A Lick and a Promise

Before I say anything that will crush my soul, let me open by one positive remark: I am glad that I was capable enough to make it through the fourth month on the job.

That is to say, the rest of this post is just going to be me whining about how I am still set on not staying after the initially agreed period of employment.

May was pretty rough compared to the previous months because somehow I think I have reached the point when the universe be like, “Alright, you passed the basic bullshit, now is the time for you to be drowned on a shitstorm of daily Murphy’s law.” Days when I was just extremely mad or sad just increased in frequency. Also, there was one incident that just pulverized my spirit in a matter of minutes on a supposedly fine start of the weekend.

So, came June, I decided to see a professional help, despite all the skepticism because the institute that I found was associated with a theology school and fear of a lack of solution. I just needed a space where I can just spit all my anguish out in the open without worrying or annoying people around me, whom I have already been indebted to by just accommodating my blues. Quite as expected, I wasn’t really offered any solution despite the obvious one (i.e. “I guess it will be advisable for you not to revisit this line of work again in the future”), but I know that’s not why I was there, so that’s absolutely fine. But at least I managed to bring myself to let out all of the pent-up frustration I have had for months, and the disappointment I saw or heard from people around me when I gave them the benefit of the doubt and was honest with them about how I have been.

The counselor suggested that it might help when I try to come up with two things that I gain from this part of “learning process” I am in, and so I tried, only to fail miserably to keep it up after three days. But I guess this effort I am exerting to survive the remaining months by “shifting my mindset” should not be treated like a chore, lest I will think that there really isn’t anything good from it and then sink deeper in depression. Hopefully, I will notice more of them in the coming weeks. Although in all honestly, I just really wish December will come sooner.

One thing that helps me–kind of–to get through this week and pull me up whenever I was down, was this saying the counselor shared with me, that I think was from the Bible. At the end of our session she told me, “Just remember, each day has enough trouble of its own. Don’t let it drag you on for too long.” There’s this little voice inside me that goes, “I don’t think it’s appropriate to bring any religious references to this conversation, not to mention that I highly doubt it will sort out the nitty-gritty of me feeling stuck.” Yet, weirdly enough, in every end of the day, I’d find myself whispering in my head, “Each day has enough trouble of its own”, then I took a deep breath, exhaled a release and the anxiety of going down the to-do list for tomorrow, as well as the worries inside my brain self-anticipating for shit that will go down the next day, somehow subsided a little.

Not sure if this mantra will last the next eight months, nor whether the universe has reached the limit of any-shit-that-can-and-will-go-wrong in the life of me by then, but I sure do hope that I’ll make it to the fifth month in one shape. Or half. I’ll even settle for a quarter.

Or else, just take me in my sleep or whatever. At this point, I truly don’t see there’s still anything that is worth striving for if everything stays the same.

Seething

It’s the month of May, and that means I have finally come to the end of my probation period. Except for the salary, I had no idea if things are gonna be any different. For worse, undoubtedly.

My take after the whole three months, should you ask, is that I am an ungrateful, typical piece of shit of a millennial. At least that’s the impression I get after being truly honest when people ask me, “So how’s the job so far?”

Otherwise, they would just dismiss me with something along the lines of, “All jobs suck, kid, what do you expect?”, while in case it’s not obvious yet from my post on passing the second month: That’s. Not. The. Problem.

On a conversation a week ago, a friend of mine quoted a character from this movie Berlin File, “It’s work. There’s no reason for it. You just do it.” I do relate with the latter part about how “a job’s a job”, though I should say I am well-aware of the reason why I take this job: someone’s gotta pay off the bills (and more, in my case). But the remaining nine months to fulfill the contract seems like a stretch, and I can’t wait to call it quits. Quite frankly, I’d be the happiest person to receive, say, a bad news after the probation, so then I could move on with doing something else even if it requires me to take another jobless phase as a rite of passage. But no, I gotta do the whole one year, and even though it means I don’t have to worry about helping the family, I need to compromise with the niceties “madness” and disruption on weekends for the next thirty-six weeks.

