Fresh grad purgatory

Posted on September 8, 2014

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If this whole job hunt thing doesn’t work out, I can always be a mortician. At least in that career path, I won’t have to use a lot of people skills.

About five months ago, I joined thousands of other college graduates into the existential void that is unemployment. For me, it’s goodbye shorts and flip flops and hello suits and heels. Goodbye professors and hello bosses. Goodbye post-adolescent idealism and hello image-building. In this “next chapter of life”, as people cliche-ly point out, the only way to get ahead is to be more mature – even if it means putting up a face of someone you don’t know.

But I didn’t delve immediately into the job hunting shark tank. I decided that I needed some time to breathe. College has stressed me out so much to the point of breakdown so I took a four-month break after graduation. I needed to not see the things that made me go into mild insanity for a while. I needed an existential break. A leave of absence from adulthood. A time-out from life. So last July, I hopped onto an airplane to the United Arab Emirates to see my relatives and maybe try my luck for some working experience.

Man, was that break more than enough. Visiting a foreign country and immersing myself in an entirely different culture really expanded my worldview. It’s one of the best feelings in the world, being a stranger in a new place. There’s some sort of thrill in being anonymous in a place you don’t know. It’s always an adventure, not knowing how to go around and get home.

I don’t believe that I did entirely nothing for four months. I came back to the place I once vacationed in ten years ago. I got to know my relatives better. I became closer to my cousins. I felt once again what it was like to not be an only child. I felt what it was like to care for people in a familial, big sisterly way. I experienced staying and trying to feel at home in a house that is not mine. I learned how to take better pictures, I guess. I learned that my camera and lenses desperately needed cleaning. I learned that my cousins probably have better taste than I do. I learned how to open up to my family. I learned how to miss things. I learned basic basic French. Yes, basic basic because so far I haven’t continued my basic French lessons.

I learned the realities of the corporate world and I learned how to call the Philippines home. I learned how to properly craft a CV and how to perfectly flub an interview by saying that my visa expires in a week (stupid idea). I learned that 600 AED worth of dresses is probably worth it if the dresses are pretty and interview-ready. Or not.

I learned that you only know where home is once you leave it. The Philippines may feel like hell but it’s still better than being sad and lonely in a rich country. This could be just my fresh grad naivete coming up but I’d really rather work home where pollution is everywhere and the trains operate like something from Final Destination.

I don’t think I could take being Filipino and working in a foreign country, for a foreign employer. Well, maybe I could tolerate it, but not for corporations. I guess there’s a bit of a nationalistic UP girl trait in me that doesn’t manifest that much. I’m like my dad, you see. “Ayaw magsilbi sa mga *insert first-world race here*“, (doesn’t want to serve *insert first-world race here*) as my mom romantically puts it.

Okay fine, maybe I just wasn’t meant for corporations. See, this is why my family’s not rich. As in, me, my mom and dad. We’re not the corporate types. It’s all a strange world to me. It’s like I have to keep up an image of a happy, stable and able employee with not a hair out of place. The more people I become friends with in the office, and the more the boss likes me, the likelier it will be for me to step up the career ladder. I couldn’t take that. Any attempt to conform like that would probably look like sarcasm if I did it. But hey, we all gotta adapt, right? And this, ladies and gents, is how you put a young adult in conflict.

These past few weeks I have gotten used to sending my CV’s like spam. I have also gotten used to navigating (and getting lost in) Metro Manila. This made me hate the fact that I live in Cavite where I have to wake up in the wee hours of the morning and take an always jam-packed bus to a train that has an 80% chance of not working. Nearly every day do I send pretentious, business-y e-mails to the HR departments of various companies hoping to score an interview. Last week, I had an interview almost everyday. Imagine my burnout. As of now, I am waiting for people to ANSWER ME, DAMMIT.

But this too shall pass. It’s only been a week and I’m not losing hope. I won’t be the “anak na tambay” (bum daughter), as my mother lovingly calls me, for long. I won’t rush my check-out of fresh grad purgatory, where countless souls roam the lands of Jobstreet and LinkedIn. The perfect job for me is out there, I just need a little patience. Hey, while I’m still jobless, maybe I can get around redecorating my room. And finally continuing those French lessons. It’s an eternity of adulthood and responsibilities, and I’m taking baby steps to the real thing. In fresh grad purgatory, the newly unemployed clad in suits and ties endlessly sell themselves, begging companies to take them in. I’m here in the waiting room, waiting and waiting and waiting while Beelzebub tells me to be a little less picky with my life choices and start earning to get my family the house they deserve. Even if it means putting on a Stepford employee act and swallowing my pride.

If all else fails, the mortuary business is always an option.

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