countdown 18: a love affair

Sometimes the city gets too crowded, polluted and noisy for me that I crave for the more serene rural life.

I can't believe I've been living here in the city for almost 10 years already. When I was a kid, my parents or an aunt would occasionally bring me here. I used to be amazed of the big malls but I hated the smoke-belching buses and the noise and pollution. I never dreamt of working in the city. My simple dream in college was to graduate, take the board exams, work in a bank (just like my papa did), get married, have kids and live happily ever after.

But God had other plans for me. I went to Manila to review for the board exams. On the night of the release of the results, I and my parents received one of the biggest surprises in our lives - I did not just pass the board exams, I also placed 13th!

I can still vividly recall my mama shouting at the top of her lungs. I think I really made my parents proud that night. And as my mother whirled me in her arms, I couldn't help but be amazed at the marvelous way God works wonders. That moment was one of the happiest and proudest in my life. I did not expect it at all. I merely wanted to pass and be a Certified Public Accountant.

Back then I thought that being a CPA is the end all be all, that it equated success and guaranteed a nice life. Forgive me for my naivety.

My mama really love me, no doubt. She accompanied me to my first job interview. She patiently waited for me in the lobby of the first auditing firm I was invited to. Don't laugh just yet. In my second job interview, both of my parents accompanied me and met with the Human Resource staff. Hahaha! Very embarrassing.

I was a typical probinsyana who just stepped into the city streets - shy, naive and feeling a bit inferior.

I would shed tears almost every night for the flimsiest of reasons - the bus was too crowded, having lunch alone, and very rude clients treating me like a lost child and not an auditor.

I was one sheltered lad unexpectedly released into the jungle called real life and I felt out-of-place and vulnerable. I tried so hard to put on a brave face. I feared each time I go to a new client that I might get lost. My knees would turn to jelly at the prospect of interviewing the Finance Director or the President. It was a painful phase for me but it forced me to find courage, grow up and not be too thin-skinned.

I wouldn't have made it if not for the people who took me in so kindly - the taxi driver who would bring me to the client even if I didn't know the way; a client who would treat me nicely even if I asked stupid questions; a colleague who would go out of her way to give me tips and techniques; friends who took interest in me and fought for me and with me in my battles.

I owe as much to the people who did not treat me quite as well - colleagues that pointed out my weaknesses and rubbed me sore, clients that bullied me, strangers that tried to take advantage. We do need criticisms, challenges and not-so-nice experiences to make us better and stronger people.

My learning experiences have made me grounded and grateful for the support strangers have accorded me. I try to pay it forward by practicing empathy and never forgetting that I was once a naive and timid girl who was very frightened of the hazards posed by working in this city I now call home.


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