Independence

Today, I attended a very interesting 2-hour panel lecture organized by our branch to celebrate the International Women’s Day. The panelists, mostly our bosses, delivered a very enlightening talk regarding their experiences as women: some personal and some about their career journey. All the talks were very informative which was a testament to the fact that you could definitely learn from someone else’s experience (yay! auto/biographies!). One that stood out the most was from the former Mayor of Kingston, Ontario (who is one of the bosses), who touched on financial independence at the time (the 60s and 70s) in her talk.

Compared to her colleagues (10 years younger), she was born a bit ahead of the boomers, which meant that her environment then was all about opportunities. There were several expansions going on to accommodate every child born. By the time she graduated from university, the opportunities presented to her were incredible. In her own words, she was “a good student, not brilliant, but good” but still received 4 job offers on the table related to what she studied. An interesting thing to note as well would be the fact that her degree was a male dominated field (inserting the women perspective here). Despite that, she chose to be “independent” and traveled and lived abroad. Eventually, she settled down and had taken many volunteer opportunities which led to her municipal and now corporate government career.

As the talks were being given, I couldn’t help but compare some of her and the other speakers’ experiences to mine. My journey would never really be parallel to theirs given the 3- to 4-decade gap between us. A lot had definitely changed since then. Yet somehow, I noticed that there were certain instances where I could really relate.

I have now experienced living in two worlds – the emerging and the established. These experiences brought several realizations I couldn’t be thankful enough for and made me grow up faster than I intended. Quite interestingly, I lived in both worlds at two different phases in my life. Let’s start with the emerging world. As most of you know already, I was born and raised in the Philippines. My family moved to Canada in early 2008 literally a day after my university graduation. By good grace, I proudly graduated with honours (Cum Laude).  I knew at the time that I would be leaving the country (heck, we already had our ticket purchased months before!) so I didn’t take the career fairs for graduating students seriously. I went to one of the fairs with a few printed resumes just to experience the thrill of applying. I applied to those companies I didn’t really like keeping the ones I like on reserve for future consideration (I kept my doors open, still keeping them open). After that, I got a few offers on the table. In general, life was good in the Philippines.

But everything turned a bit confusing when I left the Philippines. So now, on to Canada, the established world. My experience here was very different (still is). Let me just remind you that we arrived at the onset of yet another recession – not a very good timing to start a career life. It was hard. I had people tell me contradicting things: I was overqualified for a position or otherwise. I didn’t even know if they were telling the truth. Yet I considered myself lucky compared to most immigrants – I got a government job after a month in the country. Not the ideal job but it paid the bills while I was getting that much needed Canadian experiences. As I was starting my working life, the economy became really shaky that you really had to hold on to your jobs like you were holding on for your life. What happened to the good ol’ exploration period? Gone. I had to give up that “independence” since I had to think about settling in to the country first, and establishing together as a family first. But despite that, things were better.

The big difference between the speakers’ generation and now would be the volatile environment my generation experience.  Turning down job offers, I was lucky because I had experienced that satisfaction of choosing and turning my back against some decent job offers – I’m not gonna lie, it was a good feeling. Here, depending on where you want to go, you chase, literally, chase those dreams at a higher stake. Many jump at the very first opportunity offered to them that might look good on their résumé. But I know something else.

As the speakers reiterated many times, your future is in your hands. You create your own life. Your own decisions make your life. Find something that you love and everything will fall into places. We live in this volatile economic environment, so take calculated risks. Having a back up plan would save your life in case another sh*t happens. But definitely, find that thing you are passionate about and be successful, however you define it.

In this regard, I would like to end this post by asking you to watch out for upcoming changes in this blog site as I finalize my blogging plans and re-organization (it’s been a while since my last full length post!). Some of my goals are finding ways to inspire more people through this blog while at the same time contributing something new to each reader. Other than wanting to have focus, I also want to engage my readers (hopefully, I have some) more and maybe, gain more followers. Some topics that I am interested in that I really want to write more about are Personal Finance and Real Estate. Entrepreneurship, Career, and Technology will also be there. Of course, I want to balance the mood in here, so I will still insert some light personal topics such as the ongoing Project 365+1, some photography stuff, immigrant stories and of course, the Arts. So while I figure out the right way to organize this site, watch out for a variety of topics being posted here, until next time. :)