It’s Not for Me

While we were waiting outside the university theater, questions popped inside my head, why were we there, why do I have to be here? Why is it taking so long? Was I the only one feeling this way?

Most would answer that we were celebrating the achievement of finishing a degree program. It’s a graduation. It’s a thing to be celebrated. It’s the norm. After all the hardship of going through the motions of attending class, answering exams, presenting cases, defending papers and what have you; surely it deserves recognition and celebration.

Finally, we were asked to go inside the theater. A mass of flashes and twinkling lights greeted us as we walked inside the theater. Among the sea of faces, I could see a lot of them were smiling and looking excited.

It was strange for me, and awkward too since I do not like being in the spotlight as I prefer to exist behind the scenes. We walked towards our seats, all the while smiling and posing for the cameras.

The program went on, and the speakers reminded us the lessons of appreciation and dreaming. They reminded us first to take note of all the things that you have, may it be small or big. Often times we take for granted the simple things that other would wish for, like the ability to write, to speak, and even to live. He had a point. Most people do have a bad habit of having tunnel visions and turning to God only in times of hardship. True. They finally reminded us of what having a dream means, and what it takes to make it a reality. Dreams don’t come true overnight. They become reality through hard work, prayer, and cooperation. To be fair, these lessons should have been imbibed already and they are pretty cliche. Cliche but true.

After the speakers, we were finally invited to the stage for our ten-second moment of “glory” which would most probably (in my opinion) be remembered more by those who were watching than the ones who were walking. Shaking hands with the officials who gave the medal and the certificate, I wondered whether they were sincere with their smiles and words and why.

With a light medal on my chest and a framed certificate in my hand, I began thinking what was the point to all of this. I did not really feel anything with receiving what I had at first. I felt blank. I just merely accepted it. What was it for?

Certainly not for me. They were just objects to me.

But then I realized, that it’s not for me.

The graduation, the medal, the certificate, no. It’s not for me.

It’s not for me. This is for those who lent me their strength and supported me to face whatever trials I had; this is for those who believed in me when I couldn’t.

It’s not for me because this is me. This is what I achieved through the help of many people. This is the result of the endless nights of cramming and crying, of worrying and thinking, of studying and learning. This is the result of fighting hard my doubts, worries, fears and regrets.

It’s for my teachers in grade school and high school who taught me the basics, who taught me the results of hard work and who taught me valuable lessons of perseverance and determination. Effort and Faith.

It’s for my professors in college who did their best to remind us students what it means to be a scholar of the nation, who did their best to equip us with skills to survive the harsh world out there, who did their best to teach us abilities to solve whatever problems we may have, not only for ourselves but most importantly for the benefit of the society and who reminded us to do our best wherever we may be. Honor and Excellence.

It’s for my high school friends who made me see the bright side, who made me feel happy just by being there, who reminded me to socialize and not to drown in my academics, and who reminded me of what I did, who I was and who I could still be. It’s not for me, this is for them.

It’s for my college friends, classmates and orgmates who made me see possibilities, who taught me how to face challenges, who made me have confidence in my skills and abilities, who reminded me that things cannot be achieved alone. It’s not for me, this is for you.

It’s for my true friend who tried her best to be there always for me, even if I couldn’t be there for her always, even if I had taken her for granted at sometime. This is for you who reminded me of what I am, who forced me to think outside the box, who taught me how to be resolute in decisions, who helped me in a lot of things and helped me by simply being there. This is for you, even though I know you already have your own (haha). It’s not for me, this is for her.

It’s for my childhood best friend who have always supported me, who taught me how to be strong and to keep going on, who reminded me to move on from my mistakes and appreciate what I did. This is for you,  when you kept me sane throughout the college years even if we were not always together, even if you didn’t know. This is for you, even though I know you might be raising your eyebrows right now and wondering what you might do with metaphorical objects. Just accept it dude. It’s not for me, this is for her.

