Chasing Dreams: Of Desperation and Determination

This is it. Finally.

After submitting all of my requirements and finally enrolling in my dream law school, that was it. Ok. I’m done. I’m happy. Can I stop now? Hahaha. Kidding. Or am I?

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I decided to transfer. I already knew I was going to be pressured and stressed like I have never been before from different people with different expectations from me, mainly because I am technically repeating first year.

What have I done? Made things harder for myself apparently.

I have been called a masochist at best when I told a friend of my decision to transfer and how I expected the people in my college to treat me i.e. bullying, expecting great things from, pressuring me to be an honor student, no excuse for failing, etc. I already knew that. I prepared myself for that mentally. I was ready to tell people to f*** off when they say things like that, internally of course, because I can never say that to their faces unless they really deserve it. I was already programmed to just smile and nod, and say yes while tuning out their voices and finding out ways to escape them without me being strangled or them being punched to the face.

What have I done? I’m running after an idea.

I chased after my dreams. I consciously chose to ignore the thoughts bouncing inside my head about regretting transferring (because my new motto is #noregrets), about quitting while I still can, about staying low profile because I don’t want to dig my own grave anymore. I just want to do my best. That is all that I really want. I want to do my best and I want to be able to help people.

These past few days I just realized that I am tired and frustrated, and it’s annoying. It’s really annoying and debilitating. I had three months of vacation. Why am I still tired? Is it because I suffered from my situation of not knowing whether I will be able to enroll to my dream school or not, or because I was suffering from my doubts of whether I do deserve to be here, or because I am missing my previous school like how I usually do when I go to different places, or because of the pressure and expectations I know I am facing from a lot of people? I tried to recharge this vacation and I am still tired. It’s like trying to charge your phone and wondering why it doesn’t turn on, only to realize you forgot to plug the charger to the outlet.

It’s a combination, but more than that, I am pressured from own self. God, there I was proudly stating that I do not care what others think of me anymore, that I don’t care what their expectations are, I will just do what I want and be thoroughly selfish for the second time in my life. When I was hesitating to transfer because of the pressure that I know I will receive from being known as the younger sister of my siblings, my friend asked me, and I will never forget it, because it struck me to the core: “Are you really sure that’s your reason why you don’t want to transfer? Your siblings?” Yes. Partly, yes, it is unavoidable. Even my siblings think so, innocently remarking how I could never escape their shadows. But right here, right now, I knew this is a battle against myself. I was never trying to escape their shadows, I was trying to escape my own.

I tried, and I am still trying to study, only to end up frustrated that it almost reduced me to tears. Why can’t I read as fast as I did before? How stupid can you get, you’re supposed to know this already! How the hell did I survive last year?! I feel so stupid and disappointed with myself. My new professor told us to not “wallow in self-pity” and move on. Psh. I do not wallow in self-pity. I only wallow in frustration and self-hatred, but don’t worry I’m trying to move on, hence this post.

Perhaps the reason why I survived last year was because I kept on praying: “God, please don’t let me give up, God please no, please, please no, no, please.” My study habits were nothing but mere desperation to hold on to something, to prove something to myself as I have accidentally and intentionally sabotaged myself in the past and I don’t want to do it anymore. I was in a trial phase. I wanted to change, I wanted to grow. My energy last year was so limited (until now), that I just stopped studying whenever I wanted to stop and studied whenever I wanted. I lived on a day to day basis, and I would often enter class regardless of the fact that I studied or not, with my classmates teasing me that I should get a reward for having perfect attendance (except for that time when I got so sick I couldn’t risk infecting other people and I couldn’t move). My mantra was: “Sugod! Kahit butter knife lang ang dala sa giyera, sugod!” “Charge! Even if my only weapon is a butter knife in this war, charge!”

I can’t do that now. I can’t.