When I open up and say that I don’t want to stay, it doesn’t mean I simply dismiss it as something not worth having and I’d rather be stuck unemployed. I have made it clear by saying it gives some financial security to a certain extent. But is it worth my sanity in the long run? No. Logically, does that mean it is just natural for me to try seeking alternatives on work that suck less–even if it’s just a little–than the one I have now? I guess so.

I cannot have the people at home take the ire of my frustration because of these panic work texts on weekends I simply can ignore because there is this excruciatingly, thin line that separates it from my formal job description. Most likely, I will eventually lose my friends if I vent to them about the same thing every single damn time. I need professional help, but where I live, there isn’t any institution credible enough for a visit.

But does that mean I should just zip it and lie to myself that I’m not alright? Can I not be at least true to myself and say, “This could be better. I can see my life be better if I make another choice.”? Because really, I can no longer hear those “there-are-many-other-people-who-would-like-the-position-you’re-in-so-you-should-feel-bad-for-not-appreciating-it-as-much-as-you-should”.

With hindsight, I suppose I shouldn’t have taken questions like, “How are you?” or “How’s the job” too seriously. Because nobody cares, so why should I? Or maybe everybody’s selfish, so why shouldn’t I be?

If this is what adulthood teaches us, then I won’t have any of it. Not even if I should.

 

Not For Long

Two months in the job, and I’m back. I am utterly disappointed with myself with the lack of stories I have posted in the past month, but I am so ready to rant out. How bloody typical of a millennial, I know.

Let me begin by saying this: I don’t exactly know what to feel anymore about this whole job and adulting that follows. But not in any way that it makes things more acceptable.

Surely, I am slightly more familiar with the dynamics at work, which somehow makes me feel more at ease and efficient with my tasks. This is all due to the kindness and laughter gladly shared by some of the fellows I met at the office, and the support of my loving parents for the food, the ride and the ears after every rough day; I can’t thank you enough for bearing with my cluelessness and, more often than not, my rambling spree.

And a huge shout-out to my friends for their comfort, humor and energy. Those video and voice calls certainly have made each of my weekends merrier.

Despite such immense support and the somewhat considerable adaptability with work, I am even more convinced that I may not stick to this in the long run.

There’s no progress with any kind of happy feeling when I receive the paycheck, which has been a tell-tale sign since last month. What makes it even worse is the fact that it doesn’t give me the most feeble amount of joy nor relief when I get to contribute to the family this month, to the extent that it doesn’t waver my consideration not to stay in the job. Not even for a teeny bit longer than previously agreed.

I reckon this is just a process of me knowing myself better; not by specifically defining things that I like, but by realizing things I don’t. And part of that realization is that I caught myself thinking, “Damn, maybe I really just don’t have the eye for whatever the society thinks is the finer things in life. Shit, I do put more importance in the sense of fulfillment in something I need to do repetitively to survive.”

No, it’s not that I took this job, wide-eyed, with hands on my hips, looking to the distance, saying,”Yes, I am finally entering society like the responsible adult that I am, and I am so going to do well at the job because dammit I am significant in preserving the well-being of this institution.” No. Just, really? Is there anyone in their right mind who shares that thought? Especially with the position I took, anyone who dare say it’s a fancy ass job must be out of their minds.

What I’m trying to say is, it’s not that I have high expectations coming to the line of work, thus the disappointment and the whining. It’s that I approach it with the lowest of all expectations–close to none, if you will–yet it still feel a little too much, and that eats my soul every fucking day. I mean, heck, even when shit happened in my daily life, I used to be able to create something out of it. Now I can’t, which is precisely what I fear most even before I start the job; not being able to do stuff I enjoy, even merely as a hobby. And I am not willing to simply hang in there and made it through ’til it consumes me whole.

Undoubtedly, I will be all hot and cold nearing the end of the contract, but to hell with it, I’m calling it now: complacency is out of the question. Why wouldn’t it be when my sanity is at stake?

So I’ll grit my teeth to the bruise in the meantime, but not until the pain spreads that I can no longer move my legs.

God, that was cheesy as fuck. Sorry. But you get the point.

