After College: Entering the Real World

 Looking for a Job

 A few weeks before graduation, I started looking for a job with the hopes that right after, I would immediately start working. I didn’t want to rest (like what my friends and family suggested) because I was afraid that companies might not hire me because I didn’t work right after graduating. I also felt afraid that I might become lazy to search for a job if I wait for too long and might miss a lot of opportunities and job openings. So there, I started my job hunt kinda early, but still, no luck. 

 A few companies contacted me for an interview but I didn’t show up to some of them and the ones that I did show up to, I didn’t get accepted. My problem was I was so desperate to find a job that I sent out resumes to every company that was hiring the position I wanted, I never even took the time to find out about the company, only when I’ve received a text about a scheduled interview, that’s when I did my research. It wasn’t a good practice because only then would I find out the company has bad reviews, it’s in an inconvenient location, the schedule is nightshift (I am very much unwilling to work nightshift), or some other crappy information. 

 This One Time….

 I remember this one interview I attended, I think the interview went well but the examination went horrible (I didn’t even finish the exam). It was for a writer position, the job benefits looked promising and I thought I fit the bill for the job qualifications. But geez, I lost interest when I took one glance at the building. It looked run-down: the paint was faded and scratched, some windows were missing, and when you entered the lobby it looked like a set of a horror film. When I rode the elevator, my anxiety levels shot up because it screeched mad loud as it went up, the lights were flickering, and it was kind of small (which made me feel claustrophobic). I wanted to leave right then and there, but I figured it was too late to back out because I already confirmed for the interview and I was already in the building, I didn’t want to waste my effort and money. I got in the office and it looked as horrifying as the lobby. It smelled like feet, there were office chairs turned upside down on tables, there were some broken office chairs piled up in the corner, and there were no stalls or cubicles — just one giant table in the middle of the room and what looked like fifty people seated around it. The sight made me feel uncomfortable, but of course, I couldn’t leave now. 

I proceeded with the interview (which was quick) then they gave me a writing exam where I needed to rewrite three articles in my own words. I struggled with it because I didn’t understand the instructions.

The instructions were this: I had to rewrite some articles using my own words (that was easy to understand); I also had to add more information to the article (alright, fair enough), but I wasn’t allowed to use other resources, only the articles given to me; I had to write a summary of each article, but it must be longer than the article itself? now they’ve lost me.

I didn’t know if the instructions were vague or if I’m dumb. I guess they were testing my stock knowledge when I had to add information to the article without using other resources, but this was difficult for me because the topics were about Artificial Intelligence, Engineering, Electronics, and Parenthood (topics I don’t know jack squat about). In addition, who writes a summary longer than the article itself? That’s not a summary, that’s a review/comment of the article. I know I could have asked for clarifications but I was too nervous and uneasy to say anything, occasionally I would mutter ‘yes’, ‘okay’, ‘thank you’.

After an hour of suffering, the interviewer told us (I was with two other people who were killing the exam) that we could have our lunch break and come back to finish the exam and talk about the results of our interview. Thank God! Finally, a way out.

I ran out of that building as fast as I could, rapidly getting as far away from it as possible, rode a jeepney to wherever then treated myself to a nice meal to calm myself. Mind you, I literally rode a jeepney to wherever just to get away, I had to walk far and ask for directions because I didn’t know where I was (I disembarked at the last stop). Now, I’m not talking crap about the company itself, maybe it’s a great company…. that’s in an appalling building, I bet the employees love it there, maybe the pay is good; but I will never know because firstly, I didn’t check the reviews beforehand, and secondly, I never gave it a chance (or gave myself a chance for that matter). The interviewer texted me two hours later telling me to come back to discuss the final results, I wanted to reply I have no intention of going back, however, I couldn’t think of a reason. Of course, I had a reason! But I can’t tell them that (obviously), and it wasn’t a valid reason (at least, for me it is). So I did what every sensible person would do: I ignored the text.

I’m glad they didn’t call me or bug me to return, I would have blocked their number to avoid them. Lesson learned: always do your research on the companies you’re applying for: reviews, salary, location, social media accounts, websites, everything.

  Landing My First Job 

 Two months later and I still didn’t have a job. I felt the panic creeping in because almost all my classmates were working already and my mom was pressuring me to get a job already (even though I explained I have been looking for a job for the past 2 months). I was frustrated and annoyed because I felt left out from my friends, they were earning for themselves and buying the stuff they wanted while I was stuck at home not able to leave the house because I had no savings of my own; the only time I was able to go out was when they paid for my travel fare and bought me food. It was embarrassing, even though they were happy and willing to treat me to hang out with me, I still felt ashamed.

