In Transit

I have recently discovered one more thing about myself and that is how much I appreciate solitary train rides. It gives me an opportunity to gather my thoughts and allows me to enjoy down time – which I truly need every once in a while to keep my sanity in check.

I actually started writing a blog post on the train en route to home this morning but sleep got the better of me. Now that I feel much more recharged (at one in the morning), allow me to recollect my thoughts and put them in (tada, what else) a list.

1 I realised I am not afraid of dying. How I die, probably. But not dying. I am not sure how morbid this might make me sound but it’s a truth I just woke up to and acknowledged one morning. I believe there is a heaven and that all the people I love but already passed are there. That is where I want to go. That is the reason why I am trying my best to become, at least, a good person while I am here. And I cannot wait to bicker with my brother.

2 Not all losses are equally painful but they all elicit pain anyway. I guess it is safe to say I have my fair share of losses, especially in the past few years. Sometimes, I surprise myself with how I handle them.

Thinking about it now, I talk a lot but I never really often open up to people. When Wency (hi, To. I just have to talk about you now) left us, I had to be strong for our parents cos it was what was needed. I cannot recall the number of times I had to cry on my own because crying in front of them would only lead to an even bigger cry fest. I easily make my family and friends laugh but do not find it as easy to tell them about the personal conflicts I go through cos a) I hate bothering people b) I have always believed these conflicts will pass anyway.

Every other loss that came after 2015 seemed less significant. But I still considered them losses. And yes, they hurt as well.

3 We keep meeting people. And I now honestly believe in the cliche that people come in our lives not to stay but to teach us a lesson or two. I don’t keep a checklist of everyone I ever encountered but I do know that not everyone I used to be  very close to a few years back has stayed until this day.

I guess that is just how it is. If anything, I am not upset.  In fact, I am glad to meet the people I did.

4 I have found my person/s. And while I am not certain I could find a partner who will put up with me and my very sudden mood swings, there is comfort in knowing I have my person/s to harass with my long dramatic messages at unholy hours and decode my one-word responses the next day.

My person/s is one I don’t regularly talk to or see but who understands me the most even if I don’t say anything. It is anyone who can tell me off for making stupid decisions but end our conversation by saying things that uplift me. If you feel like you are that person/s, then you most certainly are.

5 There is so much to life I need to discover. I will take my time to do that.

 

 

#YOLO2017

There is no denying that 2017 was my YOLO year.

It was not something I planned when the year started. When I think about it now though, I think it was the very thing my soul needed – a year off taking life seriously .

I guess it’s safe to say that, all my life, I’ve been pressured (perhaps a little too much by my own self) to achieve things year after year. I was expected to be on top of the class all those years from primary to high school. I was expected to strive to at least maintain my school paper scholarship in college. I was expected to land a stable nursing job after graduation to avoid being a bum at home. I was expected to pass tests after tests to be able to secure myself a job abroad. I was expected to pass the final hurdle (that was the OSCE) before I can get to say my future is ‘secured’. Year after year, I had so much expectations I had to meet.

This year was different. I was able to take a step back and appreciate life as it is. And though 2017 was filled with so many plot twists (most of which were not that pleasant), I remain grateful for this year for it has taught me so much about life, my life.

Before the year started, I already got my pin (in other words, I already qualified as a UK registered nurse). January was spent encouraging and giving pep talks to my friends who were set to retake the qualifying test. It was spent planning where to go and what to do with my newfound freedom of no longer being imprisoned to the possibility of flunking the test and being sent home.

February was my first time in London. It was another surreal moment added to my list since I stepped in the United Kingdom. It was a month of confronting reality, embracing my alone time, and learning how to adult – I think I might have tried to cook to save my life a few times that month. It was also a month of adjusting to a new workplace as an actual member of the workforce.

March was when my friends and I travelled to Northern Ireland. It was my first time outside England (that was not home, of course). By this time, I was getting the hang of how things are done in my ward, gaining a few friends in my colleagues, and starting to appreciate travelling. It was a month of confusion. It was a month of hoping and praying that my brother’s series of tests and application process turn out smoothly.

April was another month of confusion. By this time, I was being convinced to move in with my friends. I travelled locally. It was a month of trying to forget and to brush off feelings. For this whole month, I tried to be strong not only for myself but for everyone who believed in me.

