Updated: Feb 13
Humble beginnings taught me to keep my head down. One speed bump and I didn’t have the confidence to try again. Here’s my story of how cultural upbringing and one mistake quickly changed my plans for my future.
Growing up, I was raised and surrounded by Filipino immigrants.
They were grateful to be in Canada and to raise the next generations with greater opportunities. This is usually the part in the story where I’m supposed to talk about how I was pushed to reach higher because now, I could -- but instead I was raised to live humbly. To work hard but don’t commit to anything too hard. To try new things but reconsider it if it will draw too much attention to myself. I can see how some may see that as living small, but I never considered it like that, instead I was just always grateful for every opportunity I got – and if I didn’t get it, it’s okay, it just wasn’t meant for me.
Encouraged not to stand out, I was left shy, modest and lacking confidence. If there was something I was good at, I didn’t think too much of it. In Grade 11, I loved science, especially chemistry. I did my friend’s homework for fun. But like I said, I lacked confidence, so like everyone else in my class, I made a cheat sheet for my mid-term because there were whispers of it being so difficult the previous semester. I started the test, completely forgetting about the extra notes tucked away in my pencil case and started zooming through the exam. Halfway through, my teacher came up behind me, bent over and picked up a small sheet. It was my cheat sheet.
She called my mom and told her what had happened. I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed her this much before. I didn’t even try to argue that I wasn’t cheating because the initial intent was there. Next up was biology. Traumatized by what happened, I didn’t dare try that stunt again and just trusted what I had studied. The teacher shuffled the seating for me and the 3 others around me. They whispered to me, why us? What did we do? I was too embarrassed to admit that it was because of me and that the teachers probably gossiped about what had happened. I already felt small but now I felt like a criminal. This is when I let science go.
It sounds like that would be the sad ending to my story, but I promise, there’s never just one path a story can go. The narrative I was taught was to study, get a stable job, get married, have kids and live happily ever after… I did that. But now what?
I didn’t really know what my relatives did for a living. All I knew was that they lived comfortably in their office jobs and general labour. I decided to try accounting. BOOM! Final grade was 99.4%. How did that happen? But when it was time to apply for college, I decided Business Administration was the way to go. You’d think I’d go into accounting because of my previous success but nope. I chose Human Resources - why? Because it had the word “Human” in the name so it must be more interactive. *face-palm* Not sure if Careers in grade 10 has changed, but taking a personality test definitely was not enough to get me to really consider my options.
I got lucky. With my lack of prep in deciding what to do after high school and my impulsive decision to go into Human Resources, it ended up being a good fit for me. But that’s not always the case and people can spend thousands of dollars before realizing or building up the courage to admit they want to try something different. That’s why event’s like ours are so important so women and young girls can be exposed to more than what we’ve been traditionally directed to follow.
What I’m trying to say is, there’s never going to be an “end”. After one goal is reached, don’t be satisfied; aim for more, crave for that growth. If it doesn’t turn out how you wanted it, try something else. Don’t stay down for too long because while you’re in your slump, people are just getting better. But most of all, remember that confidence is an expensive trait because it can cost you opportunities if you can’t bring yourself to speak up or put yourself out there. Create a circle for yourself that will only continue to build you up.
Get in contact with Assist Her Movement to inquire about opportunities to connect you with mentors and mentees at our upcoming events.