How did you cope with pain?

Cope, by definition, dealing with something difficult effectively.

Pain is something, for me, harder to define.

What kind of pain are you asking me?

Was it the pain of a scraped knee? At first I would cry. I wasn’t used to the physical pain. I was afraid of having to wash it with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide because that stuff burns. Even iodine was scary. But eventually I got used to it. Repeatedly falling and scraping my knees, my elbows, my palms, became something sort of second nature. I trip so often and so easily. When I got used to the scratches and the wounds, I learned to clean them myself. I learned to enjoy the sting of alcohol. I learned to love the way iodine solution felt on the open skin.

Was it the pain from when I burned my hand when I accidentally poured boiling water over it? When I saw my skin rising, I punctured it. I was curious. I peeled the skin off the burned area and boy did it hurt. I didn’t know better back then. Thankfully my parents had the sense not to put toothpaste on it. I relied on them to take me to the ER. I relied on the doctors to put the proper ointments and wrap it up with gauze. When I didn’t know what to do, I welcomed help.

Was it the pain of when my friends and family all called me fat? It was an alien form of pain. One that ointments and alcohol couldn’t clean. One that I couldn’t cover with gauze or iodine solution. I learned at the age of 10 to trade one pain with a different form. I started eating less, then not at all. The pain of hunger felt to me like the sting of alcohol. It would cure the pain of humiliation from being fat, I thought.

Was it the pain of losing your first love? Or the pain of witnessing your parents break up? The pain of your mom leaving the house to live with her new boyfriend? The pain of seeing your dad get hinself drunk everyday? That was a different sort of pain too. A deeper kind. One that I can’t claw out of my chest, or carve out my skin. Although I tried. At this point I have learned to love the pain of the physical kind. It was an easier pain to navigate and deal with. I learned to self harm. And I learned to cut deeper and deeper. I almost cut deep enough. Sometimes I still wish I had. Often I am ashamed I even did it at all.

Was it the pain of being bullied? Because you were smart without even trying? Because you were kind and had the boys falling head over heels for you? When people started calling you a slut, a whore, a bitch, when you weren’t even trying to flirt, how do you deal with that? I think I just hid. I just folded in on myself wishing that if I stayed small and silent they will eventually not notice me and stop calling me names that I had no idea how I earned.

Was it the pain of losing a friend? I think I coped with that one by transfering schools. By shifting to a different course. I had no more place in the same vicinity that I shared with them. I felt like I shouldn’t breathe the same air they do.

Was it the pain of watching your father die? Of seeing the light leave his eyes when his heart beat its last? To feel him cold and stiff in your arms? I wanted to claw out the doctor’s eyes. To hurt someone, anyone. To scream. To open my chest and rip my heart out. The pain of grief is something I never coped with. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression… Acceptance. I think I got stuck on depression. It has been four years and I haven’t coped still.

Was it the pain of loving someone who treated you like you are vermin? Who told you that you are trash. That you are worth nothing. That one I got stuck on anger. Borderline hatred. The sound of his name still sends chills of boiling rage down my spine. Sometimes, when it is cold and the sheets won’t warm me enough, the anger does the trick. I know forgiveness is the key to freedom but I don’t think he deserves to be forgiven just yet. I would imagine his suffering. Never his death. No. I want him to suffer long and hard with no relief.

Was it the pain of waking up one day and realizing you are a failure? The anxiety of knowing you are running out of time? The thought that it is too late to pick yourself up? That paralyzing fear of the future? That one is a little easier. I could break my way through the walls of my doubts and their judging eyes, and make my own rules. Success to me is knowing I attended all my classes this week. Success is when I have submitted all my requirements in time for the deadline. And sometimes, when the fear is too great it wants to chain me in my bed, I deem it success to be able to get out of bed, do my laundry, take a bath, face the day, brave the traffic, go to school despite being late. I see it as success when I fail today and try again tomorrow.

Of all the different kinds of pain I have had to deal with, one thing is for certain. Everytime I had successfully faced on pain, I get stronger. My threshold gets higher. My tolerance as well. Pain is something necessary to build your character. As long as you let it build instead of destroy.

I think there is no specific way of coping with the pain. As long as you let it build you instead of destroy you, you have dealt with that difficulty successfully.

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Write

I have no wounds visible but I am bleeding. And with this blood I will write.

