Confessions and Closure

No I will not confess
But if you will ask me I will say yes
No I will not confess
Until society let me be my best

No I will not confess
The despair, the pain, the loneliness
No I will not confess
I am not a damsel in distress

I will fight my own battles
Break my own shackles
Look away, turn away
Focus on your own day

This is not a confession
This a mere distraction
A little happiness away from depression
This is not just an allegation

I don’t need any closure
I need relief from pressure
I want certainty in the unsure
Away from the sickness, the cure

These walls, the fence, all the enclosure
It guards dark secrets, words, and more
The only thing that I confess is I am not pure
I’m simply complicated, you need not know more.

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Mental Health, Society, and Law

Disclaimer: October is Mental Health Awareness Month, so here’s a little essay on my take on Mental Disorders. I’m neither a psychologist nor a professional, just a very concerned yet jaded law student who should be studying right now. I also reside in the Philippines, so yey context.

First let’s define things. What exactly is a psychological disorder? According to Ciccarelli et. al, there are many factors or criteria to consider abnormal behavior as a psychological disorder. Usually before determining whether a behavior is abnormal, psychologists and other professionals must answer these questions:

1.Is the behavior unusual, such as experiencing severe panic when faced with a stranger or being severely depressed in the absence of any stressful life situations?
2. Does the behavior go against social norms? (And keep in mind that social norms change over time—e.g., homosexuality was once considered a psychological disorder rather than a variation in sexual orientation.)
3. Does the behavior cause the person significant subjective discomfort?
4. Is the behavior maladaptive or result in an inability to function?
5. Does the behavior cause the person to be dangerous to self or others, as in the case of someone who tries to commit suicide or who attacks other people without reason?

These can be summarized into three factors: 1) deviance, 2) maladaptiveness, and 3) personal distress. If these factors are present, most likely there could be an existing abnormal behavior which could be a symptom of a psychological disorder. It is BEST to get a checkup and have a professional explain things but those are some of the basis. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been updated to DSM-V, so it’s really best to seek professional help when you feel that something is wrong.

What is deviance? Deviance is social norm deviance or when something goes against the norms or standards of society (Ciccarreli, 2012). Society sets the standard for what could be considered as normal. Before, having trouble breathing, self-harm, and ranting over small things would be considered as deviant when done in the extreme but today it looks like it has become the norm with the alarming increase in social media posts regarding such things. Memes like: “Please limit crying to 15 minutes” have become rampant. This might be a joke to some, but jokes are often half-meant and it is still very alarming.

What is maladaptive? It is anything that does not allow a person to function within or adapt to the stresses and everyday demands of life (Ciccarrelli, 2012).  The person is having a hard time to cope with the daily stress and ends up with extreme or risky coping mechanism like excessive drinking, etc.

What is personal distress? It is when a person feels subjective discomfort emotional distress when doing a particular thing. (Ciccarrelli, 2012). A person who suffers from fear of social interaction would feel great discomfort and emotional distress in gatherings and events, causing him or her to not go out at all.

Worryingly, a normal healthy person shouldn’t undergo excessive daily personal distress but as Philippine society stands today, it seems like the standards are changing as more and more cases of psychological disorders are being reported. Recent statistics point out that 1 in 5 people suffer from mental health problems. These are the reported ones; a person suffering usually hesitates to ask for professional for fear of stigma or lack of resources. The numbers are increasing even as I write.

So what causes these psychological disorders? There are many theories about the causes, ranging from biological to psychosocial theories. Recently, I’ve read an interesting article regarding neoliberal capitalism and mental health, on how psychological disorders could have stemmed from capitalism. The article is titled Capitalism is Despair, and it’s Time to Start Taking it Personally by Tom Syverson. Here are some excerpts from the article:

But what if your emotional problems weren’t merely your own? What if they were our problems? Instead of treating standard-issue mental distress as a natural biological condition, Fisher proposed, “we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill?” What if the real problem is that we’re living in wrong society? Perhaps Theodor Adorno was correct when he said, “wrong life cannot be lived rightly.” (Syverson, 2017)

Isn’t that an interesting premise? That the existing psychological disorders is not the problem, but rather the society itself. That is where my concern arise for my friends and the people I know, for people who comes to me and ask for help regarding their mental health. Going to a professional would help others whose disorder stemmed from biological problems, but what if the cause is the society? How do we change that? How can we help?

