Adjusting Still

It’s been only two weeks, and much to my own disbelief, I realized a side of me I have never thought of seeing before.

Being meticulous has always been something I struggled with since I can remember. As I grow up, I learn that there are things that are just out of my control, and there are things that I don’t have to be all scrupulous about. One doesn’t have to be right all the time.

Then again, I must have sold myself a little too high, thinking that I have settled with it long ago.

No matter how many times I told myself not to be so hard on myself since it barely started yet, I think I do.

I’m not talking about me being unable to take criticisms because I beat myself too hard. I am talking about me being unable to answer the question, “So, how’s work so far?”

My answers will range from, “I don’t know. You tell me. How’d I do?”, to, “I think it’s been alright so far.” Sadly, none of these are completely honest. But hey, it’s just work, right? You as a person do not matter as much.

After a closer examination, I reckon this is rooted from that old tendency of covert perfectionism.  Not to mention the fact that I need to turn the switch back on for the job.

If I had been honest, I’d be saying something along the lines of, “I hate making or receiving phone calls because I have this ridiculous handicap of barfing up word salad due any day. I simply think formalities are a waste of time. I have just learned these new sets of vocabularies and entitlements that are apparently all important. Oh, and this whole new protocol is driving me nuts. Don’t even go to the fact that the previous person in my position ain’t exactly someone who is efficient enough to think of templates and designated folders.”

Yeah, you get my point. It feels like the days grew longer and the weekends shorter.

Funny that I need to reiterate: it has only been two weeks. Please tell me it doesn’t take long for someone to bitch about their jobs.

Still, I am thankful enough that I have people around me who are truly helpful and generous with their understanding. I guess it’s now up to my effort to catch up before that generosity fleets away as time goes.

As usual, the universe is always ready to prove me wrong whenever I skeptically (even negatively, most of the time) perceive a new beginning. I can’t help but hope that it will do it again this time around.

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Choosers

via A warrior at heart. — PROMPTUARIUM

She always wakes up at dawn. Despite her tired eyes, every day she swiftly prepares food for breakfast and packs lunchboxes we will bring to school. For my little brother, she makes sure to put the rice and stir-fry in separate containers, being a little too picky for his own good. She cannot bear to see him look sallower than he already is.

We waved her goodbye as soon as we got ready. It was as brief as her seeing us off because she needed to rush to work. She told me once her boss was very strict to his employees’ punctuality. It’s funny that he doesn’t maintain the same attitude when it comes to payday. Yet she stays. She told me that it was because he allows her to go home early to prepare dinner and be with us. She told me I would understand once I got older.

I am older now, and I still don’t quite understand.

She has had chances to take up a more stable job with monthly salary instead of the measly commission that can take months until it reached her hands. She doesn’t have to worry about me and Jaden anymore–he’s no longer a picky-eater and on Tuesdays, I tutor after school–we’re big enough to take care of ourselves.

That night we were about to tell her to reconsider the job, she beat us to it. She sat us down, telling us that she will be taking a four-hour night shift at a nearby hospital as a receptionist so we can save up. By we, she meant me, or more specifically, my college admission fee. She told us she wanted us to just focus on our studies and that she would still make it for dinner. We insisted on preparing it for her. She smiled and cupped our faces, saying, “I had no idea how I deserve such nice kids. Thank you.”

I beg to differ; we have no idea how we deserve her. But on the same time, I cannot comprehend the fact that she wants us in her life on the first place. Is it because of him?

He used to take pride in his family background, until it betrayed him. It left him even more insecure of himself, refusing to acknowledge that he needed help, only understanding. But there’s only so much understanding one can give, isn’t it? Silently, she chose to take to her two feet as she went only as far as tend to his wounds. After all, he needed to face his own demons.

Since he was as good as gone, why not consider it done then? I will. But she told me it was not a nice thing to say, and that she simply thought it unnecessary for them to lead on separate ways.

One time, I was awake when she just got home from her night shift. She couldn’t feign not looking exhausted anymore, so she said yes when I offered her some warm milk. As I massaged her shoulders, I asked her if she has ever regretted this, and she immediately answered no. I asked her not to give me a normative answer, and that’s when she said, “Well, there are a few things I’d wish would turn out differently, but never you or your brother.”

After some thought, I continued, “Have you ever wished not meeting him then?”

She sighed and said, “I don’t know, Sweetheart. Whenever I tried to recall how it happened, it always seems like the meeting presented itself to me. As was the decision.”

I still don’t understand why she chose to stay.

To be exact, I don’t understand why, despite telling us to live for ourselves, she never seemed to live for her own.

Since her mind has never warned her to stop, her body did. We joked about how her arthritis was more like a blessing than a curse, seeing how she had more time to rest. Still, she somehow manages some energy left to think about the minuscule of things; how I should stop wearing my old blouse to work and let her buy a new one for me, how my brother needs to at least iron his shirt, how we should not skip lunch, or how we should take our vitamins regularly. Since her mind resonates stronger than her body, she never stopped and there is nothing we could do about it.

And I don’t think I can never understand it completely; her willingness, determination and compassion.

There are times when I want to tell her that life is hard; that had I been given a chance to choose, I might not want any part of it–day by day, just trying to get by. There are times I want to tell her that I had never asked for it–to be alive. Not to blame her, of course, but it just seemed unfair that she found something worth living in me, while I do not want it on the first place.

Then I stopped trying to understand. Instead, I started reminding myself of what I know to be true.

I know that albeit everything, I am more than willing to always come back to her. She is home, and that suffices.

She still wakes up at dawn, and I still don’t understand her as much as she does me. But we know we will somehow see each other at the end of the day.

The Long-Awaited Has Come

Update: I am officially entering the labor force. Uh, yay (?)

Now before you consider the lack of excitement as just me simply being a prat, do give me a chance to elaborate.

Earnestly speaking, I am beyond grateful that I landed myself a job. Finally I will be able to help out the family, and that’s basically the main reason why I wanted one. Now my concern shifted to the fact that as a new recruit and essentially an awkward kid, I may screw up stuff. But hey, there’s no use in worrying over stuff that nobody knows is gonna happen, right? Despite my worrywart self, I think I’ve made peace with that particular source of anxiety.

Seeing how it is easy for me to get caught up with routines, I am more afraid of the possibility that I will eventually be consumed with indifference. I am horrified that I will ultimately lose interest to grow as a person simply because I have regarded myself to having reached ‘adulthood’ and busy keeping up with the so-called ‘obligations’ that follow. It’s not that I am unclear with who I am and what I want to be–I do. I just went down this road because I know a job can just be a job without it having to define me. I was just terrified with the prospect that I would be too exhausted to do the things I truly enjoy.

But that’s also something that I can only find out as I go, isn’t it?

Either I need to learn to manage my time better, or to learn to genuinely love the things I currently think I like to do. Or both.

At least weekends will have more meaning from now on, right? More books to read, more stories to tell and write, more random things to learn, and probably decide what and where I am going to formally study again in the next two to three years. No thesis-writing involved though. Yuck.

So, how do people discipline again?