I will write my heartaches and sorrows away. I will write down the confusion, uncertainty and insecurity to navigate through it and make sense of it. I will write and write and write until I find an order to the thoughts running chaotic in my mind.

I used to write when I am very happy. Over-romanticizing the simple things, bubbling with joy and hope.

I would write in my fear. List down all the things that haunt me until my heart is still.

I would write when I am sad. I would turn my tears into ink and stories and poetry.

But there is nothing poetic to being empty.

So I would write and rant until I find where all my thoughts are hiding. I would write until I am full of words that do not rhyme just so I will not be empty.

I wrote a song for him yesterday. About how I have stopped waiting. About how I have given up. About how the butterflies in my stomach are all dead and turning into dust.

It was a song of wishful thinking. How I wished to rip my heart out so I would no longer feel it breaking. How I craved to be powerful enough to finally stop loving him. Of how I do not care about the silence between us when really, it has been driving me mad. When I am really powerless and helpless and how I really want him back.

I wrote of how I no longer care when every day I wake up waiting for his message and every night, I fall asleep with his name on my lips like a prayer. With tears unshed and words unsaid for far too long the letters are all a jumble in my head.

And still I will write to get them off my chest. Like half-digested meals of yesterday, I can not identify the feelings that I shed. Like old skin. Like baby teeth, said Sarah Kay. Parts of me I no longer need. And yet they hurt when I pulled them out of my heart, kicking and screaming and refusing.

Last night I slept with my ukulele beside me in bed. The notebook that held the lyrics lay open, fluttering in the wind. Maybe they crawled back to my chest in my drunken sleep. Because I woke up this morning with the same baby teeth. I woke up to the same feelings in between my cracked and broken ribs.

When I do not write, I run away. I try to push him at arm’s length. I wanted to show him I am not affected. But I am. I am. I am.

Because everyday, the same refrain plays inside my head. I want you. I need you. I love you. I love you. I love you. Why won’t you love me too?

Distance suits you well. You have found some playmate to flirt with I guess. And you can stop caring about me and my opinions in a snap. A trick I never learned. How to switch your feelings on and off like putting on a new mask. You can go for hours without hearing from me. Days without asking about me. You never really cared what goes on in my life but this is a new level of indifference.

And yet here I am, the stupid girl. Screaming inside my head “Please love me.”

Just Keep Swimming

This semester of A.Y. 2017-2018 has been rough for me. I experienced how to be spent emotionally, mentally, socially and financially for almost the whole semester and I thought I would never make it.

My phone fell and the screen cracked on the first day of the semester. My P.E. shoes broke and I couldn’t afford to buy a new one so I had to let go of my P.E. class. My laptop was broken as well so I had to borrow laptop from my friend, or sleepover their house so I can use their PC or laptop for my paperworks. I had to do my thesis on my phone with a cracked screen because hey, I need to get through this semester.

I was on the verge of a breakdown almost everyday, tired and worried and stressed out both due to academic and financial reasons.

Nothing in my life was stable. My friends were often busy, and I felt like I have become a nuissance because I had to borrow a laptop for paper works, or money if I ran out. My allowance would often come late because my mom’s salary would often be late. I was in a relationship where I have to pretend we are just friends in front of the people who matter. The thought of my mom losing her job was always hanging like a storm cloud over my head and I do not know what tomorrow will bring.

I would often have bad headaches due to lack of sleep and overthinking.

I wanted to give up.

It came to a point where I thought I was failing even when my scores are alright. I had more absences than I would have wanted because I am either sick, woke up late, got caught in traffic, or trying to catch up with the requirements from other subjects.

I would often be sad or cranky, or annoyingly very bubbly and I know that behind my hysterical laughter is a breakdown in the making.

It came to a point where I wanted something stable to hold on to, so I broke up with my “boyfriend” and asked him to be just friends. Something concrete and stable.

There were a lot of days I contemplated suicide. In between looking for possible part time jobs and considering stopping a year in school to help my mom with finances, I was contemplating just giving up. Walk in front of a truck or jump off a bridge or something.

I was spent body and soul and spirit I just wanted it all to stop.

I was drowning. But I kept on swimming.

And now I am one final written exam away from conquering this semester.

So just keep swimming.

Unanswered Questions

When you fell in love with him in 2015, what was it you were hoping for?

