That Quarter Life Crisis

I have been meaning to write about what’s been happening to me in the past weeks.  I have been gathering the courage to face, let alone, resolve my issues as I’m getting into a more serious stage of my adult life. I’ve started to ask questions – questions after questions. I think I’m already experiencing it. And it really is quite a while already.  Western literature would usually term it as a quarter life crisis. It is usually characterized by asking to one’s self where life is heading and if one can do something about it. I realized that I had started experiencing it when I was staring at my savings account; seeing myself in the mirror, eyes a bit hallow, tired from a 12-hour work from the office; aware that I was 25 then; realized that I’m still living with my parents; closing to concluding an important chapter of my life; weighing if I just wasted my money on travels, gadgets and running; and wondering what my relationship would be in the coming years.  Questions that if I’m still making the right decisions. Questions that if I’m really happy.

To be honest, no matter how many times I told myself that I’ve overcome it, I’m very much positive that I haven’t.  And in those days that I had the chance to be myself confirmed that I’m really having a hard time in this stage of my life.

I’ve disclosed this concern to the most trusted people in my life. Others were even half older than me.  One said that she has already experienced it and knows exactly how I feel. Though they were still gathering a more constructive thought on my situation.  Point after point I said that I’ve realized I deserve better in what I think, feel, earn, acknowledge, judge right now.

I made a promise to myself that I should stop worrying on things – that I should let things go and refraining on surrounding myself with negative people.  I’m a planner, a development worker, a woman, and being one really made it difficult for me.

As a planner, I love envisioning what would I be like in the coming days, weeks, months, years.  I dream both the possible and maybe the impossible.  I am not yet close to a visionary, but in dreaming, it helps me see the light against some shades of gray at the present.  It takes away my fears, my worries, and my woes.  The truth is, no matter I focus on “the now”, sometimes, the horizon was just limited and I had to shape that dream into faith that things would be better.  Years back, I was a couch potato; I didn’t mind with my looks; I make my parents’ litigating tendencies as an excuse not to participate on other activities outside the home; I didn’t even know how to properly take a picture or manipulate an SLR.  But I dreamed of those athletes in the Runners’ Magazine; I talk to myself in the mirror that I can change how I look and feel about myself; I experienced sleeping outside our gate and wait until my mother open them because I chose to enjoy the night with my friends rather than go straight home at 6:00PM; I took classes in photography and managed to cover 3 weddings because they like how I did – the reason I began doing travel and events photography.

It’s hard though when people you trust and love the most tell you otherwise no matter how beautiful they packaged it into kind words. It’s like claiming something that is not meant to be.

And it hurts. It really hurts.

As a development worker, I’m into thinking into multiple layers at the same time.  I can relate different components and construct it into a single perspective.  I also have high tolerance to very stressful situations.  Since I’m dealing with other people’s problems (and that’s poverty, hunger, discrimination, deprivation, abuse, resettlement, and the like), I need to be more resilient in responding to them.  I need to make a way to translate the response into my reports, analysis, and recommendations.  Though at the same time, to be needs and context-based on such responses, I was groomed to be emphatic on the past, present, and future situations undergoing such hardship.  Yes, in return, I tend to being more affected that people should be sometimes.  As this position is prescribed to different problems however, it sometimes misses the point of making it bearable to development workers ourselves.  Sometimes, I too, become a victim of other people’s problems.

And don’t just turn a blind eye to what is wrong.  I can’t just watch TV series or movies without being concerned to what is being reported at the news channel.  As such, it no longer interests me to ‘enjoy’ what is fictional but to face the pragmatical, structural, and systematical.

As a woman, I myself know the problem how being a woman contributes to my crisis.  My situation puts me into a double-bladed standard that I should be prudent, calculative, practical, and familial in my choices and actions, and yet I should not exactly affirm what I wanted else to do in my life.  Expectations to women sometimes include fulfilling the parents’ wishes and aspirations and getting a man better than you.  Really, is this a competition?  And yes, I am being judged because I can’t invest first because I am a woman.  Let alone, if I am to be married anyway, it is not me to determine what my life would be or my house would be like or where.

