Lionel Messi

That’s all she wrote, folks

Maki Somosot
'Both worlds claim equal responsibility for shaping me into the person that I am now – and indeed, what I am yet to become'

About a week ago, I graduated from college. From Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, to be exact. The last 4 years of my life have been neatly wrapped up in one diploma. Rolled up. Ribboned over. Framed and hung on the wall.  

It seems far too early, and much too soon, to relinquish my college experience to a fancy piece of paper. It’s an anticlimax to those seemingly endless hours of toiling away on papers, laughing with friends, philosophizing in the cafeteria, debating and exchanging ideas in class, running into love (and its lesser alternatives), butting minds with fellow great minds.

I have no intention of advising my fellow graduates on what to do with their lives, much less soliciting the wisdom of the ages from my elders. That’s what graduation speeches are for. Instead, I intend to touch upon the soul-searing and mind-bending pathos of post-graduate aimlessness.

For the first time in my life, I cannot rely on the comforting institutional, temporal and academic structures that college has afforded me for the last two decades. It is now up to me – and me entirely – to carve out my own future, set my own rules and follow through.

The sheer vastness and openness of the future terrifies me. The choices I have to make are paralyzing in their magnitude. No matter how many platitudes I digest or how many quotes I read urging me to slow down and enjoy the moment, the fact remains: this moment will hurt. It is meant to push me beyond my comfort zones so that I can leap headfirst into the unknown. Most of all, it is meant to make me learn the value of uncertainty.

I understand that this will all be an enlightening learning process in the long run; I’m just not quite sure I want to stick around for the momentary carnage. Namely, for these pseudo-existential moments of confusion and despair about what I’m going to do next. Somewhat like the crisis I’m having now.

Carving out my path would be much simpler if I remained committed to staying in America. I could simply focus on building my life, family and career here in this country. After all, with my green card and newly minted American diploma in hand, I am practically a denizen of what most Filipinos consider the Promised Land.

So why do I risk compromising a promising future here in the States by wanting to move back to Asia? This question probably constitutes the closest thing to an “adult” problem that I face right now.

Two worlds

I can’t help but feel torn between two disparate worlds: the original home and family that I left in the Philippines, versus the new life that I’ve carefully hodgepodged here in America over the last 4 years.

On one hand, I was born, raised and took shape in the Philippines. I grew up very much the adobo-eating, God-fearing and family-loving Filipina. On the other hand, at Swarthmore, I forged lasting global friendships, embraced newfangled ideas and philosophies, re-appropriated them into my own being, and called new places “home.” It was also where I found love where I least expected it.

In other words, both worlds claim equal responsibility for shaping me into the person that I am now – and indeed, what I am yet to become.   

All sentimentality aside, my wish to return to my roots is also driven by cold, hard economic practicality – the kind that this bright-eyed, yet financially indebted graduate thrust into the future needs.

The majority of mass media has repeatedly professed the power – and thus desirability – of booming Asian markets. Job prospects, especially for budding journalists like me, are aplenty all over the region. Growth and opportunity abound in places like Hong Kong, Singapore and Shenzhen. It is exciting to witness young entrepreneurs – many of them aiming to inspire social change in their local communities – take root and sprout across the Pacific.

The Philippines has more than its fair share of intrepid social entrepreneurs, several of whom I am lucky to know (Rappler included)! Some Swarthmore friends have even returned to ride this shockwave of fast-paced innovation and dynamism that has revived the entire Asia-Pacific region.

These are only some of the reasons. Of course, returning home – or at least somewhere close to it – would be the proverbial icing on the cake.

But what about all the dear friends and acquaintances that I have made here in America? What about that special someone, who of course only surfaced during my last semester in college? What about all those other opportunities – both professional and personal – that I will inevitably pass up once I leave the Promised Land?

Questions, questions, questions. Better leave them written on the wall for now, where my framed diploma also hangs. Don’t look back. Don’t stop. Keep running. –

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