Were you hoping for a love everlasting? The kind to sweep you off your feet? A knight in shining armor come to save the damsel in distress from the dragon?

What if he was never a knight, and you were actually the dragon? What if, by forcing him into an armor, you become the dragon he slew?

When you told him you love him, what were you expecting?

Did you expect a fairy tale “Happy ever after” ending? Did you expect he would fall to his knees and confess his love for you too? What if you were only happy after the ending?

When he did tell you he loves you after beating into him the concept of loving you, did you expect him to bend the knee too? Did you imagine wedding bells ringing? Did a cute montage of everything the two of you did and could have done flash in your mind’s eye? Did you see it like the movies, with the rain falling for the two of you as you kissed? Did you not expect that the first kiss you will share was when you were both drunk on the last night of your teenage years? Did you not taste the smoke on his lips that foretold how your story would be ending?

When you found out the truth of who he is, what were you imagining? A boy broken from loving a girl who cheated on him, waiting to be fixed? Did you not expect that the cheated will become the cheater and that you would be cheated time and time again? Or did you see the ghost of a man he could one day be?

When he told you to be just friends, did you listen? When he said he was poison and that he didn’t believe in love anymore, did you believe him?

You wanted so much for things to end up the way you imagined, you closed your eyes to the truth he was telling you from the beginning.

That he was not capable of loving you. You picked the poison and happily drank from the cup of your downfall, hoping that taking the risk would make you fly.

When he liked someone else, weren’t you looking? Didn’t you get a glimpse of how willing he could be to love someone that wasn’t you? He knows how you feel for him and he called you his friend and told you all about how perfect night their night had been.

When you were forced to bear witness to how he put his arms on her shoulder while he sat in front of you and all his friends, where were you looking?

In his eyes, wondering if you would catch the truth that he would rather it was you? What were you hoping for?

When you walked away,  and he came calling after you, saying he will leave the girl because he chose you as a friend, did you expect something more?

When you started going out on dates often, did it melt your heart? Did you let the Trojan horse through your walls? Did you learn nothing from the history books? Did you not see how this will end in your death, betrayal and destruction when the night is dead?

When he told you that you are more than just a friend, did you look in his eyes, trying to catch the lie while praying it was the truth?

When he started writing you songs, did you believe the lie?

Or were you hoping that if you kept at it long enough, it would someday be true?

When he started playing fire with other girls, wasn’t it you he burned? Didn’t the fire show you what your future holds? Did you love the warmth of him so much you failed to notice?

And when he promised to stop the game because he got bored, did you actually believe he did it for your sake?

And when nothing you say can make him commit to you and the love he swears, did you make excuses for him? Did you “understand” where he is coming from?

When he stopped listening or taking interest in anything you say, did you tell yourself he was just probably too hyped to tell his story? Did you not feel lonely, unloved, unappreciated and uncared for?

And when you asked what love did to him, did you like the answer? That he will choose to sing of his terrible past than sing of you? When she who gave him a terrible experience in love seemed more relevant to him than the stable love you provided, did you grieve? Did it hurt more than you expected? Did you weep?

When you told him how it hurt you and all he said was he had nothing to say in his defense, did it break your heart? Were you mad at him for not seeming to care about how you feel? Did he hear your heart shatter?

When you said goodbye to him last night and he didn’t say a thing, did it make you feel stupid? Did you hope he would be a “typical boyfriend” and kick and scream to fight for you? Did you hope for sweet words and pleas for you to stay?

Did you think he would stay up with you all night to convince you to stay?

And when he didn’t, and you woke up this morning tasting the ashes of the wreckage in your mouth, did you give up on him?

Of all these unanswered questions, this last one is the only one you can answer surely.

“Of course not. You probably never will.”

Distant (a writing prompt)

In retrospect, I wanted to be a doctor since I could understand the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Every decision I made since then was for that dream. I chose to study in a Science High School to challenge my knowledge in the field of science. When I graduated high school, I got accepted to University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), a “prominent” state university in my home country, specializing in medical courses. I took up BS Biology in UPM and for a while I was driven. I was on my way to fulfilling my wish.

Now it is but a distant dream.

I was fickle. During my summer break before I started high school, I fell in love with another dream–Writing. As I continue making decision after decision with the goal of being a doctor in sight, I grew more restless and distracted.

I found a new passion and it felt wrong, being in the course I was taking.