On that note, I am happy to say that I can cross that concern off the list. Now, onto the hastening of the initial plan and being more decisive in the next 10 months. Welp, won’t that be an exciting mess.

Breathing Space

It’s March 2017 and I’m still alive. Great.

I think it’s a rule that when you want something so badly in life, you will never be able to get it, even if it is something that will not make any exponential changes in the world. Sorry if that crushes your childhood dreams and hopes right then and there.

Four weeks into the job and my first salary, I should be excited; emphasis on the word “should”. Again, I should reiterate, it’s not the people I work with. It’s me. I am just myself a grumpy, sad person, and I don’t know how to be anything but.

See, the thought of money usually makes one’s day a lot brighter, but not me. I’ll tell you why. Despite the fact that the things I like or enjoy doing in life is rather simple and comparatively not as pricey, I won’t be able to use it personally because I am not in a place to be “selfish”. Also, there is this fear that is built up on top of all the series of unfortunate events that just runs in the family like water, which somehow conditions my inability to spend a lot of money at once. Actually, that would only make me feel worse.

I truly despise the fact that I need to put it this way, but at times, I often wonder if it’s all worth it: the money for the family, and whether I will be able to keep doing it for the rest of my life. A life that I never even ask for on the first place.

People take the life they’re given for granted, at least as far as how they acquire it initially. The lucky ones, so they say, are born to a family that takes care of them up until a certain age when they are demanded to do the same to the people who raise them. Some do that willingly without any questions asked. On the other hand, I still cannot quite grasp the fact that it is them who wants me in their life on the first place, not me. So, why the “responsibility”?

I can already feel the surge of “You insolent little brat!” coming my way. But if I don’t say it now, I feel like I might lose the teensy amount of sanity hardly left in my disposal.

Then comes the question, “So, do you love the family? Because if you do, you’ll endure the job or simply keeping up with their antics. You will because they are worth it.” I mean, I can definitely say I love my brothers to the bone. But frankly, when it is put that way, especially on the context of my caretakers, I don’t know what to say, and I have never felt so horrible in my life.

Ideally, I will appreciate some form of distance because, contrary to most views, it creates this sort of illusion that lets you think more affectionately of those you left behind, at least to my own experience. If that lets me balance out all the grouch and depression, then it’s all I ask as of now. And so I guess it’s all I am going to strive for in the meantime.

But if the world never lets you get what you desperately want, no matter how insignificant it is, should I even expect anything to prevail?

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.

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?

Tell Her

Wrote this on Tumblr almost one and a half years ago.
Disclaimer: I’m not talking about casual compliments.

Keep telling a little girl she looks “pretty and cute” above anything else worthy of a compliment, and she’ll start to comprehend that she is defined by what she looks on the outside more than her other virtues. What she does not know yet is how she will be sucked deep within such mentality.

Keep telling a young lady she looks “dashing or gorgeous”; how her make-up is perfect, or how her dress has done wonders to her body; every single damn time, and she’ll never put down that habit of worrying over every details of her appearance just to look “presentable”. It serves as a reminder of how she needs to put extra effort to watch what she eats, what she wears, how often she needs to exercise to burn those calories on the days she relents to food over “herself”; how she at least needs to maintain a certain look.

Because how she excels in her studies doesn’t matter as much. Or how she made it to the baseball team. Or how she signed herself up to donate a little sum of her pocket money to charity and eventually volunteer herself. Or how she leads a group of her friends for a school project. Or how she helps for the house chores, or cares for her siblings while Mum or Dad were not around. No. It all came down to whether she “looks perfect”.

She thought once she got older she’ll be free from it. Apparently not. She is still required to dress a certain way. She is still required to put some “life” on her face. The ghost of youth haunts her as does other women her age, because apparently everybody is so very invested in making her look ten years younger.

She thought age will conceal such requirements, that maybe it will simply be seen as a bonus point which she does not aim. She thought maybe after all those years, she will finally be remembered for the beautiful kids and grandchildren she raised, or for all her mind and compassion she poured out to nurture her students, or how sickness does not stop her to come support her dear ones in their first game, or how on her retirement days she still set a sum aside for a good cause. No. Keep telling her those wrinkles need attending so that she’ll look “beautiful”, and she’ll know she’s not relieved from it yet, not until she left forever.