May was when I started hanging out with some of the friends who I eventually can’t part with. Summer was starting at that time and our afternoons were spent wearing shades and shorts, cooking barbecue in the backyard, and laughing/telling jokes over beer. For a certain amount of time, Despacito was our anthem.

June was when I moved in to my friends’ home – on the first day of this month to be exact. I had my reasons but one of the main ones was that I was living alone in a flat with a few other strangers. I actually liked my room and was not scared to go to the kitchen in shorts. I decorated my room the way I wanted it. It was still summer – more barbecue, more beer.

July was when I got hurt. Let’s leave it there. By this time, my heart has gotten so used to being broken but that Monday felt like the day it hurt the most.

August went by in a blur. I knew my brother was flying from home anytime soon. I was trying to forget things. I still went around the UK. I was learning to be okay.

September, my friends and I went to Scotland. I was still hurt but I knew I was getting better. I had a few days off and travelling was my way to distract myself from drowning in my own thoughts. My brother finally arrived! I felt like an adult grocery shopping for him.

October was once again confusing. As strong as I was making my mind to be, apparently, some parts of me were still weak. I’ve gotten closer to the friends I’ve made over the summer and have started having actual conversations with them. I found I can trust them.

November was starting to become really cold. Some days I spent overspending, some days I spent chilling at home with a glass of wine. It marked my first year of being in the UK. By this time, I have stopped deluding myself that planking and the treadmill would get me back to my previous figure. Rice was life (still is).

December was started with us flying to North Africa – Morocco!!! It was my first birthday spent travelling. It was a bold decision to get out of the country. I attended a few Christmas parties and joined parlor games (in hopes of winning). I started to blog again. I was still confused. I bought a ticket home.

I can say this year has given me less pressure than all the previous years I had spent growing up. I was actually living. I was having adulting problems but these were problems I didn’t mind thinking about cos these were my own personal worries.

2017 was not my best year – but it was when I learned so much of life’s lessons.

Indeed, I only live once. Thank you, 2017. You are unforgettable.

 

Finally, I’m here

It’s been two weeks since I left the Philippines and flew to England. It was something I’d been working on since last year. After a halt from December to January, I had been unstoppable at making this dream a reality. Finally, I’m here – not yet rich, not yet licensed, not yet completely settled in, but yes, I’m here.

The strangers I met at the airport two weeks ago are now the the people I first see when I wake up and the last ones I see before tucking in. It’s funny how, in such a short span of time, I’ve managed to let people (and not just one or two but eight) in my life – not just because I had to but because I want to. It was more of an obligation to have to get to know these people at first but days and weeks with them have made me realise we have so much more in common than I initially thought we would. Finally, I can say I’m laughing along with them not just because I want to fit in but because I find that most of the things we talk about are funny and relatable.

Any introvert would understand how big of a step that is. Before coming here, I had to take a psychology test where I found out I had tendencies to become a social introvert and of course, this thought scared me. In the airport as well as in the first few days here, I swear I was very quiet. I was that girl who just followed where the rest went, got inside her room before everyone else did, and was too shy to speak up in Tagalog and/or British English. Eventually, I found myself gradually talking to each one in the group until it started of becoming more natural. Finally, I’ve found my voice.

We don’t live in a big city. In fact, the feels it gives is more of that of a town. There’s not much to see really. Despite that, I like it here. So far, living here has given me the hope that I can actually save up for my future as everything is cheaper compared to when you I go to other cities or towns. Also, being here has given me the chance to become grounded and I do hope these are not just the kind of feels I get at the beginning but wane towards the end. Finally, I’d like to think I’m in a place where I can become more mature and independent.

There’s still so much that has to be done. It’s scary but exciting. I can’t remember the last time I felt so scared yet so excited at the same time. I cannot wait to get the exams next month over and done with because I feel like the rest of the world’s waiting for us to get on with it once this hurdle is done. There’s so much on my list I wish to accomplish and I’m hopeful I would get to tick every item off one by one. Finally, my plans are going somewhere.

Finally, I’m here. And while I’m here, I’ll do what I can to not waste any moment.

“I’ve been busy”

For the longest time (or what felt like for me, that is), I can’t believe I would come around to saying that again. Ironically, it gives me a certain kind of peace knowing that I’m finally getting somewhere with my life after being in the same place for a few months now. This kind of busy is what I had been accustomed to all these years so it’s not a surprise I’ve been desperately looking for it.

