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.

Fighting.

Of Privileges and Expectations

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a privilege is a right or benefit that is given to some people and not others while expectation is a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.

Privilege is seen as a horrible thing right now, which it is. Expectations would lead to disappointment, which is kind of true.

In my opinion, the two goes hand in hand. Having certain privileges entails certain expectations. And I hate both with a vengeance that most people do not know but may have noticed somewhat.

I do know that having a privilege is a blessing. It’s not something that everyone has, that’s the very definition of the word. It is unfair, society tells us. It is truly unfair, for others have to toil while others already have them in the first place. It is unfair when both person almost similar in personality, in effort, in everything except certain situations have to experience different things. Having a privilege means you’re expected to be successful in whatever way you were lucky to be born with. “Oh! You’re a daughter of a businessman? You should already have knowledge of becoming one!”. A ridiculous statement but you can hear this in different conversations, some subtle, some explicit, in different ways of saying.

I am privileged, I knew that since I was a kid, and I disliked it. Why should I have this when others don’t have what I have. Do I even deserve this? I was just a kid lucky enough to be born in a well-off family. I already knew that. I worked hard and tried my best to do what I have to do and that was to be a proper student and an obedient daughter. I tried to apply everything I learned and I took every lesson to heart that most of my friends would tell me I take things too seriously but it was my way of keeping my earn, of trying to help the world and getting rid of that privilege in my own way by doing my job. I would help when asked to help because it was my way of giving back, even if I knew in reality it does something so small it amounts to nothing. I’m idealistic, not naive. At least I tried, is what I would tell myself, to keep from killing a part of myself.

I grew up and entered high school where I somehow learned in an environment without the expectation of doing well because of my name, a privilege. That was a first. No one to expect a single thing from me because I was the first one in my family to enter the high school. It was refreshing and nice. I only had to deal with the privilege of having everything I need to study and live comfortably. Sounds arrogant right? Did I ask to be born this way? Did the others who were born in a different capabilities, different area, different family, different social status, ask to be born that way? Does everybody know the struggles that everyone has to live with? It is often said that Allah (SWT) does not burden a person beyond his capacity.

College happened. The university I went to is the premiere university of the country that I live in. I foolishly thought it was a privilege for me to enter into it, not because of the university’s difficult entrance exam, not because of their excellence, but because of my family’s capability to send me to a good school and training since I was a kid. There were unspoken expectations that went with my privilege. My siblings already went there, how could I not, there must be something wrong with me if I didn’t pass. It is a state university, our education was subsidized by the government. Students and other activist would often protest, education is a right not a privilege. It is a right, but the reality is higher education became a privilege which is unfair to everyone. I tried to ignore and just continued on studying, because I knew not to waste the opportunities given to us. We were expected to give back to the country, and we will someday, and in our own different ways right now.

And then law school happened. Certain privileges and expectations became more glaringly obvious. It was only then I realized how truly blessed I was to enter my undergraduate university when I met different people, who were so amazed by the fact that I went to there. I thought nothing of going there, because it was a privilege I took for granted, and I thought it was only expected of me to go there. Not everyone can afford to go law school, not everyone has the support of the family to pursue such field much like medicine. I knew that, I knew it was selfish of me to chase after it because of my personal reasons but I still did. But not many understand or realize the expectations that came with my decision to push with it, expectations not only from myself, not only from my family but also from the school and from everyone else who knows where I stand.

My dislike turned into hatred and I tried hard not to use what others would deem as a privilege as much as possible, it bolstered my desire for independence, and I hated expectations to the point that I turned to self-sabotage and impression management to prevent anyone from expecting things. Stupid right? How will my not using my privilege be of use to anyone unless I transfer it to them. How will destroying myself help anybody. How can I even disown myself from what I was born with without destroying relationships.

I just did not want anyone saying to me, that I got where I am solely because I am privileged, even if it is true, even if it is undeniable. I did not want anyone saying to me that I did not even try, to stop what I perceived as an injustice, an inequality, because it hurts. I tried, I worked somehow, I did what I could considering whatever issues and illness I have to struggle with that is considered by others as first world problems. I’m idealistic, not naive. I tried to kill the idealistic side, it almost died, but I realized I want to keep it, I’m fighting hard to keep it in this society.

