Happy new year, friends!
First off, I want to say thanks to the couple of people who have taken the time to send me messages in response to my post about finishing my second degree—in my head I like to think nobody reads my posts here, just because it’s a lot less terrifying to think that way, and also in part to cope with the whole studying again thing, because I really had to forcefully shut the outside noise out in order to make myself truly understand that whatever anyone else says has no influence on how I feel about my choices. BUT it turns out I do have readers, and longtime readers at that (what!), who not only paid attention but also cared, enough to let me know they’re happy for me, and that’s like … crazy. Part of my reflections after finishing school was letting myself listen to some of the noise again, and I’m not even exaggerating when I say I was overwhelmed and maybe even astounded that people (friends, acquaintances, relatives, and strangers alike, what the heck) came to be, like, actually thrilled for me. Because my anxiety really made me believe otherwise. I wouldn’t have cared either way, and I know my achievement isn’t that huge and world-shaking, but I allow myself to feel the joy now. I am comforted by the knowledge that other human beings are thinking positively of me after what was mostly a lonely, and certainly unconventional, journey. So, really, THANKS again, peeps! You’ve added to my long list of reasons to be grateful and celebratory.
The messages also made me evaluate what sort of overall narrative I’ve been giving off all these years of sporadically posting here. Like, being told “you’ve inspired me” is surreal cus I don’t really think about that before I post—about what the greater purpose of continuing to do this is, beyond the selfish need to express myself. Although by now, it’s not all that difficult for me to get that it is inspiring, or at least interesting, and even empowering, to read/hear/watch other people speak about their journeys, struggles and triumphs, and doubly so if these people share similarities with you—gender, age, culture, interests, insecurities, whatnot. I know that because that’s how other people inspire me, and I understand, now, that I could be that brand of inspiring for other people, too. As an introvert that is 100% terrifying lol but on the flip side it’s given me some motivation to keep sharing.
ANYWAY. Given that this is a New Year post, let’s talk about #Goals, and specifically how I have somehow found myself ringing in the new year having none of them. Hahaha. I don’t do resolutions anymore; the last time I did the planner/journal thing was in 2016; I couldn’t for the life of me even come up with a one-word intention for the year. But this is merely a symptom of a larger disease, which I think I’ve mentioned here before? (Yes, here’s what I said exactly:) Ever since I quit my job and ruined my fifteen-year-old self’s gonna-be-doctor-in-ten-years plan, I also effectively ruined my capability to believe in any sort of long-term projections of my future. Like, in the exam I took to apply for work, I was asked to write where I saw myself in five (or was it ten?) years’ time and boy oh boy did I blank out. I literally could not think of anything. I cannot picture what my life would be that far ahead. I have lost the ability to. For the sake of answering it I just asked myself, “What would make sense? What would be good to read as an employer?” rather than be honest lol. Because if I was honest the answer would in fact be “I can’t picture it, sorry.”
Although I’m not really sorry. I know there are implications about an employee who isn’t goal-oriented or whatever but like … I don’t think that’s a detriment to me, or to anybody. Goals mean you’re looking ahead, far ahead, and that’s great, but life is shitty and the universe has a thing for plot twists and the future is not promised.
What if I would just like to concentrate on being present?
I got a new phone over the holidays (RIP, that old phone unit that I loved with all my heart, if it didn’t become an actual safety hazard I would have kept using it forever) and as I was sorting through my camera roll I found a screenshot I forgot I took—one of this Instagram post from GlamLifeGuru (Tati’s one of my favorite “soothing background noise” YouTubers. I don’t even like makeup that much but she’s like this super kikay, super arte older sister chatting in the background when I prep in the morning) and I’m sure I took a screenshot because of the caption:
I love that sentiment. I hope I always chase her. It means I always intend to grow, to improve, to transform. My problem is (well, it’s not really a problem) the next version of me that I want to chase hasn’t revealed herself to me just yet. Because this me, right now? She’s the one I’ve been chasing for more than four years. Every day at my previous workplace, hating myself for hating my perfectly fine job, hating myself for hating being in the hospital, and every day back in college again, having to wear that undergraduate uniform that I despised so much—all of those days were bearable because of the thought that I’d get here. I’d be this girl. And I guess more than anything else in this journey, more than the degree or the congratulations or the new job, what feels the most validating is that this girl that I believed in, this version of me that I chose when I decided to quit and restart all those years ago—despite never being certain what she was going to look like, be like, feel like; would she be a good person? would she be happy?—when the time came for me to meet her, to become her, I discovered that she measured up to my hopes. Every single one. I like her.
She’s worth all of it.
When the person you’ve believed in for so long turns out to be worth believing in, exactly as you hoped and worked for, and that person is you? I can’t even begin to describe the feeling.
