Celene

“I mentioned in one of my recent blog posts that I will be sharing fictional stories that I have in the corners of my busy mind. Here’s the first one.”

Soft waves from the ocean, fine sands, a beer can, and a journal. These have been my accomplices in the past few days I’m here on a foreign land. I’ve been enjoying the life I blindly followed after leaving my work with no concrete plans. Many were astounded when I submitted my resignation letter, I was ambushed with a lot of whys and faced interrogations from people around me (mostly outside work). Because that move, at that day, was not the Celene they know.

I was always a fan of methodical approach in life. I’m comfortable planning ahead, everything being calculated, and every move is designed for my main plan. But people can’t remain the same in different circumstances, right?. For many years, I longed and waited for that day. I woke up with liberation – from the responsibilities I didn’t ask for but willingly took. When I realized that the freedom I’ve been yearning for is now in my hands, I wrote my resignation letter while drinking my morning cup of coffee. I also checked my bank account and I felt relieved. “At least I have a million”, I said to myself.

I went to the bathroom and opened a newly bought vanilla-scented body wash. I took my time ‘coz I wanted my skin to be soft. I made sure I get to apply my skin care products thoroughly and with ample time. I then selected my favorite work clothes, something very flowy and comfortable to wear. When I was all dressed up, I opened my laptop to watch a makeup tutorial on how to look naturally fresh. You know, how Korean celebrities look like when they appear in public. After that, I looked at the mirror and talked to myself. Silly enough, I just said “You’re so pretty” to the person I’m seeing for good five times. You see, I was feeling myself and claiming that the day ahead of me will be a wonderfully different one. Before I went out, I picked up the Gucci bag I never used. That’s the only designer bag I own, and I deliberately thought of the first time I will be using it.

Even before getting into my first meeting, I already asked for a quick catchup with my manager. I’ve done it not because I wanted to make a big news on a Monday. I just wanted to do what I had in mind before everyone gets busy with work. As usual, I got asked why I wanted to quit suddenly. The news then got into the knowledge of my colleagues. I wanted to have my lunch alone because I was welcomed with many questions like a celebrity, but I ended up skipping lunch because I eagerly wanted to plan how my work will be allocated to those I will be leaving. Luckily, everyone got busy in the afternoon and I got my “work best friend” to have dinner with me to talk about my decision.

That’s how it went. Only one person knew the real reason why I decided to quit. The last 29 days were spent doing all the trainings and handovers. They didn’t bother to ask me while having sessions, maybe because they’re also loaded with work or maybe they felt I didn’t want to give them my reason. Whatever it is, it worked to my advantage. On my last week, I was given a small farewell party and I saw tears from the people I worked with in the past eleven years. I also cried because it felt like leaving my family for good. That’s how I saw them, a family. Objectively, it was an easy decision to make but being an emotional human being, I still cried a river when I received their farewell messages.

A month after, I flew to Hawaii packed with uncertainties and certainties. I didn’t know what I’ll do after closing a long chapter of my life, but I knew I wanted to close it. I wasn’t sure of the career I’m building, but I’m sure that what I had was not my heart truly desired. For some reason, that balance made me calm.  At least I wasn’t more uncertain, that’s how my mindset was. Optimistic, isn’t it?

I’ve been bringing my journal every afternoon at the beach to think of what I should do next. I can’t carelessly enjoy all the days because my bank account will surely run dry. I’m spending dollars every day and my savings are in pesos. Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly enjoying my time here. I waited for many years to get this “pressure-free days” so I trained my mind not to worry about tomorrow to the extent I have been doing in the past. When nothing really came into my mind, I decided to talk to other solo travelers. Maybe I can get inspiration from our conversations.

Days passed and I had chats with I guess more than ten travelers but none of them were in the same situation like me. When they go back to their home country, they’ll gear up for work and wait for another approved vacation leaves. See, they all have plans after spending delightful days here. I went back to my hotel room and I checked how many days I still have before going back. I still had two. Actually, I only had one. The last day will be spent on preparing on my travel going home. I wasn’t expecting anything on my remaining free time but that’s when I had the most unexpected conversation I can ever picture out.

Who would’ve imagined I will be seeing my last manager in the same place? She told me that she also submitted her resignation letter on my last day at work. I lied to her when we she asked me why I suddenly chose to quit. But she said that she knew I wasn’t telling the truth but chose not to bug me anymore because she perfectly understood what I did. And interestingly, she did the same ten years ago. I then asked her why she came back to be a corporate slave after taking a break – she answered, “I’m running out of money and I still wasn’t sure of my next steps, so I needed to survive”. That’s how simple it was. Then I followed up, “Are you taking a break again because you wanted to breathe and find yourself for the second time?”. “No, I left because I now know how to find myself”, she answered.

Her answer left me speechless. Maybe it was a blessing that I met her that day? Look, I may be falling into the same trap she was in, but I got to talk to her and saved years of my life. For days, I was specifically finding who I am hoping it would magically pop out from my mind then to my journal.

Knowing who you are is not a linear process. It’s not something you will know just by taking a break. It’s a lengthy process in a rocky path. And I think my manager was right, I should be taking things slow and gradually learn who I am. I further lessened the pressure I put to myself, I lived my days thinking what I can do to make me happy no matter how small it was. I even went back to our province and talked to some of my relatives and asked what I always enjoyed doing when I was a kid. I had that routine for the next eight months before I decided to get back to work.

You maybe thinking that I failed and went back to my old day job. I did not. Neither I am saying that I found my true calling and now working on my dream role. I now work multiple blue-collar part-time jobs here in Canada. If there’s one thing that I knew about myself is that I don’t want to spend nine hours in an office chair five times a week. I wanted a job that moves almost all the time – it meant physically now in my part-time jobs as a waitress, dishwasher, and house cleaner.

This is Celene, previously a corporate girl, now a happy blue-collar worker. It may sound like a downgrade for some, but they have no idea that I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m not sure where the next years will bring me and that’s fine. I did learn that I don’t want my office job when I was working in an office, who knows what I wouldn’t want while I’m working here in the kitchen while washing a mountain of plates?

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