Confusing Choices

Feb 5, 2016

I went to my old school to get my TOR and apply for the entrance exam (LAE) which I failed last year. Now, people might be wondering why the hell I took it again (and I asked myself this question a lot of times before). First and foremost, it’s to have closure. To say that I conquered it in my own way, because I felt that things were open ended and it would honestly drag on with the “what-ifs” and the “you-should-haves”, so let’s just wing it one last time. Second, I just wanted to take it with my best friend. Third, because why not.

It made me realize how much I prepared last year when I took the exam. I did prepare, and I did myself a disservice when I denied it and blamed myself for failing because I didn’t study “enough” or I didn’t do my “best”. What the hell did I mean by “enough”? Or “best” for that matter. People do their “best” yet they fail. Is it really our best or were we just destined to fail? When do we know that we did our best? People might say they did their best after the results which is unfair if you think about it, because if the odds were against you and you did what you could yet ended up failing, does that mean it wasn’t your “best”?  If the odds were in your favor, and you hardly did anything, did you technically do your “best”? Does the end justify the means or the means justify the end? I digress.

Anyway, while I was lining up to pay for the entrance exam fee, I met a guy who was also going to take the exam. We chatted for a few minutes while waiting for the que to move. He introduced himself, saying that he was a working guy with a family, but he really wanted to pursue law. Nothing strange about that, inspiring even, for the fact that he is pursuing his dream regardless of age. Now what really entrenched in my mind is when he said (non-verbatim): “Suntok sa buwan, pero gusto kong subukan. Ayoko naman na mag-suffer sa mga what-ifs na ‘yan.” [It’s like hitting the moon, but I still want to try anyway. I don’t want to suffer the what-ifs (of not taking the exam)].

Para sa iba suntok sa buwan, para sa’yo nasayang na pagkakataon” [For others, it’s like hitting the moon, for you it’s just a wasted chance]. That’s what I thought to myself.

Sometimes it sucks when you have epiphanies in the middle of a crowd and you want to express it, because suddenly and violently crying would get you sent to a counselor at best or would get you sent to jail because of scandal at worst.

It hurts. It bloody hurts to face reality and the gravity of what I’ve done. I’ve had my chance and I wasted it. The stranger was kind enough to point out to me of my blessings, that my parents support me, financially or otherwise in my pursuit of this career, that I have the advantage of youth with me and that I look smart enough to survive this. Talking to strangers really have an effect on providing new perspective, or at least reminding you of old perspective. I could only smile and nod at him, that yes, yes I was very blessed even if I wanted to scream that I know, I bloody know, I know that already and that’s what makes me guilty but feeling guilty does nothing, right? I couldn’t exactly burst into tears and hysterical amidst the people just innocently waiting in line to pay for whatever matters they have to pay.

The only thing that I could reply to him while reminding not only him but also myself, the very lesson that I relearned since starting law school: “Kuya, ok lang po yan. Natutunan ko po sa law school namin na kung para sa’yo, eh ‘di go, kung hindi, eh ‘di hindi.” [That’s ok. I learned in my law school that if something is for you, then it’s for you. If it’s not, then it’s not.]

Thank you, stranger, for making me realize and remember what I have. Praying for you and your family.

Feb 8, 2016

The exam. Again. I could only laugh while waiting in line for the exam because of the fact that I was taking the exam again, even after I was rejected for how many times (first time for the first exam, second time for the interview, and the third time when they supposedly called the other interviewees to give them another chance while I wasn’t called). I wasn’t as nervous as before. I just felt cynical, and strangely happy.

While waiting in the line (line again, there is something magical about lines that make people social and go talk to each other, probably to kill time), I met an old classmate of mine from high school. I was honestly surprised to see him there. I thought he wouldn’t recognize me, or that he was just a stranger, so I decided not to approach him.

Surprise surprise! It was my classmate.

It was a nice breathe of fresh air. We talked about random things, from college to politics, and finally about the exam. He understood my logic, I understood his logic. He asked whether it was my first time taking the exam, I thought about lying, saying that it was my first time also, but from some reason I found myself telling the truth (probably God reminding me not to lie).

“No, this is actually my second time,” I said that with a sheepish laugh, then I couldn’t stop my traitorous mouth from continuing the story from start to the end.

