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Career Lessons From a Lawyer We Met at Cebu Airport

We were 5 hours early for our flight.





We came from a vacation and was heading to go back to the city. We went to a coffee shop to pass the time. I was thinking I will write or read there.

Moments later, we met a woman who was also hours early for her flight. At first, she shared seats with the foreigners sitting next to us because she needed to charge her phone. They chitchatted. But when the foreigners left to board, the conversation shifted to us.

Just like how the conversation went with the foreigners, it started with questions about why we're here and what we do.

She looked nice. Unshy, active, smiling. She was wearing a jacket, black top, denim pants, nude adidas sneakers. She seemed so humble and confident with her gestures.

I already overheard that she’s a lawyer (though she don’t look like one) but I still asked her what she does. My friend and I are so curious. We asked a lot of questions; How hard it is to be a lawyer, what’s her specialization, her opinion about death penalty, how do judges become judges, how to get clients, aren’t she afraid of the criminals… She just answered openly and warmly.

It went on for almost 2 hours straight. The time felt so fast. We were really looking to each other’s eyes. We forgot to get dinner. We resisted going to the comfort room because we wanted to listen and share.

I want to share to you my takeaways from her. A successful and humble woman worth listening to.

1. It’s not a race. You can take breaks.

She only started going to law school 10 years after graduating college. She had kids. She’s 41 now. Practicing for 3 years.

She made me think, you really define your own success. You live up to your own terms. Mistakes and accidents do not define your failure. As long as there’s fire in you, you can be successful. Do not give up.

2. If you really want it, you will pursue it.

No matter how long you waited, you will be led back to what your heart desires. If right now you are caught up with responsibilities, trust that there will be time that you will be free and get there.

On the other hand, if you are free but there are too many excuses, perhaps it’s not what you really want. Perhaps there’s something else for you.

3. It’s okay to fail too many times.

She said, it’s okay to fail in law school. Because you learn the lessons better. You get more “reviews” for the bar exam.

Similarly, in life, when we face challenges and troubles, we know our options better. We remedy faster because we had many tests.

4. Sometimes, you don’t get to find what you want–you just get exposed to it.

I know many people, mostly my friends, who say they do not know their passion. Or they do not know which path to take. I know people who get pressured because they think they’re too old to be lost, too old to not know that they want. If I could advise them again, I’d tell them:

If you do not know yet want you want, do not worry–just keep going. As you go on, you’ll meet things that will make you curious. Keep wondering and wandering and chasing. One day you will look back and realize you already build something great.

5. Do not belittle things because even the littlest things make great differences.

We always look for “special”. We prioritize “special”. We strive to be “special”. But sometimes, we forget about little things. Sometimes we lose enthusiasm to live the day when we perceive it as “ordinary”.

We have to remember, small things are important, too. Small things are what make the big things. Ordinary days make a special year, just live them well.

6. Don’t let success change you.

Remain humble. Remember everything we have can be easily taken away from us by life. And that we do not know our limits, neither others’ capabilities. Just keep learning, growing, helping. So when your time is over, you know you spend your it well.

– Jerico Silvers