I can’t because I know how much this slot cost me, more than anybody. I felt the frustration last year of hearing people quit and drop from my dream school. I know I have no right to judge them, because everybody has their own reason and story. Last year, I felt heartbroken when I learned that my dream school which rejected me called the other applicants to ask them if they still want to study there. They did not choose me. Again. I accepted that fact, that I was undeserving back then, and until I graduate from my dream school I would still deem myself to be undeserving of this opportunity. I tried applying, one last time, just to check, because I just had to know. Why? I don’t know, but I knew I had to. So I finally passed, and things happened which almost prevented me from enrolling. The point is, I know, I truly know how much this opportunity is. I have fought for this relentlessly, sometimes halfheartedly because of my fears but still, I have fought and I am still fighting.

I know I can’t just trudge through this without putting in my all. Now I’ve realized that I wasn’t halfhearted in my attempts last year, I was tired, but I did what I could under those circumstances. I am trying my best right now, and I can’t help but beat myself up because what kind of best is this? F***, you call this best? You’re so much slower than before, this should be just a review for you. You haven’t even finished your required readings, and you’re wasting time trying to write this post. You’re an embarrassment to yourself.

I am even forced to omit certain truths when my classmates ask what I did for a year, I would often reply “gap year”. The sleepless nights, heavy workload, breakdowns and mini-heart attacks were reduced to “gap year”. It’s not that I wanted to hide what others would see as an “advantage”. What “advantage”? You mean the knowledge that if you fail a subject you already learned last year, it’s going to hurt badly? I just wanted to avoid the attention, personal questions and their subsequent reactions which I’m sure will piss me off. But I wanted to answer them honestly, and to tell to their faces that yes, I am a transferee and technically retaking first year. Am I crazy? Yes, I kinda am. But more than that, more than trying to explain to them that I don’t have it “easy because I already know these things”, more than trying to explain to them how hard it is to be scared of the thought of being compared to your stellar siblings and the professors not seeing you for who you are but who your family members are, I just want to say to them, please, please don’t waste this opportunity, please don’t be so arrogant, thinking you are great and smart, believing the brainwashing and indoctrination of the professors telling you about being the “cream of the crop”. That is true, being in UP, there is a presumption of being smart and excellent. But that is also bullshit. Presumptions can be overturned by hard and conclusive evidence. Don’t destroy that presumption. And serve the people. Always remember that. I have met wonderful and brilliant people, and they don’t study in UP. Brilliant people can exist elsewhere. Brilliant people who I believe right now deserves to be here more than them. I am allergic to arrogant people and I dislike them with a passion (which includes myself, maybe this is why my allergy never goes away).

I started to judge the people who said they were in that dream law school because they didn’t want to work, but then I reminded myself that I was like that at first. This is just the start, and I am really trying hard, to give them a chance because it really is just the beginning, so I am keeping an open mind about them, even if I find them annoying sometimes.

So why did I write this? Oh just to rant. Hahaha. And just to remind myself, that this is it. This is really it. Why are you wasting time wallowing in frustrations and exhaustion? Take a break. You already know that fear of failure is very debilitating. Stop being scared. Just stop. Just read, read, read, you’ll get somewhere. You’ve already proved that to yourself. Don’t ruin this opportunity because of overthinking and don’t burn yourself right away. Give yourself time to adjust. You have a sickness. It is not an excuse, it never is, and it never will be, but it is a limitation that you have to overcome.

Make mistakes. Don’t be a perfectionist (too much). It is a school. Grab the chance of learning while making mistakes because in real life it is going to be so much harder.

BALANCE. Find balance. And always pray. Pray pray pray. Please don’t be so arrogant as to believe that you got where you are because of your own. You didn’t. You can’t. And you know that.

This is it, I’m chasing my dreams. It’s only now that it is sinking into me. Really. I wasn’t able to savor that fact because I was too busy blocking my thoughts of “You are so gonna regret this. Girl, you crazy. Stop, look for another thing to do, do you actually deserve to be here? etc.” I wanted to roll in the Sunken Garden and bask in the sunlight, but rainy weather and hello readings.

I am determined to see this through. You don’t have a right to quit. You will only quit when the school kicks you out, but no, never again, you are never gonna give up on your own. God please no. Ya Allah please help me do my best. Please. Please. Please. What I have accomplished last year through sheer desperation, I will finish now with determination.

Ora et Labora. Prayer and hard work. Never forget.

So. Yeah.



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.