I was at a point of desperation that I ended up applying for every job opening I saw (as long as I was qualified for it). This time I learned my lesson: I check out the reviews of the company first before sending my application and if they are good, I send. 

I came across this ESL company at a job site, and surprisingly enough, it seemed promising. The job opening was for an ESL teacher to teach English to Koreans and Japanese. Upon looking at the Facebook page of this company, I got the impression that it had a good environment. I saw pictures of leadership training seminars, team buildings, charity events, etc., this intrigued me. I searched more about the company (especially the reviews) and thought it would be a good first job. The reviews weren’t that bad, some people complained the pay was really low, but that wasn’t a problem for me because I didn’t need a high-paying job, I just needed a job to gain experience. Some said they still had to go to work during regular and special non-working holidays, but I didn’t mind either. So I sent my resume, got a phone interview the very next day, then immediately got hired.

Now, being an ESL teacher was the last thing on my list, I made a vow that I will only apply for this position when all else fails. It’s not that I have anything against ESL teachers (it’s a nice job, don’t get me wrong), it’s just not what I wanted. However, I was getting really desperate at this point, so I applied. 

 I was called for training three weeks after I got hired; it was a good amount of time for me to get all the requirements ready. I had a lot of fun during our four weeks of training because I met a lot of great people; I made some friends who went to the same college as I did and with people I had a lot in common with; and I genuinely had fun every day. I was excited to go to work because I was happy to be with them.

I passed the training; sadly though, not all my newly-found friends got in.

 The job was very okay (it wasn’t the best thing on earth; it wasn’t the worst thing either). I struggled with the classes because I didn’t know how to handle the class in a professional way (I just handled it the way we were taught how to handle it), whenever I was faced with an unexpected scenario, my mind goes completely blank. I had a difficult time with my intonation; whenever I try to sound happy or concerned, or if I commend the student, it just sounds forced and not genuine. I received a lot of coaching because of this weakness I couldn’t fix.

 Five months on the job and I already felt like giving up. It wasn’t because I constantly performed badly (I’ve had better days) or that there was anything wrong with the company, the job just wasn’t for me, I wasn’t passionate about this. I always felt drained after work, granted I just sat the whole day talking to people for 10 or 20 minutes. I sometimes would cry myself to sleep thinking “is this as good as it’s gonna get?” I wake up feeling anxious and afraid, dreading the thought of having to go to work again. Occasionally, a few minutes before my shift begins, I would feel like bursting into tears because of all the anxiety I was feeling; my hands would shake, I would feel a lump on my throat, and I couldn’t think straight. People would be talking to me and, although I hear them, my brain wasn’t processing what they were saying — this is how I know I’ve cracked.

 Around November, I felt the urge to resign. The urge was so strong, I couldn’t “fake it till I make it” anymore. I was so confident and excited to submit my resignation letter; I got advice from my friends who told me it’s better to quit (they were worried that I might get depressed); I got the blessing of my Mom who told me it’s okay to quit and pursue my passion, but I hesitated because of two things: 1.) I realized something and 2.) Something (or someone) happened that stopped me. I realized if I quit in November, I would have to render 30 days, so I would probably be jobless mid-week of December. December isn’t a good time to be jobless because it was almost Christmas; I was planning to buy presents for my family and friends, how could I do that if I don’t have a job? I wouldn’t have money to spend on gifts because I would have to save, so the timing wasn’t right.

 Next, I met a student who changed everything. Technically, we’re supposed to have a different student every day. We don’t get to choose our students and vice versa, our system is the one that distributes the classes to each teacher. Surprisingly enough, I got this student on November 11 (yes, I remember the date), and we’ve been having a class every day ever since (which is weird because this wasn’t supposed to happen).

Every day for 20 minutes we tackled the book in the system we use at work; we both had to read the dialogue, complete the sentence pattern, teach him similar expressions, then answer the questions on the book. One day, we didn’t finish all the activities in the book because we enjoyed talking to each other so much that we forgot we had a book to follow. I noticed that kept happening in the following weeks: we would finish one activity on the book then end up chatting about whatever, so I figured what’s the point of using the book? What I did when he answered my call, I instantly asked him what is it he wants to talk about, he would give a topic, then our class would revolve around that given topic. It was fun; we got to learn so much about each other.

In my opinion, having a conversation was better than following the book; also, he was too smart and expressive to limit him to just reading dialogues and completing sentence patterns (that’s child’s play), he needed to be challenged with deep conversations. We talked about various things: love, family, friends, work, the future, likes, dislikes, my favorite one was about religion and the supernatural world (maybe I’ll write about it in a different narrative). Long story short, this kept me sane at work; I didn’t resign because I wanted to talk and get to know him more. Also, money became one of my motivations for working; I loved the fact that if I wanted something I could buy it without hesitation; if I craved something, I can easily buy it. Hence, I stayed in the company longer. But money isn’t the best motivator.

