It’s been a while since I last shared a raw and heartfelt article, so today I told myself that I would talk about why I will never stop feeling thankful for the blog. I was actually inspired by an incoming senior at my college alma mater, who I met last weekend when I covered Plato.ph (watch out for my feature). Her name was Carrie, and she was a student under School of Management—she was bubbly, very easy to talk to, and I admired her genuine spirit. If there’s one thing we had in common, it was our love for makeup. The moment we discovered this about each other, we clicked and could not stop talking (much to our boyfriends’ dismay, who were both part of the conversation and who also coincidentally belong to the same school).
Though Carrie and I talked a lot that night about which products we loved and who bloggers and vloggers we followed, I also got to see a side of her that I knew all too well, because I experienced it, too—feeling lost and not knowing what to do with my life after college.
If you’ve been a reader of mine since I started this blog in 2013, then you’re probably familiar with most of my stories (thanks for always putting up with my kwentos!). I wrote an article on things that college never taught me, things I learned in the corporate world, and discovering what I wanted to do with my career.
But if you’re new, welcome to Greta’s Junkyard and allow me to share with you my entire life. Haha! Just kidding. Allow me to share my journey of how I went from feeling lost to finding fulfillment in what I’m now doing.
I guess the story all starts with my parents’ choice of schools—they wanted to make sure that my siblings and I got quality education, hence they invested a lot and sent us to study in Poveda (us two girls) and Ateneo (the two boys). As the eldest child, I constantly put a lot of pressure on myself. It wasn’t really my mom or dad’s fault—they always just encouraged me to study hard and do my best, and to try not to get a grade lower than G (this was the old-school grading system in Poveda. I’m not sure if it still exists, but I think G is equivalent to an 85/100). I remember when I was in the 6th grade, I used to vent to my friend, Mariel, about how worried I was over college applications. I only wanted to go to two universities—it was either University of the Philippines or Ateneo de Manila University (little did I know I’d end up studying in both!). I was in the 6th grade, and already college was something I thought about frequently.
I had my fair share of insecurities, especially in the intellectual department—I wasn’t a genius, I sucked at Math, and the only things I excelled at were English and PE. Writing became such a passion of mine at a very young age—I used to write poetry in kindergarten, and I would give these poems as gifts to my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Though I wasn’t the smartest kid in class, I was studious, became very grade-conscious, and I really did try my best to never get a grade lower than G.
Music was something I had quite the passion for as well, and it runs in the blood because my maternal grandmother loved playing the piano. It was because of her that my mom enrolled me in piano lessons from the 1st grade all the way until 1st year high school. The turning point for me was during 7th grade, when a friend taught me how to play the guitar—this became my new obsession and in 2nd year high school, I decided to stop piano lessons and focus on self-taught guitar lessons. For two years, I became a member of a punk rock band called Killing for Chocolate. But this was such a typical high school phase of finding my identity and discovering where I was good at.
And if there’s one thing I was naturally good at, it was sports—I owe it to my dad who was also an athlete during his prime. He was a varsity swimmer, and he also had a knack for track and field. In 4th grade, I asked my parents to let me join softball. Every softball season after that, I would join two teams—my club team with the International Little League Association of Manila, and my varsity team with Poveda. Summers consisted of only one thing—joining Summer Clinics and participating in the National tournament, which was usually held in different provinces around Luzon. I was a catcher, a position I fell in love with after watching Mike Piazza once on television. Looking back, playing softball taught me a lot of things that I’ll always be grateful for as well—I learned how important discipline is, that being late is never an excuse, that time management is essential when you’re a student-athlete, that coaches are actually just your second parents, that your team is also your family and you need to learn how to work and play as a unit, and lastly, that practice does make perfect.
In 4th year high school, I was introduced to Ultimate and playing it became a huge obsession to the point that I found ways to train for both sports during weekdays, and played games (also for both) on weekends!
But it was because of softball that my 6th grade dream of studying in UP became a reality—I was offered a varsity scholarship to play for UP Diliman’s prestigious team. At that time, they were the current UAAP champion. I even hit two birds with one stone, because I passed the writing exam and got to major in a course I’ve always wanted to take up—Creative Writing.
