Life as a NEET: An Update

My contract ended sooner than expected. It’s nothing dramatic, just that you know, non-profits and funding. I remember my dentist telling me to get the hell out of that job, fast!

My talents and potential would be wasted, she said. Her keywords were “naku!” and “sayang!” Ah, although I am in this unfortunate predicament called unemployment (really depends on the POV) I don’t think I would ever demonize my experience with my job.

It was challenging yes, and for maybe 90% of it, we were onboarding ourselves and sorting out the backend of the organization while balancing our responsibilities. I did things I don’t think I’d have been in charge of had I been in corporate– hiring, contract making, building a communications plan from the ground up.

But I wouldn’t have connected and met the friends and mentors I have now if I hadn’t jumped into that job.

These days I manage my time between applying for jobs and letting it be. I am always anxious when jobless because I have always held down a job consistently since migrating. And as an immigrant, the fear of unemployment feels like a greater threat even if I’m in a better place these days. That was what often came up during my sessions with a therapist. I would always push myself to apply to these internships and get a job ahead of graduation because I felt that if I didn’t hold one down, I would lose my momentum and fall into the underemployment trap again.

And yet, here we are.

Apart from sending out job applications, I’ve been addicted to manhwas. I watch anime once or twice a week. I’ve recently watched until episode 4 of Freiren and have been bawling those nights. I interpret Freiren: Journey’s End as a story of loss and reckoning. I can feel that loneliness of having lost someone you can never see again, and only slowly coming to realize it. I have only honestly felt that deep loneliness in dreams.

Seventeen’s reality shows have become my go-to for self-soothing. Some days I go on a run but mostly it’s walking. I’ve been trying to cut down on red meat. All the doctors and nutritionists tell me, it’s just having a balanced diet. So I tried making banchan (Korean side dishes) that would be good for a week. That was a success, there’s still a whole bunch left over in the fridge.

NEET Expectations

I thought I would become a reclusive NEET (Not in employment, education or training) but everyone around me knows me better than I do myself. I am in fact a social butterfly. I have scheduled dates with friends every single week and just when I’m about to think that I’ve got a full week off, I bump into friends or they ring me up and ask me out. When did I get this narrative in my head that I was a recluse? I mean, yes I’m introverted but I have always ChatGPT would say, a “vibrant” social life since practically elementary school.

When my mom enrolled me in after-school Kumon back in high school, the one thing I said while upset was “But what about my social life?!”

As a woman of the academe, she was horrified at her daughter’s seeming disinterest in more scholarly pursuits.

This “recluse” narrative, I believe, started when my depression was at its peak. When I moved back to Manila in 2015, my university friends had all graduated and moved to different cities. I found myself spending so much time alone. I watched movies and ate alone. It was quite enjoyable, I had no need to compromise on my palette nor my taste in films. But that reclusive existence didn’t last long. I still enjoyed taking myself out on solo dates but I had developed new friendships. And while amassing new friends, I didn’t think to revise that narrative in my head. I was still battling with depression and there were weeks when I wouldn’t respond to my friends or hang out with them. It took me longer to recover from socializing, but I was still going out and I was slowly becoming more resilient. My spoons of energy had increased. If I previously only had three spoons to spare for a week, each year added more spoons.


A few weeks ago, my mentor invited me to a talk/ networking event and I, believing myself to be a shy introvert, decided I would just sit and focus on eating after the event. I ended up talking to at least four people and connecting with two. I went home with my social batteries maxed out and needed a day to recover. But the weird part of it all is remembering that I had been happily chatting away with these people that night. Who was I? I often forget I spent three years in sales and two years training as a journalist. That’s a total of five years (previous experiences excluded) of talking to people/ strangers daily.

So I’m trying to change this narrative of I’m not good with people or I’m not good at talking to people because that is the most untrue thing about me and yet I believe it in my head when I’m not doing it actively.

NEET Friends and Neat Life

The thing about this unemployed life, is that it feels different from back when I was a new immigrant. My friends are all so generous, they look at me and tell me to let them know I’m struggling. They cook meals and feed me (not that they never did when I still had a job) but the care and intent is more obvious during these times.

One day, my friend Arvin and I got our facial done. I was able to get this for free because he has a subscription and he gets to gift free facials once in awhile. So we had an early dinner, trooped to our appointment, and afterwards had ice cream and tea.

On my way home, I bumped into another friend on the skytrain platform. It was all the more hilarious given the fact that we were just furiously chatting away on our Whatsapp groupchat. It was already 11 in the evening and she was just on her way home from an evening shift. The same job I had quit almost a year ago.

She asked me what I had been up to and so I told her I had just met a friend and had our facials done and had some tea. To which she responded, “that’s my dream life right there.”

She was right, when I was in the workforce, I was often envious of those who could gallivant on a weekday at 2 pm and enjoy these little luxuries that I was currently enjoying.

A couple of days ago, at 2 pm on a sunny Monday,  I went to the tracks, sat on the bleachers, listened to the new playlist I made while I read a book (the playlist is called “Jobless Thursday at 2 PM). There were highschool kids on springbreak training for utlimate frisbee. Another highschooler was on the bleacher writing and reading.

I had so many things I could do, improve my portfolio, blog on my official website, work on my personal branding, send out more resumes, plan a personal project that will projectile my career to new heights etc etc etc.

And yet, here I was enjoying the sun and saying, fuck it. I will get a job when I get one and no amount of worrying, trying to control a situation or aim for perfect will get me anywhere faster.

“I am living the dream life.”

Things are Picking Up

As luck would have it, I got two writing assignments for a magazine and while it pays pennies, it helps me keep my name on the bylines current and I get to practice my journalistic skills. I’m hoping to get another freelance gig with another magazine that pays double.

There’s more events I’m getting invited to, and I’ve decided to go just because I’m not losing anything and it never hurts to try something new and learn something.

Pep Talk

My friends say I always land on my feet and noone’s really worried about me, they have this quiet confidence that I’ll actually get a job. I’m the only one catastrophizing. It’s a trauma response to being an undervalued immigrant for so many years despite my skills and experience.

I am having this struggle between letting things be and overdoing the jobsearch.

I also say I am unemployed but technically I do have freelance work and contracts. I’m still working on this documentary film although the workload was more intense a month ago. These days I am waiting on the editor to finish his edits before I can proceed again.

So life’s not bad. It’s pretty good.

If you have song suggestions to my Jobless Thursday at 2 PM playlist, please leave them in the comments.

If you have a job lead, or would like to refer me, send me a DM on instagram.

If you just want to leave good vibes and a pep talk please drop them in the comments too.

I truly believe this negative nancy has been inherited from my mother’s paternal side of the family, it’s absolutely genetic at this point.






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