Privilege and expectations take away the sweetness and pureness of hard work, it demotivates people, makes people arrogant, makes people self-absorbed. That is why, I admire honest and hardworking people so much, who did what they have to do properly to get where they are right now.

One day, some day, the system, the society that has perpetrated the toxic inequality and injustice will go down. Nobody will have the excuse of having or not having a privilege, there will only be honest to goodness effort and hard work. No more expectations, only goals.

Until then, there’s only prayer and hard work. Ora et Labora. Because Allah is Mercy, He is also Justice, and He can do things which we cannot do, but we have to do our part.

Contrary to popular belief, I’m idealistic, not naive. Let’s make this work step by step.

Confessions of a girl being haunted

Ever since I was a kid, I have always been followed by the ghosts of my mistakes. They rarely go away. So I made a lot of steps in order to escape them.

I would try to get rid of them first, by saying sorry, by identifying what I did wrong, by promising I won’t do it again. I’ll be better, I promise, just stop bothering me please, just stop whispering in my heart.

I would then try my best to avoid them. I’m not a perfectionist merely for the sake of being one. Making no mistakes means there’s no new ghost to haunt you.

I would also avoid activities that make them appear, like being a burden, asking help from people, failing subjects, disappointing people,  hurting people, getting things that I want, being selfish, disturbing others. Every activity that I need to do is scrutinized, on whether or not I will be chased by guilt after I do this or that, whether or not I could handle the ghost that would appear. Sometimes I’d realize that they appear with people. So yes my aversion to people might be contributed to the things that are haunting me.

Most of the time I would and could just ignore them, because denial is the name of the game for survival, and I would go on my merry way while pretending there is nothing whispering in my ears that I don’t deserve anything, don’t deserve to live, that the world is practically better off without me existing, that I’m too much of a burden, do something about it.

I can convince them into keeping quiet by praying. Other times, I also have a baseball bat ready, because I beat up the metaphorical ghosts to shut them up because I can’t think. It’s crowding my mind, hush I’ll handle you after all these things. Which is maybe why it irks me when an outsider tries to correct me, even though I know they only have good intentions, and even if it is for my own good, because it’s harder to convince them, and I can’t beat them until they shut up unlike the ghosts always staying beside me, residing in me. It takes too much energy when you’re already fighting something inside, so I’ll just nod blankly and say yes, yes I know. The voice inside my head already told me so, please tell me something I don’t know.

So when I was given a chance to chase after another dream, the ghost I aptly called accounting (I confess to killing that dream because I couldn’t, wouldn’t let anyone take it away from me, only I can take it. Bwahahaha. No. Seriously. I did kill it voluntarily). It almost fooled me into killing another one. But I told myself no, no more ghosts, no more dream killing. Stop bothering me.

Unfortunately when I decided to chase after the new dream, a new ghost appeared and started whispering things like I am such a burden to everyone around me, how weak I am that I had to ask help from other people to get what I want, how stupid I was to not prepare beforehand when I already knew what I needed, what should have been done, how useless that I don’t have my own income to support myself, questioning me whether it’s all worth it, whether I am worth it.

With my trusty bat and skills in denial, such ghosts will have to be ignored until they go away and/or are exorcised. So pardon me if I seem spaced out or loopy, it would be just one of my ghosts bothering me.

I’m fine even if I’m kinda not fine inside. I’ll be fine as always. Nobody can see what’s inside anyway, except maybe for those who have x-ray vision.

Before anyone calls an exorcist or a psychologist out of concern for my well-being, please don’t worry. God already has me. There is no power nor might except Allah. 🙂

 

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I’m at the crossroads, again.

WARNING: Very long and graphic. I was just joking about the latter part. Maybe.

Summary can be found at the bottom, because I like to ramble. Hahaha.