He is the type of guy who doesn’t mince words and just goes straight to the point. After my story, he said this: “Hala eh ‘di bitter na bitter ka pala? Andun ka na eh.” [“Oh no, so you’re bitter about it? You were already there (a chance at that school)”]

I think I was supposed to be affronted with what we said, because he was apparently rubbing salt into my wounds, although said wounds were almost closed so never mind that. I felt surprised instead, because I didn’t think that I was supposed to feel bitter, I just felt frustrated and mad at myself for what I did but I couldn’t describe my feelings. I also felt relief that someone understood my plight and that some of my feelings were validated because years ago I learned not to trust emotions so much because I feel differently so I would need a comparison outside, a reason. So thank you too old classmate.

The line finally moved and we entered the exam room. The usual shenanigans on giving instructions about taking the exam and distributing booklets and answer sheets happened.

I opened my booklet, and all I wanted to do was bang my head on the table. The questions were so familiar but I couldn’t remember the answer. Great job self, what a great job of not reviewing, my perfectionist side told me. Of course I ignored that voice and just continued with the exam, and can I just say some of the essays were so inspiring and beautiful that I wanted to ask the proctors where they got them (but they might think I just wanted to sell it to review centers, so I didn’t, I tried to Google search it afterwards but couldn’t find it anywhere online).

I finally reached the reasoning part. I laughed but I tried so hard to stifle my laughter, my poor seatmates might think I was going crazy (true enough but they don’t need to know that). I read a question that I could relate to so well, and I wanted to ask the proctor whether or not they did it to provoke the repeaters of the exam.

Non-verbatim (because for the life of me I find it so hard to memorize):

“Question: X took the Law Aptitude Exam. He failed the exam. Which of the following is the logical conclusion:

a. Xxxxx

b. Xxxxx

c. X became depressed

d. Xxxxx “

Really, what a way to rub it in our faces, but perhaps it was just a friendly reminder and an implied inspirational message that we still have our lives ahead of us even if we fail the exam so we shouldn’t get depressed over it. For me the question was just ironic, with me sitting there and taking the exam again, after knowing what it feels to fail it. I therefor conclude, that it was maybe an inspirational message, but I still laughed at the irony of it all.

After finishing the exam, I told myself that I don’t care about the results anymore, I got what I wanted I just took the exams again.

Hmmm. Ok, maybe I do. I should, but I just told myself that I wouldn’t make a big deal out of it anymore. I learned and remembered a lot of things in taking the exam again, so it was not a fruitless action.

April 11, 2016

In the morning, we went to my doctor for a checkup. I told him I took the exam again, he just said that was good. We talked about schools and where it would be better for me to go in terms of my health. He told me that shifting to UP would solve all of my problems (I got “evicted” from my dorm and they wouldn’t let me renew my contract for the next year but they allowed me to stay to finish the semester, I wouldn’t have to take any summer classes because I lack certain subjects from my undergrad, the environment is so much better there and wouldn’t trigger my allergy rhinitis and my need for space is bigger than normal, financial costs, etc.) but then he said I would have to take into consideration the pressure from being compared to my siblings would bring, I have two shadows to overcome. For others, it would seem inconsequential because mind over matter, mind over matter, but for me it’s actually not. It’s a big deal. It’s not one of the things that you can just say “go away!” and it would, no, it’s not. #siblingproblems #middlechildsyndrome.

He also told me that if I stayed in my current school, it’s okay because he thinks I would grow more, and in fact I already grew and developed during my stay. In the end, it’s really my choice.

“You need to be more assertive.”

Being assertive is different from being aggressive apparently. I thought it was just the same. He gave some pretty good advice, which I should probably already know and do because I tell this to my friend often. He told me that I should make a choice and that after it he also told me “panindigan mo” [dignify the choice, stick to it].

I was confused at that point that I told myself to ignore it because I still have a lot of time and I don’t know the results anyway. I was so wrong, again.

In the afternoon while we were waiting for our professor to come, a classmate of mine asked me my whole name. Not knowing the real reason why he asked such question, I could only answer him honestly and so I told him. He said my name out loud and confirmed if it was me, I could only say yes.

He asked me if I took the LAE. Now, I had no intention of divulging that I took the exams again to anyone except my close friends because I’m a private person like that. Privacy is not just a right, it’s a need in my case. I could only nod meekly because I couldn’t lie, I could evade like crazy but I couldn’t lie.

After that, my sense of peace and privacy shattered.