To add to that, being a woman also deters you to hope for a long lasting love.  It also undermines even the possibility to dream what love would be like.  It’s like, let’s love while it lasts.  So is it “best before: dd-mm-yyyy”. Don’t get me wrong. I’m working my ass off to make it last, but if I’m not on the same page with that person, I really better put that on my life crisis checklist to resolve. I’m taking yoga, belly-dancing, boxing, cooking, and personality development classes to boost my personality.  Just to subtract my seemingly boring self.

Relationships don’t last long but dreams do.  But if dreams were the ones trampled, now that’s a huge trouble.

Yep, it does hurt, again.

As I was waiting for the results of my comprehensive exams and went on remembering what I wrote, I realized that I was really passionate on my chosen field.  I never felt more fortunate of choosing to study Masters in Community Development.  I did not just want to pass the exams.  I was hoping that my perspective, my drive, my attention, would somehow help other people.  I saw myself finally nailing that project proposal or managing a humanitarian team to rehabilitate a community.  I dreamed of working in a coastal area and talking about what the upcoming community agenda be.  I saw myself playing with the kids who just came from school and seeing them smiling while carrying their slip-ons as they run across the shore on the way home.  I was cooking lunch with the mothers of the community and just didn’t mind the fumes, traffic, and calculations back in the city.  I saw myself – way apart from who and where I am today.

Should I get the job offers I’ve been seeing for days now?  It’s high-paying, definitely farther from home, yet I can be maximized. However it is contract and project-based and not termed as a regular job.

My work has been like this for almost 6 years already. Can I move on now?

I was even thinking of taking a job so far from home that I am forced to live away from my parents and just mind on continuously finding myself.  Maybe work as a foreign contingent or take a diploma scholarship in Japan, Australia, or Singapore.

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“being on the same page” and other reflections

Today was a good experience for some realizations.  And saying that life is but ordinary would be an understatement. Because underneath all your daily tasks, even your conversations with different people even those you usually talk to, can shed a different light on your consciousness.  Because whether we like it or not, these very tasks and conversations we had may also give a different reading to them and if one wouldn’t at least give time to reflect on it, would entail misunderstandings or worse, frustrations.

So for today, I hope to share those realizations I was referring to. It’s already 12:16 AM in my watch. I actually had a very tiring but fruitful day, and yet I suddenly had the energy to put my thoughts into this blog.

