From birth until college, our lives are pretty much mapped out. We go through the motions of social expectation: Have a worry-free childhood, get a good education, graduate, and try to have fun while we’re at it. College was the last proverbial “finish line,” where the competitive overachievers run at full speed, all hoping to get first place, while the others merely saunter through, content with being able to finish. Along the way, we build our dreams and talents and create in our minds the individual visions of what we want to be when we finally, finally “grow up.”
And then we break through the tape and we’re thrust into a world where we are free to do what we want. Anything at all.
Work? Work where?
Study again? Study what?
Be a bum? Leech off whom?
Get married? So soon? And for that matter, to whom?
After that last finish line, there is no clear next step, no concrete end goal anymore upon which we can set our eyes. The next milestones are the Big Life Events, such as the activities listed, that we may plan for but really come God-knows-when. There is no definite timeline and they won’t necessarily come in the order we had planned. We are left standing at the edge of the race and staring toward the limitless horizon also known as the future.
Straight out of college, I started working for one of the top auditing firms in the country. Audit is the go-to career path for certified public accountants who wish to increase their “market value” before venturing out into real moneymaking jobs. It is THE training ground for CPAs fresh from passing the board exam. By common misconception, it’s a dull and dreary job, mainly because it’s all about numbers and spreadsheets. Well, it is that, but it’s also challenging, mentally and physically, and it is unforgiving in pushing the limits of one’s endurance, maturity and ability to withstand pressure. I admit that this demands more than the usual number-crunching skill, but I’m neither defending nor advocating the profession. It’s boring, but it’s a competitive field where the performances of associates are ranked against each other at the end of every tax season. Only the most resilient and “madiskarte” survive. This is as cutthroat as accounting can get. Not so boring now, huh?
What’s getting to me is that after almost four years, I’m still not the best at my job. “How Type A of her,” you might say. But why would anyone in their right mind build a career out of something they’re not particularly good at? Whether we like it or not, we spend more than a considerable portion of our lives working. I for one am not exactly thrilled at the thought of being average for the rest of my life and spending my time and effort on a job in which I don’t excel.
I can stay, though, and prove that I can do better, but would it be worth it? Should I stay and find out if one more year would make a difference? Because, hey, this might be my year. I might be that late-bloomer and another year’s worth of experience might just do the trick.
Or should I leave and try my luck somewhere else? Leave, get another pencil-pushing job at a multinational company, and renounce the comfort of what has been my second home for the past few years (telltale sign of a workaholic, I am too aware)? Or, more radically, leave, and pursue an entirely new career? Like one that doesn’t involve numbers. You know, like writing. Now there’s a scary/exciting thought.
I know that this is not the worst predicament there is. Don’t get me wrong, I am extremely grateful to have a job in the first place. I’m fortunate enough that the pay is relatively good and the perks aren’t half-bad either. Considering that I am not the breadwinner of our family yet, I am not pressured to take a high-paying job here or abroad. On top of that, my family is incredibly supportive of every career decision I make. I’m unattached, so it’s really all on me. My freedom to choose cannot get any freer.
There is no wrong choice, really. This is the best part, and also the worst.
The future is so full of possibilities, and this makes life much more complicated because we are hard-pressed to choose just one.
As part of the so-called Generation Y, we were raised to believe that we can be anything we want to be, with the winning combination of talent, confidence and persistence. Now if only we know for sure what that “anything” is.
For the lost ones, this uncertainty manifests in a nagging feeling that we might not be where we are supposed to be. We optimistically hope that our next move will bring us one step closer to the future we had always dreamed of, but at the back of our minds we harbor the fear that we might be veering off from the course that would take us to the realization of our fullest potential. Because of this, we have programmed ourselves to make sure any change that we entertain is coupled with the courage to leap into the unknown and faith that the trials we are about to face will definitely be worth it, and that the experiences to be had would be better than the past we would leave behind.
So… Now what?
I am, for lack of a suitable word, stuck at a point where my life can go a dozen different directions. I have become the stereotypical twentysomething who’s lost and hasn’t figured it out yet. At this moment, what I wouldn’t give for a big red arrow pointing to the right way. Heck, I’d even settle for a “Danger” sign blocking the wrong direction.
It has come to the point that I envy those who knew straight up that they wanted to be doctors or lawyers. College life is extended for at least four more years. In other words, from the lost ones’ perspective, the timing of actually deciding a career path is delayed by the number of years spent in med school/law school. As I write these words, I realize that I’m nearing the end of that extension as well. Pressure, pressure, time is pressure.
In the meantime, I’m exploring all options available. Maybe I haven’t had that “Aha!” moment yet because out of the dozen doors opened, I’m meant to go through a window. Or maybe, even a secret passage. Ha!
I’m not entirely worried, though. I hear that this phase doesn’t last long and that one of these days, I will get the hang of this life business. I’m still waiting for God to gently nudge me toward the right direction. He has let me come this far without a major screw-up, and I’m quite sure that I’m going to end up exactly where I should be. Eventually.
Jenny Belle V. Rodis, 25, says she is still a senior audit associate at Isla Lipana & Co.
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