Like a crash course on reversal, this is my story. A year has changed me in so many ways, and the years ahead of me (whatever may be left) become figures to ponder. I wonder what has kept me going, but a better wonder is to seek how I have begun this trailblazing journey that seeks infinity.
Slowly, I get left behind and come in once again, on a rapid blizzard, a perverse blind game to becoming names on paper. This is a summer reflection on the person that I had become, and the person that I will be. Divulging everything out in little blog posts that no one reads but me in the dead of server malfunctions and better-forgotten nights.
And god, indeed — have I changed, have I become so many new people and learned that the world is kind of my plaything. And god, what a living ghost will I rise from as I transcend so ethereal that you won’t know how real everything I will become dares to be. So to the love I hold in no one and to the abyss I hold in myself, may it all be for better days (if they decide to come).
Spurs of time where I become something more really bring glimpses of heroes and breed new meaning into those words. Everyone, everywhere — little epiphanies and arid nuances to life. In the morning is a story of my summer days. A vengeful mix of youth and the burning approach of an adolescence. Relapse with a sinner as I try to decipher the mess abound; an inexplicable turmoil that awaits as an empty little kid wishes on newspaper clippings and red pen marks to become a god. Conflicting problems surround my life: College, money, creation. Three things that virtually everyone else in the same class range on this planet faces and has faced. Torn between a safe route and a dice toss outside, burning rags and making ends meet, and putting together one of my only life hooks.
My summer is drawn out to a routine for the long haul. For about two weeks I was a useless piece of shit, further drawn out by Holy Week and how the nation manages to collapse on itself annually for its festivities despite having lost the values and meaning behind it long ago. Chapel after chapel, I stare at the resounding world that waits me: Keeling over just to feel alive.
I was graced with a wonderful internship at a company with an advocacy that I truly do believe in — I started working their last Friday and delved into embracing the South to Makati commute. Also learned that majority of my sleep would come in the form of those car rides. Anxiety never dies as for the first day, I spent hours in my bed just staring at the ceiling wondering if I had made the right choice, if this would be a good fit for me, if I would be a useless nothing or actually do something with meaning. As much as I am desperate to fill up my CV, it means nothing to me subjectively if the work I do is clerical — filling up useless spreadsheets, fetching coffee and printing papers. I did not work to build a portfolio and steady workflow in a vivid direction to be placed in the same meager bullshit that every ounce of my being detests. Thankfully, of course, first day passed by and the next comes tomorrow and I can say that it is absolutely wonderful — I feel that I have a say in things, my skill set is valuable and that I could actually be of assistance, somehow. Ego would go as far as to me wishing that steps forward want me to revolutionize something, or make a mark — let’s see how that goes.
Aside from that, I also have a remote internship with a smaller organization. Platforms that connect freelancers to people who need their services — big ideas translating to small foundations in a nation still new to the developing startup scene. I only work for things that I believe in, and it is my wish to help nurture this and leave it more profound at the end of six weeks. Steps forward to actually changing the world, little concrete actions of meaning.
Like the kind of twisted person believing in hope and non-existence, I still sort of have big dreams for college. ? It’s less of the “go get an amazing future” and more of the “try and get a full ride at a mediocre school, it’s better than staying in this place”. Because truly, getting an education elsewhere is going to mean so much — being deprived of good schooling is one of my greatest fears. Amidst all the anxiety and rage, a place that actually cares about raising bright leaders is somewhere that I need to be. More than anything, I want to be a part of something that makes a difference, and I can’t shake the unending fear of settling into a subpar life in grounds that I have set foot in for the past sixteen years, that will forever feel foreign and strange. Fuck it all. I am passionate about learning. I am passionate for the thrill and feel of indulging in knowledge. I am passionate on sharing this to others who would never have the chance to attain it. Most of all, I am passionate on sharing this to others who don’t even know what they’re missing — the ones who need it most of all.