Relying on the work of psychologist Oliver James, Fisher noted a striking correlation between the rise of industrial capitalism circa 1750 and the growing normalization of mental distress. As capitalism became the norm, so did unhappiness. Daily misery is normal, because misery is what the system asks of you. Lifetimes spent in therapy, disastrous personal relationships, generations of hardening hearts, and private hells of hedonic narcissism: this is the price we pay for sustaining the impossible demands of capital. (Syverson, 2017)

It makes so much sense to me. I see posts on social media, complaining about the traffic, the work demand, their bosses, the insensitive and oppressive administration, other societal ills, and what have you. All those factors combined would naturally lead to a rise and normalization of mental distress.

To be sure, we court controversy with some of these points. Critiquing capitalism shades into a critique of the pharmaceutical industry, which slips into a critique of mainstream science, and suddenly one sounds like an anti-vaxxer. But the point is not to indict, as Foucault did, the entire field of diagnostic psychiatry. Rather, the idea is to consider that many forms of depression and anxiety might not be diseases with symptoms, but symptoms themselves—symptoms of a wider social disease called neoliberal capitalism. If chronic mental distress is the taboo byproduct of neoliberal economics, then it cannot be solved with neoliberal economics. Bourgeois unhappiness should be resituated as a socio-political problem with a socio-political solution. (Syverson, 2017)

As a former business administration, and economics student, I have always asked myself whether capitalism is good and sustainable. I have defended capitalism espoused by Adam Smith by saying that capitalism in its purest sense would have been better for the people right now but it was hijacked by selfish and greedy people.

Business ethics somewhat gave me hope, however, as things stand now, I am critical of the current capitalistic society that we have. Capitalism is really starting to look like despair to me, and I’m starting to take it personally.

So what now is the role of the law now regarding mental health and the society? Hopefully solve these problems. I have been a staunch advocate of the Mental Health Act since it was introduced by Senator Risa Hontiveros. The Mental Health Act (MHAct) reinforces and provides mental health care to those who would need it. I am cautiously optimistic about this because as previously mentioned before, mental health is a complex problem compounded by the current society. Execution of the laws are also an issue.

Whether the Mental Health Act would be helpful to those who are suffering or not is a question yet to be answered. Interestingly, there is an article about the effect of such special laws regarding disability. I would not delve into to the topic anymore for lack off time, and research, but the article is Plain Meaning and Mitigating Measures: Judicial Interpretations of the Meaning of Disability by Wendy E. Permett. 

I would probably write another article about it soon, if my resources (aka time and energy) permit.

Sources:

 

 

I Wonder

I wonder what it’s like
To have your feelings returned
I wonder what it’s like
To love without being burned

I wonder what it’s like
To be your close friend
To talk with you for days
To listen to your stories without end

I wonder what it’s like
To see you smile and laugh openly
I wonder what it’s like
To be your companion in misery

I could only dream and wonder
You are, after all, only a stranger
A person with a mask
I’m full of questions I’ll never ask

And so I step back and feel
Some things are beyond my will
As I try to stop wondering
I’ll go back to fully living

Unsent Letter: Gratitude and Hope

Since my last checkup with my doctor, I lost hope with myself. I thought to myself if I had to chase after something at the expense of my health, was it really worth it? I was just so tired. If I could donate my life force to someone else, I would have.

Pagod na ko.

I just felt so exhausted. Guilt was eating me alive. Medicine in addition to my school fees are so burdensome to my family. I was backsliding. The current president of the administration is both a fascist and a bastard. Philippine society seems like returning to 1972 only worse. My family is a family of public servants and the current administration is taking its toll on us in ways I could not describe. Law school seems so pointless with the current disrespect for the rule of law.

I felt like a useless human being. I felt helpless. The doctor told me to stop saving others, and start focusing on my studies because I was already failing.  I was in law school not to spread peace and love but to study he said. He told me, I was still immature, I was too soft. I felt broken. Beaten. Ashamed.

I was bitter and devastated. Was I supposed to just let bad things happen in front of me? Was I supposed to be mean and cold? My university is supposed to be a training ground for the leaders of this country and yet sometimes they act so heartlessly that it tears me apart to think that they are the future. Intelligent but heartless people, to me is the worst combination.

I didn’t tell this to anyone except my best friend, I was giving up on law school. I was giving up on my dream. I was just going to do things one last time for closure, but I wouldn’t do anything too taxing anymore because I was already burnt out.

