My first two years here in the United States as an immigrant was a struggle for some obvious reasons. I think almost everyone would agree that when someone is moving away from his or her home to live in a foreign land, it will inevitably require a lot of adjustments. And adapting to one’s new environment while doing what needs to be done to settle down is not easy.
For some people, adjusting and adapting can somehow become a little less difficult if they like what they are doing, and they like where they are going to. But how about for those who don’t?
I Was Not Willing To Move
I have been told about the migration thing ever since I was little, but since the waiting time was taking so long and I was not really thinking that it will eventually happen, I did not condition myself and set my mind for it. My plans did not involve anything about it.
So when the time has finally come to migrate (with all the paperwork and the requirements were being arranged and settled), it was overwhelming for me, especially that it was all happening when I was on my senior year in college. The submission of the requirements, the interview, the seminars, the granting of our immigrant visa—everything happened so fast on that year while I was so busy with my research paper, all the schoolwork, and the internships. Not to mention the crisis that I was handling with my choir group in our parish at that time.
But it all finished well. I was able to finish college with honors; I was blessed to pass the very first Psychometrician Licensure exam in the Philippines; and the celebrations and all the great things that were happening to our family and with my friends. That year of our Lord, 2014 was a bliss. I felt like I was on top of my own mountain and I definitely knew what my next steps would be. I had plans. I thought I knew what I would like to do right after college and where I would be a couple of years from that time.
But clearly, I was wrong. God has something else in store.
I had to start all over again, and I had been refusing to
After all the great stuff, it was like I was placed back to zero. Together with my mother, we both had to look for jobs, earn, and hopefully be able to stand on our own. But I thought, how was I able to get a job if I was a fresh graduate from a country outside the US, and with a visual impairment? On top of all of that, I barely had work experience when everybody is looking for someone with experience. How was I supposed to even begin?
But I knew I had to begin somewhere, somehow. So, I learned to be willing to do any job regardless of the rate or the position, or the company. Mom and I are so blessed to have some relatives and friends who have helped us with their time, energy, and resources to give us a jumpstart.
I felt like I was running behind
With the Lord’s grace, I was able to start working (at first, as an intern and eventually as a part-time, temporary/contractual employee) in a school for the blind and visually impaired (Braille Institute of America, Los Angeles), helping with Front Desk and general administrative duties in different departments. I was so blessed to be referred to BIA by one of the case workers in a WorkSource Center in Glendale, California.
While I was so happy working for BIA, meeting amazing people, and learning a lot of things in both personal and professional aspect (developing my character and preparing myself to enter the workforce), as I get updates about my friends, my classmates, and my batchmates—most of them were able to work in their own fields, and some of them were even quickly advancing and getting promoted and such, I can’t help but feel like I was running behind. The fact that I was underemployed unlike my peers had made me feel like I was moving so slow.
Although I know now that I wasn’t supposed to feel that way because I am not supposed to be comparing myself to other people, I cannot deny that I have also experienced what they call a “setback”. But little did I know that God can use that “setback” to launch us for a “comeback”. (Madalas ko ‘tong mabasa sa Twitter eh. :D) What a cliché, but seasons like this can be used by God as our time for preparation and growth.
I wasn’t willing to take big risks
I used to have so many fears and insecurities, I’m not going to lie about it, it was awful, but it was the truth.
I was afraid to fail—I did not want to start something I’m not sure if I will be able to pull off or not. I was afraid to go to school (here in the US) to take a course and could possibly end up not getting a good-paying job to pay off my student loans. At that point, since we just moved in here, my mother and I did not have the financial capacity and stability, so we both need to work first, I need to work first. And when I do that, I might not be able to spend the necessary time and effort in school. That was what I was worried about that time.
I was not being present at the moment
I was attending a Women’s Conference hosted by the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Los Angeles when a simple, yet powerful statement from one of the speakers came to me as a wake-up call: “Be present at the moment.”. It may not specifically be the same exact words that she said, but it made such a strong impact not only to me but to many of the women attending that conference.
We were reminded to:
- not to live in the past—stop being guilty about your past mistakes and sins;
- not to anticipate too much about what could happen in the future; and
- to enjoy the moment—be here in the present:
- savoring the gifts that are given to us,
- enjoying the beautiful things and fun activities happening around us, and most importantly,
- being aware of our surroundings; noticing the needs of other people and being able to respond accordingly.
I remember when I was still at Braille Institute, when I was running late and was in such a hurry, Jesus has taught me to be careful and be mindful of other people around me—I was clumsy at that time, and we are not supposed to be clumsy and careless when we are working with blind or visually impaired people. So everytime I feel tempted to run and overtake everyone on the way, I was being reminded to “Slow down, it’s better to be late than to cause an accident. Safety first!”.
And from working for BIA to working for my current job with a non-profit paratransit agency (Access Services, Inc.-Los Angeles), Jesus has been teaching me to be present with the customers and be able to listen to and assess their needs so I can figure out how to direct them and be able to help them.
HOW I WAS ABLE TO FINALLY MOVE AND NO LONGER FEEL STUCK
The very first thing that Jesus taught me is that, I should stop holding on to what has already passed.
Next is, to stop worrying about the future—what it holds, what God has in store for me, what will happen, etc.
Another thing to always keep in heart is that, I should not compare myself to other people, especially with people of my age and of the same interest or similar path. I have my own pace; I have my own journey. Others have their own, too. I am accountable to the Lord and not to the world.
And His daily reminder is, to live in the present. Jesus would always tell me to stop worrying about what other people will say or think, or how they would react in every single thing that I do. And just be present—always have your presence of mind so you can heed the promptings of the Holy Spirit for you to see the need in every situation and with the help of the Lord, you can respond accordingly—promptly, efficiently, and appropriately.
These, among many other lessons, are what I am still learning in the process. Yes, I haven’t mastered all these yet. It is going to be a process—a gradual and colorful one.
So, another very important lesson to keep in heart–I still fail at this most of the time, and so Jesus has been tirelessly teaching me to—”be patient with yourself.”
Embrace what God has placed in front of you, patiently and diligently deal with it the way He wants you to. ‘Wag kang mainip! Be patient with God, also.