This is the part that I don’t like talking about and that I’ve never really shared here, but because it was a part of my journey into shaping who I am today, it deserves to be written just like any other part of my story.
I became so depressed when I was in UP Diliman. My life revolved around just two things—softball and studies. I still found ways to play Ultimate, but because of my scholarship contract, it wasn’t really allowed. I had no friends. My relationship with my teammates was so different with the familiar relationship I had with my former softball team (incidentally, all of them ended up playing for the Ateneo varsity team). I was exhausted all the time—training was usually scheduled almost everyday from 5am to 10 or 11am, and then I still had to attend classes after. There were even times where I had to cut class just to attend training, because my senior teammates would reprimand me if I didn’t. I spent my breaks inside the car, parked somewhere in the AS Parking or behind College of Arts and Letters where there were a lot of trees, just so I could eat my lunch and take a long nap. I transformed our family car into a mini lounge—I even had pillows and a portable electric fan to keep me comfy!
After my freshman year, I stopped playing softball altogether. In fact, at that point, I cursed playing softball. I just got so burned out, but because I still had a contract, I served the College of Human Kinetics during my sophomore year and became an assistant secretary. I did clerical work, ran errands for the secretary or the Dean, and helped out during the UAAP season.
If there’s one thing I probably take for granted, or don’t always realize, it’s the unconditional love and support of my parents. My mom sat me down and talked to me, because she knew how unhappy I was. I just didn’t want to be bound to any contracts anymore, and after negotiating with my coach and talking to my team, I said goodbye to UP Diliman with a heavy heart. I took the ACET again (thank God I still passed the second time around), and transferred to Ateneo de Manila under the same course: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing.
It was the first time that I felt free again. After two years of learning to be alone, I had become such an introvert. I got so used to being on my own all the time, and I genuinely enjoyed it! I hated mingling, and became allergic to group projects. I only made a handful of friends from different blocks (to be honest, it took me a long time to warm up to everything and everyone), but it felt nice to have experienced the best of both worlds, UP and Ateneo. UP taught me how to be resilient, independent, and ma-diskarte while Ateneo taught me to be more structured, selfless, and grounded. It was also in Ateneo that I experienced becoming an honor student (at least for one semester)—it was a nice confidence boost for someone who was quietly going through wave after wave of insecurities, like being two years older than the rest of my batch and having my original batch graduate on time while I was still stuck in college because being a transferee caused me to be delayed (not all of my units were credited). I was in such a hurry to finish everything, yet I didn’t even know what I wanted to do after. I even interned for a while at Summit Media and CollegeFashionista.com, and briefly contributed to WhenInManila.com to try and figure things out. All I wanted to do was write—but how? Where do I start? What do I do? Is there even a demand for writers? Do writers get good jobs? Are they paid sufficiently to sustain their lifestyles?
I finished all of my units a few months before my official graduation march, but because I was in a hurry to start getting my paycheck, I sent my resumes out to companies like Summit Media, One Mega Group, and ABS-CBN Publishing. I heard back from some of them, but the job offers just never felt right. Until I got a job offer from a small advertising agency to become their copywriter and marketing assistant—the offer was okay for a starting job, the office was really nice, and it was located in the heart of Makati’s Central Business District, which for the first time made me feel like an actual adult. I was desperate to make more money and catch up with my original batch mates, so while I had a day job, I also applied to become a freelance writer for Glamourbox—it was a fun sideline project. The topics given were always about beauty and lifestyle, and that was how my love for makeup all started.
During that time though, I had never felt so lost with my career. I hardly wrote anything that I actually liked writing for my day job, but it paid for my food and bills, and until I had something else figured out, I knew I had to stay and keep working. The Cupcake and I eventually got together (that’s a different story to tell), and a few times we discussed about how maybe I should start a blog and write about things that I actually wanted to write. It took a while to materialize, but with his help, I got to build Greta’s Junkyard from scratch, and my articles started with a hodge podge of restaurant reviews, product reviews, OOTD’s, and random word vomits. It still makes me cringe to this day. While running the blog and learning more things in the digital sphere, we also became a duo that offered website development to startup companies—and it was these projects that helped fund our travels (that’s also another story to tell).