When the workload came creeping in during my second year in BS Biology, I had to stop writing. And it crushed me. That is how I knew. I have fallen out of love with my long-term dream and found a new one.

I started to get distracted.

The artist in me just couldn’t take it anymore. Being a doctor is a noble dream but it felt like it wasn’t mine anymore.

It felt like refusing to let go of your baby teeth, the permanent ones are begging for space to be free, but it is hindered by something that no longer fits you. Like wearing clothes bought in the kiddie section when you are a full grown girl.

I couldn’t breathe.

I felt lost. Too far away from where I had to be and yet too afraid to turn around and find my way again.

There are a few reasons why I was afraid. First, everyone was looking up to me, expecting me to be the first doctor in the family. It was a pressure too much for someone who’s having doubts about whether or not she still wants that destiny. Second, my mother have already invested money in me, and I have already invested time and effort to be who I thought I wanted to be. Third, everyone kept saying “Be practical. You won’t be able to feed a family or pay the bills being a writer in this country.

My fears have trapped me and it seemed like there was no escape. That I would be too selfish and naive to escape.

I was digging a grave for the child artist in me.

In my third year of college, the distress and discontent was affecting me. I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning. I dreaded school. The anxiety was killing me. The way I killed my dream to keep on pleasing everybody.

I distracted myself with garbage, fell in love with a man who was a monster underneath. I destroyed myself slowly, bit by bit.

Then my father died.

It was the last straw for me. I filed a leave of absence and went with my mom to Abu Dhabi where she works.

I was traumatized by how heartless the public health system in this country is. I saw the doctor I wanted to be let my father die right before me.

After five months, when my mom thought I was ready to go back to school, I tried pushing one last time. I still enrolled for two semesters and failed both accordingly. I begged my mom to let me shift to creative writing in Diliman but she convinced me, “There is no work when you graduate creative writing.”

Even my professors pitched in. “You are a bright student. You will waste your potential in Creative Writing.”

So I opted for another premed course that will not force me to pursue with medicine and still end up in the medical industry: Nursing.

At first I was happy. I saw the pride in my mother’s eyes, now my only pillar in the family, when she saw me in a white uniform. If it makes her happy, I will try.

But I was still restless.

Eventually, I went back to my habit of not going to classes again, dreading the day and embracing the night. I wouldn’t go to school, but I would go to malls and gigs. That is where my spoken word poetry and artist manager career began.

I met my best friend and fell in love with him and his original music. I started writing him poems and performed them on stage. I even co-wrote songs with him.

The child artist in me that I long ago buried and I thought had died started to breathe and live again.

I was happy. But I was guilty.

At the expense of my mom’s efforts and money, I wasn’t honest about school and life in general.

So I reopened the offer of letting me shift to Creative Writing. She agreed, but fate was not with me.

UP Diliman wouldn’t accept my request to transfer and shift to the program because my GWA from UPM and my units in UERM (where I took up Nursing) didn’t meet the quota.

Heartbroken, I left for Abu Dhabi, thinking I will never return again.

I thought it was the end of my dream, and my love story with my best friend.

But just after a few months in Abu Dhabi, destiny and my dream came knocking in. It was in a form I never expected, and it was quite ironic actually.

Denisse messaged me, and told me she’s currently studying again, after stopping for three years to work for her family. She’s taking BS Psychology, a course I have always been interested in, in Our Lady of Fatima University.

Seeing it as a chance to go back to the country where my heart and my dream is, I asked Denisse to enroll me.

I was able to convince my mom and she seemed more than happy to let me go back to my formal college education, and see me finish a bachelor’s degree so the papers went walking and I was officially a student of OLFU taking up BS Psychology.

I was reunited, quite bitterly, with my best friend, and I am now taking up a course which will help me in my writing and at the same time allow me to continue to pursue being a doctor without really forcing me to go that way, and leaving me with a few other options that I am willing to take: a professor, HR (Human Resource) personnel, guidance counsellor, psychologist, psychometrician, therapist, the list of options go on quite a bit.

I was happy.

At first I was scared that the happy feeling could be temporary and I could go back to my old ways and slack off of school again, but after I finished the first semester successfully, I was sure it was something I am willing to stick with.

I felt the fire in me begin to burn again, this time a small steady flame, not really very consuming, but enough to keep me going at life.

