From Betty to Me: What I learned in my first ten years in the real world.


Me at my college graduation.
With my family at my college graduation.
Me and my best friend, Kae who unfortunately passed away four years ago.
If there’s one thing I recall from my first year working, it would be Betty La Fea. The TV showed brought to life by the beautiful America Ferrera brought life to my days. I turned it on while I was getting ready for work, hoping to gain some sort of inspiration for the long days ahead. She was also constantly on my mind as I traversed into the world of fashion, pretty much just like she did, but without an inkling of what I was getting into.

It has been ten years since I ditched by khaki and white uniform and wandered into the “real world” as magazines would like to call it. I was the biggest dork in college so to find myself in the middle of a highly popular fashion retail chain was quite intimidating and yet, just like with anything in life, I faced the challenge head on. My motto in life has always been “do-it-afraid” and that lack of fear has both opened and closed doors.

Since then, I have become a special education teacher, a college professor, a pre-school teacher, a writer, and a PR practitioner. I’ve worked for communications agencies, wrote for big publications, and met personalities I’ve only dreamt of meeting previously. It has been an adventurous ten years but as the quote would say, the days are long but the years are short. It has been awhile since I have been that wide eyed, highly enthusiastic 19 year old who first got a taste of what it was like to work in the real world and so much has happened since then.

Now, life took another major turn, as I am starting all over again in the City of Angels. So it’s ironic that my tenth year is marked as a new beginning in a brand new city and I take this moment to reflect on the past ten years.


Me and my college classmates during one of our industrial trips Choose your heroes well.
Choose your heroes well.

When I was a child, I had a lot of heroes. There were a bunch of people I looked up to both on screen and off of it. However, as you get older, you realize that not one life is alike and no matter how much you strive to mirror the life of a “lifespo”, your life is beautifully your own so you must make it your own kind of beautiful. Success is relative. I have made the mistake of going on the treadmill of how my life should be in and it took an unplanned uprooting to get me out of that funk.

During that time, there was no Instagram yet and Facebook was barely out of Harvard but the pressure to be a certain way was evident – imagine how more so now. However, I have learned that it’s of equal importance to know who you are, know what works for you, and have confidence in the life you want to live. It’s important to learn not to be swayed by the life others want you to live.

Ditch the credit card – or at least the urge to buy EVERYTHING.

I had dreams of owning my very own Louis Vuitton Damier Neverfull. I recall having a vision board of all the material possessions I wanted to own. In my young mind, money equals success and so I went on shopping sprees which led me to a mountain of debt.

Today, I am learning to live well within my means (or even below my means!) instead of showing off or filling internal emptiness without a moment’s euphoria of shopping, eating, and merrymaking.

It’s not a secret that debt is never ending so it’s important to manage it because even when the bag is already out of style, your credit card debt never is.

It’s not a secret that debt is never ending so it’s important to manage it because even when the bag is already out of style, your credit card debt never is. For those of you who also have student loan debt and are looking for ways to save and manage your payments, check out options like refinancing through Earnest.

Never stop learning.

I graduated with a degree in International Marketing with a minor in Public Relations. However after my first foray in the “corporate world”, I realized I wanted to pursue my lifelong dream of becoming a teacher and so I went ahead and completed my 18 units and my Master’s Degree in Education. I soon found myself teaching special children but then realized that my real life’s calling, at least for now, was to be in Communications. So even if I had a knowledge of information in Education, I decided to set that aside and

Don’t be afraid of change.

Life is all about changes. If one season doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to leave that season and enter into a new one. It’s always exciting and there are always valuable skills to be learned that will eventually make you invaluable.

Know the importance of family and why overtime is counterproductive.

Even when I was working for the best agencies in the Philippines, I have always managed to go home on time. The reason? I was one of the few people who believed that the work will never be done but time will your family will run out. I always valued my time with family over editing another work article that can most definitely wait. Early on in life I have learned the importance of valuing family over the job and I was fortunate to learn this from my early mentors. When I had the chance to handle my own team, this was one lesson I taught them. It’s very tempting to be the “martyr” at work but at the end of the day, it doesn’t make you indestructible. Cherish your health, cherish your family, and don’t regret choosing another work email over spending time with them.

Take Risks.

Most of the jobs I took I had zero knowledge about when I took it and yet I had the confidence and humility to take it on. And yet I don’t regret taking jobs that seemed beyond my skill set because with the right attitude, you will learn and you will excel. All it takes is knowing that you don’t know it all but with confidence you can take it on.