For Filipinos, there is a formula that we should "follow" so that we can reach success in our career. You go to school, get good grades, graduate with flying colors, land an office job and slowly climb up the corporate ladder, earning money, titles and positions. The older generation especially believe that if you miss out on any of these steps, then you’re doomed and screwed.
Coming from a pretty traditional family in the province, this kind of mindset was ingrained in me from the very beginning. Additionally, the media that I grew up with also supported this path towards success. I’d see women in movies and television shows donning corporate suits and towering heels, running around spaces filled with offices and cubicles. They were often depicted as successful career women and needless to say, I wanted to be like them.
So of course, I modeled my corporate journey after this formula. I worked really hard in school and got myself into a reputable university. Even if the major I enrolled myself in is not really sought-after or popular - how many Literature majors do you actually know - I still pursued it.
I wanted to prove that it doesn’t matter what degree you get. It won’t stop me from making that corporate dream into a reality.
I got a typical office job even before graduating, so I felt like I was well on my way. I left that work two years later for a position in one of the tall buildings in the bustling city of Makati. I was working in an airconditioned office, tucked away in a cubicle with my own desk, computer and cabinet.
People would think that I would be happy in this kind of situation, already taking the first few steps in the journey to success.
To be honest, I wasn’t as happy as I thought I would be. I was tired all the time from the commute to and from the office. I felt sluggish and sleepy, even if I already consumed a lot of caffeine. I didn’t feel healthy, and I seem to have lost my ability to manage my time properly that I couldn’t do other things besides work.
I was also restricted by the number of days I’m allowed to go on leave and how sometimes, I can’t afford to do so because of the amount of things I need to do. Weekends seemed to be always fleeting and the hours I had outside of work were never enough.
It also didn’t help that the same old routines will take over your daily life, which is actually what long-time office workers would say, as something that’s inevitable. This wasn’t the ideal situation for someone like me, a young fresh graduate who also wanted to pursue her own passions and see more of the world. My growth as an individual felt stunted and I felt confined and stuck.
This shiny corporate dream was slowly losing its luster and I was over it 4 years after trying to chase it.
Even if feelings of discontent were overwhelming me on a daily basis, I couldn’t just quit since I had bills to pay - and they were a lot. Thankfully, I was already doing freelance work on the side, even if I had full-time work. I would go home every day from my office job and instead of resting, I would work on writing and editing projects as well. And frankly, I was enjoying my side hustle more than the work I was doing in my 9 to 5.
It was great timing as well since one of my clients was considering hiring me on a more full-time basis. The offer was very tempting: I had full control of my work hours, as long as I am able to turn in my deliverables on time, and that I maintain open lines of communication with her. The best part of it was, she offered a much higher salary!
This was the opportunity and of course, I grabbed the bull by the horns and immediately sent in my resignation letter.
While I was very excited at this new path I was going to take, I admit to feeling afraid and anxious. I was straying away from the “corporate dream” and I have no idea where this road will take me. I also wanted to prove something to myself and to everyone else who were not convinced that I can make it in a nontraditional work set-up.
Despite these fears and doubts, I went ahead and took the first leap forward. I said yes to the client, signed a contract and sent in my resignation letter right away.
Now I get to work on projects that not only make full use of my skills set, but allow me to learn more new things that can help me in my career. I have been able to make time for my passion projects and have slowly begun seeing the world outside of the city that I’m staying in.
Plus, I'm part of an amazing team here at AwayTeam. It doesn't get any better than that!
It’s been 4 years since that moment and I haven’t looked back since. And don’t get me wrong, the journey was far from easy. But I can say that the difficulties and hardships outweigh what could have been my life had I stayed in my office job.
I’m sure that there are some of you who happen to stumble upon this article and share the same feelings and sentiments as I did long ago. You may be going through the exact same thing that I was! Or maybe you’re also looking for a way out of an office job and into this life of freedom.
I say why don’t you give online work a shot? Maybe this is the path to success that you’re meant to be on.