At this time last year, I was seriously contemplating about my life (as if I ever stopped). I was graduating from college (hooray! — *adult life looming scarily behind my back*) and I was scheduled for a panel interview for my dream law school which I failed horribly (that still makes me want to face palm, bang my head on the wall, and hide under a rock).

I remember feeling so confused and so torn, like I do now. I remember praying so hard for a direction, for a sign that will lead me to where I am supposed to be. I convinced myself there was nothing that I want in this life, except peace. I just want a direction, I want something a purpose in life, I want to do my best. It hurts when you don’t get what you want, so I learned to persevere with what I just need. I needed to do something after graduating. I’m relatively easy to convince and easy to talk to, I’m a chill person who just goes with the flow. Then I realized there was something that I’ve wanted more than anything in life so far.

Law school was an option. In fact it was my only option, I didn’t want to work right away. I felt that no company (zero/nada/wala) would have accepted me that would be a perfect fit for my personality (and to address the confusion and the comments like: “Eh? But you’re a nice person, you’ll find a job somewhere” etc, I sincerely did not know or realize that, okay? I blame the career fairs that I’ve attended and myself haha). I did not want to look for jobs yet though to be honest I felt happy and flattered when I received job interview offers but then I was already enrolled in another law school, so all I could think was: “Where were you when I needed you the most?” #hugot.

In the end I chose law. Why? I don’t know. I’ll get back to that when I know the answer because God knows how often I’ve asked myself that question only to end up with no explanation. All I know is I just want to.but I failed the exam for my dream school. I can say that it was one of my life-wrecking moments so far after my accounting days *insert awkward coughing* that all I remember clearly is the turbulent emotions that I had back then, I exaggerate of course. but what I felt was no joke.

I remember asking myself again and again, what would I do with my life, where am I going? I beat myself inwardly for failing an exam I was supposed to pass easily because my siblings (*insert middle-child syndrome/inferiority-complex/whatever-you-want-to-call-it here*) did it, so why did I fail? Where did I go wrong? Where was I lacking? And we jump to the hasty conclusion that I was stupid. I attended the panel interview which . . . hrrr. . . . bad thoughts, go away bad thoughts. . . never mind. So I went to the thing, and after that I already knew I wouldn’t get accepted to that school (well hello self-prophecy) but I remember praying so hard for a miracle. It was Ramadhan back then (and it’s also Ramadhan this time, praise be to Allah), so we went the Masjid (it’s like the equivalent of a church, for those who don’t know) to pray. I prayed as if my life depended on it, I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing because I kept on having horrible embarrassing flashbacks, even though people around me were getting concerned and all that because there was person near hysterics inside the room. It’s supposed to be a happy month, a month of blessings and forgiveness, the month of Ramadhan. My tear-ducts had a malfunction, maybe, so it was kinda leaky. I prayed and I prayed for guidance and forgiveness, and a miracle that I would get accepted into that school. Allah answered in the negative, nope that dream school is not for me, no no, so off I go to another school.

Do I regret failing the exam and the interview for that law school? Yes and no. Yes, because who likes failing? Nobody I tell you. People fail but they don’t intentionally do it. . oh wait I did but that’s another story. The point is, of course I felt awful that I failed. It’s normal! I mean, I act not normal sometimes, but I’m still normal. Haha. I digress. No, I do not regret failing because it made me realize a lot of things. It made me realize that I had issues to resolve, (yeah, other things could’ve made me realize that but still) and it also made me realize how much I wanted to study law. I did, I wanted it so badly, I still do. Is it because humans are fated to have desires over what they do not have? I hope not. I’ve said before that I believe myself to be a chill person almost monk-like (errrr, if I offend anyone who is a true monk then I apologize), who has no desire except for peace. But then. . . Oh God I really hope not. Stop overthinking. Stop. Hahahaha. No, I don’t regret failing because it made me want to dream again.