If beauty really exudes from the inside, will you really try to tell her so that she does not need to compromise with how she looks on the outside?

Who Would’ve Thunk It’s 2017

After the hullabaloo that is 2016, who would’ve really?

T’was a tough year for me. Emotionally, I felt like I was taken on a roller coaster ride full of twists and pitch falls in every turn of the month. Looking back, I recalled being somewhat weirdly excited that it was the Year of the Monkey, which is my sign of the Chinese Zodiac. On one hand, I was thankful that I managed to meet two full cycles, but on the other, I also remembered that traditionally, being in my běnmìngnián (one’s own zodiac year) was believed to bring bad luck. That news alone was enough to make me question my own conviction that I was never a superstitious person.

But was it really an unlucky year? Let me scribble it out below.

year-in-review-2016-1

Evidently, the pros outweigh the cons, so it’s easy to say that it’s quite a good běnmìngnián. Personally, the one thing that makes me feel like a huge crisis was averted is the fact that I managed to graduate within the expected scholarship period. Considering I was also struggling with depression, procrastination and quarter-life crisis then, I guess me making efforts to seek professional help and coping through the snuggly comfort of books (special thanks to Neil Gaiman and his brilliant works; I am forever an indebted fan), blogging and writing were the best decision I made last year. I can’t say the same about not being able to secure a job as soon as I was done with school, but I learnt the art of taking things one step at a time, overcoming the worst fears I brought to my worrywart self.

In retrospect, heeding a warning by readying oneself rather than focusing too much on the possibility of having bad outcomes coming at you kinda’ does the trick.

Also, one of the beauty of not pushing oneself too hard on new year’s resolution is that as far as the year take me, you’d find yourself doing and eventually accomplishing things you’d not expect. Mine’s to write stories and to actually compile it into an eBook, which makes me want to pat myself in the back like I had never before (thanks Dila!).

The last months of 2016 was rough for many, I reckon. Keeping up with the news only is enough to break anyone’s hope for the future, including mine. But specifically, by then I was resettling home and found a lot of things are no longer a good fit for me to improve as a person. There are numerous times where I get too upset and frustrated because I felt trapped, being chained by tradition and my surrounding’s unsusceptibility to change. All my life, I have never continuously prayed that soon I will be somewhere I can grow as a person (in need of a space where I can be on my own two feet), a professional (not so much of the whole career and adulting thing people have been talking about, but because I need dem moneys) and a writer.

So I reckon it’s natural that I am still trying to get used to the fact that I made it to 2017. To be exact, I’d like to believe that once you passed 2016, 2017 probably would not be as bad, but in all actuality, who knows? With that in mind, I should probably just be grateful 2016 wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be.

On second thought, technically there are 25 more days before the Year of the Rooster. Oh well, I guess I should just keep an eye in case of any leftover misfortune this January.

Either way, pain is good for art. I’ll just keep writing. Just keep writin’, just keep writin’…

The Plight of Susan

When it comes to Narnia, I will undoubtedly say that Edmund and Puddlegum are my most favorite characters within the whole series. In retrospect, I have just realized that, all this time, I probably relate to Susan the most.

We may not find it in the books, but in the movies, Andrew Adamson did a good job of including some lines for Susan, or those describing her. On the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mrs. Pevensie was sending off her children to evacuate, and from it we see a little of what to expect of each of the characters. The words she said to Susan was, “Be a big girl.” And so Susan was. The most part they were in Narnia, she was highly skeptical and was first reluctantly going along with the journey; not because she wants to be seen as the smartest person in the room, but because she puts the well-being of her siblings first. Why wouldn’t anyone be cautious about a strange land, found inside a cupboard nonetheless? And then suddenly she and her siblings are expected to save it, risking their lives, just because four humans were mentioned in a ‘prophecy’? How convenient. All the times people saw Susan as lacking of faith, I saw Susan trying her best to keep her siblings safe. All the while she was seen as being selfish, I saw her trying to be a “big girl” for the family.