I was doing the same routine, but my heart wasn’t in it. I would go to class, listen to the professors, read cases and books, watch others get hurt. Most of the time I would console my classmates who are struggling, trying to hold on, and I would often think to myself, that maybe I’m in the wrong field. Maybe law isn’t for me, maybe psychology is. In the first place all I wanted to do was to help people. With the current administration, law seems useless.

The reality is, perhaps I am just too naive and idealistic. I have come to accept that, but I will never accept that I have to have a cold heart to survive this world.

This is all thanks to my friends and people that I meet that keep on reminding me that kindness and empathy is still a thing.

I am very thankful and grateful to my friends who told me that the very traits I secretly hate in myself are the traits that they admire in me. I am thankful for them taking care of me when I couldn’t. I am happy that somehow I am able to help them despite being me.

Nabuhayan ako ng loob.

I felt hope bloom inside me when I met this person. This person who both had the smarts and the heart for the people. I almost gave up on my law school, but then people like that person existed. I couldn’t believe it. My friends ask me, what is it that I found that made me feel this way.

I saw a person who gave me a chance to speak out when I feared for the worst.

I saw a person who barely even knew me, to trust me, and to believe that I can do something.

I saw someone embody the very principles of Honor and Excellence. I saw someone who I can point out as an example when people start asking me who could have both the I.Q. and E.Q. to serve the people. Someone who I met personally, not some celebrity or big-shot personality. I met a very humble down-to-earth person.

I think I’m getting carried away by fangirling, but really, I just feel lucky and grateful that I met that person. Thank you for existing and fighting.

I was also very inspired when another one of my newly found friend told me this. I felt flattered and moved.

So, stand by your principles. We already have too many bright lawyers but we have very few people like you who have the courage to speak from the heart and fight for your causes.

Thank you so much for believing in me when I myself have a hard time doing so.

Kindness and empathy can really go a long way. 

I find myself once again being grateful and feeling hopeful. I find myself inspired.

I thank Allah (SWT) for these people and the opportunities I was given to meet them.

Alhamdulillah (thank God) for everything.

PMC 2017: Opportunities and Realizations

So. I joined this event called Philippine Model Congress or PMC 2017 last September 9-10, 2017. (No, it’s not a modelling contest where people walk on a runway and strut their stuff. God knows how I lack the looks and grace for such things. Hahaha.) It’s an event which tries to simulate the actual Philippine Congress when it comes to passing laws.

I joined the event because I was curious, and I also had a lot of time to waste so I told myself why not? I was also feeling stagnant with my life. I have no organizations, no work, and I only do free consultations with my friends (a.k.a, they tell me their problems so that I can support and help them). I don’t like studying much anymore. I would often stare at my books and feel tired without even opening them.

I went to the event alone, I did not know anyone there except for some online friends. Surprisingly, I didn’t panic and shy away from people like I usually do. I observed the place, and everyone was mingling with each other. There were a lot of people who already formed their own groups. I was fine with being alone and just watching people. That was my plan anyway, to just observe, and to study for my other subjects while people battle it out (LOL).

The main reason why I went there was for the Disability Awareness in Schools Act of 2017. I am a mental health advocate, and the proposed bill was very much in line with my interests that it caught my attention. I stalked the author of the bill before hand (Shush, don’t report me). I couldn’t add her on Facebook because of her privacy settings. Hahaha. When I saw her during the event, I immediately went to her and congratulated her for the wonderful bill. It takes a lot of time for me before I warm up to anyone but again, much to my pleasure, we were able to click with each other. I told her I would support her and her bill, and I did.

It was really fun, the lively discussions about the current affairs with the youth (Lol. I’m getting really old). However, things started to go down hill. The Disability Awareness in Schools Act of 2017 was not received very well by our co-delegates. I understand that people are not that open yet to the concept of Persons with Disabilities. I noticed most of the delegates lacked research and knowledge on these things. On the bright side, it passed in our committee by a small margin, and I was very happy for that.

Much to my disbelief, there was a bill called Anti-Domestic Violence Act which seeks to amend the current R.A. 9262 or Anti-Violence against Women and Children by widening its scope to include men in its protection. I was quite confident that nobody would support such bill. Haha. Unfortunately, the world loves proving me wrong. Lo and behold, majority of the committee supported the bill.