So I failed the exam and the interview right? I enrolled in another law school right away, impulsively I might add. I told my parents I would enroll in that school and then I found myself doing it the next day. Poof. Like that. I was a late enrollee. My dad was proud of me, and I think he was secretly pleased because I ended up enrolling in his alma mater. My first year of law school was a roller-coaster ride. It was baptism through fire, as they say. It all felt surreal, now that I think about it. I had my fair share of ups and downs. I was on automatic mode, and I was tired in general (because woe-is-me, kidding, our graduation last year was in late June while the first day of law school was in early July, I only had one week of vacation more or less after having to overload units in my last semester to graduate on time) but it was still fun, terrifyingly so. Imagine having mini-heart attacks before and during the class because recitations, and then just when you thought you wouldn’t get called, the professors call you, and you’d hate your surname and somehow wish the professor called another person.

I met a lot of wonderful people who I didn’t expect I would get close to at all. I was ready to be the lone wolf, the nerd just sitting at the corner of the room, the person who would just talk when needed. I wanted to be a super-nerd, just studying and reading and reciting during class, nothing else. I was far away from my home and my old friends, so it was not that hard to commit the intended social suicide. But yeah, we may plan and plan but Allah is really the best Planner. I met my sisters-in-law, my awesome roomies, my supportive classmates and bad-ass professors who sometimes tolerated my stammering and my awful jokes (there was this one time I had to say jokes about obligations for a class party, and my classmates laughed because they had to, yey. Haha. Ha.). I met people who made realize what I have been taking granted for years and that I am so blessed. We are so blessed.

Of course, I had my bad moments/recitations/exams/what-have-you (they were bad, okay? I’m not exaggerating they were bad haha), and nervous breakdowns. I would sometimes space out and ask myself why did I have to make things hard for myself, I can just stop and go the easy way out. I found myself wanting to stop and quit but then I prayed that God please don’t ever let me quit, no, not again please. It was really tiring. My brother passed the bar exams this year (yey, congrats bro, but still pray), so once again I asked myself why?! Like really, why. My parents are lawyers, my brother and sister are lawyers, my cousins are lawyers. Why do I have to be one again? Oh wait, because I wanted to and dreams and all that. Maybe I should just look for a job right now. . . . Haha. No. Or maybe? Hmmm. Stop. Hahaha.

What was the point of all of that? Well, I just wanted to ramble and waste the time of the readers. Haha. Kidding. The point is, I don’t regret enrolling in the other law school (no matter how hard and unreasonable they can get sometimes) because I learned and realized a lot. Ora et labora. Prayer and hardwork, the creed of my first law school that I took to heart. People shouldn’t regret things because everything is happening according to the plan. Not our plan, no, rarely so. Everything is happening within Allah’s plan. Now if we could just be informed of that plan, wouldn’t that be nice?

My journey through law school life doesn’t end there, well I sure hope not. I ended up applying again in my dream school, just to check you know. One last time, I asked Allah if it was really not for me. For closure, I say. For fun, I say. I unwittingly placed myself in the dilemma right now. I passed. Isn’t it amazing? It’s what I prayed for last year. Allah is truly amazing. He did not say yes right away, he merely delayed it (or I hope it was delayed, not another no,please).

So should I go, should I not go?

I don’t know but I truly, honestly, sincerely and wholeheartedly want to go.

But I’m scared. Scared of that I’d realize in the end that it was not worth it; that in the end I don’t belong there as much as I belong to where I am right now. I’d have to leave my friends behind. I’d have to go through first year all over again, the adjusting, the recitations, the studying, the crying, etc. I have to go through all of it. Again. With the added of pressure of being compared to my siblings who went to that school also. It’s so fun right? Right.

