It’s been a long, five-year relationship. Finally, in 2015, I will have the courage to say that it’s over. We are through, and everything that ever transpired between us—good or bad—will be consigned to the trash bin of memories, except maybe for a few lessons I know will come in handy as I begin the rest of forever with foreign service.
Sales, you drove me to the brink of depression. You were the last in my list as far as career wishes went, simply because you were never really my cup of tea to begin with. The bitter cocktail of office politics, overemotional clients, endless drives to goodness knows where, solitary dinners, and insane monthly targets was a Molotov that exploded right in my face, sending me home awash in tears and a crop of singed hair.
Ours was a love-hate relationship that ended after the first three and a half years when I decided that it was not worth it anymore. Four months later, I decided to give you a second chance, hoping that our relationship would be sweeter, better the second time around.
Sales, I realized that the love that is borne from trying one’s hardest to learn to love something is a love that is doomed to fizzle out sooner rather than later. I flirted with foreign service moments before I left you for the first time, and that swift flirtation grew into a love that I knew I had been deprived of for so long.
I admit that revisiting a dream I had once abandoned grew out of my desperation to break free of you. It started with reviewing for the foreign service officers exam for three hours after work, then it grew to listening to audio books about the exam topics during long drives—until I realized that foreign service is the one in whose arms I wanted to be.
Yes, Sales, you gave me a car and trips around the world, and met almost all of my life’s wants and needs. I will be forever thankful to you for all of those, but you see, there are two things you were never able to give me: meaning and purpose.
All my years spent as a key account executive were years running on a hamster wheel, making the rich richer and the greedy far greedier. The shallow conversations became too much to bear. I want to talk about how foreign direct investments can be brought into the country so that my fellow Filipinos can have their best shot at meaningful, high-paying jobs. I want to spend my waking hours building bridges to other cultures using the bricks of friendship, peace and understanding. I am tired of talking about why people think product A is better than product B, or why this particular image model is best fit for our low-priced brands.
You know what, Sales? Benefits and remuneration are not enough to make me stay. Payday only makes me happy for five minutes after the cash is credited into my account, but the rest of the month is filled with mornings that have become a struggle to wake up to.
I know I will be a better citizen of the world if I choose to follow my heart’s desire. I do not just want to talk about economics, politics, international relations, and world history. I want to be in a workplace that is right smack in the middle of the action. I want to be given that chance to change the course of history. I want to make the grass greener in this side of the world so our overseas Filipino workers will no longer need to leave their families because of “love.” I want to make globalizing the Filipino culture my job description, and I want to do it for the rest of my life.
People have told me that a marriage with foreign service will be riddled with challenges ranging from critical negotiations to balancing the complexities of a nomadic family life. This is something I am not afraid to face, Sales, because I know that my efforts will not be in vain and that my role will be critical in helping steer a ship that others would only wish to abandon. My twenties have become a turbulent mix of misadventures, with you at the core of it all. I survived you, I will thrive in this new commitment.
Consider this my last letter and last encounter with you. Despite everything that went on between us, I still wish to thank you for the priceless lessons that I know will come in handy as I begin my new life as a foreign service officer. I thank you for throwing me headlong into negotiations with Chinese clients for the past five years, from which I did not emerge unscathed. Now I know how to forge meaningful ties with some of the most formidable titans in business. I thank you for the lonely drives and the lonelier mealtimes in places that are far from familiar.
Now I know what it feels like to be part of a crowd and still feel cold and alone. Now I know what our OFWs feel like when they are forced to give their families that parting glance before embarking on a span of years to work in an unfamiliar place. I thank you for allowing me to fail forward with some of the toughest superiors at work. Now I know what kind of leader I exactly want to be someday. I thank you for causing me immeasurable grief. Without it, I would never have been pushed to revisit a dream I thought would only remain an aspiration.
As 2014 creeps to a close, I am filled with hope that 2015 will be the sunrise I have been longing to witness for the longest time. It is true: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Sales, you did not succeed in snuffing out my passion for life. You have only made it stronger. For that, I thank you. For that, I am forever grateful.
No longer am I yours.
Stacy Danika S. Alcantara, 26, of Dumaguete City, is an incoming foreign service officer of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
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