Lost and found
A year ago, I quit my job and told everyone I needed some time for myself. I was then 24, had been working on a government research project for the past two years, and feeling like I needed to do something else. It’s not that my job was boring; it’s that I had begun to doubt what I really wanted to do.
My closest friends said I was probably just having a quarter-life crisis. I kept telling them that I was not. I was just in doubt, or confused, as others would put it. But is it okay to doubt oneself?
Flashback to a semester before graduation: I had everything planned out—I’d work for a nonprofit on weekdays and go to grad school on weekends. But reality hit me hard: There’s no such thing as a foolproof plan. I never got to apply for a job in a nonprofit. I was offered a job in Los Baños, Laguna, as a full-time research associate, so I had to set grad school aside. I told myself it was only temporary, six months tops.
The job turned out great. I liked what I was doing, my colleagues were the nicest, I got to travel for free, it gave me the right amount of stress and pressure. Even the pay was more than enough. I didn’t notice that six months had become a year, and a year had turned to two. Then one night, while out with friends and on my sixth or eighth bottle of beer, I asked myself if I was doing what I really wanted to do.
I had been living in Los Baños for the past six or so years, and everything just got too comfortable. I never thought that being in one’s comfort zone for long would eventually be uncomfortable. Social media only added fuel to what was burning inside me, and it wasn’t even the good kind of burn. I began comparing myself to my friends, who looked like they had things figured out.
My grade school classmates were mostly getting married and settling down. My high school buddies were doing pretty well—either graduating from med school, law school, business school abroad, or getting promoted to managerial posts. I started to feel bad about myself, wondering why I was feeling stuck. I lost focus. I felt lost, uninspired.
I sought advice from friends and colleagues. It was frustrating, but also eye-opening. I told myself that I needed time to think and figure out what to do next. I quit my job and flew off.
I spent the first few weeks traveling, trying to “find myself,” as millennials put it. Unsurprisingly, I never found myself; what I did find was realization, mainly that I’m no longer in my comfort zone. It was a learning experience, and I got to know myself better. Soul-searching, while not my thing, made me stop checking and updating my social media accounts for a while.
I met new people, listened to their stories, appreciated other cultures, and put myself out there instead. Soon I answered my own questions: It’s okay to doubt yourself sometimes, to get lost in the middle of everything, to stop and take a step back to reevaluate.
Life isn’t a race and getting left behind doesn’t necessarily make you a loser. What matters is that you’re doing something you’re passionate about, and that you’re happy at the end of the day.
Gregson Rocafort, 25, is now in grad school in New York City.
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