It’s for my parents who were always there for me through thick and thin, who reminded me that I do not have to carry my burdens alone, who loved me and still loves me even with my weaknesses and shortcomings, who worked hard to raise my siblings and I properly, who did their best that I may be guided rightly, who supported my decisions and taught me responsibility. Ma, Pa, para sa inyo po ‘to.

It’s for the society, who paid for the cost of our education, who is still waiting for us students to achieve what we can in order to help them. Para sa bayan, para sa bansa.

It’s for God who is always, always, always there for me, who guided me and showed me the light when I was lost in the dark, who gave me life and gave me second chances when I failed so badly, who reminded me of the important things in life. It’s not for me, this is for God. Alhamdulillah (Praise be to Allah).

It’s not for me. This is for my hard work, my laziness, my strengths and my weaknesses.

This is the result of a battle, with my friends and family as comrades, and God as my commander.



Why I Cry

Living in an Ivory Tower

ivory tower

To live or be in an ivory tower is not to know about or to want to avoid the ordinary and unpleasant things that happen in people’s lives.”

Not all people know what it’s like to live and exist in an ivory tower.

People in fairy tales, people who lacks the understanding of the reality. Or perhaps people who knows too much of reality and chose to be safe and to be locked alone in a cold looming ivory tower for fear of the pain.

Sometimes people who live in these ivory towers place themselves in a pedestal. An unreachable pedestal to others, and it is an unreasonable and impossible standard that cannot be achieved through normal means but these people die trying to prove otherwise. How would they know it’s impossible? They live in their own reality where they are the master of their worlds.

What others do not know, or perhaps they know but do not understand, is that this pedestal, these standards, they are not unreachable and impossible to the people living in their quaint towers.

They are the norms to these people. They live in a different reality wherein they believe that they can achieve it and they feel so wrecked and disappointed when they do not reach the standards because they’re supposed to achieve it. They’re supposed to reach it because they know in their hearts they could have, they should have, they would have.

But the moment the doubts enter into their minds, their world gets torn apart and they rush into the defense of their seemingly impenetrable and infallible tower.

The moment they try to reach out to the existence of the world outside their tower, they get hurt and feel so helpless which is unacceptable to them, cursing out the truth of the world and creating their own truths for their convenience. Living in their ivory tower makes them feel safe and secure, but that’s not living, is it? They’re merely existing in an secluded space of a place of their own construct.

And you can’t force these people out of their towers. They know what they’re doing is wrong, maybe not totally wrong, but it’s ingrained in them. It’s part and parcel of who they were, and who they are.

As for who they will be in the future, there is still a chance to get down from their ivory tower and be one of the people in reality.

But they find it hard and they sometimes they need help. They’ve been stuck too long in a vicious cycle of running away and ignoring reality that even though they want to, even though they need to get out they can’t, not without help. But they wouldn’t call out for help. Either because of their aforementioned standards or because of fear of their pitiful cries not being heard.

The fact that they think they’re already safe and secure had twisted their perception of reality and because of their sense of self-preservation they are torn apart between getting out and staying in.

But who is to say that their perception is wrong anyway? Maybe just skewed, because everyone perceives things differently, even more so for them.

Their tower served as a defense, as a shield from all the pain and suffering of the world, but it also served as an impediment to other wonderful experience.

Nothing gets in. Nothing gets out.

By blocking out all the ugly things, they have also forgotten the fact that they are also blocking out the beautiful things. It’s not a world of just black and white, of pain and relief, of joy and misery, but it’s a myriad of emotions and a rainbow of experience out there.

And bless these good people who try and help these hermits into getting away from their tower. Bless these people who try to climb the walls to reach out to the lonely souls living in their own reality, neglecting the existence of the world that has a lot to offer. Bless these people who succeed in opening up their world, of destroying the fortress that deterred their growth.

Living in an ivory tower is a cold and lonely experience of misunderstandings and emptiness.

