A New Game Plan for Figuring Out Life

Step one: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Ria Tagulinao


Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

In case you ever find yourself unable to sleep at night, tossing and turning in your bed, wholly consumed by what the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management’s admissions board could possibly be looking for in an MBA candidate, just remember I.C.E.S.

It stands for: Intellectual horsepower, Communication/presence, Experience/impact, and Spike factor (This last one is your personal Krabby Patty secret formula. Or what makes you the human equivalent of Dr. Pepper).

So many things I’d been aiming for in the past have proven to neither be what I sincerely nor deliberately wanted.

After having coffee with an admissions director who was in Manila, I plastered I.C.E.S on a virtual sticky note on my laptop — and proceeded to strategize. I was in my early 20s then; I had time to turn myself into the spitting image of the perfect Rotman student.

Or, you know, at least make it seem like it on paper.

“So if I want to graduate by the time I’m 30,” I calculated, “then I should get in when I’m 28 years old.” Intellectual horsepower? Check.

Another dewy-eyed-but-practical thought in my early 20s: “I should be married when I’m 28 years old.” I haggled. “Or, fine, 29 at the latest.”

Today, I am 28 years old. I have no plans of getting an MBA. No boyfriend. And, as I recently found myself admitting to my manager, I also have no specific career objectives.

We were talking about my personal development plan, so, naturally, she asked, “Are you aiming to be in a certain role or capacity by a certain age?” I paused, searching hard for a clear answer. Fortunately, we had a level of rapport where I could be as candid as I wanted to be because the most I could get out was this: “No, not really.”

I laughed. Then a slight shock registered when I realized I’d said it so nonchalantly. I thought, if this were a job interview, it would definitely have been a red flag. The recruiter would probably wonder, “Does this girl have no plans for herself? No ambition in life?” And off to the reject pile, my resume would go.



Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com