Pumasa ka sa LAE!!!” [“You passed the LAE”].

I could only stare dumbly back at him.

My classmates started shouting and congratulating me. They were all so proud and joyous. It was overwhelming and embarrassing for me that all I could say was: “Guys, it was just for closure, really for closure!” while covering my ears. At that point I wanted to wring the neck of my classmate (kidding) for saying it out loud and I was kind of regretting taking it because now I have to do some serious meditating and cost benefit analysis and things. Why did I take the exam again? Oh, closure, right. The things I do for peace.

I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I’m an extremely shy-that-sometimes-it’s-unhealthy.

The Aftermath

It was a blessing in disguise that it was publicly announced because then I wouldn’t have to awkwardly tell it to my classmates if (I said “if” okay, not “when”, I’m still thinking #defensive) ever I decide to shift and it helped me increase my tolerance and patience and served as a practice on how to keep nosy and curious but well-wishing people out there.

God knows how many people have asked: “Ano lilipat ka na ba? Anong gagawin mo na?”[“Are you going to shift? What are you going to do?”]. I don’t mind my close friends asking but not even my supposed resting bitch face could stop others, sometimes I feel harassed and pressured when all I want is just time to myself to think about it quietly without any outside influence (which is totally impossible). If I suddenly isolate myself just to meditate and be a hermit don’t be surprised.

“Thank you for the concern, I appreciate it. No, I haven’t decided. I still don’t know what to do. I’m still praying and I just want to focus on the now. This is none of your business please keep out.”

Of course I didn’t say the last part because that would be rude. There were genuine well-wishers who just said that they would support me with whatever decision I would make and the others were so supportive and kind to tell me that I should push through it, that I can do it no matter what even if the pressure is real.

I realized once again, that I am so blessed with the people in my life. My best friend, my college friends, my Teampura girls, my classmates from 1B, especially my dear parents. I really learned a lot from this experience.

I honestly still don’t know what to do but I do know this, I may plan and plan, but God is the Best Planner out there. I’m just going to pray first, and do my best.

 

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Life

Where can I be free?
To breathe, to cry, to flee
When can I be free?
To simply just be me

Who is there to understand?
The struggles, the pressures, the demand
Who is there to never leave?
To watch and feel as you grieve

When can we be who we truly are?
To act, to live, to exist by the hour
When can we have what we truly need?
To stop the pain, the anguish as we bleed

Why are there chains around our necks?
Dozens of crosses more than checks
Why are we still, frozen in fear?
Waiting for nothing, ordinarily queer

How can we love without the pain?
Endless of sunshine without the rain
How can we live with so much to fear?
Endless of haze, there’s nothing so clear

To God we belong, to God we return
He douses with water, things that burn
His presence is the solace, the peace, and the end
Everything, and anything broken He can mend

For those who forget, He shall give a reminder
To strengthen the faith, and be a believer
For in this world full of deceit and lies
In His presence is the ultimate goal above the skies

Guard the gates of your hearts
For God is the only one who should enter
The Creator, the Compassionate, the Most-Merciful
For He is truly the answer to all the questions

Working Girl

Day after day, endless of essays
Night after night, it’s so tiring she says
Words after words, checking double checking
So she asks, is this all after graduating?

Surely she can do so much more
After all, the world is an open door
This is all a preparatory stage
Maturity and wisdom comes with age

Week after week, just sitting in front of the computer
From time to time, letting her mind wonder
Rest assured that there is more to this
Life is an endless struggle, but God is never remiss

It could never be denied that she is great in her own way
It could never be doubted that she is strong come what may
Though it is so tempting to give up and give in, simply quitting
There are people behind her back who wouldn’t let her, always supporting

There are unspoken fears, doubts, regrets and confusion
But all of this can be outshined by inspiration and motivation
Secretly though others do not know what she is thinking
Silently pushing and waiting and persevering

To the friend who is the best
To the friend who needs rest
There’s prayer, anime, manga, a lot out Youtube videos
You know you’ll be okay after those

Always remember, it is just a means to the end
Is this is it? No it’s not, there’s more and it will be God-send
You’ll somehow get there, just keep on going
It’s ok stop, remember there’s someone ready to be pushing

So cheers to future where we’ll be happy
But before we get there, there’s a lot more to face that’s crappy
Cheers to the random days of just chilling and eating
Mixed in with days of suffering and striving