People kept on asking whether I’ve decided to transfer. I did not want to make a decision, because I’m afraid once again, that it will be taken away from me when I decide on it. It will be the fourth time I’ll get rejected by that school if I don’t get accepted again. It’s just. Well. It would hurt. Rejection always hurt. I’m not as indifferent and apathetic as I want to be. The grades for the second semester are still not out, and I’m anxious about the results because it would be the only deciding factor on whether I can transfer or not and I feel so helpless and frustrated, what if I did not pass some subjects and they be so clingy they don’t want to let me go that I have to retake it? (please no, please no please no, Amen). And the deadline is almost one week away. I am so tempted to just to go the office and just say:”Fail me if you want to, if I deserved it fail me but please just SAY IT RIGHT AWAY DON’T BE SO CRUEL TO MAKE US WAIT. NGHRHGHT!” and be done with it. But then I know they’re busy and all that and we should seek help in patience and prayer (Surah Al Baqarah 2:45) instead plus it’s Ramadhan and we’re fasting so we shouldn’t get mad or anything

So once again, I’m at the crossroads. Things are happening just like last year, but not totally the same. I pray to Allah that our hearts be not attached to what is not ours and that we may all be rightly guided. Please. Ya Allah please. We may plan and plan but You truly are the best Planner (Surah Al-Anfal 8:30). I don’t know where I’m going, but I’ll just keep on walking. We’ll get there somehow.

SUMMARY/KEYPOINTS (just as I promised at the start of this post. haha):

  • I’m a very talkative kid. Hahaha. Online at least.
  • I’m also indecisive. Errr.
  • Law school is hard. Really. Hard.
  • We may plan and plan but Allah is really the Best Planner.
  • Allah is amazing and powerful.  Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah). Prayers are powerful.
  • Ramadhan! ❤ The blessed month in Islam.
  • Patience is a virtue. It really is.
  • Be specific in prayers. I prayed that I’d pass the exam, and I kinda did, but it’s still  not sure whether I’ll get accepted into my dream school. So yeah.

The Costs of Quitting

Some people know the costs of quitting. Others don’t. Overachieving and tenacious people wouldn’t normally know. That’s good, and somehow it’s not because the one who usually soars higher, falls harder.

Quitting. It sounds horrible doesn’t it? It’s connected with weakness, cowardice, and failure. Everybody wants to be strong, brave and successful. It’s only normal right?

What if we rephrase that word, turn it into “letting go” instead of calling it as “quitting”? It sounds a lot better, healthier, and more hopeful, because when you let go it means you can hold on to better things now that your hands are empty.

I’m not encouraging people to quit. No, I’m just informing what it’s like to give up and stop. It’s always a personal decision, giving up or holding on.

Contrary to popular belief, quitting also takes strength. Quitting sometimes doesn’t mean you’re weak, sometimes you’re just too strong but you recognized it’s just something not for you. It can be hard to quit something you love but you know it would be better to let go. It’s good to be careful though, because people would often confuse something as a thing not for them instead of just being tired. “Rest but don’t quit”. It’s true. That saying is kind of incomplete, “rest but don’t quit and if you return and you’re still tired, maybe it’s time to move on or to make a new strategy”. It differs from person to person but trusting your instincts is good. They’re there for a reason.

Once you quit something for whatever reason, you’ll find yourself feeling relieved. The stress, pressure, burden, or whatever it is that was bothering you in relation to the thing you quit will lessen or disappear, depending on the circumstances. It’s a refreshing feeling. It’s a mix of being happy and peaceful, with nothing to bother you much anymore. Yes, no more stress! It’s gone! Woohoo. (As if. Stress comes a lot from different things). Now how long that feeling will stay depends on the reason why a person started and the reason why he or she stopped. Starting for the right reason and stopping for the wrong one often makes life difficult. After sometime, a person will realize the gravity of the action that was taken. If quitting was a wrong move, then regrets will sink in. Sometime it leaves a bitter feeling. If quitting was a good move, then a lesson about learning when to fight and when to step back is learned. Sometimes it makes you feel wise. The two aren’t mutually exclusive by the way, they can happen at the same time. So if you think about it, there really is no wrong or right move.

When you quit, you might become more aware and more appreciative of what it’s like to keep on fighting, because you already know what it’s like to quit. Whether it has left a bitter feeling or not, it somehow would keep you on fighting when you know in your heart something is worth it. When you already know what it’s like to let an opportunity pass, when you’ve already felt the regret and pain of failure, you’d know the sweetness of trying your best and not care much for the result, because the battle was an end in itself. It’ll be great and dandy when you succeed of course but you did your best, no matter what others tell you or how you feel, you did your best if you gave it your all. Unlike the other times when you gave up and never knew what could have been, you fought till the very end; that in itself should bring some kind of satisfaction and achievement.