I have found balance that keeps me and my mom happy. The course has given me a lot of insights and inspiration for my writing and poetry. It helped me put things in perspective that I thought I had lost permanently. And it keeps the option open for me to still be a doctor eventually.

From being very distant from who I am and who I wanted to be, I am now ready to go the distance.

I am now officially a Phoenix. I have risen up from the ashes that was my hopes, my dreams, my personality.

via Daily Prompt: Distant

High Street adventures

Today, Dan and I went to BGC (Bonifacio Global City) and had a fun walkathon. We planned to visit several art galleries or have a food trip. We did both.

I waited for him in Starbucks Frontera for 1 and a half hour. Then we drove to BGC. After parking the car in Lane O, we began the walkathon.

Right after 7th Ave. is Bonifacio High Street, which is a collection of different stores. We looked around Typo, a store that sells things that make my heart flutter (notebooks, paper, journals, other artsy “hipster” stuff). Dan saw a leather laptop bag he likes so much.

We then walked to Serendra, where there are five adjacent art galleries. I challenged Dan to select an art work for every art gallery we enter, then write a poem, verse, or lyrics around it. Sadly we weren’t allowed to take photos of the art works, so I couldn’t show you what art works were chosen as writing prompts. But I will share the different poems I wrote here in later posts.

After visiting two art galleries, Dan took an awesome instax photo of me.

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Then we visited two more and skipped one art gallery (as the people inside appeared to be having a really serious meeting).

After the art galleries in Serendra, we went inside an art store named Art Bar to take shelter from the humidity of the day (I wish it would just rain already, I hate it when the air is so stuffy).

We planned on going to one more art gallery, Mo Space, so we walked to 5th Ave. but on the way we saw a hotdog food truck just after 11th Ave. Dan says his life wouldn’t be complete until he eats hotdog from a food truck so I let him. The food was surprisingly expensive, but it was good so I say it is worth the bucks.

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Look at that big kid happily ordering hotdogs.

We just sat there and ate our food, and I think this is more romantic than eating in a three-course-meal restaurant because (1) it is very spontaneous and relaxed, (2) it is less expensive, and (3) we don’t have to put our best foot forward and feel uncomfortable playing dress up and ordering food we couldn’t finish nor afford.

While eating we were debating whether to go to Tim Horton’s for coffee and write our respective pieces there, or find Mo Space first. We tried to waze Mo Space and it is somewhere in 5th Ave. We decided, Mo Space it is.

Sadly we didn’t reach that destination. But we did find our way to this mall, Cyber Center, and we discovered Hamleys toy store, apparently the best toy store in the world since 1760. We played like we weren’t young adults and there’s this cool toy, Snap It. Dan bought a toy so he can play it with his sister, one with a ball that you have to catch with a plate-looking thing with a velcro.

After playing around in the toy store, we decided to give up on finding Mo Space and just went to a “hipster”-looking bar beside a very familiar place to both of us.

There is a bar in P. Burgos st. that used to host World Extravaganza production for open mic nights for singer/songwriters looking for a safe space to hone their crafts. Sadly, that bar changed its branding and preferred to only host DJs instead, so WorldEx set out to find a new home base.

Anyway, beside that is this cool looking pub called Tap Station.

Let me show you why it looks so cool.

They have beer and other drinks on tap! And it looks, according to Dan, very industrial revolution era English pub. Something Ed Sheeran would drink in.

We both ordered a dark roast called “Black Bitch” which is a scottish craft beer I think, I am not so sure because among the things that aren’t in my jurisdiction of expertise are liquors, cars, and [music] gears.

The beer was very dark roasty. It left a bitter after taste in my mouth. But it was good too.

After drinking a pint of beer, we decided to call it a day and started walking back to Lane O.

It was a fun day.

“Convenience store” person

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Went out today with my “best friend” to have lunch and grab coffee and he bought me a sunflower that I have been bugging him for months now to buy for me. Today he fulfilled that promise but only after I told him there are sunflowers available in the supermarket today.

We’ve been “dating” for two years now with no official labels and it is as confusing as hell. I can’t help thinkin he’s ashamed of me that is why he wouldn’t tell his family nor his friends that he likes me.

I feel like a convenience store. It isn’t something you’ll be proud of saying you went there, but it is convenient for waiting and other things. You wouldn’t shout it out to the whole world, you wouldn’t post it in instagram, but you often go there when you are bored and have nothing better to do.