When you ask a kid about what they see themselves doing x years in the future, or what they want to be — the answer is a picturesque, missing-toothed smile of princess, astronaut, doctor, corporate drone, teacher, or a mess of anything like that. I can’t quite pinpoint when I, in the grade school division of my school (so that was about grade three, nothing higher), discussed with great concern in an intimate manner how this group of friends would be, ten years from now. I can’t remember if they relayed disgust or laughter to me when I proclaimed my life as a college student, slowly transitioning to a working day job where I live in a small apartment, closed off and isolated, alone from anyone that has ever cared about me. Thriving on cup instant noodles and Yakisoba; it was my ideal life, probably because it did not involve parents’ basements or living cold and alone on the streets. I equate settling into this nation with that. Not because I think that I am not enough, but that what I can do for it is something that it’s still not ready for. I’ve seen the struggling hearts of startups that want to do nothing but good, the flurry of talent in the computer science industry. A mix of people who know everything and are still searching and a mix of people who know nothing and aren’t employed. (I think I read something about how few programmers in the Philippines can pass the FizzBuzz test, which actually greatly concerns me.)
So here I am, reaching for schools that other people have told me that I could never be a fit for. Horizons built our prophets, luminaries on concrete chasms — what a sin to live in when I burn innocence for a future. I live sick of comparing myself to dragged prepubescence, fatigued hands exalted on piano keys raised on hypocrisy. Every single time I sit down and forget why I fight is another reason to refuse the world that was given to me — become a shadow of stress and captive belief. My life in words: SAT review, guilt, bipolar frenzy on creation versus rest, SAT, money for college applications — then money for college, when I actually get in. Conundrums of fatality, self-hatred on some days for not taking care of myself, self-hatred on most days for being useless and not doing more. My internship is building up a good work ethic on me. Still somehow being a reject amidst it all, I drown myself in bathroom stalls and pick up the remnants of god in dusted bibles. My fucking body feels like a tomb on most days. It’s as if it’s crossing down a list of ways to make my chest ache and swell, you know. The usual, heartwrenching, literally gut-twisting, mortifying and infuriating stabbing pain that runs throughout every sixteen year old kid’s body.
I balance studying amidst two (stacking onto one more) internships, working on an organization that I believe in and want to make so much more, creating side projects, writing — my only means of catharsis, otherwise I would be a madman by now. This is going to be my life, in constant shackles and shambles as the school year progresses. School work without meaning but reigns at the top of it all, trying to find time, moments where I get to feel alive (still such a foreign feeling). Working on a startup that I believe can change a country, learning how to code and develop better. Placing meaning into something that I believed in since I was seven. This is my story.
In actuality, it’s so interesting to see how much I have changed since older posts. My life has been an inexplicable series of new people and loves; I’ve met so many organizations and groups that have rendered my viewpoints anew. I think it is safe to say that I’m disappointing nine-year-old Chia in the best way ever — we won’t settle for that bit of imagination. We’re going to go so much further.
One year ago, I was interviewed for an amazing opportunity. The top students of all La Salle schools in the country were gathered to take a series of tests — six students would be shortlisted and of those, two would be chosen for a full ride scholarship in one of the best schools in Singapore for the remainder of our senior high school years — based on financial need rather than merit. A warning sign. Initially, I thought of not going to take the test at all. (It’s not like I would pass. It would just be a waste of time.)
We took a ridiculous series of tests, starting with a math one wherein I had no idea how to answer anything — was just staring at my paper blankly, solving four out of a dozen questions with no clue on how to do anything else. It felt like shit since math is my weakness and everyone around proceeded, the sound of pencil lead scratching lightweight paper. The same sound that dictated my future. We also took a writing test which I had fun with, interpreting and stretching each and every question — verbose essays up my style. Furthermore, there was a general intelligence test with the usual spatial reasoning and pattern recognition.
