Many Filipinos spend their youth in school. With the new K-to-12 program, college students will be more than twenty years old upon graduation. By the time I become a senior citizen at age 60, I will happily recall the first two decades of my life as a student.
In college, we have been bombarded with so much lessons, graded recitations and midterm exams about science, math, literature, home economics, history and the arts, among others. Only after I’ve finished everything that I realized there are still essential lessons I missed.
My UP education made me believe I’ve been armed with all the wisdom I needed to survive this mad world. But just over two years after graduation, I was dumbfounded. There are some things we don’t learn inside the four corners of our classrooms. We just have to learn them ourselves.
1. Life actually gets harder after college.
I lost count how many tweets my college blockmates and I made along these lines: “Life will get better after thesis” or “Can’t wait to graduate.” The unemployed phase between graduation and your first job is a welcome respite after four years of sleepless nights.
But that is just the calm before the storm.
No matter how high your college grades are, there will always be some semblance of culture shock in your first job. When I was a UP student, I regularly enjoyed three days off. During my first job as a program researcher for Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho, I didn’t have weekends. I didn’t even have any free day at all!
No sembreaks. No holidays. No Christmas vacations.
I had to be in the presence of my bosses for more than 16 hours a day, each freaking day. I never expected that life will be like this. I had to start from scratch in all aspects of my life — even my social life. It’s like I lost all the perks of college in a snap.
2. Theories are not as relevant in real life. (Trigonometry is totally irrelevant for me)
A few months into what they call the real world, I learned and unlearned the things I believed in school. When I was at that point, I questioned myself: Where do the things I learned in school apply to my life? All those sleepless nights trying to understand the ideas of Michel Foucault, Theodor Adorno and Max Weber seemed pointless now. Maybe I could encounter them again when I go to graduate school, but I’ll save that for another story.
If I were to quantify and rank the things I learned in school and their relevance in my life right now, here’s a sample rundown:
- English language – 80% relevant
- English literature – 60% relevant
- Art theories – 20% relevant
- Research methods – 5% relevant
- Physics – 0% relevant
- Trigonometry – 0% relevant
- Geometry – 0% relevant
- Algebra – 0% relevant.
Again, I’m not saying we should skip these subjects altogether. Everything is still worthwhile in school. But there are some lessons that became irrelevant for me after graduation. In my case, creativity is more valuable than algebra and calculus for my daily work. That’s when I realized that in life, values and virtues count more than actual knowledge.
3. Bills and taxes are very taxing.
The excitement of our first paycheck wears off as soon as we get our first bills. Reality bites. Our first salaries are never enough for all the payables. Most fresh graduates only have one source of employment. And yet we have to pay for our phone, online connection, house rent, water, cable subscription, and other bills.
It really takes time to be financially independent. For most people my age, this is probably the greatest of our concerns. But after a few months, I learned to shrug it off. During our twenties, work experience counts more than stability. On top of it, I even have to deal with income tax returns and other taxes. Seriously, universities should devote a segment of their lesson plans for income tax management.
If BIR were a person, I’d slap him everyday of my life.
4. There are many ways to maximize your hard earned money.
Saving is so mainstream. It’s only until recently that I’ve learned we can invest in the stock market as early as we’re legal. I still don’t invest until now; but someday I will. There are risks and rewards when exploring the stock market. I wish I learned more about it while in school.
5. When life fucks you hard, get the best orgasms.
After you get your diploma, you may experience the most bitter, hardest, and saddest of things. One day, these will form part of your best memories. No matter how carefully you tread in life, there will be heartbreaking moments. Sometimes, no one will be there to pick you up except yourself. You’ll receive work memos and encounter failures. Your most careful plans may not work. But at the end of the day, you’ll look back and realize how you magically survived everything.
When you feel that, it will be a surreal moment.
Learn how to play the rules when life fucks you. Dance in the rain when there are storms. Forget all your fears. Cry if you must, but move on afterwards. Life will always go on. After all, like in any of the fucking sprees you’ve had, the pain lasts only after the first few pounding.
6. Quitting is necessary to growth.
Winners never quit and quitters never win.
This takes a whole new meaning after school. All my life I thought quitting is a sign of weakness. But now that I’m working, I learned that leaving can be essential to growth. It’s a cycle of life. Sometimes we have to let go of things even if they became dear to us at one point in our lives. If we disrupt this cycle by clinging too much, we may miss out on better opportunities. In my first two years in the TV industry, I quit two shows — both of which are very close to my heart. It was a calculated risk but it opened new possibilities for my career.
The universe will conspire to provide the best opportunities for you. But sometimes it requires courage to say goodbye.
7. Time is expensive.
I wish I knew the worth of my time. I wish I handled my time better when I was younger. When I stepped into the real world, idle times are now a luxury. I could have used my free hours in college more than just lazing and sleeping in my dorm. I could have been more productive then.
8. Enemies add spice to life.
I learned to accept that we can never be at peace with everyone. There will always be someone who will secretly bash me because of some hidden hatred.
But my enemies (and competitors) play a key role in my life. They push me away from mediocrity. They kill complacency. The universe has positioned them well that if my life was to become a movie, my enemies will make good villains. They say that all creatures, even the smallest microbes and viruses, have enemies. They keep our spirit alive. It’s true.
9. Travel is worth the investment.
A weekend getaway is worth a thousand books. Contrary to popular belief, spending in travel is not a financial liability; it is actually an investment. The best assets in life come when we invest on good memories. This is one of the most splendid wisdom I unraveled after college.
For me, such can only be achieved through traveling. Everything that should be written about travel has already been written. I’m not adding more to that. Just go book that ticket and satisfy your wanderlust.
10. Don’t be a dropout when it comes to falling in love.
The University of the Philippines has prepared me well for my career that I almost missed out on one essential thing — falling in love. I had a calloused heart during my four years of education in the halls of the College of Mass Communication.
I met a lot of people then. I had so many chances to enter a relationship, but I never entertained the thought. It’s as though I live for my dreams and my dreams alone; falling in love isn’t part of the equation. Yes, it’s an equation. Maybe somehow math is still relevant in life.
Recently, I detailed a ten year plan for myself: career paths, investments, travel plans, planned purchases, what have you. But I never even wondered if I’ll get to fall in love in those ten years. There’s one firm thing I believed while I’m in school — we should feel complete without a significant other.
But things have changed now. Maybe I was wrong. Or maybe it’s just me sour graping.
About the Author
Jervis Manahan is a News Reporter for PTV 4. He is also a Contributor for SubSelfie.com but is part of the original roster that founded the site. He was previously a News Writer for 24 Oras and Unang Balita and a News Researcher for State of the Nation with Jessica Soho. Broadcast Communication 2012, UP Diliman. Read more of his articles here.