I was too stunned to do anything about it at first. During the debates all I could do was make horrified faces (or alternatively face palm). I felt my heart breaking and my hands were shaking. I couldn’t stay silent. My constitutional law professors would not let me. My conscience and principles couldn’t let me stay silent. I am not even a feminist, I just support rights for the those are part of the minority and oppressed. “Those who have less in life, should have more in law.”

For the first time in my life I chose to fight against something for fear that it would pollute the minds of the youth that men and women in status quo have equal power in the society. Such an idealistic notion that I wished to break. I was forced to speak up and face my fear of public speaking. It was a good thing that the Chairperson of our committee was very kind and gave me an opportunity to against the bill. Despite my bumbling and stuttering, I was able to at least say a coherent sentence to go against the bill. Sadly, it was not enough. The bill was passed by our committee.

It was time to choose between the Anti-Domestic Violence Act and the Disability Awareness Act. The Anti-Domestic Violence Act won, of course, because of the endless lobbying of the author of the bill, and the mistaken conception of the people of the concept of equality and equity, and even much more sinful to my eyes, the gross misunderstanding of the concept of equality or Equal Protection Clause under the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

It hurt. Badly. It pained so much that I was literally shocked with what was going on. During the event I remembered all of a sudden why I quit debating in high school. I couldn’t handle speaking with stubborn people, and I abhorred them for their arrogance (some, not all).

With a heavy conscience, I confess that my support for the Disability Awareness in School Act was not enough. I did not do enough. I could have lobbied the Act to my fellow delegates but I couldn’t. My disease which I call energy gap to hide its severity hindered me. But no, that is just an excuse. I was just being a stubborn person who thought that the bill would speak for itself.

Stupid.

Naive.

That is not how politics in law making works.

Then and there I realized that logic is not enough to convince and persuade people. Well, I’m sorry for not being charming enough. I’m sorry that I dislike talking to people. What use is my knowledge in law when I couldn’t even convince majority of the people to my cause. I was so used to speaking in technical legal terms that I forgot most of them were not familiar with how the legal system operates.

I do not even want to think of how the author of the Disability Awareness Act felt when more people voted for the other bill. She researched for her bill, and interviewed a lot of experts, only to have it ignored in favor of another bill which I’m sure did not even reach the same level of effort to write as the previous bill author (sorry not sorry). I was only an (unofficial) sponsor of the bill, and I was already disheartened. I tried to hold back a lot of ad hominem comments and other offensive remarks which I would not even mention anymore for fear of cyber libel.

Our committee session adjourned. Our committee was very lucky to have a sensible and intelligent chairperson who made a speech and reminded the delegates to make laws which have the interests of the Filipinos in mind.

During the plenary session (which still caused me a lot of heartaches and headache that I was tempted to just walk out and do an impromptu crying session but thanks to years of training I didn’t), the bill was not passed because of the delegates who understood what is the reality and intent behind the creation of R.A. 9262. I do hope there comes a time that we wouldn’t need such act, but I really believe that is not today. It was also then that I fully realized that silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.

Other than that harrowing experience of trying to argue against a bill which goes against everything I believe in, I’m happy to report that the plenary was able to pass Online Disinformation Act, SOGIE Implementation in Junior High School Act, and Hijab Act. My faith in the youth is restored.

The awarding ceremony came, and they awarded two honorable mentions and one best delegate per committee. I was happy for the two of my co-delegates in my committee because they really deserved the award. The time came for the awarding of the best delegate award. I already knew who was going to be awarded so I just clapped politely without paying attention much but then again, as I said before, the world really loves proving me wrong. The chairperson named me as the best delegate, and all I could think was: “Wait. What? Ako? Me?”. #shookt

Aside from the embarrassing and awkward moment that happened during the awarding because I really have problems with accepting things which I personally believe that I do not deserve, the overall experience was fun. All I can say is that I wouldn’t have received that award without the support of my co-delegates and friends.

I met a lot of new people, and I was able to make new friends who share the same interests and advocacy. It was a valuable learning experience which I could not have gained if I just stayed in my classrooms. I am really thankful for the opportunity that was given to me.

I want to thank the author of the Disability Awareness in School act, and the chairperson of Committee 2, and all my co-delegates for making the experience meaningful. Thank you also to the organizers for giving us the opportunity. I also want to thank my friends who supported me, and encouraged me to attend despite my doubts about joining. Special shout out to my ambassador friend who shared the PMC event which was how I learned of it in the first place.

And of course, thank God for everything that has happened.