My decision letter arrived on the 13th of September. I was at my Lolo’s cardiologist’s clinic to have his maintenance medications adjusted when I received The Email. Yes, it is The Email that has been occupying my mind since the day I resigned from my job. It is The Email that is supposedly going to determine my future. And it did – it confirmed I have a future! I was overwhelmed with so much happiness but I had to contain it in text and private message conversations with my family and closest friends cos I was surrounded with people I didn’t know. I couldn’t even concentrate on what Doctor T was telling me about my Lolo’s laboratory results.

Fast forward a few days later, the other e-mails kept coming. The agency was telling me what to process and giving me lists of documents and forms I need to submit. My ever-supportive Mama was already trying to book us the earliest and cheapest flight tickets.

On September 20, exactly a week after I received The Email, we flew to Manila. By we, I mean my mom and I. I don’t know about you but I feel so much more secured and at ease every time my mom comes with me to take tests. I’m well aware of the fact that I am 24 years old and should be independent but I realize my mom won’t always be physically there for me anymore by the time I work abroad so I guess I’m trying to enjoy it while it lasts.

I was thirty minutes early.. for the medical exam cut off for the day – which is quite a blessing considering I know I couldn’t afford to lose a day. I only had four days to do what I had to do in Manila. I had my dental check where the dentist, probably thrown off at how my teeth looked like, gave me a referral to restore three of them and to get prophylaxis. So I did. Growing up, our school dentist always told me I had perfect teeth so I kind of kept on believing that until this sort of harsh reality came and brought me back to a dentist chair. So much for trusting.

The eye check was next. Geez man, I am blind!! I couldn’t read most of the letters the eye doctor was pointing at. She told me I have myopia or near-nearsightedness… which brought me back to the countless times I kept on straining my eyes to see what was being reflected on the projector screen at Church. All that time, the letters were not too small. I was just too blind… to have my eyes checked. She prescribed me with glasses to refract my vision. I had no choice but to comply.

Day Two was for my TB Test. It is a pre-requisite for my entry to the country I am applying for. Actually, I was somehow confident I would be clear of TB cos I had my last chest x-ray barely two months ago. Not surprisingly, I was TB-negative. However, there was an incidental finding of mild thoracic dextroscoliosis. I was frustrated cos I didn’t see it coming. Of course, my mom always told me to stop slouching and there was even an incident when Wency texted me “Indi mag slouch dipota” (which is our way of being affectionate towards each other, really) but all my previous x-rays were clear and now this came out of the film. I immediately asked my agency if it would affect the application and thankfully, they said it wouldn’t. I was able to breathe again – but not for long.

I went back to where I had my other medical tests taken to get my prescription glasses and to see if my results were okay. I was told there was something found on my x-ray (yes, I had to take two x-rays for two consecutive days) but thankfully, I had my TB Test result to present as a supporting medical record. It was all God’s perfect timing and plan, really. After an hour or so, I was declared Fit to Work. I was able to breathe better again.

Finding out these minor conditions made me realize how I’ve been taking my health and body for granted. I knew there was something wrong with my vision but I had been denying the possibility I would need glasses one day. I’ve obviously always had bad posture but just shrugged the idea that it was a sign of something. And this was the perfect time to receive that reality check. I wouldn’t want to get one any other way.

PDOS or the Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar was on Day Three. I thought I was going to learn the ropes of becoming an Overseas Filipino Worker in the near future but what stuck with me more was the sad reality of middle-aged mothers leaving their infant and toddler children behind for what they deemed would give them a better future. I was the only nurse in the group and the only single as well. The fourteen others were all hopeful parents and they looked half-excited and half-anxious of what their designated jobs in various Middle East countries have in store for them. I can only pray that they achieve what they want to come there for.

Overall, this Manila trip was productive. I’ve always thought (until now, actually) that it’s highly impossible for me to adjust and feel at home in the metro but I’ve learned that most of the things I still have on my list, I could only accomplish with me coming over there. Everything is there- the TB Test center, the recommended medical clinic and PDOS center, the UK Embassy, the airport that would take me on that international flight one day. Conversely, the heaviest traffic jams and the pranksters are also there. It already stresses me out to say this but: basically, what would I do without Manila?

I’d like to believe I will always remain a province girl no matter what but I have to admit Manila has given me the kind of busy I’d been craving for – the good kind of busy. Thank you for keeping me busy.

