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  • Writer's pictureWella De Dios, University of Guam

Playing Your Cards Right

Whether you like it or not, you get a deck of cards dealt to you on the day you were born. Some people get a deck that feels like someone in the background was card counting or hiding an ace up their sleeves. A sleazy dealer with a spoofed deck shuffles other people's cards.

According to my deck of cards, I am a second-generation Filipino female living in the U.S. territory of Guam. Every detail has its ups and downs. I am considered tall for a Filipino female even though I am only 5 feet and 4 inches, which means I tower over my relatives. I am a confident young woman, but that has its own bag of worms to uncover in a patriarchal society and an old-fashioned culture. Lastly, I am a coveted U.S. citizen, something my distant family members envy. However, this is the first time anyone in the continental United States has heard of the tiny addition to their soil. My cards were not the best but they could have been much worse.

That being said, my upbringing led to the concepts of "financial security" and "career stability" being at the forefront of my career path. My parents believed that since they worked hard to support their children, I would not have to work as hard. I could have a comfortable life, settle down, and live happily ever after. This mediocre way of life influenced specific pathways, from rejecting extracurriculars to choosing Accounting as my major and doing the bare minimum. My cards never read for fame and fortune; they told me to relax, find an easy job on the island, and work menial corporate labor for the rest of my life. I did everything my cards required, but why did I feel unfulfilled? Is this all there is to my life?

I decided to break out of my shell and explore outside my comfort zone. I started applying to things outside of Excel sheets and study guides. I talked to other students I had never met and visited places on campus I had not had the opportunity to because of the pandemic. I also started seeking resources for my own growth.

My deck of cards never said I would fit in with my cohort, yet I talk with them after every class. My cards never said to join extracurriculars, yet I attend meetings and conferences for different clubs. Some of the cards I thought were a detriment brought even more opportunities for my growth. These little things I started doing made me realize the deck of cards I was dealt in the beginning was not the best, but that does not mean I cannot change them.

Change is inevitable, and the world works in mysterious ways. Therefore, we should embrace more than our expectations. Our cards do not dictate our lives – we do. Even then, be smart with what cards you do have on you. Use what you have to your advantage, and you might bring a different perspective to share. Even if a situation gets to unfamiliar territory, a unique environment, or other strangers, growth comes from these brand-new experiences. Do not put yourself down even if your cards do not align perfectly with a description. Take a chance and see where it leads you. Continuing to seek these experiences adds new cards to your deck that give you the upper hand you may not have had before.

Now nearing the final year of my undergraduate degree, I am inspired. Although there are cards in my deck that I cannot change, like my ethnicity, height, or upbringing, I can continue gaining cards to better myself and meet goals I would never have thought to achieve. Just because your cards say one thing does not mean it is your end-all-be-all. You will be surprised by what you can achieve with a strong mindset, motivation, and ambition. In the end, you might end up with a royal flush.


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