Not everything is in our control, sometimes things just happen because of God’s plans, not ours.

So quit if you want to quit. Nobody is stopping you but yourself. The costs of quitting are quite high but you don’t get nothing out of it. There’s always something. You lose some, you gain some. Whether you quit or you fight, in the end if it’s not for you then it won’t be for you. So if we got nothing better to do, then let’s fight ’till the end I say, until we know for sure that letting go is better than holding on.

We don’t know what the future holds with certainty, only God knows. So we pray and we fight. We pray that we may be guided and make the right decisions, and we fight for the thing we decided to stick with.

When you know the costs of quitting, you’ll know the true value of fighting.

Chasing Dreams: Of Mixed Feelings and Doubts

School is about start next week. It’s not so much as a “Yey! We’re going back to school” feeling but more of a “Damn I’m going to hell” feeling. It’s only now that the weight of my decision to go to law school is sinking into me.

And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I don’t think nervous is the correct word. Scared witless could be the proper term. Doubts are bouncing inside my head, the fear is eating my heart and the worry is making my stomach feel funny. God, I really am scared. So scared that I feel like running away and I’ve already thought of my exit plans (hangover from my strategic management class). I get so scared that I feel like my heart is going to burst and my eyes are tingling with frustrated tears (and when I say frustrated tears it means the pesky tear drops don’t want to go down).

Countless of times this week I have thought to myself: “Ngrhgh anong nakain ko at naisip kong pasukan ‘to?!” [What the hell was I thinking, entering law school?!] I have beaten myself up, countless of times, berating myself for my thoughtless actions, for my impulsive and desperate self.

I have avoided truthfully answering the dreaded question: why law? People may wonder why I dislike answering the question so much. I really do hate answering because I feel that it is too personal, and I feel like I don’t know the answer myself. Or worse, I feel like my answer isn’t correct. I am scared to answer that question because I don’t like the feeling of vulnerability. I hate it. I would answer my friends honestly, about why I want to enter law, but I would often find myself answering in different ways because there is no single logic or reason behind my decision to go to law. Or at least it looked that way to me.

It was an impulsive decision on my part because I had so many options: look for a job first, think about life, build my own business, etc., but no, I just had to push through with law school.

One of the reasons why I wanted to go to law school is because it gives me direction. And by direction, I mean I have a set of unwritten guidelines stating that: 1) READ 2) STUDY 3) READ 4) UNDERSTAND 5) ANSWER QUESTIONS 6) DEFEND 7) PASS THE SUBJECTS 8) PASS THE BAR EXAMS 9) DO WHAT PROPER AND UPRIGHT LAWYERS DO

All throughout my undergraduate program, I was agonizing over what to do with my life. I was so desperate for a goal, for a direction (still am). My previous dream died a horrible, horrible death, no thanks to me. And countless of times I have wished I could donate life force to somebody else more deserving. But hey I’m still here so I probably shouldn’t turn my nose up at God’s blessing that I’m still alive, so thankfully I’ve gotten rid of that mindset, or at least I’m getting there.

Another one of the reason why I wanted to go to law school is because it only seemed natural. I came from a family of lawyers; my parents, my older siblings and cousins are lawyers. It seemed natural to me that I would follow their foot steps. I was never one for “razing my own path” because I have always believed that I couldn’t and I was scared of burning myself.

The main reason why I chose law is probably because it was my dream, it is my dream ever since I was a child. I was exposed to law books, I would watch news with my dad, I would read books written by John Grisham and I would be inspired by whatever I would read (Street Lawyer inspired me the most, followed by The Client). And with my dream, I wanted to help people. I want to be one of the people who touches the lives of others and helps them achieve their full potential. I want to use the law not as an instrument to impede growth and promote corruption but as an instrument to help develop what a proper human being should be.

