I’m no exception when it comes to feeling like I’ve aged decades in the past two weeks, when in reality I’m just nearing my second one. In my sophomore spring, I received and then lost an internship offer in America, was near-evicted from my college and then received dozens of messages of support in the form of housing and food from people all over the country, danced in the––for the first time ever––empty school courtyard that I have overlooked for the past eight months and will for the next two years, and broken down alone figuring out what of my life to throw away then keep, and so on.Read More
I feel like I’ve aged a lot in the past week. I’ve been swept by scary news around my family, almost-homelessness in a country 8,000 miles away, my loved ones back in Manila in lockdown in a state that has essentially imposed martial law, the loss of life-changing opportunities that I had thought beckoned the fight and narrative of why I chose to come to America, and so much more.
Turning 20 in the midst of a global pandemic, I write to you from a dormitory in my campus, now more still than ever. For every student who talks about how New Haven is boring (or worse, scary) is always so mistaken. There are no cars on the street in the dead of night, no lights in the Saybrook courtyard anymore, I am the sound of what is left.
Time right now is not difficult because social distancing it’s hard. It’s difficult because my brain is scrambling for the sense of normalcy prior, even if it were a disjoint existence. We’ll see more of this in the coming weeks, but the impacts of a societal and economic collapse will live on with us forever.
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, basically. At one moment I’m chuckling about a quarantine joke about never having been loved in 21 years. In the next, I’m furious about someone’s shitty mockup of a “Zoom University” hoodie that they plan to sell for 17 dollars each to be printed on the cheapest online supplier over a Yale Blue Gildan. I am distant from my family (part in choice, part of necessity), and thinking about why I must live in this day and age and time.
I cried even harder when opportunity was taken away from me. I write gentle thank you’s and then become rough on myself for still seemingly knowing nothing. I am my worst enemy. I sleep for 18 hours one day and then 30 minutes the next. I am pining for perfection and self-destruction, simultaneously. I share another document containing links to help the impacted that only 1% of people will actually click. I recede and play Plague Inc. and name my disease “Furry” and wonder if my Car Seat Headrest tickets will be refunded. I wave at the shut-off shower lights as I stand in the hottest water at midnight, I sing in the suite and cry on the floor–surrounded by open, filled luggages ready to let me go at any moment.
I can’t create right now. I cannot think about product and conversions and how to ease churn rates. I cannot think about anything but empathy. People I look up to are having their jobs taken away; I tell acquaintances who don’t give a fuck whether I come out of this with something or not that an offer was cancelled; I tell myself that everything given to me has been deserved.
What I’m saying is that there is so much more at stake in the world that so misshapen. I understand, but I remain angry at myself. I’m angry not because something was taken away, but because right now–this mid-March–my heart is with the student at threat of violence the next week, pouring their life into a 30-day-trial UHaul truck. My heart is with Luzon facing a militant, uncaring government that like the United States, ignored warning signs and acted too late––after just facing a volcanic explosion. I have thrusted my fist into the heart, pounding for some sense of normalcy so I can care again and become part of the system: but it’s not something for today.
Around 12 hours ago, President Duterte announced a complete travel ban to and from Metro Manila, my home, to happen in 48 hours. 24 hours ago, I received an email saying that I should get out of campus by Sunday night. (My country is on lockdown, I wrote to them. Try to find a place to stay like family friends or an AirBNB. Nevermind that I am the only person in this building besides the facility superintendent.)
I have a fuckton of interviews that are postponed, delayed, or potentially cancelled. I’m not sure what I’m going to do this summer: I’m not sure if what I want to do in life is valid in the time of catastrophe anymore.
Feeling uncomfortable on some platforms since several people have been creating alternate accounts to follow me and act creepily even after I’ve blocked/distance them. Never expected that to happen to me but apparently it has. It’s discomforting and jarring.
One side of tech Twitter is talking about the implications of creation and entrepreneurship in this time. I am thinking about how I am going to afford groceries for the next months––and I am all fucking for creation.
My heart is bursting at how doomed the world is. As I’ve seen, the truly worst thing about this entire situation is how it upended our society–revealed how unprepared and polarizing it is. How healthcare is fucked. I want to believe this is a test of human resolve and that this will peak and then end and we can understand it: but the greatest conspirators are our own selves. This is not a new revelation.
I have not been eating a lot. One meal every two days since an awful midterm week last week. It’s strange walking into bookstores with an empty stomach, three product management books, and no certainty of whether I have a space to sleep in the next week in the midst of a university that asks its students upwards of 70,000 dollars a year. I actually self-harmed for the first time in years. The difference is that the validity of this seems more long-lasting (not that my previous ones weren’t). This one is of ire; much more than the Catholic heart compressed in the quiet home of Las Pinas. My self-destruction on my own terms seems more necessary than ever.
It’s not even the hurt of compressing my life into luggages. It’s how expendable it all is.
I think I deserved it all.