An Open Letter to the Twenty-Something Who Wants to Change the World
By Antoinette Jadaone
Dear Fresh Grad,
I think I saw you yesterday along Makati Avenue, clutching a brown envelope—inside are your resumés, right?—,wearing the most smart casual attire your closet will allow, waiting for the traffic light to change to red. You looked a little flustered. Why, did your job interview not go so well? It’s your fifth interview in six weeks, I hear? Don’t worry, they always say “don’t call us, we’ll call you” to almost everybody. Hindi ka nag-iisa. Oh, your best friend nailed her interview on the first try? And your other ka-barkada too? Well. Good for them. Wag ka lang inggitera.
I know, I know. You’ve already imagined yourself in your dream job immediately after graduation, getting paid—and a lot at that—doing what you love to do, so “it doesn’t feel like work at all”, then changing the world on the side, while live feeding it on your Twitter. I must say, your imagination’s pretty impressive, and you must’ve been reading a lot of Steve Jobs. Darling, the Real World doesn’t work that way, and definitely not that fast. So your two friends who nailed it on their first try? I’ll bet you’ll spend at least one Friday night with them at a karaoke bar, singing all your angst away. Alanis’ Hand in My Pocket would be a good first song, by the way.
Soon, you’ll find a job yourself. It won’t be your dream job, but hey, at least it will pay for your happy hour and Twitter. You will be asked to buy Starbucks for your boss’s guests, and while walking out of the office, you’ll tell the Universe, “Nag-graduate ako ng cum laude para lang bumili ng kape?” When you return, the boss will be angry to know that you forgot to put Splenda on his coffee, and the Universe will tell you, “E kape nga lang hindi mo mabili nang maayos, cum laude ka pa nyan ha.” You will print the wrong report. You will be yelled at for a lousy job someone else did, and you will be yelled at for a job you put your whole heart into. You will be told you’re stupid, and if you’re lucky, the whole office will be there to hear it. You will cry in your cubicle. You will lose the promotion to the boss’ son, or to someone less hardworking than you. You will learn about dirty office politics, and you will be frustrated to know that you can’t do anything about it. You will figure in a tsismis inside the office, and you’ll make your Twitter account private. You will see your friends going to Boracay, Bangkok and Europe, having the time of their lives, and there you are, living paycheck to paycheck, wishing you were born an Ayala, a Gokongwei, or a Gosling at least. You will think about quitting. You will lose the sparkle and the passion. You will forget about your ultimate dream when Real World crushes it right before your eyes.
But please don’t.
The truth is, you will never be as passionate as your Fresh Grad self ever again in your life. Make that passion last as long as you can. I don’t want to be dramatic, but really, that unique Fresh Grad sparkle? Once it’s gone, you can never take it back. Oo, parang virginity lang.
So while you’re there, savor the moment. Go make mistakes, while you’re still expected to be imperfect. Go cry in the cubicle, while your age allows it. Go sing Hand in My Pocket and You Learn at the karaoke, while you’re still “young and underpaid”. Go chase your dreams and change the world. The best time to change the world? It’s right after college, when you are so fucking sure you can. Then you will become 26. Then 28. Then 30. Then you will be busy looking for money to pay for the bills, or yelling at your assistant who printed the wrong report, and you will just forget about the world you badly wanted to change before.
How old are you again? Actually, I don’t really need to know. You were glowing from where I saw you, and that gave away your age. That kind of glow, definitely only a fresh grad can have. So stand up straight, clutch your resumés and your dreams tighter, and stay glowing as long as you can. Make the most of it. I swear, you’ll terribly miss it when it’s gone, and by that time, you can only just write about it.
An Ex-Fresh Grad