You are 21 years old without a college degree, juggling school and work, and trying to rescue what’s been left over from your teenage heydays (read: oh social life, where have you gone?); you’re sitting on the steps outside the Starbucks behind your office building— you and your immediate supervisor and your coffee and your cigarettes and you talk about college and people you both know and vacations you took and what you hope for for the future. NYC. Europe. Putting up a bed and breakfast. Fucking graduating.

Eventually, the conversation turns to work; this is, after all, supposed to be a coaching session. After the obligatory “so how do you like the program?” question (to which you answer with a little two thumbs-up! dance), your supervisor praises your performance: “I’m so thankful to get decent quick-thinking Wave 16 agents!” Uh-oh, you brace yourself for the inevitable: the constructive criticism that usually follows. Points for improvement, ya know?

But there are none. Instead, she asks you: “Do you plan on becoming a TL (team leader)?”

You fumble with your answer. You manage a “Yeah, I hope so!”

Way to go, Direction, Assetiveness, and Confidence!

What your supervisor says next surprises you: “We can groom you to be one. You have the potential.”

You raise your eyebrows, cock your head to the side, and shrug. You giggle, of course. You always giggle. Normal non-work conversation resumes, but for a few minutes, your mind is on something else. You pull up your mental list of “what I want to be when I grow up.

  • Taylor Hanson’s wife
  • Philippine ambassador to SOMEWHERE
  • Ambassadress to SOMEONE
  • work for the UN (UNDP/UNESCO/UNV)
  • work for the WWF-Philippines
  • trophy wife

Customer service associate? Not there. Team officer in charge? Not there, either.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that this isn’t a career. It’s just a job. JUST. A. JOB.