as it is daunting. And truth is, while I do appreciate the stability of solid ground, I’m at a point in my life when there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than launched in this space rocket, shooting through the stars and transitioning.
Carla Marez P. Peruelo, 23, is working on a master’s degree in psychology at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos. She has written articles for various publications and maintains a blog (inkblotsandicebergs.wordpress.com).
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