PASSION AND PURPOSE: A letter to my mid-20 self

The past decade changed the way I see life in a different perspective so here’s a message to my mid-20 self. Really, it was a decade of challenges, pursuits, failures, mistakes and victories.

Dear mid-20 self,

I know life has been tough, but you have done a good job, you did not give up.

Love the people who love you

At the start of the second half of the decade, you lost your Lolo Panyo – that was during your review for the CPA board exam – but you made him your inspiration to pass the board exam. He may not have seen your name with the title, but you made him proud, even your Lola Baby and Lola Mila who love you unconditionally. Two other grandparents left you in 2019 – your Daddy Jessie and Mama Juling – they were your guide everytime you’d make big decisions. But one of the saddest moments of your life was the loss of your Nanang last September. She would welcome you home crying and when you leave for work, she would kiss you crying. You miss that, I know. Every time you wake up, you want to hear her voice. But she’s gone. They are gone. This sends a message that you need to use every time you have to say thank you and send love to all the people who love you. Don’t waste each time.


Some people may not understand you. A point in your life came when they throw negative things about you. You did not listen. You did not explain. You let them lose their time. They got tired of you not listening to them. But you could have done something. You did not explain yourself, but you must have at least, faced them, telling that you forgave them. I know, you already did, but you must also thank them because they made you stronger. You did not play their game.

There will always be people who will try to hold you from walking toward your goal. They are like dark clouds full of negative thoughts that turn even darker when you look up to find hope. Try to not let other people get you down.

Learn from all the mistakes

You did a lot of mistakes, but the early days of 2018 have put you to a test. You didn’t know what to do until you decide to tender your resignation September of that year. You did that to reinvent yourself, to have a fresh start. You did not listen to any advice until one time you realized that you need to do one thing – to face all those challenges and put an end. Look where are you now. If you pursued that biggest decision of your life, you wouldn’t experience these triumphs and significant moments. If you did not listen to people you consider mentors, you would have leave what you have started.

Be open and honest

But from that mistake, I know you learned two things about communication – to be open and to be honest. Please, when you have problems, don’t just face them. Let other people know, even just your most trusted ones – you don’t need to share everything! You just need a person who would listen, who would tell you that you did wrong and you need to take actions to correct it. You need a person who would just listen, just listen. You don’t need to get answers from them. Just say what you want, free your feelings, speak your mind. People love you because they feel your genuineness. I hope you love yourself, too, by being true to your feelings.

Inspire confidence

There were a number of opportunities gone because you lack confidence. You were always placed after first. You always wanted to be with your mom in every competition. You were always seated at the last row of your training sessions. But year 2017 changed you – that one campus tour gave you confidence. Now, you inspire confidence. You always tell a story about a young boy who was afraid of facing people and how he turned that challenge into opportunities. That’s you. I know you always find joy when you make every person strong. I know that you found your passion. I know that the passion you have is the purpose you were looking for the whole time.

Understanding other perspectives

You would always stand your ground but 2019 thought you to understand people, each situation and different perspectives. You easily get annoyed then, but you learned to calm down. You learned to realize that negative thoughts will not bring you positive outlooks and results, especially when you had a misunderstanding with a colleague, she was your friend. At that moment, you learned that you need to deal with different people, different attitudes. But you realized that these differences were due to the culture each one has embraced and has lived with. You cannot change someone’s perspectives and turn them to yours, so you need to understand where they are coming from, putting yourself in someone’s shoes.

Stay away from toxic people

This generation is different a decade ago. People stand for the truth they know, other people do. I know you are tired of this and this is the reason why you decided to take a rest from the world of social media. You almost deleted all your accounts, instead of temporarily deactivating them. I know you are tired of seeing people who share fake news, who are politically loud, who are jealous of everything, who set a standard that destroys one’s confidence. You don’t know how to change it, how to help this generation embrace its flaws, to set a standard that accepts mistakes and failures. But you need to start somewhere – stay away from these people.

