Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover. –Mark Twain
A lot of things have changed since the moment I found my resolve.
I’m pretty much contented this way. This is relatively more fulfilling than anything I’ve had before. I reluctantly stepped out of my comfort zone and learned—just as it was for everyone—that the real fun was here.
It took me a while to adapt to this kind of setup, where I keep a pleasant face, an enthusiastic vibe, and a friendly disposition. It was a whole lot difficult in the beginning but it paid off. It cost a 180 degree change though—I had to change my thoughts and views about many things. Yet I acknowledge that indeed, everything begins in the mind.
Gradually, I progressed. I began to cope up with a new everyday, with the new me, and with a new set of friends and acquaintances. It didn’t take long before I realize I was driving a new course.
All of these things hardly crossed my mind. I never thought I—the me right now—could happen. I never thought that great things actually existed outside my zone. In retrospect, I remember myself completely convinced that venturing out was pointless. Because whenever I do, all I see and hear is bullshit in various forms—at least the worse form of crap I’ve been dealing with in my own tiny world. I was forced to endure all types of judgmental crap from different people. But then I reached a dead end. I was forced to go back and take a leap of faith.
And here I am. I’m not saying that I have gone far, but I could tell that I am relatively farther than where I used to be. I never knew I could do it. I never knew I could do these things. I never knew I could be someone else besides the pessimistic, coward, selfish me.
And somehow that makes me happy.
‘Happy’ to a certain degree is too simple of an adjective to use, but it’s pretty much how it feels. It’s an umbrella term for the many things I feel. Right, it makes me happy—but a hint of sadness remains. I am technically nineteen, although practically still eighteen, and it felt like life only actually started for me at this age. I feel like I totally missed out on a lot of things and opportunities because I trapped myself inside my walls. I’ve lost countless chances.
And I don’t want to miss any of them anymore.
I wanted to tell him these things, these thoughts, and these realizations. I want him to know what I figured out. I want him to be there with me, watching as I fulfill the change I never thought I’d be. I want him to be proud of me. I want him to smile and laugh at me while yelling “I knew you could do it!”. I want him to see how happy I am about these changes.
I want to tell him everything.
I was determined to step up and get rid of anything that would hinder me from advancing forward. I promised myself I wouldn’t shy away anymore, that I wouldn’t hold back, and that whatever life has in store for me, I’d be strong enough to take it on.
I would be strong enough to—
He was taken.
It was a small concussion. I was okay. It was okay. Okay.
Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay.
I was seriously fine. I was indifferent about it. I could freely talk about it with other people without flinching or feeling any sort of sting.
And then I thought, maybe I’ve finally moved on.
That day, without giving it much thought, I went home in high spirits.
It was always fun to hang around with close friends before going home. It was always fun.
Fun. Fun. Fun. Fun.
Until I had some time alone.
I didn’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be alone. I was spared with a lot of time to think and I regretted going home early. But then I had things to do.
But I can’t do it. I won’t do it.
I didn’t have the strength to do anyth—
I got up and decided to work. On anything. Pubmats, probsets, readings, papers, whatever. I had to do something. I don’t want to think, I don’t want to mull over anything because if I did, I’m going to have to recollect what I just found out.
He was taken.
It resonated and echoed endlessly in my entirety.
I was seeing faces. I was hearing voices.
Memories in time-lapse played in my head.
And before I realized it, tears began streaming down my face.
I didn’t need words. I didn’t need explanations. I didn’t need to think about it.
All I knew is that it hurt.
History has finally repeated itself.
That night I just cried. My mind crumbling, my consciousness collapsing. My insides felt like being literally shattered into tiny fragments. Curled up at the corner of my bed, I sobbed until it felt alright to stop. I sobbed to forget. I sobbed to ease my burning chest. I sobbed til I was okay. Til I’m ready to work again. Til I’m ready to face the world again with head held high.
Til I’m prepared to let go, once and for all.
That was the last. That would be the last time I’d shed tears for him. We are friends again and that’s more than enough for me to continue changing.
Even though it all mattered on my side alone, I would cherish everything we had. Or more accurately, everything I had with him. I was happy I met him. I was happy I liked him. I was happy I loved him.
And I’m going to be okay now. I’m going to be alright being how we used to be.
not wanting me.
the beginning of me
Things and people change, but time won’t stop for anyone. As we wallow in misery, or as we strive to proceed forward, it continues along, moving through the gaps between our fingers.
I won’t waste my time dwelling on wishful thinkings. I’ll get up because it’s the only choice I have. I’m venturing out in the open and I’m breaking free from the chains of fate.
I’m going to be the change that I wanted.
Because I am stronger. I am better.
I’ve finally come to terms with myself that being happy is not what I needed.
Looking back at the years that passed, I have struggled in vain in an endless search for what was so-called eternal happiness, or tranquilty, or any concept near that. Whenever something doesn’t go my way, I always tell myself that it was because God isn’t the center of my universe. But I cannot force myself into thinking that. My religion tells me that all these things around me provide ephemeral peacefulness, and they would remain short-lived as long as I don’t offer myself wholly to the Lord. It was a pointless attempt. I know in myself that it wasn’t what I believed in. It was me thinking it’s just like jumping into the bandwagon. Things don’t work out the same way for me. Because I have doubts. Because I hate depending on others, be it the Lord. I wanted to do something. And that excludes dwelling on the belief people impose on me.
It took me so long to realize that what I needed is not to be happy. Everyone seemed had it all wrong, because happiness shouldn’t be what we should be struggling for.
I want to be strong. I want to be stronger.
So I could constantly remind myself that it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. That problems will surface and resurface whenever and wherever. That living is not exclusive to being happy. That this world is a world of pain, and it’s okay to hurt. That emptiness crosses everyone’s lives every now and then, and it’s okay to feel it. That I can use that emptiness to appreciate what we have and reflect on ourselves.
I want to become strong to realize that all of these things around me are temporary and I don’t get to choose what stays and what goes. That at some point in my life, I’m going to be alone, and it doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be lonely. I want to become stronger to realize that I don’t need anyone’s approval, and if I want to achieve greatness, I have to stop asking for permission. I want to become stronger so I could face the fact that fear would constantly live among all of us, and it’s not okay to dwell on it. That I don’t need people to love me to learn to love myself. That I don’t need a lot of friends to realize my self-worth. That I have always been unique on my own, and comparison would only lead to arrogance or envy. I want to be stronger so I could face this dreadful existence with head held up high. So I could continue to fight on and move forward.
I want to. I need to be stronger.
So I won’t be afraid to reach out to happiness, despite knowing that it may cost me much. Despite knowing that disaster may follow. I have to be stronger so I could learn to toss my pride aside and see things from a wider perspective. I need to be stronger so I could learn how to love without holding myself back. Without always hiding a part of myself. Without apprehending what would come out of this and that. Without fearing to be vulnerable.
Courage. Strength. Fortitude. It’s not about happiness. It’s about being strong enough—mature, understanding, brave—to realize that happiness goes hand in hand with pain. That it may require tons of sacrifice.
I’ll be strong. I’ll be better.