Of course, what the fuck. I was shortlisted and I had no idea how that happened. I was one of the first to be interviewed and at that time I thought it went fine but through my limited recall it was terrible. At that point, I did nothing. Didn’t really look into programming anymore, didn’t create much things and just played games for the majority of weekends. I wasn’t passionate about robotics or creation as I used to, and barely even had people to talk to or connect with. It was a desperate plea, and I thought that I had a two out of six shot into making it — which of course, I did not.
That interview was my wake up call. It was a plot twist of my high school year that struck me; hurtled towards me with a resounding, desperate plea. I had to do something. I cannot settle.
I don’t know how to describe the subsequent year that followed, but I began caring about things that I had always believed in. I started this blog, went on a writing frenzy and poured out my heart into thousands upon thousands of words that no one would delight in but me, in passing moments and figures. I began coding again, painting on occasion and figuring myself out. A living ghost had become a figure embracing the beauty in the smallest of things in a world that cared too little. I stared at the brink of my existence, watched over everything I had been since I was born, and began attempting to pave a husk for me to climb into and become. I joined things, took risks, fell into awkward and nonsensical pauses for far too many times than I would like to count. I received my report card for the first term and my mind was just blown — started getting medals in robotics competitions that had previously never really come, started writing more technically and embracing the skills I had in design. Became engrossed with the school-old fad of “serving” others and knowing how beautiful it feels to be an impact to people. I wanted to become a butterfly effect. A nameless vagabond behind the things that shaped the school. I watched my name fade in and out of interview lists, tucked new IDs into lanyards and watched plastic rub against one another. I started an organization that I had always dreamed of since I was younger with other incredibly talented and multifaceted people that I learn more about each passing day — my life became a journey, a wandering journey that I took control in. Doing things, being a part of something, it all made me feel alive — like I was real.
There are two parts to the fears I hold about drowning in all of this. Both have to deal with my reality. The first kind is the one where I just feel the rush of everything. I have spoken many times beforehand about this kind of problem that runs rampant within me and has probably grown from the post-interview phase: I am restless when I do not do anything productive. I swear off sleep, wonder why I am not higher when I’m rising far more than the world can hold me. Fueling my egotistical, sealed and inherited narcissistic tendencies that I build for my very own epitome of teenage angst bottled in a problem of god complexes and self-diagnosed bipolar disorder. The second kind is where I don’t feel alive unless I am validated by something tangible — not in the greedy sense, but in the way where it sucks unless what I do has meaning. Nothing feels real, I can do things for every moment but sometimes I feel that it all amounts to nothing. Numbers stacked on Excel sheets, speeches thrown to nothing, meaningless medals laid out in blue cloth and settling dust.
Maybe it’s the college rush. It’s funny how I was in nothing and it absolutely broke me and in recent days, I am turned away to give a “chance” to others. Maybe it’s the need to be in something meaningful so that I can ink over meaningless documents. I am in everything for the action and for its worth but what if what I’m working for is going nowhere? Maybe it’s the anger and agony I feel for not being better than everyone else. I am not at fault for not being a child prodigy, a grandmaster pianist at the age of four or a cybersecurity analyst by six. It is completely okay to be amazing at everything as it is to be not, and if I want to be something better there’s a long way to go but luckily, all the resources and time just await me. Maybe it’s the need to prove everyone wrong and get into a good university. I want to let them swallow their pride and see that beneath the emptiness that I do things that matter, that will lead me to memories and small infinities. Maybe it’s because I was just simply meant to be a part of something more. This is the path to do so, it’s the only one and everyone distinctly knows — treading salt on wounds.