I’ve glossed about it in my previous posts because it’s hard to put in words, but I wanna say that the moment, as in the literal moment, that I realized I did it, I actually finished my degree, which was right after our thesis defense, when our panelists revealed that we passed with no revisions, and one of my professors said to me, “Congrats, dalawa na degree mo,” I was caught unaware, like, “Oh my gosh. Right.” Truth be told, I concentrated solely on passing our thesis with no problems and didn’t let myself think past that, lest I jinx anything. So my whole body shifted to process the sudden realization that I was done. There were two things that happened then.
First, one word popped in my head: addition. As in, oh wow I have two degrees now. I am more now. As in, it hit me that getting this new degree didn’t make my other one disappear. Even if it felt like that at times, because my two degrees are incredibly unrelated. But no. The medical laboratory scientist and the computer scientist are both present and coexist together now, in me. If you get educated, it’s always a process of addition. You never lose the education you gain, no matter your future choices. No matter how anyone else belittles or questions those choices.
Second, I felt a change inside me: like all the weight I wasn’t even aware I was carrying got released and something that I didn’t know was missing clicked back into place. I floated on my way home that night, weightless, trying to figure out what it was that felt different, and the only way to describe it was that I felt like I forgave myself all at once, and in doing so I became me again, wholly me, after being not for so, so, so long. But that didn’t make any sense because what was I forgiving myself for? Why was I not me before?
I don’t really know the answers to my questions, even now. Only that, in a very random circumstance, weeks later, when my YouTube feed suggested I watch this birth recovery video (of a vlogger I’m aware of but don’t really follow), I decided to click on it, and watch it, and listened to her keep repeating being so happy because she feels like herself again after giving birth, “literally the second he came out of me I was like I’M ME AGAIN! Like, now I feel like myself, I feel like … I don’t know, I’m just so much happier” and I was nodding my head, OMG THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I FELT.
Which I know is absurd. I have NO. CLUE. what it is like to be pregnant, let alone push out a human being through my vagina. I am not equating my experience to hers; just that those words were exactly what I felt—like the moment I’ve been waiting for suddenly happened and the second it did, I felt like myself again and so much happier and freer. (Without a baby as a proof of the change, but still.) So much change in a span of a second. For weeks, and even until now, I’d still catch myself asking, why do I feel like myself in a way that I haven’t been for years?
I still don’t know. It’s like finding out just how sad you were the moment you became happy. Which is unfair because I liked my school experience. I wasn’t sad. And yet. I feel so much happier now. And I like this me a lot. So instead of chasing some new goal, I find myself pausing and appreciating.
Because the chase asks so much of you. And obviously, my last chase involved schooling, (unnecessary and voluntary schooling, even), which is its own kind of exhausting. It’s kinda shocking, actually, how ecstatic I am that I’m not in school anymore, given that I professed all this love for learning. I don’t know what that means for the possibility of me going back to the academe again eventually, as a number of people thought I’d eventually do. My mom wants me to take up masters and maybe even teach, which makes sense if you look at my academic performance. But the thought of exams and papers and homework, right now, makes me want to puke. Even if I do like what I’d be learning about. The way school is set up, with all its evaluations (homework, then activities, then recitations, then quizzes, then exams, then projects and term papers) it’s all so bloody repetitive that it can suck out all the fun in learning. I’m fortunate I didn’t experience actual burnout but I can’t see myself going back to school in the near future. Besides, software development involves a lot of learning and studying anyways. Nearly all the frameworks I’ve used/worked with since starting work, I haven’t encountered in school. Which I find super fun.
ANYWAY. Where was I? Yeah. What a long-winded explanation just to say I have no 2019 goals. Haha. I like where I’m at, so I’m focusing on the present. I’ve been rushing so much in the past few years; I wanna slow down now and smell the roses. This version of me is obviously far from being perfect but I’d like to spend time with her and enjoy her figure her everyday life out because I’ve been waiting to be her for so long. Remember that whole sending a letter to my future self thing? I’m supposed to be receiving that letter this year, on my birthday. I didn’t even start working when I sent that letter, much less know I’d be studying again. I find myself thinking of that girl often these days.
Gmorning from the younger version of you
Who couldn’t wait to be you at this age right now
Gnight from the older version of youLin-Manuel Miranda (2018) (2018)
Who remembers the very moment you are in right now
And is grinning from ear to ear, because
you have no idea about
the wonders ahead
This version of me might read more books this year, perhaps travel outside the country, maybe become better at time management. Or perhaps she’s gonna do none of those things. She’s grinning from ear to ear anyways.
I hope you’re enjoying your chases this year, friends.