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I Got To Prioritize Myself More After Moving Back Home To Davao

It allowed me to think and reevaluate major life decisions.
I Moved Back Home To Davao During The Pandemic | Cosmo.ph
PHOTO: COURTESY OF FARRAH
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Back then, every time I would think about what my life would be like when I turn 30, I'd imagine working a corporate job in the big city and having my own apartment. I didn't think that I'd be working remotely as a freelancer and living in my parents' house.

Like many others, I had so many plans for 2020. But let's be real: Life does not always work out the way you want it to. After five years of living in Luzon, I moved back to Davao in December 2020.

Making it in the Metro

I moved to Metro Manila from Davao in 2016 when I was preparing for the board exam. The adjustment was easy for me. I had lived in Manila for three years while attending college in UP Diliman. In my third year, I got burnt out and opted to finish my Chemical Engineering degree at Ateneo de Davao University. When I returned to Manila, I was older, wiser, and felt more ready to embark on my life as a young adult.

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Eventually, I got a job as an engineer in my dream company in Batangas. Life was good. I was living in a new town, I had a productive after-work routine, and I had friends that became family. I even had time to go boxing, work on my side hustle (a writing gig), and still be in bed by 10:00 p.m.

I had a good balance of the probinsya and city life. I would spend weekends with my sisters or my friends working in the city, going on food trips, or thrift shopping. On Sundays, we had a routine of going to the morning mass at Landmark, Greenbelt, or Glorietta and then head over to the Legazpi Sunday Market for brunch. I'd like to think that I was also doing a great job at work because a year later, I was promoted to a customer-facing role in the company's head office in Ortigas. I felt unstoppable.

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And then the 2020 pandemic hit.

Deciding to go home

The shift to remote work was not much of a challenge. After all, I worked with a foreign client for my writing gig and primarily communicated with her online. Although it was not new to me, living alone during this uncertain time was difficult.

Yes, it was fun at first—I picked up a lot of useful skills such as learning how to cut and color my own hair, defrost the refrigerator, and make minor repairs to my airconditioner and sink. But like many others, it also gave me ample time to think and reevaluate major life decisions—like whether or not what I was doing made a difference or if it meant something to me. Do I see myself doing this years down the line? What's the point of doing well at work? Do I even want my boss' job?

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There was also the matter of finances and health. I thought it was pointless to continue paying for rent when most of the time, I was working remotely. Although I was working remotely, I wasn't allowed to leave Metro Manila because my job required me to be on call for client visits. This meant increased exposure and a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

But like many others, it also gave me ample time to think and re-evaluate my priorities—like whether or not what I was doing made a difference or if it meant something to me.

Knowing all these things was an eye-opener. There were definitely difficult decisions that had to be made. Ultimately, I chose myself. A friend said, "If you want to explore new things, the pandemic is the best time to do it. We are privileged to be able to take time off, so let's use it. You can't pour from an empty cup."

So in December 2020, I handed in my resignation, packed my bags, and went home.

Moving back home to Davao

Thankfully, I didn't have to adjust much when I moved back home. While I do miss the variety of shops and food choices available in Manila, I don't feel like I'm missing out. I can always shop online, and besides, Davao's local food scene is ~thriving~. The food here is also cheaper. One time, a friend and I met up for breakfast and I was a little shocked that a brunch platter cost half of what it would in Manila.

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What I do miss is the proximity and convenience of places in Manila. When I lived in my condo, I would just go down and find so many groceries and fast food stores—I didn't even need to ride a car or put on a bra. Here, a trip to the nearest grocery requires both.

I still work remotely, but now as a freelance writer. When I resigned, I told the client I was working with on my side hustle that I would have more free time. Luckily, she was expanding her business and she needed more help. When people find out what I've been up to, the common response is that they're happy for me: "Wow, you really pursued writing." I'm happy too, because at this moment, everything feels right for me.

I'm happy too, because at this moment, everything feels right for me.

One of the things I did when I moved back home was to go on regular morning and afternoon walks with my mother, as if I was also going to and from the office. Back in Manila, my condo was a 20-minute walk away from work. Now, instead of looking up and seeing buildings, I would see the sky.

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Afternoon walks with Ma COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA

I've always been close to my mom, but I'm so glad to be home now that I'm older because I see her as a friend, and I can learn from her. I enjoy our walks. We would talk about anything and everything, and revel in the calm silence of the morning or afternoon. 

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I hadn't realized how stressed out I was until my mother said, "Why do you keep hunching your shoulders [as in a defensive stance]? No one is out to get you," or "Why are you walking too fast? You're not gonna be late for anything."

Having the mountains and sea 30 minutes away from home made me a bit more mellow. It's a pretty big deal because before, my weekends would be packed with activities. Now, I make sure to keep my laptop closed the whole weekend whenever I'd go out of town with my cousins or friends. I used to be such a control freak, but now I'm slowly learning to let go, and just let the winds and waves of life carry me.

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Me in Davao City COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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At Buda, a 1.5-hour drive away from the city COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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At Buda with my cousins COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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Buda COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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At one of the resorts in Samal Island, a 10-minute boat ride away COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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At Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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It kind of reminds me of Bali! COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA
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COURTESY OF FARRAH GARCIA

No regrets

At first, I wasn't happy about the decision to move back to my parents' house. But over time, I stopped thinking of what I could have had to appreciate what I do have.

Right now, I have my family. My sisters have also gone home and my dad is more than happy to have his girls back. I have savings and a nest egg. I have the freedom to pursue creative projects that I want to work on. As a freelancer, I can choose what to work on, who to work with, and when I can work on them. I have my health.

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I have the freedom to pursue creative projects that I want to work on. 

Admittedly, I still want to have my own space and I'm saving up for one right now. When I look at social media (especially LinkedIn), I sometimes entertain thoughts of returning to the corporate world. But while I find my footing, I'm grateful to have my family's support behind me.

Right now, this is what works for me. I may not have ended up as how I envisioned myself at 30, but I know one day, I trust that when I look back, it will all make sense.

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