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.

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.

IMG_0305

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.