Aim high. Climb the ladder to success. Reach for the stars. These are the common catchphrases we hear while growing up and finding our own place in the world. Even toys tell us to go “to infinity and beyond!”
Wired as we are to raise our heads up to the vast skies, the towering high-rises, and the things that zoom faster that what we’re used to, many of our countrymen end up as Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). Progress is believed to be up there, somewhere else beyond Philippine soil. Faster means better results, further means getting somewhere.
Yes, the idea of going abroad is enough to perk us up and start our engines. Seldom do we ask ourselves, “Wait, go somewhere…for what? Go somewhere ‘til when?” We’re not so curious about these important details because this requires us to collect ourselves, go slow, and move a few steps back so we can reassess our motivations and definitions of success and happiness.
Your overseas life is more than just a job stint or an enduring opportunity. It’s a battle of the mind, body, heart, and spirit. Like in any battle, you must always prepare yourself to face adversities, condition yourself to be in control of the journey, and keep your heart and spirit fueled up. To do this, you must know your strengths, weaknesses, and values. You need to take in the things that fire you up and avoid those that burn you out.
But OFWs want to get somewhere. So, most work day and night, chasing their dreams. But in the process, they overlook their loved ones, empty their pockets out, and run themselves dry. Only in the end do they really understand that what they’ve been chasing after isn’t what they want for themselves.
During your time abroad, regularly ask yourself if overseas life will make you the person you want to be. Becoming an OFW is a journey to get to know you deeper. So dig deep into your very core and find what you want to achieve before you spread your wings out.
Patch the holes
We look for better opportunities overseas to fill in a need or fulfill a longing. At face value, we think that that need is money and the longing is to get rich enough to lead a comfortable life. But notice this. OFWs are capable of earning enough money (if not a lot), but they are unable to keep it and make it grow. That’s why we see an increasing support in advocacies for financial literacy and wealth management. We say that Filipinos don’t know how to handle money and at some point, this is a very painful truth.
Nonetheless, gaining financial knowledge doesn’t always stop us from throwing our money to buy unnecessary things that easily depreciate in value. You may know everything about money but if you’re not strong enough to handle emotions like homesickness, insecurities, envy, and emptiness, chances are, you’ll find yourself spending on things that will make you happy but temporarily so.
When you see yourself splurging, living beyond your means, or even giving too much, find the courage to ask yourself why. If we can give reasons on why we need to earn money, why can’t we take time to understand why we want to throw it all out?
Hold on to your values
Overseas life can overwhelm you with big changes in so many levels. Don’t feel guilty that you’re changing and adapting to a new environment. Transformations happen every day. While change is good, it is very important that you’re clear with what you value the most before going abroad. Hold them dear and carry them in your heart. Be empowered that you alone can decide on what you want to keep in your life.
Big changes may happen but these aren’t good excuses to forget relationships, memories, traditions, experiences, and life lessons from before you leave the country.
Don’t be the type of OFW who denies the person they once were, who vilifies their homeland and countrymen, and who believes that everything is automatically always better overseas. When you lose sight of yourself, well, you lose in the end even if you’re flying high.