And people can get out of it if they wanted to (and some of them do, they really do want to), and there’s always a helping hand out there, willing to guide these sheltered people into the beauty of living and existing.

Botched Interview: In Terms of Snobbery and Selfishness

I asked a friend of mine if I’m arrogant. Said friend told me that I’m not arrogant. I’m just a snob.

A snob.

According to Webster:
1 British : cobbler
2 : one who blatantly imitates, fawningly admires, or vulgarly seeks association with those regarded as social superiors
3 a : one who tends to rebuff, avoid, or ignore those regarded as inferior
b : one who has an offensive air of superiority in matters of knowledge or taste

Obviously I’m not a cobbler. It would be nice though, I’d be sweet and all that but then I’d get eaten.

Clearly I don’t imitate or fawn with social superiors. Fawn. Psh. And socializing is kind of my frenemy.

So I fall under the third definition. It didn’t occur to me that I was being a snob, a somewhat elitist, until she pointed it out to me. There’s a difference between being an elite and being an elitist, it’s one of the lessons I’ll never forget from my beloved Kas 1 professor. I prided myself with being understanding and tolerant elite when in reality I was acting snobbish.

I was in for a rude awakening.

Last June 15, 2015, I experienced the first panel interview of my life.

In terms of preparation for the said interview, I did badly according to my standards. There were so many mistakes that could have been prevented but I didn’t.

First mistake: I didn’t recognize I was already exhibiting a defense mechanism against anxiety. At least I did on a subconscious level maybe, but I didn’t outright recognize it. I avoided any heavy preparation for fear of reminding myself of the anxiety. I didn’t research much, I just went on with my usual routine of ignoring reality and pushing through with reading fiction. I snubbed reality believing that I was enough.

Second mistake: I might have been overconfident. Not sure if that is the term since self-esteem is still something of an issue to me. But I believe I really was. I thought I could wing it, I thought that my sincerity and determination would be enough. I fooled myself into believing that: “Kaya mo yan!” And forgetting the important qualifier: “Kung naghanda ka ng maayos.” I snubbed the fact that practice makes perfect.

Third mistake: I forgot. I forgot that my speech cannot keep up with my thoughts, which is why I would stick to scripts during presentation and why I believe I do so much better on paper than oral exams. Impromptu speech is not my thing, it never was. I snubbed oral communication believing that writing is so much better and hence the lack of motivation to prepare.

Fourth mistake: I just prepared lightly. I didn’t let myself succumb to the other side of me that wanted to prepare for every angle that they can attack me. I didn’t want to succumb to my obsessive compulsive tendencies. I’m snubbing even myself right now.

Mistakes set aside, on the day itself I just prepped myself to believe that I’d weather through it because I already have a vague idea on to why I want law and things.

Hah. Vague. That in itself should have been enough of a warning for me.

But it wasn’t the idea of why law that was vague but rather on how to say that idea.

Because my idea for taking up law was really to help people (for self-fulfillment of course. I’m not a martyr though I somehow want to be). I didn’t know if the panelist would want a wishy washy idealistic, stuck-in-an-ivory-tower kid taking up law. And I didn’t like sharing my thoughts with those I’m not close with. I was selfish with my thoughts.

I cannot, for the life of me, recount the whole details without having the urge to hide my face and cringe or bawl in a corner of the room. The gist is I botched it pretty badly because of being nervous, deaf, stupid, snobbish and selfish.

And I keep on having flashbacks. It’s that bad.

Maybe it wasn’t that bad, maybe it’s just my view and perfectionist tendencies but I don’t know.

That’s the thing, I don’t know. Aside from the fact that I did so poorly by my standards, and I wasn’t able to express myself properly like I wanted to.

Botched up. All because of my snobbery and selfishness.

And I sincerely pray to God that it won’t happen again. That I’d have the strength to change and move on. And that I’d stop face palming every time I remember it.

As the song goes, there can be miracles when you believe. And I pray hard to believe that even though I botched the interview I’ll get through it, Amen.

