As part of the graduating class of 2020, I thought that this year would be my year. However, life had other plans in store.
Like most of my batchmates, I was looking forward to 2020. It was my final semester in college, and I was set to graduate in May. I had friends and classmates preparing trips around the country or abroad after graduation. Coming into my final semester, I fully intended to enjoy every moment as this would be my last time in college. Like many who have come before me, I wanted to close this important chapter of my life on a good note. Then March came, and everything hit a brick wall.
When I learned that school was going to be suspended because of the coronavirus, I thought that it was going to last only a few weeks. It soon became clear that in-person classes would be suspended indefinitely, and I would have to finish the rest of the semester online. After a month, my school announced that they would give the option to let students end their semester early and opt not to be graded for the semester. As much as I would have liked to finish my last semester in college, my brain was not in the right headspace to complete my final requirements with everything that was going on. I opted to end the semester early, and soon, I was a college graduate. What I thought would be a grand celebration to end my college life ended up being more of a whimper.
A CHANGED CAREER PATH
If COVID-19 never happened, I had planned on spending the months after graduation traveling or just at home on a long vacation. By September, I would start looking for a job and hopefully end the year with a full-time job. My dream job is to become a writer, specifically a movie critic. I was hoping that there would be openings in magazines, newspapers, or websites for such. I would then hopefully use that as a launching pad to achieve greater things. However, the coronavirus crisis took all of that away. Writing jobs, especially the ones I gravitated towards, were few and far between. When I applied for a job I did like, I was up against dozens to hundreds of applicants with stronger credentials than me. I applied to over 40 jobs in the last six months of the year, and I never heard back from any of them. What other writing jobs I could find were not suitable for my skill set. Even if I did apply for them, I knew I would go up against more experienced applicants. While I still do dream of becoming a movie critic, I don’t think that is achievable any time soon in terms of it as a livelihood, and I’ll probably have to put that on hold for now.
When it comes to other graduates I know, it’s been a mixed bag. I have friends who were able to find jobs during the pandemic—some they wanted and some they did not. I also have friends who are currently unemployed because they are not interested in finding a job right now or cannot find one. I wouldn’t be surprised if batchmates I know end up shifting career paths because of how the pandemic changed everything.
WHEN STATUS QUO IS NO LONGER OKAY
“I always try to be aware of the state of things around me but at times, it felt like I was living in this bubble.”
Aside from how my professional life has changed, this year has also changed the way I see the world. With a house to go home to and without having to worry about what I’m going to eat for the day, I admit that I come from a privileged background. I probably am in a better situation physically, mentally, and financially than some of my peers. With that being said, I always try to be aware of the state of things around me but at times, it felt like I was living in this bubble. 2020 popped that bubble wide open.
I am entering the “real world” during one of the most significant periods in modern human history. The pandemic has highlighted how broken some systems truly are. Inequality and injustice have been pushed to the forefront of society with how pandemic has affected certain sectors of people harder than others. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that America, and frankly most of the world, have a long way to go when it comes to treating people of different skin color, race, and background fairly.
If you watched the news anytime during the past year, you realize that things are not okay in the Philippines. I get angry when I see local politicians use the pandemic for their own political agenda. The countless stories of police killing civilians and other abuses do not make me feel safe. I get frustrated when I see healthcare workers get mistreated or die of the virus without getting proper protection. Both my parents are doctors, and whenever I see them get in their PPEs and scrub suits before they go to work, I always worry in the back of my mind that they may get sick or spread the virus to me and my siblings. I have a cousin who is doctor who
caught COVID-19. I even had a relative die of the virus. It’s not lost on me that the Philippines has one of the worst responses to COVID-19 in the world.
I never have been vocal about my beliefs before. I had my own opinions and beliefs for sure, but I just never vocalized them out loud on social media because I’m introverted like that. This year though has shown me that I can’t just be silent and let things be the way they are. I decided to speak up more about what I did not like and the bad things I was seeing happen in this country.
Tempting as it is to retreat to my bubble, I cannot do that. If I do so, I will be using my privilege the wrong way. Some of my Facebook friends did not like this more vocal side of me, but I felt I needed to use my voice to help out in any way I can. Besides, it’s not illegal to voice your displeasure, right?
LOOKING TO 2021
As I enter 2021, I feel like I’m in a state of limbo. Professionally, I am not sure what the year has in store for me. I was able to find two writing jobs. The first job is unpaid and voluntary, but at least I get to write about topics I like. The second is a part-time paid job, which is better than nothing, but definitely not enough to sustain a long-term livelihood. I hopefully will have a full-time job in 2021, but what that job exactly is remains to be seen.
In the long run, I do have my blessings to be thankful for. My parents and siblings have not caught COVID-19 (and I hope they never will). The countless Zoom and Discord calls I’ve done made me appreciate my friends and family more now than I ever did. I also do know that there have been so many people who have suffered an unprecedented loss this year whether it be the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 or suffering financially like the loss of a job. I want to be positive and grateful, but it gets hard when I see all the loss, pain, and anger on the news and social media.
I want to be hopeful that things will get better, but with the way life work, that’s not a guarantee. 2020 truly was a year unlike any other. It shook me, my beliefs, and the way I see the world. My future used to be clear for me, but now, I do not know what to expect any more. Hopefully, all the nonsense of 2020 can stay in the past, and all the positive change that was seen this year will be continued into 2021 and for the years to come.