A Starter Life

Categories Essays, Life
artist unknown

I’m officially regularized at my job, after six months in.  At 28, this is my first “regular” job- with paid vacation leaves, sick leaves etc. It’s not to say that I haven’t had jobs. I’ve worked part time since I was 19 and can’t count the many other job titles I’ve had. I’ve worked in fastfood, retail stores, offices, I’ve worked freelance as photographer, videographer, etc. etc.

But this is the most adult thing in my life. I’m living alone, far away from my family and living off of my own income. Of course I’ve lived alone for a while, from 15-20 years old but those were days when I stayed in boarding houses and dormitories. I’ve also lived on my income but those were days that I spent living with my family so the burden of having to think about budgeting, splitting up costs for rent and utilities etc. didn’t fall on me. All I had to do was work, do the laundry, cook and give my share. So this is what I consider my “first life” my entry into “adulthood” however late. Although culturally, adulthood is defined differently- this is just my own definition of the real deal ‘adulting’.


At the same time other people have a knack of making one’s achievements crummy.

“How can you take care of a dog, you can’t even take care of yourself?”

“I’m starting a business, how about you? What have you been up to? Aside from work, what do you do?”

I’m reminded of that quote from Eleanor Roosevelt about how one can’t feel inferior without one’s consent, but things said repeatedly can get to you.

It makes me wonder about people’s standards. How do they define maturity? or success? I think about the person who tells me I can’t care for dogs-

they live in their parent’s home, no rent or groceries or bills to think about. Their lunch boxes made by somebody else, their dogs taken cared of by a housekeeper.

I wonder if they can juggle having to cook their own meals, do the groceries, the laundry, tend to the plants, pay bills, and book doctors’ appointments on their own while also having time to keep in touch with family and socialize with friends?

I think about the person who asks me what I’m up to, remembering how they sneered at me for choosing to be a corporate slave while they had their fathers to back up their business plans.

I wonder if they realize that businesses run on the “salary men” working for them, it’s the age of entrepreneurship after all and everyone wants to be the boss. I wonder if they know that there is joy to be found in work too? Because I like my work, I enjoy the work I do and I find pride in the work I do- but it seems a trend to not be satisfied with one’s work these days?

Sometimes I’m tempted to answer “Well, I run this Facebook page that’s seen a 93% increase in followers since its inception three months ago. Mostly teenaged girls, but hey- they run the market.”

Most days I remember that my life was not drawn in a straight path. I have to remember that I shouldn’t judge myself based on everyone else’s standard of where I should be right now. Specially with people who didn’t even know me from way way back, didn’t know the things I went through, didn’t see how far I’ve come. My life choices have been a careful consideration of how I envision my future to be. It’s not perfect, I’m not living the high life, and sometimes my self-doubt holds me back.

I wish people were kinder, and that they refrain from thinking there was an absolute way to live one’s life.  Sometimes I feel like people are judging me and hurrying me to be who they expect me to be but I’m really slow and I like to listen to my instincts. I usually know where I’m supposed to be and the season I’m supposed to be in.

I remember two quotes:

“The plain fact is that the planet does not need more “successful people”. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of every kind. it needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and human, and these qualities have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.”

-David Orr

And just because someone is happy, contented where they are doesn’t mean they’re not striving for anything more or that they’ve settled. I’ve been so grateful the past few months but it’s hard to hold on to that gratefulness when the world is consistently telling you that it’s not enough.

Most days I take it one day at a time, I’ve started reading a zen book my mom gave me from Japan. I try to do some stretching, I think of ways to improve my skills at work. Then I list down things I’m thankful for like:

  • I have a job I actually enjoy- something aligned with my major, and freedom to exercise my creativity however limited our resources are.
  • My workplace isn’t toxic, it’s not as stressful or as bad as other agencies. While there are certain things I find annoying like my officemates’ constant teasing about my weight and marital status, other than that we pretty much get along well.
  • I still have a work-life balance (though I often just stay home and watch my K-dramas.)
  • I live in a really great neighborhood (cinemas, restaurants, shops, cafes, artsy village etc.)
  • I got a room with wooden floors, big windows and a balcony! (It’s not instagram photogenic, but I have my own space for my books and shoes and myself.)
  • My hydrangea is still alive
  • I’m surrounded by really good friends (like-minded people, people who appreciate me even when I’m not the next big thing.)
  • I get to go on vacations and mini-trips.
  • I’m starting to live the life I envisioned.

And my mom reminded me, I finally get to have a Philhealth card and a Pag-ibig card which is kind of an inside joke.

I also received an email from the “Universe” which was so timely because i got it on a day I was feeling restless and didn’t know how to proceed with my life:


Astrid, you’re the only person who knows what’s right for you.
The only one –
And if you don’t know what to do, Astrid, wait until you do. In the meantime, bask in your awesomeness.


I apologize if my worries seem repetitive, it’s just that this is the message I constantly get in this society, so I’m trying to clear my head and lay out my worries one by one.

In 2016 I was just a university student worrying and wishing I could get a job right after I finished my units so I could support myself. I worried about finding a place and sustaining myself. In 2017, two weeks after my last class ended, I started job searching and house hunting. Those were the only two things I fervently prayed for. It’s 2018, I am living my answered prayers. I think I can celebrate a little.

So this is me and my starter life and I’m ending this post with some quotes of one of my most favourite K-Dramas to date, Because This is My First Life, 2017:

  • “That’s the plague of the neocortex.

Cats do not have cortexes unlike humans. For cats, only the present exists; they neither have a future nor a past.

Because I’m in my twenties, my thirties, and soon to be forties. Only humans lock themselves in time.

Only humans draw on the weakness of age, ending up spending money and emotions. That is the catastrophic disaster that man has earned in return for evolution.

Thirty or forty in age is just the same as today for cats.”

  • “I wish you luck. Going through this life is the first time for all of us anyway. 

    (P.S You can find more of the drama’s quotes here.)

8 thoughts on “A Starter Life

  1. Congrats on being regularised at your job! Don’t let what other people tell you get you down. I’ve constantly been told that I hv to ‘pull my sht together’ simply because it’s not the life that they envision – career progression -> marriage -> kids -> a swanky apartment. I realised that those same people were really unhappy with their lives because they were never content. Of course it’s good to have dreams and work towards them while improving oneself, but I think taking it at my own pace leaves me much happier. You do you!

    1. “Of course it’s good to have dreams and work towards them while improving oneself, but I think taking it at my own pace leaves me much happier. You do you!” – THIS! i think people forget that we each have our own pace, some of us slower than most. thank you so much. glad to find someone who can relate as well!

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