People could argue, that I can and may help people in many other ways. There’s medicine, science, journalism and a whole lot more. So I guess it ended up as a matter of preference. For some reason that I couldn’t explain, I chose law. It was like a calling, as cheesy and cliche as it may seem it just called out to me. I really don’t know what I ate to make me think this way. Here I am still agonizing over the issue of whether this is the right path or God wants to place me somewhere else but I was just too stubborn because of my pride and preference.

I have doubts. A lot of them. If I could sell them, and if somebody buys them, I would probably be rich. But nobody wants to buy doubts of others, they already have their own. I doubt if I have the right to dream again. After failing so badly with my previous dreams, I am scared so much of moving, of making my decisions because I do not want it to happen again. I do not want to do something that I will regret so much. I doubt if I have the right skills or talents to survive law school, or even the law profession. My family would say I have a “pusong mamon” [softhearted] and that I have to be strong and fight.

Yes, I know. I know that. I’m just really scared that I can’t do it. I feel pressured. I am scared. And can I just say that I believe there is something wrong when I find myself being optimistic in the way that: “Oh. I won’t be alone anyway. There will be others suffering with me.” Amidst all these doubts and fears, there is still something whispering in my heart that I can do it, that I’ll weather through it. There is still the feeling of elation and achievement that I took the first step towards my dream. Oh man, I did it. Hahaha. Okay I’m done, the first step is enough let’s stop this foolishness and masochism, I’m done.

I’m just joking. And they say jokes are half meant. See what I mean about mixed feelings? I’m scared that I began thinking that way, that I’m hoping and dreaming of something big when it could all go wrong so badly. My dreams frighten me and make me feel helpless. But at the same time, I think I feel excited that I was given the chance again to pursue something meaningful to me.

I feel nauseous just thinking about it, I’m thinking I want to get this over with but of course I can’t do that. My inner perfectionist wouldn’t let me do that. I have to do my best. Or at least if I go down, I must go down fighting. And I feel excited I was given a chance to have a go at dreaming again even if I have to face terror profs, thousands of cases and books as tall as me, sleepless and tearful nights and a whole lot more. Is it so wrong it’s only now that I feel excited? Talk about dense.

I have my friends who pull me up and believe so much in me that I am overwhelmed. They are part of the reason why I am pushing through with it, even if I was so tempted to say to my parents: “Ma, Pa, I don’t think I can do this. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” (Of course I can’t do that, they already paid the tuition and all). My friends who were excited before me, who are happy for me, who made me realize that my regret of not trying would be greater than my regret of trying and failing, who are there just to support me even if they’re physically not there, they believe I can do it and so I can’t help but to believe it too.They nurtured my sense of idealism.

I have my family to pull me down, not in the bad sense but for my own good. They teach reality and point out the things that outsiders and even close friends would hesitate to point out to me. Because as someone said from a favorite anime of mine (Silver Spoon): “In all things, I think having a dream means having  the resolve to struggle with reality.” They instilled in me the sense of reality. Really, I’m having mixed feelings that I don’t really think it’s good my mental and physical health (not that I was that healthy in mental terms anyway).

I’m scared. I’m happy. I’m nervous. I’m excited.

At the end of all these emotions, I’m just pursuing my dreams again. And it shouldn’t matter whether I was influenced into dreaming it, or if I just chose it out of my own volition, should it? It’s still my dream. It’s still my choice. For others, I think they would find it strange if I say that I feel happy that I can finally say “yes” when they say to me if ever I do complain (and I know I will): “Ginusto mo ‘yan eh.” [You chose it.]. I can finally answer wholeheartedly: “Oo, ginusto ko ‘to eh.” [Yeah. I wanted this.] If ever I do feel like running away again (I already started), I just have to remember the words of one of my favorite professor who is currently the Chancellor of my beloved alma mater:

But the UP way is to bite the bullet, take up the challenge” – Chancellor Tan

And we have the infamous line from the very well-known bad-ass Captain Levy from Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan]

The only thing we’re allowed to do is to believe that we won’t regret the choice that we made

Of course, I also have to remember God and pray:

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:186

And the chase begins.