Love yourself

You inspire others and you lift them up. But don’t forget yourself. Love yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. And you also need to understand that not everyone you have met is meant to stay around forever. You need to find someone who will stay with you, who will take care of you, who will love you.

For the past journey that we had together, I would like to say sorry for I was not great enough to ignite your motivation, to encourage you. But I have to say that I am proud of you, self. You may not always hear this to anyone around you, but I am here recognizing your efforts, your hardships and hardwork. I am here to tell you that you’re brave. Have you noticed that you have changed? You improved a lot! For example, you now make time with your ading, mom and dad. You would always put focus on your academics and career since you started schooling. I know there are a lot to improve on your family relationship, but you are starting it great. I am happy to see your family happy with you. And you now know how to share your feelings. But one thing I am most proud of – the way you handle failures and mistakes. You always learn from them. You never compared your life to that of others. You know that everything happens for a reason and everything that happened and will happen are all part of your journey. You know that this journey is yours. You know that life has ups and downs. You know that you are in the exact place you are meant to be right now. You know how to wait.

Thank you because your faith continues to grow. You always thank God in every path you take – smooth or rough. You always ask for His guidance.

As I am writing this, I am not sure where will life bring you. I know you still don’t know what direction to take, but whatever road it is, I know it’s for you and you deserve it. It’s okay not to be okay but I hope that the challenges you will face in the future will not break you down. Please do not give up. I am proud of you because you never did. Please never give up.

You deserve to be happy. You deserve a life that you are proud of.

Self, I am proud of you!


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About the Author

Paul Michael Jaramillo
Paul Michael JaramilloChief Executive Editor
PJ is a CPA, writer, storyteller, environment and youth advocate. As a writer, his articles on national development were published in a Spanish newspaper and local news network Rappler. As a storyteller and environment advocate, his documentary films on mining and environment were featured by ABS-CBN News and GMA News. He launched his career as a CPA at KPMG in the Philippines in late 2015. He started his professional journey as an external auditor of a global workspace provider (the largest audit client of KPMG in the Philippines), global bank, leading MFCG in the Philippines and a number of shared service centres. As an auditor, his team won the KPMG Asia-Pacific Data & Analytics Challenge and coached the Philippine team that placed third to the KPMG GlobalRunner Cup. More than two years later, he led KPMG in the Philippines’ Network of Audit Innovators and Data & Analytics Champions and its academic arm, while serving as a member of the KPMG Asia-Pacific Audit Digital Transformation Workstream. He served as a member of the Audit Methodology Group and Root Cause Analysis Team of KPMG in the Philippines. He was a regular training facilitator of KPMG on audit methodology, innovation, data and analytics, professional standards and regulatory updates. He also served as a coach for newly promoted supervisors. PJ was also the Firm’s System of Quality Management Implementation Manager and a Workforce of the Future Champion. He was also a Sampling Specialist of the Firm. In 2019, PJ was a member of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA)’s Technical Working Group on Audit Methodology. PJ led in developing some of the innovative solutions of KPMG in the Philippines. Above all, PJ is a people investor. He invests on people who have potential and talents. That makes him a coach and mentor to some young professionals in the profession and served as a People Committee member of KPMG in the Philippines. He leads advocacy projects that help communities. He produces vlogs thru his YouTube channel, PJspirations which features stories of different individuals. As a volunteer, he is the Academic Master and Head Coach of PREMIER International Learning and Development Center, which provides coaching, mentoring, training and learning programs and platforms that promote growth and development in every individual’s life and career. He is also with the Middle East and Caspian regions of KPMG as a member of its Professional Practice group and Audit L&D for the Saudi Levant Cluster, providing subject matter knowledge and guidance on audit methodology, and learning and development programs to its offices. He is a proud Ilocano and a graduate of Northwestern University.

He also conducts #IamRemarkable sessions, a program initiated by Google for women and underrepresented groups.