While summer is the perfect time for that highly-touted vacation from school, it may also be the best opportunity for you to go beyond your borders—on your own. Don't let this summer pass without trying something new to improve yourself. So here's to that big step to independence and to making things happen!
- Get what you want. Whether you're complaining about a restaurant's poor service or haggling for that pretty pink dress with a saleslady, make it a point to argue in a respectful yet assertive manner. Is your order taking too long to arrive or did the waiter give you the wrong dish? When you're dissatisfied with something, remain objective and avoid being rude or arrogant to the one serving you. Try to call the waiter or the restaurant manager subtly, make a reasonable complaint, and politely ask them to resolve the situation. Politeness is always key. You are less likely to get what you want if you play the arrogant, intimidating card. The same thing goes for any scenario where you have to voice a demand. While you deserve the best service, salesladies, security guards, and cashiers also deserve respect from you.
- Open a bank account. Being money-wise is an essential step towards independence, and opening a bank account will help you do just that. Instead of signing up for a checking account, open a savings account tailored for teens. This is more practical because it requires a low initial deposit (the money you need to cash in to open an account) and a low maintaining balance (the money you need to keep your account active). Maintaining a bank account will encourage you to save more for those rainy days and will prepare you for bigger financial responsibilities when you grow up. Here are a few bank services that cater to teens' needs: Banco De Oro's Power Teens Club (840-7000), RCBC's Student Savings ATM program (894-9577), and Metrobank's Fun Savers Club (898-8000).
- Get a student driver's permit. You must be at least 16 years old to be a qualified applicant for a student driver's permit at the Land Transportation Office (LTO). When applying, be prepared to bring requirements such as a valid ID as proof of your identity, a copy of your birth certificate, and a filled-out application form. Don't forget to also bring a duly notarized letter of consent from your parent or your guardian allowing you to apply for the permit. You may want to check the LTO's website for further details. Driving entails a lot of responsibility, especially for teens. Be sure to enroll in a good driving school and read up on road and safety rules. While you may have the necessary requirements on hand for your application, it's even more important to be mentally and emotionally prepared to take on the extra challenge of driving.
- Conquer the streets. If you think you're too young to get behind the wheel, why don't you face your fear of taking public transportation? Your dad or your driver may not always be around to pick you up when you're hanging out with your friends. When commuting, familiarize yourself with the various modes of getting around the metro. Depending on your route, you can ride the bus, jeepney, MRT, or LRT. But there are other alternatives (like riding a cab) if you want to go straight to a specific location. Remember to have your fare ready to avoid scrambling for your wallet and digging for money in crowded areas. To avoid potential danger, look confident so you will not seem like an easy target. To avoid falling prey to thieves, be alert and don't flash your cell phone or other valuables. Should any untoward incident happen, ask help from the security personnel nearest you. On your first time, perhaps you can ask a parent or trusted friend to accompany you. By the end of summer, you should be able to do it on your own!
- Be a grocery shopping queen. Learn the nitty-gritty details of running a household by volunteering to do the groceries. Come prepared with a list of things you need to buy and take stock of the items you already have so you won’t end up getting something unwanted or unnecessary. A shopping list is a must-have because it will prevent you from slipping everything that looks good into your cart. Before going to the supermarket, divide the items on your list into groups to save time. That way, you will only need to make one trip down each aisle, helping you avoid long queues. Keep an eye on bargains but assess each item's quality as well. Don't get too much food with a short shelf life. Try to avoid doing your grocery during evenings or on weekends when supermarkets are often packed with shoppers.
- Take care of something. A true mark of independence is when you can shift your energy from looking after yourself into taking care of others, like your younger siblings, a pet, or even a plant! Starting today, take more responsibility for their welfare. Set aside time from your busy schedule and set your eyes on a specific goal. For example, your little sister should have memorized the provinces of the Philippines before school starts. Or next month, your puppy should be fully housebroken or should have learned some tricks to show off during family gatherings. Who knows, their growth may be your personal growth, too! Studies show that those who help others become their best selves are the ones who excel more in the long run.
- Make the world your playground. Once you've discovered the joys of helping others improve, expanding your interests towards activities that have greater impact on the world around you will give you a deeper sense of fulfillment and a renewed sense of independence. Volunteer for a cause-oriented group, learn how to play a difficult instrument, teach less-fortunate kids, make your voice heard, chase after your dreams—the possibilities are limitless. The world is a place where greater adventures await. There is so much you can do by moving out of your comfort zone. So what are you waiting for? Before returning to school, don’t pass up this chance to soar to greater heights!
What step have you taken towards independence? Dish with other Candy Girls below!