We are heading back. People saying that I am in enough and to not bother (not wanting the lights to be taken over). People saying that I’m just not fit for the role. I dig my fists in through glass for no reason other than to throb in the pain and for the rare moment that the collision fucks me over completely. Jarring my wrists and fitting into my skin anew, I want the shards to pour over, and bring an end to all of this. No matter how far you go, there’s still the debilitating fear that everything slows down, that all the work is coming to a halt, or it’s all just meaningless. No matter how far I go, I will always just want to shut down along with everything around me — forgetting everything I had done and every little place I will go. To square one, to the doubt and the inferiority complex that I will never let reign over me again; late toasts in my room when I am empty and alone about the future and what I am really capable of to people who have never known the capacity that burns and strives within me. Maybe they are the reasons as to why I still try when I know that my expiration date looms around the age of eighteen — wishes paved on a cremation at the top of a list. We are heading back. Nobody wants to see you at your highest, they want to see you at a position where they’re comfortable with overtaking you. Breaking you down so that they feel better is everybody’s secret talent, I believe. Why feel bitter about not being enough when you can warp everyone else on a premonition and scald their feelings for your imminent hypocrisy? In the start, I paved my way to becoming a living ghost — this sort of machinery, however close a teenage girl could get to that. Done with words like happiness and fueled by music with lyrics that I can never relate to. Working, denial of exhaustion to be taken seriously, working, the crippling demise of trying to stay awake (let alone remaining alive). Walking people through lessons on how to take sixteen year old girls seriously, pushing limits and forgetting my own name. Forever repeating, it only ends when I lose my identity and fight.
A failure at everything, seventeen going on extinct — this is what I have become. In a year, I fought battles with other people more than my own self. You know it’s not just you that holds yourself back, it’s the world around you. In my experience, you become your own salvation. You learn to count down and strike all the names of the people that flinch at the idea of you becoming more than what they once knew, people that you thought would be proud to see you becoming something brighter and bolder. (Everyone I had ever known only became disappointed when I started loving myself and what I did.)
In the lesson of surviving when you want to reinvent yourself, learn that you are going to hold yourself up together. Amidst it all, there is always thank and heart when I have pushed my own self to exist when nobody else could. It’s taken sixteen years to learn that I exist for my own self, for my own dream to change the world in guaranteeing that nobody ever feels the same. Everyone is too entranced in their own demise, a flawed revelation come too late in the hope of saving another and realizing that it saves your own self, too. I measure life in the instances that I think of the people around me — the times they pass my mind, the impact that resonates. Profound little messages to mark the change that they’ve brought about, however little. In the end I hold myself together, a self-made reunion of emancipation. It was my own self that learned how to fall in love, and it was my own self that learned to believe in the fact that I could change. Self-brought push from the onslaught of humanity, configuration of the birthright that I had never asked for.
The greatest warning that I can give to anyone else who dares to live is to live for your own self. I’ve burned the stories that others have made of me. Take the liberty to free yourself.
Even if I live in a generic sixteen-year-old girl crisis in summer: a bridge between remembering the friends that I will never see again, becoming something more, well-wishes to change the world, interning for things that can teach me how to become a better me, proclaiming myself leader of little projects and striving towards big majesties, studying for my future as a four-digit score settles itself as the dictator of the rest of my life — at least I am in control.
I never complained about being in so much. I have only complained about not doing enough, not making things meet, not being balanced enough, not devoting enough of myself and heart into things I swore myself in. I never complained about the changes that I wanted to see in myself; only the nights spent longing at the stars without a single word written down capturing the moment, describing them for the rest of infinity. At least I am in control. I can pick anything up and have it fade away in just a single moment. On a flicker, I can switch myself to hatred, a burning blackhole enveloping my creation and existence an infinite amount of times; on another hand a god poised atop the world and galaxies, messing with ripple effects and groundhog days. Arrogance and suicide can exist in the same body. I found that they tend to go hand in hand.
A year ago, I was nothing — in my own eyes, in the eyes of the world. Today, I remain to be nothing to my own self, something to a few people, and nothing to the rest. We’re moving forward in straits, laughing at people who have dragged us down; I place bets with the sea and buffer chronicles of revenge. I am not a perfect being, but neither is god. A year ago, I was enemies with my own self and learned to fall in love with this unrivaled spirit that lay within. I swear that I am not lying interview after interview: Proclaiming myself to have a passion of fury, something that never rests, a self-sacrificial gush of becoming and doing. My veins run on the charcoal of words, eyes see for the beauty of impact (one of my favorite positions today is getting to become the media head for my school’s student council, I picture every single creation, the birth of a .psd and the shifting lag of rulers and cyan margins as a colossal rush to be glanced over — the moment that someone stops over and looks and delights is when my job is done), lungs deflate and swallow in the knowing that I am making things. For myself, firstly. Next time, for the world.
