We all have many “firsts” in our lives — first relationship, first time on a plane, first time reaching a goal, and sometimes, we’re even the very first to do something in our family or community, ever. Each of these experiences is uncharted territory for us. With this comes a lot of uncertainty, and while some thrive in those circumstances, if you're like me, you feel a lot of pressure in those moments.
Both my parents came to America from the Philippines in the 90s, so I was the first of my family born and raised in America. This also meant that I was the first one to get an American education and the first one to go to university and get a bachelor's degree in America. While those were great experiences, they came with a lot of pressure to do well, and I had almost no one in my family to look up to or to ask for advice when experiencing hardships in school.
Another part of this meant that I was the first to have student loans, the first to go through a lengthy interview process for career jobs, and the first to move away from my hometown. All of those were incredibly stressful and challenging, leading to anxious nights stressing about paying off loans and feeling alone in a new city for a job where I was the youngest by 20 years. It was rough.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great moments and experiences, but having some guidance through it all would have been helpful. I eventually found a mentor with a similar life experience who would help me figure out some things. While his practical guidance regarding matters like insurance or loans was helpful, chatting about our similar experiences was the most beneficial thing. I learned that no matter how alone I felt in my circumstances, I wasn’t the first person going through these emotions and hardships, and I certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Though some of those experiences were rough, in hindsight, I appreciate every part of those hardships because I learned so much about myself and how to function through adversity. I also learned that I didn’t have to do it alone. Every new stage of life brings its own “firsts.” Some of them will be tons of fun, and some will probably be miserable. One thing is for sure, treading those uncharted waters will be a worthwhile adventure — and you’ll grow more because of them.
This month, we’re looking at the good, the bad, and the ugly of being the first. We hope these stories inspire you to do something new and be the first to do something, whether it’s the first in your family, your community, your friend group, or beyond.