One of the biggest opportunities in my career came at the start of the year closing the biggest deal I’ve ever had. And I thought it was going to be the best year but the next thing I knew, my career was hanging by a thread. It was the most horrible three months of my entire life. I spent those months barely sleeping, it was a total downturn but what was I supposed to do I was naive and was a neophyte at what I do. I had no idea how to go about it but I was stronger than what I gave myself credit for. I learned how to rise above my circumstances. Obviously, the situation brought out because I didn’t make the right choices and trusted too much but I must say I learned too many things that made me better at what I do. It was indeed a full-blast welcome to reality. I was at the brink of quitting, I got a good offer to work at the House of Representatives somewhere I thought I should be but I guess I was just too blessed to work alongside young but unparalleled professionals, I’ve earned real friends who motivated me everyday.
I survived that storm and I emerged to be a stronger person but my hurdles didn’t stop there.
While I was busy fixing my career and my life was up in flames I forgot there was life after work. I’m not exactly a person of many emotions and I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve but there were conversations that were long overdue so I decided to let go of my pride and spent the solemn times of holy week working it out. For what it’s worth, we have to learn to let go of the things that used to make us happy but are now slowing our pace. There will be inevitable times we’d recall the happy days but we have to remind ourselves there’s always a reason why it ended. It was by far the best decision I have ever made.
Consider it my backpacking journey , after unloading everything that has been dragging me down every great opportunity came my way. I was invited by my alma mater to speak before the graduating high school students of 2011. I thought I was too young for that but it was the first time I’ve told people about my life and I didn’t expect how parents came up to me to tell me how they were inspired by my speech and how much hope they have for their kids. I guess I am young but the things I went through weren’t as young. I couldn’t explain the feeling speaking before those wide-eyed graduates other than it was the best feeling.
Shortly after holy week, I took a quick escape to Hong Kong with a friend and was able to meet 10 more friends of different nationalities we looked like we were UN representatives of our own countries. We partied the moment we landed (yes, before checking in at our hotel) we call it arriving in Hong Kong with style. We had the best food adventure, I loved the Tom Yum Kung Soup from Koon Thai Nam Ham Chicken in Mongkok East. We had authentic Indian Cuisine at The Legend of India while watching Indian Rugby. We devoured great dimsum at the Western Market where I ordered beef balls and chicken balls and I was served with real cow and chicken testicles. Alright, I wasn’t expecting for that because chicken balls in the Philippines are a lot more different. Keeping the testicles aside, the dimsums were great. A few weeks ago, I found my mobile phone to have drafts of the party we went and crashed into because as far as I can remember….. Uhm, I don’t really remember much other than the bartender who happens to be a friend of my friend Priscilla who gave us shots which I had totally no idea what was in it but it made me throw up with just a sip (yes, just a sip of the shot). Oh I remember asking the bartender what was it before I took the shot and all he had to say was “This is water Hong Kong style” and when I was on my way to the rest room holding my mouth he shouted “Grace, welcome to Hong Kong” that was the last of the clear memories I had. But luckily my friend noted every place we went to on my phone and it says We headed to Fly to meet up with the rest of the group and then headed to Hard Rock and then bar hopped in Lan Kwai Fong and it says I was sipping on a blueberry sky while everyone was dancing Teach me how to Douggie. I had no idea how were able to go back to our hotel but I was completely normal when I woke up the next day we even joined the freeze mob conducted by the Shark-lovers stand united Hong Kong and it was pretty much one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life, freezing your act for 5 minutes for a cause.