 

What’s Up

I originally planned on a “If You Only Had 24 Hours To Live, What Would You Do?” post of sorts but went against it the last minute cos anything related to endings is not how I would want to start my new blog with. Instead, I will write a list of twenty updates (I do hope I can make it to twenty!!) of this benign state I am in which I happen to call my life. Light topics, you know.

1 I have been jobless for one month and 18 days. Not the best way to start what’s supposed to be a happy list but yes, this is the reality that I’m facing everyday for the past six weeks or so. The optimistic side of me (that’s thriving to survive in a more often than not pessimistic environment) likes to believe that this is not my destiny but the ‘in-between’.

2 I might have gotten too attached to Korean dramas. The downside of having too much free time in my hands is that, to me,  it feels like it’s moving really slowly. Everything’s so slow-paced that I’ve had enough time to finish 20 episodes of Doctor Crush while simultaneously watching W and Uncontrollably Fond. This too shall pass, I know.

3 I am 24 years old and while I’m not entirely having quarterlife crisis, I think I suffer from regular bouts of questioning my life choices. I have internal debates every now and then and cried more than once while obsessing over my life plans.

4 Writing is my therapy. This is probably one of the most-abused cliches in the world of blogging but it speaks the truth for me.

5 Only very recently, I looked up what ‘taciturn’ meant after hearing this word from a song. It surprised me how this word suits me so well. I will remember to use this more often.

6 Over the past year, my life has gone through tremenduous changes and, in a way, these experiences have made me learn to stop being surprised at what life throws at my direction. As it is, life has taught me to always expect the unexpected.

7 I cannot cook to save my life. But at least I can now drive myself to the nearest Jollibee drive-through if I have to.

8 When I was fresh out of college, my friends and I planned to go to the Rio Olympics. It was 2012 at that time. Fast forward to this year, we never really got to do that. Instead, we are in the same city as we were in at that time, working jobs that could not afford us even a one-way ticket to Brazil. One day though.

9  I am only at number nine but I’m seriously considering trimming down the list to ten. I guess I’ve always been impatient in some ways.

10 I miss working as a nurse in a hospital. This ‘in-between’ sometimes drives me crazy and it does not help that most of the Korean dramas I watch (see number 2) have medical backstories. I miss the rush I get from saving lives (though ironically, I wasn’t able to do the same for my brother).

11 My younger brother died from a cardiac attack. I won’t dwell on that on this list but if anything, I hope that one day, I get to live in a world where everyone knows how to perform CPR.

12 I think it’s also brave to acknowledge that I’m not ready (and maybe I will never be) to be in a romantic relationship. I keep on questioning what I lack or when will I ever go out on a date but I don’t think the Universe is ready to give me answers just yet.

13 I am not afraid to die anymore. I used to think dying was the worst think that could happen to me but I had gone throught something more dreadful: seeing a loved one pass. This time, whenever I think of death, I get excited at the thought of seeing W again.

14 I hate my hair so much that I’ve put on a load of chemicals more than I think it could handle. Now, it’s all twigs and no actual-looking hair strands.

15 Probably the best thing I can say about myself is how I can get effortlessly witty and have a way with words. Other than that, I pretty much don’t have a personality. Haha.

16 My mom has always accused me of being secretive. While there is some level of truth to this, I don’t think the secrets I keep are worthing fussing over. Admittedly, I don’t open up a lot to her because a) my stories don’t seem worth sharing b) she doesn’t really ask much c) my mind is all over the place and I don’t want to worry anyone with that. I’d rather write about how I feel than put my heart on my sleeve. Taciturn.

17 I’ve been having daydreams of the future and these have been giving me both a good and a bad kind of scare. It is scary cos it pushes me to be more assertive with my application (which is basically my ticket to seeing that future happen) and it is scary cos I might end up disappointing myself if I don’t get there one day.

18 Chocolates are my weakness. People who give me chocolates get an automatic pass to my good list. Now that I think about it, this guy I’d been seeing bought chocolates on our first ‘date’.

19 I may come off as shallow on social media but my thoughts can pretty much thread through deep waters that it sometimes gets difficult for me to stay afloat.

20 I wake up with a purpose. I wake up to chase after a dream. It may look like I’m not doing so much about it but I do have something (and someone up there) that motivates me to keep going.