Of Arrogance and Confidence, and Everything in Between

What is confidence?

Is it believing that you can do it? Is it something you can eat? Is it something innate? Is it just a concept, a justification of one’s ability?

People keep on saying that it’s just believing. Believing and not faltering. Being absolute in that trust of whatever it is.

Can you learn it? Can you buy it somewhere? Because if so, please show the way. I clearly don’t know how to be, or I might not have it at all.

For some convoluted and twisted reasons, I cannot clearly delineate between arrogance and confidence.

Arrogance is defined by Webster as: “an insulting way of thinking or behaving that comes from believing that you are better, smarter, or more important than other people”.

And of course, being arrogant is simply not acceptable to me, and yet sometimes (maybe more often than I notice) I come off as being arrogant instead of confident (either in my head or in actual conversations and actions).

It’s a block. It’s a frustrating block of mine that I can’t seem to get rid of. That block which is explaining myself to others.

They ask me to describe myself, to market myself, to convince them why I should be the one for whatever position/school/thing/what have you. And I can’t answer them properly. I usually can’t unless they ask a direct question of: “what are your likes, where do you live, what do you do.”

I can’t even take a proper compliment without feeling embarrassed.

I keep on asking myself why? Why the hell do I act that way? Why is it that I’m rarely content, rarely confident, rarely appreciative of what I have?

I can think of many reasons. Most probably due to neurotic tendencies and complexities, there’s also the factor of living in a damn ivory tower (and here I thought I was finally free) and the factor of being arrogant in the sense that I have don’t have to explain myself because actions speak louder than words. There is also the fact that I’m just naturally a vague and shy person.

Neurotic tendencies.

Now that is one big can of worms. I can’t accept a simple compliment because I have always believed that I could have done more, could have achieved better. I have standards, standards which I thought I have lowered but hello denial and subconsciousness. This is so frustrating and embarrassing. I could blame it on the fact that I’m surrounded by overachievers and they usually belittle what I have whether it is just in my mind or they say it outright.

Not that it’s totally their fault. I can’t feel inferior without acknowledging that they are superior and somehow they are. I let myself believe that I’m such an inferior human being. It’s quite insensitive of me to think that way because there are those who are less capable than me, what of them then?

And here comes Desiderata by Max Ehrmann: “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” There will always be someone better than you, and there will always be someone who is worse than you.

Living in an ivory tower.

Yes. I’ve been stamped as a person living in an ivory tower separate from reality (because reality sucks, throw it down the window, we don’t need it, and it doesn’t need us). But see here, comparing yourself with others can go so wrong. This is why I just benchmark myself with my own standards. I compare myself with what I believe I can do, and what I actually do, but I come off as selfish and arrogant to myself which I really try to avoid.

So hello again ivory tower which I thought I’ve finally exited. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Being vague because I’m arrogant like that.

I can be specific, but most of the time I’m just vague because I expect people to understand or at least try to understand. I’m vague when I feel that things are obvious and I don’t really have to explain anything at all. I’m vague when I’m unsure of myself. I’m vague when I myself don’t know what to say. I’m vague because I don’t want to be understood, and yet I want to be understood by those who I feel deserve to know me (hello again arrogance).

But the reality is, not all people are mind readers. Not all of them will make the effort to understand you, the world would be a better place if everybody is understanding and respectful. But they’re not. And people why wonder why the world is at war. I’m getting off topic. My wandering mind is so hard to control.

So here I am, still meandering between confidence and arrogance. I’m making progress, I think.

I should hope so. I get the believing part. It’s just that I botch things up once in awhile (scratch that, maybe often) but I’m still trying.

Oh how I hate making excuses.

Yeah. Here we go again.

While I’m having debates with myself for lack of confidence and being arrogant, or maybe for just being so contradicting, there’s this thing called having faith in God.

Because really, losing faith in yourself is one thing, but losing faith in God is just plain horrifying.

Confidence in God is always better than having confidence with yourself.