Lately I told him I don’t want to be his almost lover anymore and that we should just stay friends because I do not like the set up he thrives in. Under the pressure of losing his toy, he told his “friends” a.k.a. Band mates that we are “officially dating for some months now” but that was the extent he is willing to go public with me.

Before we parted ways a while ago, he asked me if I will be posting the photos I took on instagram and I asked him why. He asked me if it is okay not to post it because if his mom sees, she will start “bugging him again if we have a thing”. I said okay. Because what was I supposed to say? That it is not okay for me to be kept a secret? That I feel like him being “in a relationship with me” is bugging him? So I said yeah sure okay.

But it is not okay. At the end of the day nothing changed.

He successfully manipulated me into thinking that he will go public with me. But he had no plans to do so whatsoever.

And honestly, I don’t want to be a convenience store person anymore. I believe someone out there is willing to shout out to the world that they are in love with me. Who won’t be bugged but excited when his parents asks about me. Who will talk to his friends about me. Someone who is not ashamed to love me.

Apparently he isn’t that guy. I can’t help but think I am wasting time.

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Love, dearest Sherlock, really is a dangerous disadvantage.

The road so far…

*Cue in a bad-ass background music*

Tomorrow is the last day of summer class. I have been busy the past two weeks, running on red bulls and coffee, and three hours of sleep per day. I had a quiz this Monday, a title defense for my research this Tuesday, a seminar this Wednesday, and a mock interview today. Add the fact that I had two global interpretations and a psychological report to write, due today.

But hey I’m okay!

I got the highest score, I defended my title like a warrior I am not, we successfully finished the seminar yesterday, I think my mock interview went well, my professor even told me I looked great in my corporate attire, and I am just passing the time since I just finished my papers five minutes ago.

Summer season is almost over too. Outside, it is raining. Or is it a storm already? Good thing I borrowed an umbrella, but I might have to buy one for the way home later.

I also went through stressful times. I had this groupmate for the seminar who suddenly snapped when I relayed the details of the meetings to her. She said she felt belittled that no one bothered to call her when there was a group meeting for the seminar. I told her, I do not have her number.

I also got sick for three days. But I managed to go to school despite all that.

I am currently running on fumes but the end of the road is at sight. I can rest tomorrow night.

But for now, I gotta run.

There was a power outage due to the heavy rain while I was writing this. When the electricity came back, I hurriedly printed the papers I needed to pass. It was flooding, and I am on a mountainside. My shoes are wet but I had more important things to think about.

After I passed my papers I went to the library where my friends are studying for their exam in Botany. Aya was having a meltdown due to the seminar paperworks. I wonder if she’s calmed down now?

My friend, Denisse, and I went to a mall to buy an umbrella and eyebrow pencil. Then I went to her place to finish the summary of our seminar’s evaluation.

When I got home, a really strong earthquake passed and I want to say I was scared but I am not.

I wonder if I’m okay.

When you try your best but you don’t succeed…

Today, our midterm grades were released in Research Methodology and I/O Psychology subjects. The passing [transmuted] grade for major subjects such as those mentioned is 76. I got a 74.

And I could make excuses for myself such as summer classes use a different grading system than classes taken in the regular semesters, or I was high on antibiotics and suffering from acute pharyngitis during the major exams so I naturally got lower scores, or its okay there is still the finals, but that does not change the fact that I failed in a standardized-slash-objective evaluation of academic performance.

Does that make me a dunce? Probably not. Does it make me feel like crap? Definitely.

The fact that doing well regularly on a daily classroom discussion, actively participating when I am so afraid of speaking, and doing everything in my power to get decently high scores in quizzes are not enough to earn me a passing grade is simply devastating.

I always hear people talking about how the educational system in the Philippines doesn’t cater to the different, the creatives, and the “I need some time to process these information” type, but I never felt it in its full impact the way I did today.

I’ve always been good at being standardized. People often say I am intelligent when in fact, all I did was memorize a bunch of stuff that I will probably forget about in a month. So when I am in a situation where memorization is out of the question (disoriented from a sickness and the drugs prescribed for the cure), I obviously fail at it. And I hated it.

I hated the feeling I got while reading the questions in the test, knowing I read it somewhere in my notes, or remembered my professor mention something about it in class, but I can’t remember the term so I couldn’t give a proper answer. I hated knowing that if I wasn’t sick at that time I would have probably shined and even got an 86 or something.