Sadly, I now have to face my reality which is law school, and I was so tired because of the event that I had to take a breather because I was overwhelmed by emotions that only came after the event because I was trying hard to repress them.

I have hopes for the future.

Passion without action leads to frustration. We all have our passions, and it is never to late to act on them

 

 

Always at the Crossroads

Last year, 2016, I was at the crossroads. I couldn’t enroll in my current law school because of certain complications and I was forced to decide whether to continue studying law or not.

I find it funny, that again I find myself waiting and trying to decide again whether to continue with it or not. I thought it was over. I thought I just had to look forward and move, but I hit another dead-end. It’s like a game that I keep on playing, with my character that keeps on getting beat up and dying. After that the screen is asking “do you want to continue? yes or no” with ten seconds left before automatically making a choice for me.

Life is like that, isn’t it? It’s a game. A series of choices that would lead you to somewhere. Some people know where that somewhere is, I don’t.

I’m in danger of trashing my lawyer dream once again. I can’t help but laugh bitterly as I ask myself what is it with me that I keep on failing. Is it really not for me? Is this a sign? Is it a punishment for believing that I could do it when I clearly cannot do it?

The other day, our professor talked to us when we chased after him to plead our case. He said no of course, then after that he went on to lecture us about life, about how we could find other things to do, that what happened to us was not fatal and we should stop if it’s really not for us then it’s not, that what we did was undignified. He said a lot of things that were pretty inspiring and at the same time annoying. Annoying because I already knew them, annoying because some of what he said were untrue.

I don’t know what happened this semester. I have no one to blame but myself. I can’t help but feel disgust every time I am reminded of my disorder that the society doesn’t acknowledge, and they even consider it as just a part of imagination. I hate using my disorder as my excuse, but I also hate knowing that it may be imaginary for other but it is real for me and it may have stopped me from living fully once again. I hate that I forgot that I have it, that I couldn’t control it to save myself. Most of all, I hate having it.

I hate how I tried so hard to save others, that I forgot to save myself. I hate the feeling of resentment that I have against the people that I have helped when they succeed and I don’t. I hate the feeling of disgust and self-hatred when I know I have no right to feel such emotions. They didn’t ask for it, I gave it. Willingly. I hate it, I hate it so much, thinking how my doctor and others would berate for giving too much while receiving almost nothing at all. I hate being normally self-contradicting.

I didn’t help them because I wanted to be paid back. I help people because I want to, because it makes me feel better, because it distracts from how much of a failure I am. It doesn’t hurt that they don’t appreciate me or say thank you, but it helps to feel appreciated. It hurts me when I ask myself why am I such a failure, and what did I do wrong? It hurts to hear people say and point at me, making me as an example of why people shouldn’t be too kind. I don’t understand this thing, about being too kind when in my mind I’m just being a decent human being. Isn’t it sad that most people nowadays would applaud nice acts like it isn’t expected and normal?

Now I don’t know what to do. I know what I want to do, but we don’t always get what we want right? Like I said, I’m at the crossroads again. Life is just really tiring. I guess I’m just a perpetually exhausted pigeon, not that phoenix that I fancy myself to be rising from the ashes.

Law school and life has beaten me again, and again, and again. The question is: will I continue?

I want to, oh how much I sincerely want to that it makes me want to vomit. I value this opportunity so much, and I know how much blessed I am with this privilege, more so than anyone else because of my experience. Last year, I have felt bitterness when I heard of people quitting and wasting the opportunity they were given.

I guess it’s karma that I might become the people I have resented. I am just so tired and exhausted. More than that, I don’t know how much I can take anymore. I have been pushing since day one, and I want to do more. I want to give more but I feel myself burning out, I have burned out.

I don’t think my friends and family realize, how I think that if I choose to continue it would be too selfish of me. I want to stop not only because I’m tired but because it costs too much. It’s expensive, the tuition, the time, the medicine if I want to keep my sanity, and all other costs I have not accounted yet.

Yet, I still want to continue. I still want to try. I still want to ask God, God is this for me? God will you let me? God please?

I have been asked by my parents previously to stop. I can’t describe how much it hurt, how much it pained me to hear those words from them, because it merely enforced the idea that what I did, what I’m doing is selfish, and that I can’t do it.

Despite that, I still want to try, to see where I could go. Despite being berated by our professor for our actions, I don’t regret anything. I felt happy that we tried. We had our closure for that certain subject. People don’t know how much I am glad, that for once I have fought. I have failed but I have fought.

