I was one of those people that had my life all planned out, each phase carefully plotted out like a chart. I never had one of those crises where I wondered what the fuck I was going to do in life. Even in college, which is when people are supposed to have all these questions and feel a sudden lack of purpose, I never questioned the direction my life was taking. I would graduate with a degree in political science, work at a law firm as a paralegal or clerk for a bit to get experience, then go to law school. It was a well-worn path trod by many members of my family, and I would follow in their footsteps like a good daughter.
But, as a friend of mine said to me, “You’re way overdue a career crisis.”
In my second year of law school, shit hit the fan, as shit is wont to do. I started questioning the path I was on. I’d have thoughts like – is this what I’m going to do for the rest of my life? People often say that becoming a lawyer is like signing up for homework forever. Was that what I really wanted? It got to a point where I commented that the only reason I was staying in law school was because I didn’t know what I would do with my career if I left, and the friend I was talking to said to me, “That’s really not a good reason to stay in law school.” And I realized she was right.
I was questioning this whole career choice so much that I could no longer justify the almost ₱100,000 tuition fee (this is why hiring a lawyer costs so much – we have to recoup our losses somehow). So, in January, I made the decision not to enroll for the second semester and filed a leave of absence. But this quickly took its toll on me because all my friends were starting school again, being busy, complaining about professors and the workload, all that good shit. And it got really lonely, really quickly. What a wonderful start to my 2016, huh?
I decided to look for a job. I won’t pretend that the first interviews I did went well. I was so emotionally raw. The slightest reminder of what I had lost would be enough to drive me to tears. My lowest point was this job interview I had with a lawyer who needed a secretary. She asked me why I had left law school, so I gave a short explanation, to which she replied that becoming a lawyer was the best thing she’d ever done. She told me I shouldn’t let go of that dream, and that she hoped I went back to law school. I didn’t cry, but my eyes watered and my nose got a bit red, which, of course, the lawyer noticed. She offered me a tissue, I chalked it up to allergies. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
But then lightning struck, and I got the luckiest of all lucky breaks. One of the jobs I had applied to was a research position with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and I received an e-mail from them saying I’d been hired. I was ecstatic. To me, the appointment seemed almost serendipitous. When I graduated, the thought of entering foreign service crossed my mind once or twice. Back in college, the topic of global politics had always fascinated me. I’d even written my thesis on conflict resolution in Southeast Asia, which received quite a respectable grade only a point or two away from a perfect score (one of the panelists said he docked a few points “para ‘di perfect, ‘di naman puwede ‘yon” – which, what the fuck, man).
Don’t get me wrong – nobody forced me to enroll in law school. I really did think that continuing the family legacy was what would make me happy, and I even began to enjoy the daily grind. But the past semester has shown me that maybe my interests lie elsewhere. That if I allowed myself to look beyond “the family business”, so to speak, I’d find something else that I want to do.
I’m lucky in that, despite coming from a family of lawyers, not one of them actually expects me to be a lawyer. They’re a supportive bunch, of the “as long as you’re happy, sweetheart” variety. So I figure, might as well take advantage of that. No one’s putting a gun to my head and saying, “Go to law school,” literally or figuratively. I have all this leeway to figure out what to do with the rest of my life, which, sadly, I can’t say for a lot of people who come from families like mine.
So I took the job. I start mid-March, after I’ve submitted all the required paperwork (the jokes are true, everything’s in triplicate). I’m eager to see how I do with this job. If I find myself really into it, I may just try for a master’s degree in international relations, maybe take the FSO Exam.
Basically, my life is one giant question mark right now. On the one hand, I’ve already done three semesters at law school, it’d be a shame not to continue. But on the other, I got a job with the DFA! I mean, people always say that that’s the hardest government agency to get into. It’d also be a huge shame not to pursue a career there.
So I told myself I’d give it a year or two. If I end up really liking the work – and I have a sneaking suspicion that I will – I’ll really start to build a career there, and I’ll give up law school. And anyway, if I was already starting to question my being there, maybe this was meant to be?
It’s a little scary, not having a concrete plan. For the past six years of my life, my plan has always been like – Step 1: Graduate college. Step 2: Work in a law firm to get experience. Step 3: Go to and graduate from law school. Step 4: Pass the Bar Exam. Step 5: Live life. But if I push this career path to its logical conclusion of working in foreign affairs and diplomacy, maybe even becoming an ambassador, there’s no set of steps to doing this, no pre-crafted plan I can follow. I’d have to make my own.
But it’s also a little exhilarating. Having no plan also means, in some way, being free. Freedom has a price, of course – in my case, it’s the security of knowing what to do next. But I’ll know what I’m truly capable of, if I can forge a successful career out of nothing but what I can come up with. Not to mention I’ll pretty much be a trailblazer in my family. Countless aunts, uncles, cousins, and various and sundry relatives have contributed to the family’s legacy in the legal profession. Maybe I can do the same thing elsewhere.
Of course, I’m not completely writing off law school just yet. I meant when I said that no one forced me into this. I. myself, of my own volition, decided one day, “I’m gonna be a lawyer.” It’s just that I found that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t for me. But who knows? After the year or two that I give myself, I might actually end up deciding to go back. Right now, my future is one giant open-ended question.
So basically, this blog was born out of a need to document my now shiftless, unchartered life. I was successful at keeping a number of written journals over the years, but my first attempt at blogging – a really pretentious travel blog – didn’t last very long. I’m not cut out to blog for an audience, I guess. So I decided I’m going to blog just for the heck of it, and if I get myself an audience, all well and good. But if not – meh. This could be fun, and I’ll have something to show people if they ask me if I’ve got a blog.
Not to mention, sometimes I get told by people (my boyfriend, mostly) that I talk or think too much. And then I get told by my mom that Facebook is not an appropriate venue for my rants on politics, the government, societal norms and expectations, philosophy, and social justice (whatever). So I guess this blog is a good idea too in that I won’t bore my boyfriend to tears with all my rants, or offend my mother’s sensibilities (insert eyeroll here).
Right now, I’m writing this draft on a Google doc, and I just came up with an idea for my blog’s name. Be Quiet Kate. Oh my God, that’s brilliant. Usually that’s what people say when I start to rant anyway.