Death of a Dream

I convinced myself that I was over it. That it could not bother me anymore; that I am in a happier and healthier place. There is some truth in those statements. But it’s just now that I’ve realized how I wasn’t totally over it. There is still something inside of me that refused to acknowledge things. It’s like a wound that just closed and scabbed, and it refuses to go away.

There were times that thoughts were buzzing in my head. Did I make the right choice? Is it wrong to chase something that is an illusion, something that wasn’t yours in the first place? Is it wrong to give up on a dream that you foolishly held and wanted since you were a child?

In the first place, why did I even start to dream on it? It was because of various factors, but mainly because of peer and family pressure. A parent has so much influence on his child that whatever he does, the child would want to follow in his footsteps. It is a mistake on the part of the child who never tried to find where she could and will belong to comfortably. The child was so adamant on proving herself to her parents when there was nothing more to prove but be a happy and content daughter of theirs. Was it really her dream or is there something else?

The thought that there was no chance to achieve that dream disturbed her greatly, but she learned how to cope, she learned to love something that was given to her. An opportunity to reach for that dream once again presented itself. She was hesitant and confused, but there was nothing much to lose if she tried, they said. So try she did.

Once again she was in agony, over the loss of something familiar, something she was good at. But why was she good at it? Was it because she loved it or she tried so hard to be good at it? Or is it all an excuse? Years and months she agonized over her decision. Time decided to test her and she ultimately failed.

The dreams she held as a child were nothing more than an empty promise. There was a chance that she was given to fulfill her dream; she could have fought hard and held on. She could have pushed and pulled with all her might. The fear and anxiety overcame her and made her believe she can do nothing but just stare after an empty wish. The fear of losing, the fear of failing ironically made her lose and fail.

Whose fault it was it? The teachers? The subjects? The system? The classmates? The lessons? It could have been partly their fault. But it’s truthfully not.

I killed it.

The dream, the illusion, the vision that I had in my mind; I killed it over my desperation and fears. It was a hard road that I was unwilling to undertake because I could not take risks. I could not live with myself if I failed after trying so hard. So killed, I did, in order to have an excuse that it was my own doing, it was my decision, and not the situation that refused to have me. I killed it to prevent it from anyone or anything taking it away from me. And with killing my dream, I killed something more important. Something died within me that I’m afraid to revive again.

Over the time, there were things that would remind of my failures. Things, people, or events that I would see and be bothered with but I would smoothly gloss over it. I’d notice it was there, but I never faced it totally. The reminder that I had today was something great that I had to acknowledge it, something that I have to face wholeheartedly. I have to face the fact that I won’t have the chance to experience what they experienced. I won’t be able to achieve my childhood dream.

This is a decision that I made. And I can’t go back on it. I already told myself that I’ll move forward and never look back. I now acknowledge the reality that when I gave up something that has caused me grief, I also gave up something that could have given me happiness.

Somehow, I can’t blame myself for grieving over it. It was still my dream, no matter how it could have changed over the years, no matter have I’ve dislike it when I was there, no matter how much it has caused me tears and fear every night. No matter how I’ve convinced myself that I was just deluded, jaded, fooled, and every adjective you could think of, into dreaming it, it was still mine.

There are five stages of death.

Denial. Ignoring everything related to the glaring truth that it was over, that it’s gone.

Anger. Cursing out the world for its harshness, beating yourself up because of the mistake.

Bargaining. Praying and wishing that time can be turned back and that mistakes can be corrected.

Depression. The bleak darkness which is watching over your shoulder, reminding you of what you did.

Acceptance. There’s nothing else to do except move on and learn from mistakes.

I already went through the first four stages. It was exhausting and mind numbing. And now at the last stage I can finally let go. I’ve stretched it too long, abused the time for feeling this way that I have unconsciously stopped. Oh I’ve tried, I’ve worked, I’ve moved, I’ve lived. But this should be the last time that I let myself feel the burden of something that I did in the past. I can finally accept. It’s time to move on.

There’s no way to go but forward. With one door closed, there could be others that are waiting to be opened.