The next best thing this year was spending my birthday in Singapore with my two great buddies. We arrived in Singapore the day of my birthday so we partied that day but this time we managed to check in our hotel before partying and even a little bit of shopping. We partied at Zirca Mega club. The next day we woke up early to go to Malaysia. We had a pit stop at a province somewhere in Malaysia, we had our Dollars changed to Ringgit and ate some food which we didn’t like. Hopped off the bus at Kuala Lumpur. Our first challenge was to find a map. We went to several stores but didn’t find one. I saw a museum and I thought there must be a map in there, I was right but the map wasn’t helpful. We could see the tip of the Menara tower and the Petronas tower but we had no idea how to go there. We had to ask around but nobody pretty much understood english so I pointed to the tip of the tower and asked “bus to there?” Oh well, we found our way. At a mini mall two blocks from the Menara tower , we had to eat but because we were traumatized by the food we had earlier we had to eat at McDonald’s it tasted a little different than that in the Philippines, the menu was different as well and so is Ronald McDonald. I also found out that they don’t use catsup, their catsup was chilli sauce but it was too late when I realized, I already poured it over my GCB. Setting aside the fact that my tongue that was on fire, we headed to the Menara tower. It was breath taking. A shuttle will take you at the top of the hill and the elevator will take you at the top of the tower which runs at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour and reaching the top takes more than a minute (yeah calculate how high that is). At the observation deck, you could see a bird’s eye view of Kuala Lumpur with a virtual tour guide connected to you. We walked to the Petronas Tower but before we got there we ran into a Milkshake factory that was so cute and we couldn’t help but drop by. Before we finished our drinks the rain started to fall so we decided to take a cab. The Kuala Lumpur cab drivers had one thing in common with cab drivers in Manila, they’re cheaters. We got to the Petronas tower and guess what? The observation deck was closed starting that day until December, talk about luck. We were able to take some pictures outside. After a stroll and some shopping, we bought a lot of bread to bring back to Singapore for our breakfast and snacks since we will be staying for a week. Little did we know it was Malaysia day so all the flights, trains and executive coaches back to Singapore were full and yes we realized that after falling in line with so many people whose armpits were screaming at my face and the smell wasn’t inviting at all (If you’ve gone there you know what I mean). We spent the night at a “Rest and Go” at the Bandar Tasik Selatan interchange station. We only had one pillow so the breads served more than their purpose. We took the first trip the next day, after a long ride we finally reached a pit stop. The guy said lunch but because of the language barrier I had to ask again to be sure. He nodded when I said lunch so we left our stuff and hopped off the bus only to realize it wasn’t for lunch he said Larkin. The bus continued to Singapore along with our stuff and we were left in Larkin, a place in Malaysia near the border. We argued with the not so friendly manager of the bus line and ended up waiting for three hours but got our stuff back anyway. We met a friend Gareth who’s a Malaysian that saved us back to Singapore soil. We spent the next few days at the Universal Studios, Orchard road and shopping all around Singapore.
Just when I said that was the last time I will travel this year, I found myself boarding the plane back to Hong Kong with my colleagues Kyle, Gelo and Donna. I was pretty much of a tour guide. When we landed at the Hong Kong International Airport the tourist agency they booked was late. Donna and Gelo hopped on the executive coach while Kyle and I took the Airport Express to Tsing Yi. We walked around Tsing Yi while we waited for them to check in our hotel and leave our bags. By 11am, we headed to Lantau island. It was the longest cable car ride of my life, it took almost an hour. We also hiked that 240 steps to get to the top of the Buddha. The place was peaceful and there was free food by the time you get back from the top but it was tiring that we burned enough calories that we needed food again. We got back to the hotel to take a nap and then went to the light show, had them experience the ferry, the bus, the train and pretty much every transportation there is in Hong Kong. The next day, they had to go for a city tour but I decided to have a time for myself. I went to the other island to get some Tom Yum Kung Soup. I never realized it was fun to travel alone. Spent the rest of the day with them at Disneyland and then had some drinks at the hotel to welcome Kyle’s birthday. The next day we woke up early to get to Ocean Park, had crazy rides and got so tan but it was all worth it. In the afternoon, I had to go to the airport on my own to catch my flight back to the Philippines. I had the last meal at the airport but unlike any other airport meal it was good.
Today, I realized what a year it has been. I had the worst yet I also had the best times of my life and all these made me realize that there’s so much more to life than what I already know and I will keep on discovering it for as long as I am here but then again, a year has passed but what have I gotten out of it? It brought me to be motivated enough to finally take a step to fulfilling my dreams. I am eyeing on pursuing professional school. I am keeping my hopes up that I will be in school the next fall. This is it, time to get my act together. I am gearing up for the bumpy ride ahead. So much for a year but I wouldn’t trade this year for any other years.