  1. There can be things that are beyond your control. You may have to let go, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.  I had this task that has been pending for a month already. I promised that I will do it once I’m finished on other urgent tasks. But those urgent tasks just kept on coming, if not piling up.  While those that are not urgent before but nevertheless were important, have become urgent because the time ceased as I attended to the earlier ones. Came today that 2 hours before my work officially ends (which happened because I had to finish an important task that I wanted to submit today as well), I realized that this task that was extended several times because of what happened was due today.  This task, which I already ranted about during the first few minutes of those 2 hours, really seemed very hard as I was tasked to do a creative output of a report that was usually being done through technical writing. Poor me, I’m not versed creatively when it comes to reports; I really had to re-learn this way of writing and do a layout of the report.  By the way, this report also needs to be presented creatively.  Its 30 minutes and I’m still re-learning it.  I resorted into telling myself and my boss that I cannot meet the extended deadline. Saddened by that fact, I stared on my ‘draft output’ glaring on my monitor.  Glaring as it is, however, I still pushed myself to write a few lines on it. I thought, “just imagine that you are writing a blog post”.  Lo and behold, I didn’t notice that I already began and completed the starting page and paragraphs. So besides telling the fact of not meeting the deadline today, I added a postscript as well – “but I will give it to you tomorrow”. Yes, I let go of the situation that was really impossible for me at the time (or so I thought it IS impossible) but placing determination to give yourself an extra push will help you accomplish almost anything.  Remember, little steps will still take us somewhere.are we facing a wall for a dead end or maybe we just need to turn a few degrees to continue?
  2. A crowd completes a scene; tells a story. I just finished watching a film that shares the story of working as an ‘extra’ in films and TV shows. It was told that it is them who are usually overlooked at in productions or even when shows and films are released.  They are usually those characters who were taken with no faces and even no lines to deliver.  And if there is, no one would remember them of neither their role nor their name.  But think of it, is it possible that there will be scenes for coffee shops, the market, a commuter bus, or a neighborhood without them? Hence, there may be not much to be told if main and support casts will only be given credit for.  So no matter how your situation may have placed you among the crowd even for a while or for a very long time, you too, could shape what other people think or feel. Hence, you are more than you think you are.crowd
  3.  Lastly, as I close to my today’s journey, my spontaneity in my conversation topics with a very dear friend caught me off-guard when I was asked that “we are on the same page, aren’t we?”  To be honest, when an idea or experience struck me, I would recall other more ideas and experiences related to it and lump it in a single conversation.  And this idea recently I found really interesting because it’s like a coming of age movie flick wherein different people just became so interested and seemingly obsessed in a single idea and eventually, there are so many characters who are involved.  I would sometimes talk about it in a comedic matter just to liven the recollection up a bit. When this happens, I just let the ideas flow.  Most of the time, I enjoy doing it because I get to share my thoughts as well as let loose of myself a little.  Nevertheless, I only do this towards the people I know and trust very well, which I’m glad I have. But spontaneity and talking on certain things (no matter how seemingly entertaining or crude they are to you) also has caveats even if you are speaking to people you trust and comfortable with.  Much more, if you kept on bringing it up, you can either forget to reassure that they get the point why you are talking about it or overlook the fact that they were already involved on the idea or experience that you brought up.  And if we forget or overlook these things, a single question, may just mute your synapses that very moment.  Like this friend of mine, when I was talking about it, I think that person’s impression was that I really, really like the idea and therefore must proceed towards it at the soonest possible time which I think made it very uncomfortable for my friend.  So when the question was asked, it really sounded very commanding to me that it made me pull myself away from my friend. My talk then became minimal during the rest of our conversation – mad because it was the second time that I was told by the same person but was still struggling to see the reason behind it and reflect on it. It came to a point that it irritated me even, because I felt that I was treated like a child who needs to behave. Later on, I made a reminder to myself to be more careful in sharing my thoughts, even towards the people I know, because one may notice that one can actually hurt the person one is talking to or worse, one’s self.IMG_0230

Much had happened during the day, but yes, the experience was still worth it.

Reflection on “Alms”

As I was doing an evening photowalk in one of the most famous tropical destinations in the Philippines, I can’t just disregard the fact that poverty and vulnerability is present in the area.

There I saw a man, less his limbs and probably his dreams; worse, a child less his childhood.  Having and sharing this picture may emanate mixed reactions.  But one thing would be definite among these, there is something wrong and it is disturbing.

Shots taken last May 2013 – a summer in Boracay.

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Full gallery at projectsbyjennifer.wordpress.com.

Order in Melange

Would you be able to see order in disorder; peace in chaos; in silence among the noise?  Maybe a probability of one in a million that beauty can be seen against the rubble and confusion when it is right there in front of you – bare but blank (thinking that it is just pointless).

In my young life, it has been my mission to struggle – to labor for concord despite the chances being slim.  Difficult, it truly is.  At times very painful.  In that struggle, I usually hurt myself.  When things did not go as planned, I can feel the disappointment burning my arteries and discernment.

But maybe I just need to be pointless, chaotic, and noisy and not just worry about the struggling.  Just allow things to swoosh past me at times.  Believe that there can be order in melange.

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And this what this shot reminded me.  This was taken while aboard an AUV driving around Camiguin Island as part of a trip.  Before I landed on this shot, I remember being so desperate to just have a steady landscape shot as I was fascinated with the sunset and the trees, and the sea.  I told myself, it’ll eventually affect the rest of my shoot if I get stuck with this feeling.  So I just fired the rest of my shots while the drive continues.  There I saw this one shot – vivid, strong contrast, yet no balance, and even jagged.  I immediately noticed this one shot among those that are equally beautiful.  So I extracted it from my files and grazed it with my editing software. I only adjusted the exposure, white balance, and contrast.  Never I imagined that I was like gazing upon an Impressionist painting on Acrylic on canvass (or something like that).  It was different, it was beautiful.  Truly there is order in melange.  I just have to learn to let go.