By Beatrice Tan (Batch 2009)
“Where do you plan to work after graduation?” As my last term in DLSU draws nearer and nearer to its end, more and more people would ask me this question and I cannot help but say, “I don’t know yet. We’ll see.” As I fail to give them a decent answer, I would observe some of them look at me in great disbelief as if telling me that I am going to fail because I am not pressured to look for work. At the back of my mind, I actually have a concrete image of what I actually want to happen in my post-grad days. I do share this idea to some people, to the people who would ask the right question – a question that is not bounded by the parameters of work alone. Maybe at this point, you think that I plan to be a bum for the next few months or so. If I do, what’s wrong with that? But then, I might or might not and here is why.
Three years in college may be too short of a time to say that I’ve already met every single person I ought to have met in college but even so, I can say at this point in time that in those three years, I’ve met people from all walks of life who have different perspectives, interests and motivations in life but surprisingly share one trait in common – their views about the real world immediately after graduation. Most of them would say that they are pressured to look for a job that pays well while a few would say that they plan to pursue further studies. Either way, there would still be a small population who do not really know how to go about their careers yet and an even smaller population who would want to do a little soul searching.
Case in point: we’ve spent so many years in school trying to learn the latest trends in science, in math, in arts and in technology and it’s always about keeping up with others, keeping up with the norm, meeting expectations, trying to be excellent in something we may or may not be interested in. It is always about who reaches the top first and not how that person actually reached or did not reach the top. It’s always about being the first to be successful. It’s always about not wanting to be left behind. Graduation is another word that triggers the pressure meter of people to excel in the real word when in fact, it shouldn’t be. I am not against people who look heavily on grades or whatnot but I want to believe that more than anything else, people should not do things because they owe something to the future. They should try to make sense out of what’s happening at the moment – appreciate them for what they are and not for what they can bring. Our generation is too obsessed meeting expectations and fails to appreciate the other things that need just as much attention. As Gandhi would put it, “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” We are too busy keeping up with the future when in fact, we could hardly handle our present issues effectively. We are at the prime of our youth and yet, we are rushing to grow up and subtly ignoring our other areas of growth aside from academics.
Dr. Bob Moorehead nailed the tragic reality of division and messed psyche of our time. And a part of what he wrote said that, “The paradox of our time in history is that we have higher buildings, but shorter tempers; wider roads but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less. We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness. We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, and pray too seldom. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve done larger things, but not better things. These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; big men, and small character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life; we’ve added years to life, not life to years.
While there are a lot of things we should still aim progress at, let us stop treating graduation as something entirely academic because it is actually a way of life. Our growing years inside the school is also the same time we grow as individuals outside the school, in our homes and even within ourselves. What do you really want to do after college? Me? I want to put together everything that I’ve worked hard for through the years – which includes my relationships with people, my education, my dreams, my experiences, my successes and failures, my faith, my character and my whole life in general – to appreciate all of them altogether first before beginning a new chapter in my life. I would need this time to step back and be thankful for the person I have become because of these life-long and more important “investments”. If this would require me to take extra time off job hunting and all that, then I am willing to do so. After all, not everyone who “bums around” is doing nothing. Ironically, it can also be the most important thing to do for some people. But if you don’t need it, then good.
Always remember that happiness is a mood and not a destination. Everyday is an opportunity to be happy. It does not come only during graduation, when we receive our first paychecks or when we graduate from law school for instance. Happiness is fleeting but is readily available to us. Therefore, more than pursuing a job that we can be proud of, graduation is really about us reexamining the choices we have to make in life. Everyday, we make decisions and there are a lot of choices we can choose from. Our familiarity with the words “multiple choice” may account for this. But sometimes, there are none too – “no choice” as we fondly call it. At the end of the day however, whether the choice left to us is just one of the many or the only one available, it is still up to us whether we want to pursue it or abandon it because after all, we may choose not to make any choices at all. To be able to arrive at the best choice is not the goal. The seemingly right choice is useless when it is not something we really prefer, when it is not something that would make us happy in the long run. What matters really is how we are able to make sense out of the option we make – may not be the right choice in general but the right one for us. It does not end with choosing. It requires action – to give justice on why there could only be one choice made. In the ideal case scenario, if we foresee a very near future wherein we find ourselves employed already, then there is no problem with that provided that the decision to do so is not out of urgency nor necessity but of passion and right motivation. If we do not take over our lives now, others will.
Instead of asking “Where do you plan to work after graduation?” I think “What do you choose to happen to your own life after graduation?” is a better question to ask. That is for me to ask and for all of us to find out.
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