When I moved to my second job as an account manager for a digital marketing agency a year later, I learned so much more and in turn, it helped me establish a better direction for my blog. I learned that there was no point in comparing myself to other bloggers, because while they were prettier, had nicer photos, and knew more about what they were doing, I was simply having fun with what I was writing about, without really knowing that the blog would eventually grow to become what it is today. Through the years, I just worked hard on creating good and genuine content for my readers, bought my own products to review and share my thoughts, until one day I started getting invites to attend events and being sent products at home. Eventually, the blog provided me a passive source of income, and things really began to fall into place when I got an offer to become a marketing manager at Glamourbox, one of the first beauty discovery platforms in the country, and the exclusive distributor of four cult-favorite beauty brands. For the first time since I started working, I felt like I was finally in the right direction.
Jumping from my second job to Glamourbox was a huge leap of faith for me, because at that time, I had no background at all in marketing except for the things I learned through experience from my first two jobs. I was so clueless, I had to Google all the marketing terms I encountered from brand partners and retail channels. My motto then was “Fake it until you make it,” and because I always had a thirst to improve myself and grow, I enrolled in fashion makeup classes at Fashion Institute of the Philippines. Two months later and after several discussions with my parents and the Cupcake, I enrolled in the Marketing Diploma Program of Ateneo Graduate School of Business to strengthen my background in marketing. This was the biggest investment I had ever made since I started my career, and the truth is, it was the money I earned from my blog that helped me pay for 100% of my tuition fee. Never had I felt so fulfilled, even though at that time, things were extra hectic at the office because we were so busy building more retail channels (and I could barely afford to buy a cup of coffee). Every time I look back, I still wonder how I was able to juggle it all—having a full-time job, going to school right after work, and getting home at 10pm from school to still find time to write for Greta’s Junkyard.
But that’s the beauty of my journey, and I know it doesn’t end there yet. I still encounter struggles at work all the time, to the point that I even think about resigning and focusing all of my energy and effort on the blog (and my mom’s backyard business, Mama Jessie’s Kesong Puti. You guys should totally order from her, because she makes the best kesong puti in town). But the truth is? I love what I’m doing both at work and for the blog, and everyday I’m able to absorb new things from what I’m doing. Everyday, I discover that I can do so much if only I put both my head and heart into it. And when I’m in that mindset, all the more that I feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing.
Greta’s Junkyard evolved from being my creative outlet (just to keep me sane), into a platform that allows me to discover new things about myself and the world. It pushes me to step out of my comfort zone on most days, (especially when I have to attend events and force myself to not be as introverted as I usually am). I’ve met some of the sweetest readers, made friends with equally genuine bloggers who are just as passionate with their craft as I am, and the best thing about it all? It’s opened up so many new opportunities for me that probably wouldn’t have happened, had the blog not existed. That’s why I will never, ever stop feeling thankful for the blog and all the opportunities it was able to give, and still continues to give me.
Nuffnang Blogger of the Month for March 2015
Maybelline x Greta’s Junkyard Makeup Workshop + Meet and Greet
With some of my readers at last year’s Greta’s Junkyard Makeup Workshop to celebrate the blog’s 2nd Anniversary
Meg Magazine feature with Pinkoolaid
Part of MEGA Magazine’s The New PH Campaign
If you’ve stuck with me until the very end of this article, thank you. Know that you’re never too old to make something happen, and I truly believe that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. To those of you who are feeling lost, stay calm and breathe. Things always have a way of falling into place—you just need to be patient. If you’re not really sure with what you’re doing right now, don’t let that be an excuse to not give it your all. Sometimes, it’s in moments when you’re being put to the test or being challenged by the universe that you actually figure out what’s next for you, and when that happens, push yourself even more and surround yourself with people who support you and believe in you. Good things take time to grow, and trust me. You’ll get there.