The Life Crisis: where are you going?

There was a story of a traveler who sees an old man outside a random town. “What type of town is this?” he asks.

The old man asked him what he thinks the townsfolk is like.

Places like these are crowded. When there are lots of people, money has to be made and greed will foster. When there is greed, there is crime. When there is crime, there will be death,” the young man answered.

Then you are correct,”  the old man agreed. “The townsfolk are what you say.”

And the young man went away to look for another town.

A second young man came a little later and asked the old man the same question. To which the old man again asked, “Then what do you think this town is like?”

People are innately good and it seems that this town is full of potential. When people are good, then they will do good and the town will foster a sense of loving cooperation.”

Then you are right,” the old man answered. “Proceed and you will find happiness in this place.”

I am reminded of this story after my email exchanges with an old friend from Ateneo. He is three years older than I am and after taking his MBA in the US, is duly employed in a reputable company in the financial industry.

Despite all these, he seems unhappy.


Drifting through life.


His first email to me started as follows, “I’m here in the US working in banking as well. Still unsure what I want to do in life and if I’m really meant to stay in the US or somewhere else.. Work tends to keep me busy most weekdays and there’s always too much stuff to do on weekends here…”

He ponders someday opening his own busienss or just taking over the family business back in the Philippines. He cites the corporate glass ceiling as one of the reasons of him wanting to go back and continue his career in Asia. I kinda think that he’s lonely and despite being around so many Asians, feels isolated in the US.

“I get that feeling a lot that I can’t seem to find many Filipinos or Fil-Chi like the people that I hanged out with in the Philippines. I definitely share that feeling with you. I tend to hang out with lots of other Asians like Taiwanese, Korean and Indian. I feel that I have a lot more in common with them since we tend to have same goals, wants, hangouts, etc…” he writes. “I long to find people here who came from similar backgrounds as well but they’re really very rare. Thats why a lot of times, it can get lonely here…”

He talks about a friend who shares a similar story — took his MBA in the US, though was duly employed for over a decade as an engineer, but as was unhappy there took the chance of following a girl back to the Philippines.

My friend shares, “He went to the Philippines for a short visit last year and thought he found the perfect woman. So after he went back to the US, he resigned, sold all his things and moved to the Philippines. But it was tough for him there. I don’t think he was really happy here in the US thus it was so easy for him to leave. But there, he had no contacts. Hard to start a biz or get a job that would pay him well enough. He’s sort of in limbo now in the Phil. To top it off, the relationship with the girl didn’t work out. Its scary when I think of it. Its like he still doesn’t know where he belongs… I hope I can figure out what to do soon. I really don’t want to be in that situation…. I’m glad that know what you want to do in life.”

The story makes me sad.

If his friend is unable to find his happiness both in the US and in the Philippines, then where else can he go?

A man must find his happiness and fortunes regardless of where he is.

I’ve had Fil-Chi friends in Taiwan who totally hated it here. They constantly bickered about the many complainable things here in Taiwan and instead of enjoying the experience, hung out with fellow Filipinos where they can once again reminisce about the happenings back home.

They’d talk about the latest showbiz chismis (gossip) and the food back home.

It was tiring to be with them.

They were always looking at the past. Always thinking about going back home. Missing home so much.

Personally, my stance is, “Get over it. You’re in Taiwan. Live in the present!”

Okay, so I’m being mean.

But seriously, if you so want to go back home to the Philippines, then damn well, buy that ticket and go back. What’s the point of wasting your time in Taiwan if you keep on thinking about Manila? Yes, I know you are home sick, but there’s always a time to be here or there.

So when you’re here, then by god, do all you can to maximize your experience here.

And when the time comes that you find yourself back in the Philippines, then by gosh, enjoy that time with your family and friends back home.

But don’t be in one place, miss another place — and don’t do anything about it.

It’s like complaining about your job. Nobody’s forcing you to stay. If you hate your job/boss too much, then resign. Mail that stupid letter, pack your box and then go.

But stop complaining about it then sigh and say, “But that’s my lot in life. Can’t do anything about it.”


Yes, I know I “complain” about my job as well for example the long hours in the office, but for the record, I LOVE my job. I like interacting with my clients, respect my boss/colleagues and can imagine myself being in the same organization IF all goes well.

There has never been a time where I thought that I’d like to be in a different industry. I am happy where I am now. Sure, we’re in a downturn right now, but heck, it’s still way more exciting than being in the manufacturing industry.

So what’s the difference?

I guess, my happiness comes in knowing myself more.

Knowing what I want and don’t want.

Doing what I like doing with people that I genuinely like.

It’s scary that so many people in their 30s have no freaking clue who they are, what they want and as a result where they’re going. “T’is a common dilemma,” my friend says.

Well, if that’s the case, then sit down, reflect and better think about those questions. Discover who you are or what you want to do. Find out what it is that you wish to do with your life.

A person without purpose or destination wastes too much time drifting. Stop drifting already. How old are you?

So the question is, do you know who you are, what you want and where you’re going?

Share your comments.

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