Adulting 101 · Tête-à-tête · Wri-therapy

Now and Then: A difference a decade makes


Then, at age 23

Mark came up to me as soon as I hung up my last call.

Munchkin” he says “I’m transferring accounts. I finally got promoted as Team Leader for Washington Mutual

“Ooooh!” I said. “I’m excited for you.”

I really was and I really am, but to be honest at the back of my head, as I put on my headset to take another call, I wondered: Will I ever get out of this luring BPO industry? Will I ever get promoted? But I don’t want to be Team Leader. Yes, I want higher pay, after all that’s the most attractive part of staying with BPO, but then, each one of of team mates now migrates from one account to another with better titles and higher pay. What about me? 

A year later, I found myself applying for promotion too. I got in as Assistant Trainer, then Quality Assurance Monitor, the Lead QA, then transferred companies as a Team Leader for better pay then hit quarter-life crisis, quit my job, move back home to pursue a Masteral Degree. Two years in, I was able to find a job in the university, earned my MS degree and now 4 years working under PR. I like my job better than BPO. Pay is not as much, but I have better life quality and balance in the suburbs. Plus I am with my family.

Now, at age 33

Two of my friends/colleagues are headed abroad for different opportunities. One is pursuing her PhD in New Zealand on a scholarship while the other is pursuing his career in development work in Vietnam.  Naturally I am happy for the both of them as they get to pursue their dreams. They do get scared by what’s in store for them this month as both of them are moving abroad this June.

But unlike the 23 year old me, I now have a clear grasp of my self and acceptance that their paths are different and so is mine. I no longer feel the need to apply for the same thing just so I can jump in the same bandwagon, but the feeling of wondering what’s next for me still lingers.

I wonder if that’s normal.

I wonder what goes on in the heads of those people who rarely see you often ask “Where are you now?”or “Are you still with (insert name of company or previous affiliation)?” and when you say I’m still here when they’ve clearly moved on to somewhere else, do they feel sorry for you or you feel sorry for them?

Or I might be asking the wrong question. Does anyone really care?

A few days ago, a group of family friends came for a short visit. While they were already citizens of the US and have lived such good lives compared to their situation here before, they too are struggling. I guess it’s still the same equivalent. A childhood friend (who happens to be their niece) migrated there and refused to work (because I guess she was not expecting that in the US you literally do everything on your own), leaving her and the kids only at home with no job. Homesickness is real. Culture shock is real. It’s not as fabulous as social media and common knowledge paints it to be.

I guess whether you move from one place to another, one thing remains consistent and often most unspoken: We are all struggling.


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