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Quarter-life crisis

I did not see this coming. I did not even know such a phrase exists. I am familiar only with “midlife” crisis, and it happens during someone’s 40s. I am 24 and this is my fourth job.

After getting a degree in hotel and restaurant management (HRM), I found my first job in a small condo-hotel. I spent 11 months working as an executive assistant. I left because I had to be on vacation overseas for three weeks and my boss didn’t allow me to be gone for such a long time. After three months of job searching, I was hired as a restaurant partner (crew) in a pizza chain and was promoted to team leader after five months. Two years of hard work, and then things became too easy, too “routinary,” no more career growth. It  got to the point when I felt my brain starting to rust. So, randomly, I took the civil service exam; I had no hope of being employed by the government, I just wanted to get my brain working. I passed.

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Just after ending 2015 in the depressing state that I was no longer learning anything and wanted to escape the torment of the abyss, I applied as a customer service representative in a call center (a job title I once vowed never to take on). It was a one-day process in the call center. I passed two interviews, and because I waited four hours before they presented the job offer (which now I think could be a tactic), even if it was P6,000 less than my salary then, I was crazy enough to sign the contract, hoping to start a new chapter in my life. But guess what: Two months later, just two days after being endorsed to the production, I quit.

It was during my time at the restaurant that I realized I was undergoing the “quarter-life crisis.” My college life flashed back to me, and I wondered if I had chosen the right course. Originally I wanted to take up journalism because I somehow loved to hold a pen. But a cousin who was in that field said, “There’s no money in it.” So I crossed that out of the narrow options on my list.

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I did not consider the “what do you want to do for the rest of your life” while picking out courses for college, and young as I was, I did really think that making this decision could affect the entirety of my life. I made a decision only considering the next four years. Less math, no board, and “lots of money” are the common reasons people take HRM. Just like nursing, it had become a “trend” at that time. And just like a fish swimming with the current, I went with the flow. (Note: HRM at UST was never easy. Expensive, on top of it.)

I’m having endless thoughts of what-if and if-only. I’m desperate to find myself lost in thoughts of regret. It was one of the things I avoided having—regret, that is—because I don’t want to waste my time going back to the past and forgetting to live in the present. I had too much love for the present that I did not really look forward to my future, on what to do in the next five years, on how I saw myself 10 years hence.

Now that I come to think of it, I wish there were a manual on how to plan one’s life. I thought that after college graduation, one finds a job, builds a career from there, and becomes successful. But no. It will not be served on a silver platter. It was only after graduation that it dawned on me: Life is never easy, and working smart is much more important than working hard. I wish every high school student would know this.

I now work as an executive assistant of a boss in a packaging company; I cannot fathom its connection to my being an HRM graduate. It’s just that I want to go back to office life, but it’s ironic because I do not have my own desk (they did not mention it in the interview). But I am holding on, hoping that things will work out, and that this year I will be able to take and pass the entrance exam for a law course.

This is one thing that I want to “try” in my life. I am getting older by the day, and studying may not be a priority when I reach my 30s. I loved the course on the Philippine Constitution back in college—and I loved John Grisham books, and there is something in the courtroom that makes my heart beat. And I said to myself that if I got 1.00 in this course, I would take up law after college. I did get 1.00, but did not have the courage to pursue it back then.

So now, I don’t want to have any regret, given that time flies so fast. I don’t want to reach my mid-30s and say to myself that I should have done this or done that when I was in my 20s. After I pass the bar, I will work as a public attorney. And that, my friend, is the result of my quarter-life crisis. It may seem easy to arrive at this decision, but it’s not. Trust me. People who have undergone the same will know.

Jaiza Marian Anuat, 24, lives in Antipolo City.

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