Sadly, the grading system does not consider “Effort” as an objective criteria. There are no grades, no incentives or recognition for trying hard.

I realized that the educational system of the Philippines is designed for shaping and honing manufacturers. Blend in, do what society dictates is right and pleasing, do a good job and you will be considered a success. Here, there is no room for innovation and ingenuity. That is why most Filipino inventors sell their inventions to foreigners and those foreigners get the patent for it.

Here no one praises you for trying. Your value is dictated by the worth of the goods you produce. Your efforts do not matter, what’s important is the quality of your output. If you are slow in getting things done, you are already a failure and a nuissance.

Average is success in this country. If you go above the norm you are seen as a threat and people will try to pull you down. If you go below the norm, you will be de-valued and ridiculed for your incompetency.

Psychology should be about acknowledging the uniqueness of every human being, but psychologists are measured and trained to measure with a one-size-fits-all instrument.

The irony of things. We aim to measure the differences between our clients but we are gauged based on the distance of our deviation from the norm. We strive for culture-fair tests and fail miserably at considering that maybe, just maybe, standardization is not the key.

Constructivists argue that reality is subjective to each individual. What might be true for you might not be true for me.

Dearest standardized education, you might think that only those who get a certain score are qualified to pass. But we are all students learning at different paces and styles. Please do not normalize the curve. Surely there is a better way of evaluating a person’s achievement than stardized tests.

Then again, maybe I am just bitter about my grades.

Of early mornings and midnights [and trying to be productive in between]

I enrolled in advanced summer classes last month to catch up on units since I am way past my supposed graduation date.

So, I am taking up three major subjects that I am required to finish in 6-7 weeks and the requirements for finals are a bit overwhelming: a thesis title proposal and defense, a seminar organized by us, and administering psychological tests and writing a psychological report on the client.

But all that seems small to the overwhelming fact that for five days a week, for the next six or seven weeks, I will have to wake up REALLY EARLY. Like 5 o’clock in the morning early. I am not a morning person–at least not anymore since I started binge-watching series and anime on a daily basis.

Every Monday I will wake up fairly well rested, but come Wednesday, I am cursing the world. Thursdays, I am just running on fumes, and Fridays are “I am literally just zoning out” days.

I have read a lot of blogs and articles online about “how to adjust your sleep cycle to be a healthy and not grouchy morning person” or “the secrets of a good sleep hygiene” or anything along those lines. I have followed tips and advice from several friends. My sleeping habits were so bad, the school doctor actually prescribed some sleeping pills for me.

None of them worked. It is hard when your responsibilities are demanding so early in the morning and your passions are so enticing so late at night. If you are a student with an 8 A.M. class and a band manager with a 9 P.M. gig, and a young adult living alone with laundry to do and dishes to wash, how do you maximize your productivity?

Most people will tell me, just let go of the band scene. It is taking too much precious time from your responsibilities and rest. Others will tell me, “If you are making enough money on the band scene, why not quit school?” These two groups of people, while meaning well and good, simply do not understand.

I need to study hard and graduate and to do that I need to be a good student who goes to class no matter how early or late it is. And besides, I finally found a course that I actually enjoy and love that I don’t mind the pressures it bring, nor the paperworks and mountain load of assignments.

But I also need to be in touch with my artistic side. I can not let go of the music scene, or the spoken word poetry scene whenever I can. It is a part of who I am.

And doing the laundry, cleaning the house, washing the dishes, etc. etc., they are necessary for my health and well-being.

So how do I juggle all this?

Simple. I don’t have gigs everyday, so on nights I am free, I can insert some leisure and study time as well as cleaning time. I can sleep earlier on those days. The weekends are spent for doing the laundry, going out with friends, doing some more studying or cleaning, and definitely some well-deserved rest.

I have survived three weeks of trying to discipline myself into being a morning person now. And while it is hard, especially the past few days since I am sick (Acute Pharyngitis or something like that), and there is literally a major exam tomorrow I haven’t studied for yet (again, resting–you know, sick person), I think I am doing a pretty decent job of keeping my life-work-craft balance in check.

Although every now and then I fall off the wagon by sleeping way too late like 3 A.M. watching Detective Conan. 😂

This is why I am a Sleepless PsychiARTIST.