I have just reached my third year in my present company a few weeks ago. How ironic that it feels I have been here longer than I thought I was, and at the same time, memories of moving here feels just as fresh as it just happened yesterday.
I can still vividly remember my first OFW memories in China, and how everything now feels just like a breeze. Maybe I wasn't ready yet then. Or maybe I was still young. Or maybe, the place and environment are not really for me. Or maybe, working in China was a baptism of fire. I've experienced more than what my 21 year-old self should have gone through. It made me stronger, and more resilient to everything I will be facing in the future.
With only one suitcase and a backpack, my life have started all over again. It was as if I am re-born, in a different environment, but with wisdom and a mindset of a young grown up. I've given up everything of what I had in the past--the comfort of my home, the complacency in my job, the company of my friends, immature habits, and dependence.
It was never easy to be in my shoes. I am here not just because I needed money. Unlike the rest of the Filipinos who work abroad who have to leave home to have more money, I am here because I wanted to prove something not just to people around me, but most importantly to myself.
I got the best family. I got the best education. I was pampered and saw the world in its most beautiful and kindest state. But I was so much eager to see more of it. I want to see the real world, with all its flaws and imperfections so I may be able to truly embrace life as a whole.
Before I have finally decided to leave home, there were a series of goodbyes, of taking it back and accepting again, of letting it all sink in. I looked at my bed for the last time which have cradled me to sleep all my life, and I knew it will never be the same again. I packed all my things and kept them in the storage, not even knowing when will I ever open them again. But this is it, no more holding back.
When I have finally left my comfort zone, it has never been easy. It is not just about working here, it is literally living on my own. I was lucky to have been blessed by friends who have let me in their home, who have sacrificed to squeeze me in their room because I have limited financial resources of starting a new life. And for that, I am forever thankful. In return, I vowed myself to prepare food for them and keeping the house organized for as long as I can.
Working is a different struggle altogether. There were different nationalities to blend in to. The pacing of work is ten times faster than what I have experienced in my previous jobs. There is no such thing as Filipino time. Everything has to always be on the dot. Salary comes only once a month, and budgeting is necessary.
Everyday will always be a struggle. Whenever I feel homesick, I call home. But sometimes, the money in my pocket is just enough for me to sustain the whole month, I couldn't top up extra account on my phone. And when this happens, it's always comforting to know that calling God will not cost me any cent. My faith is strengthened.
There will be days when I wanted to eat out, or cook something good, I end up depressed because I haven't replenished my grocery yet, and still waiting for the next salary to arrive. And there are days too, that I have to save up for the F21 dress my sister is asking me to buy, or a replacement of my sister's stolen laptop, or a piece of G2000 necktie as a birthday gift for my dad, or an extra cash on top of my monthly remittance for my grandmother's medication, and I end up eating 'tuyo' for days. I've done it with no regret, i love seeing them comfortable.
I am here because in spite of the grueling adjustments, nights of non-stop crying, sacrificing, I have become stronger, more faithful, more independent. I can make decisions on my own. I can take charge of my life and be responsible for it. I am beginning to see places, and the more I conquer them, the more I realize that I know so little about the world and its people.
I miss Manila, but not so often now like before. There's nowhere I'd rather be right now. I have found peace in my new home. I have gained friends. I've built memories that I will forever cherish.
So you, my dear future OFW, please give more time to think about working abroad. It surely is a bitter-sweet experience. Weigh what is really essential and what will make a better you. Think about the family you will be leaving. Think about your young kids, and how they will be able to grow without you physically. And for young ones who wanted to make a mark in this world, there is no perfect time than now. Explore the world. You will be surprised and mesmerized how your education in school comprises only a little amount to everything the world has to offer.
Once you set out on your new journey, you will be meeting a lot of people, some may help you along the way, while others will try to push you down. Be forever thankful to all of them for they will shape the new you.
And lastly, whatever you have achieved in your new life, and no matter how far you have soared, once in a while, look back, your past is a continuation of your present. And no matter what, look up too. Be forever grateful that in spite and despite of people and circumstances coming and going, He's never failed you.
So, are you ready?