Now what?

Text: Micah Almazan

YOUR life is the sum of your choices.

Sure, there are other factors like your childhood religion, your rotten bananas for friends, your dysfunctional family, or your government, but ultimately, you will jump the gun, make that turn, and ram that gas pedal.

It’s a beautiful, messed up thing: free will. Couple it with colorful acquaintances and unforeseen circumstances, then you’ll understand why art loves imitating life. It’s usually around college when you start making these life-changing decisions. You spend years upon years trying to finish a degree. It’s either you stop because doubts surfaced, or you’re at the finish line, shoulder-to-shoulder with your batch mates in your togas with your diplomas in your hands. Regardless, the same question remains: Now what?

In the spirit of graduation and uncertainties about the future, I asked some friends who have answered that question to share their “Now this.”

Doing by Learning

Nelia Monet
Degree: Nursing
Current career: founder of Nelia.co

Coming from a family inclined to the medical field, Nelia thought it would be wise to follow suit and acquire a bachelor’s degree in nursing, even if she already knew that she wanted to do her own thing by putting up a business. Most of us have been there – doing exactly what we don’t want to do because we think it’s practical or even necessary.

Nelia did not sweep her ambitions under the rug. She grabbed the opportunity to work as the Executive Assistant to the CEO for JFDI.Asia, a startup accelerator. A year after training with the company, she wanted to run her own Virtual Executive Assistants company. So she did. Just like that, she built Nelia.co out of her passion for learning. I asked her if this was something she sees herself doing in the long run, and surprisingly, she said no.

Considering the nature of being a virtual assistant, she wants to interact more with people in person. It’s something she will always have on the side and can go back to anytime she wants anyway. Relentless and carefree, Nelia goes through life one day at a time, which is the most we can do sometimes, and that’s perfectly okay.

Oh well vs what if

Seph Aparante
Degree: Psychology
Current career: wedding photographer

A tiny, introverted ball of energy is how I would describe Seph. Originally from Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, she remembers not having nice family pictures growing up, so she wanted to buy a camera to solve that. While her love affair with photography was brewing, she studied and finished Psychology in Cebu and worked for Procter and Gamble as Training and Development Officer two weeks after her graduation. She worked mostly in Manila, and was constantly traveling, but left after a year despite being offered a promotion.

Seph went back to Mindanao, and while contemplating on applying for another corporate job, she met friends who were putting up a photo studio called Terra Nostra Images, where she learned most of what she knows now about photography. After a year, she decided to move back to Cebu because passively waiting to be ready did not make sense to her.

In 2015, she carved her own path with Seph Aparante Folios, her very own portrait and wedding photography company, because “If you don’t make things happen, they won’t happen,” she says.

Straight up hard work

Arnauld Echevarria
Degree: Computer Programming
Current career: make-up artist

Born in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, Arnauld wanted a degree in Fine Arts, because he loved to draw and sketch as a child. Since they couldn’t afford it, he decided on Computer Programming instead, the popular choice back then. After graduating, he moved to Cebu and landed all kinds of jobs from maintenance personnel and supermarket bagger to project officer for an environmental NGO, after 9 months of training with RAFI’s Young Minds Academy.

Arnauld’s career started to take shape when he became a fashion accessories designer for a Japanese export company. The only qualification he met was the ability to draw, because he wasn’t a Fine Arts graduate from a reputable school, but he applied anyway and got the job. He was sent to Japan for work where he got exposed to fashion and make-up.

Now Arnauld owns his time doing make-up for a wide spectrum of clients, and even runs a modelling agency on the side. In all the hodgepodge of events he’s gone through, as cliché as it sounds, Arnauld learned to just believe in himself and do the best he can with what he had.

Learning from their stories, I could attempt to conclude with “inspirational life lessons” like a pretentious prick, but I’m not gonna go all Good Will Hunting on you, don’t worry. Nevertheless, one thing is certain: there is life after school. There is life after your first job, your second, and so on and so forth. The point is, it’s never too late to start doing what you want. At 25 years old, I finally decided to write, so I quit my very secure job to do just that, and I’ve never been more broke elated. So, here’s to our pursuits! No matter how crazy they get!

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