Seize everything. Grip a third-world that has choked on its own self for centuries. Take every opportunity, bask in it. For the past few months, my heart has been thriving on disbelief at how much great things people strive to do for others, and how little does anyone else take it. Maybe it’s part sadness that I am now one of those people running up little events, counting bills and figuring out ways to make ends meet and not charge an obscene amount, ruining my own wallet for the same old faces again and again. Or maybe it’s just the sad reality — the desire for people to stand up and realize that the world is fucking here. It’s dying, but still trying to give you all it can. Capture every opportunity. Drown in it. Spend your summer days and trade them in for things that people have spent endless weeks working towards. Cram yourself into it, just like how they clutched on everything being thrown together — they work for the best intentions.
Find something to live for. A tune. A melody. A symphony. I seem to fall in love with new poets all the time but come back to the same lyricists all the same. In the dawn of feeling useless and doing nothing, perhaps give it three minutes to listen to a new band everyday. Revel in the creation that mankind has sought. We have moved forward enough to bring happiness to one another in countless forms, and if that’s not one of the reasons why you look forward to breathing every single day then count me out of this all. To read quotes and words that endear you and move you onward to new heights every single day, for Fall Out Boy’s new fucking purple teaser that stops your heart and drops your productivity; the smiles contained are worth it, anyway. The thrill of writing something for yourself. Fingers flying across light laptops and pastel keyboards, the drone of the sun at the side of your face as you burn out metaphors, analogies, and the thesaurus on the other tab. Endless gratification and satisfaction despite never looking back on it again. Stepping stones. Feel that this earth is built by man and will be destroyed by it again. You build your own self up and have the choice to end it, anytime. The strength is always there, the life you hold incanted.
Never stop. In one year, you can do so much and later, feel for it to be nothing. Whatever it is, never end. Continue creating. Breathe in life, work hard and strive. You hold the gift of movement, doing, breathing, listening, living. For as long as you live, you may act. It has come to the point where I despise people who do nothing, or take gratitude in ruining others. Maybe I am not monumental, nor would go far as a girl of sixteen that knows nothing but the path to extinction. However, I do know that for as long as I live, I will build on the things that I love, and nothing can stop me. This is why I delight in the rain, the porous thunder and the clash of the world around me. It’s the thrill of being able to breathe in, to see everything, to know that you are alive in this moment, and in this infinity. Of free will I think is the greatest thing, to mold the world around — to act, to speak. If you were to do anything in the moments that remain, create. Leave a mark, and keep going. Fuel your world and pump your veins with art, prose, and beauty. I am a mark of insanity in the guise of molding beauty.
So yes, I was nothing. I hated that self and a year later, found myself being rejected once more — to give others a chance. A year ago, I was sheltered; I still remain the same awkward person but I do know what I believe in now. There is wonder in finding something to fight for at this age, a teenage miracle in finding reason past the miracles of the night and looming afternoons. There is love in creation and in self-betterment, in knowing that you remain in control of the words and world around you. Become your own prophet. Forgive god for you are one.
I continue to try and figure myself out in the form of marked calendars and thumbs bending on phone notes. Portraying myself as a hero in the fluorescence of laptop lights towards the end of April. Ultimately a tired girl who still doesn’t know where to go or what I am going to change — but I do know that I fucking will, and I started ever since I was born. Never again will I think that it was a mistake on someone else’s accord, and bless that I have found direction; a prayer goes towards the world, may it find its own way as well. (But never will I think that it’s my job to save it all, let me save myself and the things that I have loved altogether in this moment, first.)