I was an unusual twenty-two year old young man.

Or atleast I feel like one when compared to my peers.

I flew immediately from my beloved Iligan City up far to the capital of Metro Manila to live solo independently, seeking for a challenge, with nothing but a hopelessly romantic dream inside my soul.

A dream.

A hope.

An experience.

I could have lived more comfortably by staying with my parents, or by moving to much familiar places, or even by living with some relative.

But my eyes were set on to something else.
Something bigger.
Something farther.

The road looked perilous, but my hopes were set.

It’s been 1 year or so. I have learned a gigantuous amount of things: From making my own food, to paying my own bills, to learning to take hold of the strain of solo-living. With this 1-year experience, I hope to blaze a trail of knowledge for my fellow people who might benefit from this experience.

Before I start, do know that these will be highly biased since these speak of my personal experiences. And experience will vary from person to person, as persons vary from their personalities, background, aspirations, skills, and many more.

With that out of the way, shall we start?

I. Career and Employment: The Promise of Learning

I came from one of the best, if not the best, school in our area, MSU-IIT. Though even with the status of my university, it’s unfortunate to say that my school is not that well-known in Manila’s IT industry.

I was absorbed by a company which, from my own observation, is mostly accepting only graduates from the schools of Ateneo, LaSalle, UP, etc. The management commented that I’m the first MSU graduate that was accepted. Considering my unspectacular academic grades (being the lazy, choosy college student that I am), I was only taken in because of my aptitude score and my somewhat interesting resume. Despite of this unfortunate discovery that my school is not that well known as I originally thought it is, I am thankful for my alma matter since if it’s only one thing that it does very well is this: Teaching people how to learn how to learn things. And it has been a very invaluable asset.

As a graduate from a school that is unfamiliar (atleast to them), and a multimedia IT graduate that’s working in a position mainly designed for Computer-Science graduates, I am alive to say that I had not been ax-ed so far. And did I mention that I got a prestigious corporate award (though undeserved) in my first months?

II. Financial Management: You Get To Learn How To Manage Your Finances

I have not asked a single centavo from my parents the moment I started to live under my own roof. This may mainly be due to my immensely stubborn and proud personality. I admit that learning how to manage finances has been a serious anxiety-causing nerve-wracking challenge for me, especially if you’re paying for your own roof, your own water, you’re own electricity, your food (which is needed for survival by the way), and everything else. If you’re trying to save money, you’re at a distinct disadvantage from those who are living with their parents because of the expense from bills..

But money-saving-capabilities and spending-power is not the only measurement of value; intangible assets such as experience, wisdom, and character are far more valuable. I think this experience has taught me a lot of these — expense management, being responsible towards bills, non-extravagant living, etc — things which I feel I could not have learned fast elsewhere.

III. Mindanao VS Luzon: Language and Discrimination?

I think that the top two reasons why my own people would hesitate to be here in Metro Manila are these. First, the use of the Tagalog language. Second, the possibility of discrimination.

These two reasons are reasonable. Conversing using a language that you are not fluent at is daunting. And being discriminated isn’t really nice. But how did it go with me? Did I experience difficulty with the language? Did I experience discrimination?

First, the language. Conversational Tagalog is quite difficult to master, but good news, you can speak English, and you’re probably better at it than most. When I was still learning the ropes of conversational Tagalog, I just used my English. If I truly cannot speak out a thought that I want to speak out using Tagalog, I just speak it in English. Simple. Chances are, you’ll be successful in your conversations. Plus, there’s also a chance that the person you’re talking to will be intimidated.

Secondly, the issue of discrimination. I’m not even sure if this issue is a myth or not. I think this thing boils deep down to personal self-assurance. Of my year in living here, I have not felt that I am being in any way inferior to any of the people here. I did notice, at the early months, some very few persons who blatantly tried. To their dismay, I know I am not inferior to Mark Zuckerberg or to Elon Musk in the same way that a speck of dust is not inferior to another speck of dust. And so are you.

IV. Independence: Sink or Swim!

Imagine playing a video game on the “hard” difficulty setting, voluntarily, except that the game is Life itself, and it has serious repercussions if ever you’ll fail.

I feel that’s an appropriate analogy.

It’s the first months of independent living that are the most ruthless.
Homesickness.
Adapting to new things.
Getting to know yourself more deeply.
Missing the people, activities, and things you grew up with.
It’s home-sickening, and of which the apex of this feeling is Christmas time.

But the pain is bearable. And when you get past that, the experience becomes a significant strength. A distinct strength that I feel cannot be gained elsewhere.

I’d like to think that through these I have become quite stronger (emotionally, mentally, and physically). To name a few, I learned that I can be independently responsible in life, that I can grow to extents I have not experienced yet, and that I have family and friends who I can lean on whenever all of my strengths depletes itself.

By having experienced what it feels like how to sink, I have learned how to swim. And when I look back, I feel nothing but gratitude for the gained strength.

Conclusion

What conclusion does this deserve? All I can say is, I have absorbed a tremendous amount of things in a short period of time, things that my written words fails to do justice.

Some of my friends have called me brave. But may the world know that it is not my own strength that holds me together, but it is the goodness of the sovereign Lord and His people, and His steadfast love that holds me, assures me, challenges me, and compels me altogether.

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