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A friend of mine recently shared this viral letter of the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo to her daughter, Aika. What was a personal advice to a daughter plagued by professional woes turned into an inspiring message that resonates among a youth struggling to make sense of working realities.

Aika Robredo, who first published the email letter in her blog, commented it was the longest she received from the father, and fount it apt to share during graduation season, when a whole batch of fresh college grads enter the working world feeling entitled.

I personally like this passage from the letter:

It is too early to tell what you are meant to do. But quitting this early will not be good for you. While you may be unhappy and stressed, there is a better way of coping with it. The more unhappy and discontented you are, the more you will dread every day you work. As I have said, you are not in the worst place at this stage in your career.

Life is usually a case of mind over matter. I’ve found myself in situations where I really wanted to quit, and did, and ended up feeling worse. I took those setbacks as lessons, and have since then persevered in my chosen line of work, no matter the long nights, the arduous and often menial activities, and the not-so-high financial compensation. Rather than complaining, I’ve been remedying stress and unhappiness with a more practical outlook, and allowing myself to be toughened by it. Sometimes, you meet the not so good people along the way, but it’s all part of the experience.

It is only now that they can do as they please because they have established themselves already.

This passage from the letter (read it within its context) is a much needed reminder for the idealistic and too entitled yuppie. We’re so used to modern comforts that we sometimes fail to grasp life requires one to struggle to. It doesn’t help we’re constantly promoting a culture where “one has to know what he or she deserves”. Truth be told, no one knows what they deserve, and life owes no one anything too. Young people, myself included, tend to be obsessed with control over their lives, failing to realize that setbacks, struggles, and sacrifices are all stepping stones to success. What a person deserves is based on what he or she worked hard to earn.

But as they say, do not make decisions when you are unhappy (or emotional). They tend to be the less logical ones.

Jesse Robredo’s parting advice is a crucial reminder that we need to let our reason temper our emotions. Emotions are volatile and relying on them to make decisions usually end up negatively. We live in a day and age where everyone feels entitled to fight for something, and everyone wants a claim at the truth, and everyone wants to have a say on everything. People are emotional and it’s easy to sense this tension between the uncontrollable transformations of the world, the nature of human beings, and our inclination to indulge in feelings. But people tend to forget about critical thinking too. So next time you’re angry, rather than speak during the moment, let it pass and let reason takeover. You’ll find it easier to swallow the words you put out when you’re emotionally sober. If you’re unhappy over something, try and look at things from a point of view outside that unhappiness. Maybe the emotion is clouding your way of thinking.

So thank you Mr. Robredo, and to her daughter Aika, for sharing such a treasure mine of meaningful and practical advice. It’s a shame he passed away. Gone too soon indeed are the good men. At least, their wisdom can claim for them immortality.

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