Fresh out of college, one of my then-youth leaders asked me, “why do you want to be a diplomat? What is it that you want to do? What is it that you believe and think you are called to do?” The clueless but full of conviction younger version of myself only knew to answer that with specific job/calling titles: I want to be an ambassador and a missionary. I want to represent this country to the international community with dignity and honor, and help every Filipino blood overseas.
We were raised in a culture that mostly defines people by job titles. People good at communications should be journalists or screenwriters or politicians. Those who crunch numbers like snacks should be accountants or engineers. If you grew up with a good sense of defending your thoughts using logic, be a lawyer or a judge. If you like the sciences, well, it’s just right you become a nurse or a doctor. You draw well? Honey, go be an architect.
As the world population grew by generations and new technologies were invented, society had to add a few more titles to the usual ones–pilots, flight attendants, interior designer, you get the gist.
There is a lot of talk-analysis about my generation. We’ve labeled the millennial a lot of things. But one thing I’m proud of is that if there’s a generation who can adapt fast and well to new things, it’s us. And we do it without forgetting the good old stuff. In fact, we integrate. In a sense, and I’d borrow Emilie‘s theory, we’re a generation of multipotentialites. According to her, multipotentialites’ or as I kind of generalize, our generation’s superpowers include: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability.
We adapt to change quite well and learn real fast, too. Think: cassette players to CDs to torrents to iTunes to Spotify; or Myspace, Friendster, Multiply and now Facebook and Twitter and IG and Snapchat and Youtube filled with self-made vloggers; or landlines to analog cellphones of our titos and titas to Nokia 5110 to smartphones. In all those and many other scenarios, no one sat down with us to teach us how to use the new technology. We don’t need to read manuals because navigating through new stuff is how we learn things.
But my favorite is how we bring the old to the new, innovating & creating new “job titles” for ourselves. The world keeps growing in billions and opportunities might have shrunk a good deal compared to the 60s, but our generation has learned to create new opportunities to explore. There was a time when a very few elites could only be the ones establishing businesses and organizations. Now, together with the younger generation
(yes, we’re young but we’re also old), you don’t have to be a super elite to be an entrepreneur. At least in my country, there was a time when there’s just one type of privilege: the rich. I don’t have the statistics but I’d say there’s now a variation of privilege for the not so rich.
We don’t have to be stuck at one title in life–a manager, a stay-at-home mom, an editor, a social worker. We can be all of it or more as much as we give room for learning and growth in our lives. Of course, it’s not a breeze. We have to work hard but as we do, we don’t have to get stuck at doing just one thing while thinking of the many other things we know we can also do.
If I could go back to that one conversation after graduation, I’d tell my ate that I’m pretty organized, detail- and process-oriented; I like matching ideas that generate income and forward a cause for the less-privileged or for my community. I like travelling to new places and discovering cultures and histories. I’d tell her that with those things I know I can do, and like to do, I believe I can help people discover their gifts and skills and untapped resources. I think with the right exposure, I can be an expert in mapping out and implementing processes for individuals and organizations. I’d tell her, I believe, just like a diplomat is not exactly the center of the story (the president is), I appreciate being in the backstory of a person or a team’s success. And I’d add that I dream of being rich myself so I can go from just coaching friends to giving them something to start with no matter how small.
Looking back, I wanted to be an ambassador because it’s prestigious and that’s one position I saw where I can contribute positive change to my country. I realize now I had it backwards. I was looking at shelves of job titles and thinking of what those titles do. I know now to look at what I can do and want to learn to do, and from there decide where to go, what to do. For some people, it’s pretty straightforward and they become specialists in their chosen fields. For people like me, I’m learning to create the jobs and opportunities myself.
I’m not saying I have turned my back on the possibility of a foreign service career. Who knows I might just be unwittingly collecting skill sets that a diplomat of this century needs. Or maybe I unwittingly collected knowledge from that college degree that I could use for my future endeavors. I’ll let you know when I know? 🙂
This is part 1 of the backstory why I’m now an online consultant, process analyst and executive assistant. This is some sort of a rationale.
But of course, there’s a list of personal reasons that led me to this path, too. I will share it here next week, and then write about the things I did when I looked for online, home-based opportunities.
I’m writing this, mostly, for my friends who are curious whether they can also do this themselves. Sure, we could meet up and discuss this over coffee but I figured we (including myself) could use some references for when we wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing, or simply for when someone wants tips on how to thrive on this field.