Adulting 101

Now that the holiday season is here, I can’t help but reminisce the time I spent my first holiday in the workforce. It was way back 2013 – back when I didn’t know what to do with my money.

I was your typical probinsyanang manang who was accustomed to having nothing in my wallet and not panicking. In the province, having no money does not mean you can’t go out with your friends or have fun. You can go on a road trip without spending anything. The life there was easy.

Of course, tides change and somehow, I needed to decide about my future. Courage is something innate in me and that’s the main reason I opted to attend a University in Manila – outside the province. It was so deeply ingrained in my system that after graduation, I only applied for Shell.

Then and there, I realized that I have high hopes and dreams. My friends always say that I’m different because I’m smarter and I’m braver. That’s not true. I was afraid all the time and I didn’t feel that I was smart enough to belong. Everything was foreign to me. Even my salary.

I remember getting my first paycheck and immediately, I took out half of it and gave it to my mom for our house rent. The other half, I didn’t know what to do with it so I let it sit in the bank. Then, my sister said that I should start investing in things I want. Because now, I have the money to buy them.

I bought my first iPad mini and paid it in 4 months – on top of the monthly house rent that I am devoting to help our household. I would wake up at 9am and go home at 3am or 5am. It was exhausting but I didn’t feel it because of the money. It paid the bills and I thought, I’m still young. I can abuse myself for a couple years.

Slowly, I didn’t realize that I was acquiring more and more things. It didn’t feel so heavy. In fact, it made me callous and uncanny in spending. I don’t have much philosophy that I follow aside from if I want it bad, I’m gonna get it today. Not tomorrow. Today.

My gadgets were all updated. I could buy the latest appliances if I wanted to. I can go on trips without worrying about the money to spend on the trip. It was lavish.

And then my health declined. Weekly, I am in the hospital, strapped in a bed with a dextrose on my wrist because I’m having anemia attacks. I was working on mid-shift and had been taking excessive overtime (80 hours a month minimum). I was so hell-bent on wanting to belong to the team – a team of intelligent people who can do anything that’s thrown at them. I worked harder and harder each day, devising ways on how to make my job easier only to find in performance reviews that I didn’t do good enough. I was always compared to somebody else. Somebody that I should be at par or be better at. The worst part is, I believed all of it. I believed my manager. I believed the people who talk down to me. I believed that I deserved it because I was dumb and not good enough.

I let it happen because it brought me good money. Fuck, pride.

What I neglected to see were those people who believed in me. Those people who matter to the organization that trusted me. My stakeholders, my partners, and my teammate. He would always say to me, “Kate, Rome wasn’t built in one day.”. For two years, it kept me going. It kept me focused on my goal which is to do the right thing and be the better version of your self, day by day.

When I started getting praises from my partners and stakeholders, I remember getting questions from my teammates and sometimes my manager asking me why it was given to me. It was offending but I kept my head low and just continued working.

Soon, I was part of bigger projects dealing with bigger people in the organization, moving far forward in the realm of my processes. I was introduced to process architects, payroll bigwigs, marketing managers, the vast AP team of Manila and Chennai, etc. The next thing I know, I was launching projects left and right, with the aim of making life easier for everyone. Because I don’t want my teammates (TRS) to feel what I felt when I first joined the team. I want my teammates (TRS) to know that they can count on me and I will not judge them right away just because they’re timid.

I became happy and fulfilled. This led me to where I am right now. I wanted to thank my first team leader who always felt so strongly about my performance because I cannot finish 200 reimbursement cases in one day without errors. I wanted to thank my teammates who closed their windows at me when I was lost in the process. Putting me on the spot taught me a lot of things.

Most importantly, I wanted to thank everyone who appreciated my efforts and my work all throughout my journey in Shell. Thanks for putting on a good word every available moment. You landed me this wonderful role that I have right now. You guys are instrumental in this success I have and I will never forget all the lessons you taught me.

Lastly, I knew that leaving Shell was the right thing to do because I felt lighter and more confident. Now, I can speak with a lot of people without having anxiety attacks. I can exchange beautiful ideas or have meaningful intellectual arguments for the sake of knowledge sharing. And of course, for keeping myself always on my toes so that I will never ever be complacent.

This, my friends, is how I transitioned from a young adolescent to full grown adult. In a span of 4 years, I had a lot of significant adult decisions that impacted and continuously impacting my way of living and leadership style. In these four years, I learned more about myself and the people around me.

Hay, ang sarap maging adult.

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