I am honestly still scared. I am scared to learn that it’s not really for me, because I know it will hurt. I will be satisfied knowing that I did what I could, but it will still be painful.

I guess we really have no better choice in life but to move forward like always. Yes, I want to continue.

I’ll have to see whether God will let me. It will hurt, it will burn, but maybe a perpetually exhausted pigeon that is burnt can rise from the ashes and become a phoenix?

Wishful thinking, but we have to see don’t we? Assuming I don’t become fried chicken instead, ahaha.

I might always be at the crossroads, always getting lost. Hopefully, someday, I’ll get to my destination.

 

2016: Come back year

Random Ramblings (2016 Edition)

I also call my 2016 the year of the perpetually exhausted pidgeon.

I was happy but tired at the start of the year, because I felt that 2015 has been hard for me but I grew, and I learned a lot from it. I thought about quitting because I wasn’t sure of my path, or rather I was just really tired. I also had to make a decision of retaking an entrance exam I failed in 2015, which is not really a big deal at first but then things happened and ugh, my poor lazy self had to move. I took the exam with intention of just having closure, just to check where I’m really supposed to be. Long story short, I passed! Hooray. I felt happiness and relief. Happy that I passed, and relieved that I’m not as stupid as I thought (but if you think about it, basing intelligence on just an entrance exam is stupid itself, so poor me. Nothing changed. Haha. #ChangeScamming)

Unfortunately, denial is my middle name. I kept on putting off my decision if I would enroll in UP law, and when I finally decided that I would enroll, things happened again. I had to wait for almost three months before I was able to enroll. Three months of existential angst and quarterlife crisis while playing the waiting game, and hide and seek with the school administration who has my requirements. I felt like a tennis ball being volleyed back and forth between different offices. I had to swallow my pride and faith in the system (boo you system, you suck. “I put my faith in you, so much faith in you, but you just threw it away” #Paramore); I asked help from my parents. It was a happy ending anyway, I was able to enroll.

I’m back in UP!!! Oh yeah. My beloved Sunken Garden was right in front me and I was so tempted to logroll, but it was rainy. Meh. I had a lot of space, and the teaching style of the professors was so compatible with my learning style, and I was able to appreciate subjects that I disliked with passion before. It was difficult to socialize with my blockmates (well, people in general), but I survived! #introvertproblems. It was amazing, it all felt surreal, but I also felt like the fishes in Finding Nemo who were able to escape from the aquarium but didn’t think too far so they were stuck in plastic bags. I was stuck. Despite the three months of vacation, I still felt tired, and hence the title of this post. Hahaha. Huhu.

2016 just had to be a meanie, so guess who also returned and said: “I’m back, bish!”. I had to groan and facepalm. It sucks, really really really sucks. I was happy. I was in my dream school. I had space. I was learning  in the way I wanted to learn again. Why did it have to come back? Why me? What did I do wrong? I effin survived 2015, I was literally out of my comfort zone back then, so why only now when I was where I wanted to be? I was stressed and tired, I knew that, but I was also back in my supposed comfort and safety zone. It was everything that I wanted. I had to leave some of my precious friends behind, it was a sacrifice I made. One step forward, two steps back. I felt like I regressed, the progress that I made in 2015 disappeared in 2016, and it hurt, it still hurts.

My motto in 2016 was #noregrets, which I’m happy to say that I somewhat fulfilled; except for the bish that came back, I’m still hating that it returned. I went to a family outing instead of studying, #noregrets. I got sick so I was absent and got my first singko in recit when I returned to school, #noregrets. I overslept, #noregrets. Hahahaha. -_- Kidding, I felt bad afterwards, but there’s no use in regretting. I think my new motto should be #priorities.

I met a lot of new people and friends who are amazing in their own way, but I still remember my friends who I left behind who I still hold close to my heart, and I blame them for setting the standard so high. Hahaha. Even if I felt like I regressed this year, I’m still me, so I think that’s ok.

2016 has been fun despite some major setbacks, like the Marcos burial #NeverAgain #NeverForget; Duterte, and Trump winning the elections, and . . . Nevermind. I think I’ll stop there before I am tempted to erase 2016 from my life, but still please pray for the world. Pray for Aleppo.

I was able to survive 2016 because of my meds, vitamins, anime, cats, friends, family, and of course, Allah (SWT). Here’s to hoping that the people and the world will be better, because it doesn’t matter if 2017 will be better when people are still the same.

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.

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.