On Prince Caspian, for instance, Susan and Lucy shared this conversation.

 

Susan: “You always knew we’d be coming back here, didn’t you?”

Lucy: “I hoped so.”

Susan: “I finally just got used to the idea of being in England.”

Lucy: “But you’re happy to be here, aren’t you?”

Susan: “While it lasts.”

There was no promise of them going back for the second time. It is easy for Susan to get sidelined because in contrast to Lucy, she doesn’t seem to have much hope in Narnia. Most even thought this is where she questions if Narnia is even real. But have you ever had those moments when you cling onto one and it makes it all the more painful not to have it? While some would find some comfort in staying faithful, some would find it in accepting the present. Susan cherished those moments she had in Narnia, but to hope she will be back while trying to get used to living in London would be too much like a juggling act, and not everyone juggles well.

The last book of the series depicted Susan in a way that invites a storm of criticisms from many, what with her deemed “no longer a friend of Narnia” and “interested in nothing except nylons, lipsticks and invitations”. At a glance, it is easy to dismiss her as being superficial, but from the previous conversation, again, I should say this is her way to move forward with life. She knew that after their second visit to Narnia, she won’t be coming back, and now she’s trying to settle down with things in front of her eyes; she was being practical, like she always has been. The case of her losing faith–and thus, place–in Narnia is not closed. “Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia”, wasn’t it? As Edmund experienced Aslan’s grace himself, I’d personally like to believe Susan would too, after the train wreck that took her family away from her.

These are the times when I wish C.S Lewis had finished Susan of Narnia before his death.

Susan was a loving sister. She was gentle, but all the more, she was a sensible girl, trying to embrace the world she lived in. To the all-knowing creator, why should her being very much human herself be considered an unforgivable offense?

If it isn’t obvious enough, I am in dire need of answers; on dealing with grief and disappointment, and on choosing to believe.

Wishful Thinking. Not.

They say things never happen the same way twice. I’m afraid there’s a little detail missing on that statement.

Good things never happen the same way twice. Other things, usually bad ones, recur as surely as one needs to eat, or defecate; it happens either regular or often, depending on the circumstances.

I’m talking about how I see my eventual commencement last August. The whole process leading to it (the thesis-writing, the panic, and mostly the “I-just-want-to-get-this-over-with” attitude) are just eerily similar to what happened four years ago leading to my premature Bachelor’s graduation. The only thing that keeps me going was that I want to be rid off of that twenty-thousand-word responsibility and just close another chapter of my life; not to be bothered any longer by the question of why I begin it on the first place.

the x phases (1).png

Another cause of my annoyance lies on the fact that in both events, employment didn’t follow suit as timely as objectively expected. According to the nifty visual I created above–doubtlessly unscientifically proven–I’m currently on the Loop. It drives me nuts not only because of my concerns for the financial implication to the family, but also that it really is not helpful to my already deranged self-esteem. Actually, I don’t even know if I had any left in my disposal.

All the more irritating is how people would just shrug off my concerns as nonsense. They’d say things like how being a bilingual, graduate from two top universities and whatnot will most definitely guarantee a job on your doorstep. No, it doesn’t. In fact, it makes me under-qualified to some group of jobs and over-qualified for the other, that they just hire an undergrad instead. See, it is exactly the qualification that’s a problem, so why would I rely on it? Either way, it doesn’t matter. The fact stands still that I am an unemployed bum, and already have been for three straight months.

And I am not allowed to be paranoid on being jobless still by the next year? Gimme a break. This was exactly what happened four years ago. And where did it lead me to? A freaking loop called gradschool.

This made me somewhat convinced that I am not built for optimism in any circumstance, and I know this trait is frustrating for anyone to be around me all the time.

Now I am even more convinced I am built for a solitary life. Not that I mind it.

My point is that I am sick of feeling constantly and helplessly miserable, but I don’t think I am in any way capable of being hopeful. But would it help? Tangibly?

If being positive presumably leads to good things, which do not happen the same way twice as a rule, is there any point of thinking somehow anything would always be fine regardless?