Leaving

Any time seemed like the wrong time for me to quit. December wasn’t the right time because it’s Christmas; January wasn’t right because I didn’t want to start the year jobless; it was during the time between February and March when I felt the urge again to leave. The feeling of anxiety came back again; I felt exhausted despite not having much physical activity; no matter what I did (or what other people did for me) I lacked motivation; I had trouble sleeping; I was angry all the time; I constantly had headaches, and I found it difficult to concentrate. I came to the point where I couldn’t handle it anymore, so I submitted my resignation letter in the first week of March.

Quitting was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made; it wasn’t something I decided on overnight, this was something I’ve been mulling over for a long time. It was also the saddest thing I had to do because there were so many great things about the company and the job itself, yet I still felt emotionally exhausted. I continually prayed for this decision, I kept asking advice from my family and friends, I kept reflecting, and weighing the pros and cons. Finally, the day came where I felt at peace with my decision. The truth is, even though I wanted to quit a long time ago, I never felt at peace with the decision, maybe that’s why the timing was a big problem for me and I made a bunch of excuses not to quit. It wasn’t because I was starting to like my job, but because I knew deep down, I was perturbed by the decision. It’s really hard to explain what it feels like to be at peace with something because it’s different for everyone; for me, I just knew. All fear was gone, I stopped overthinking about it, I felt excited yet calm, and all circumstances led me to this decision. I know it wasn’t practical because I’ve only been there for 10 months and we were at the beginning of a pandemic, but when I thought about retracting my resignation or even extending, I just felt agitated and stressed again.

What Now?

I don’t know what the future holds. 

Only God is certain, so I hold on to His promises that everything will be okay.

It’s been 3 months now and I still haven’t found a job, it’s either I’m unqualified or I’m too picky in choosing a company. Sometimes it scares me that I haven’t landed a new job yet; it’s frightening not to know how long I will be jobless because if it takes too long, I might become too comfortable staying at home and become lazy.

There will always be that fear of the future; the fear of the unknown. I guess you just need to find a way to overcome it.

I think what I’m most afraid of is being at the point of desperation again that I end up applying for a job I don’t really want. I don’t ever wanna feel what I’ve felt in my first job again. 

Sometimes I would reflect on my past decisions and how they affect me right now. I ask myself if I regret leaving my first job earlier than planned (originally, I planned on staying there for a year), and I don’t regret it. If I didn’t quit, I wouldn’t have a lot of free time; if I didn’t have a lot of free time, I wouldn’t be able to explore and enhance my skills in digital arts. What I do regret though is never giving myself a chance to get to know people. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t gonna stay for a long time (1 year was my limit), because of that I didn’t make that many friends; I didn’t want to make things hard for myself if I leave and I didn’t want anyone to persuade me to stay.

Looking back, I remember a lot of people approached me and engaged in conversation, I also remember my Team Leader inviting me to team dinners and/or team outings, but since I told myself I should never get attached to anyone at work, I blocked and rejected everyone (except for two people; they were good friends). That’s what I regret because there were so many possible good friendships that could have bloomed (if only I lightened up). I guess that’s something I need to work on.  

I’m taking the time right now to rediscover what I love to do and what I can do, I’m also learning new skills that are relevant to my dream job. I know “living the American dream” isn’t an option right now since we’re in the middle of a pandemic (and nowhere near the end), but I know things will get better. The Bible says “For everything, there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…” I should learn to enjoy the season I am in right now because one day, I will get a job and work for 8 hours (or more), deal with people, handle some paperwork, and whatever responsibilities I have . Until that day comes, I’ll seize the day! 

The Teacher (a short story)

Chapter 1 

Dash studied in the Philippines when he was in elementary to learn English. He doesn’t remember the name of the school or its exact location, only that it’s in Metro Manila. He told me about a teacher he once knew and how he loved that teacher. She had a nickname for him, “Don Carlos Bukidnon”; his English name at that time was “Carlos” and every time the teacher would take the attendance, she would always mention this nickname. 

“Carlos” she would yell 

“Present!” he would respond

Don Carlos Bukidnon” grinning as she says it 

He never knew what it meant, he never bothered to search for the meaning of it, all that mattered was that he was the only student with a nickname which made him feel special. When he told me this, I said that Don Carlos is a municipality in the province of Bukidnon, Mindanao. He was thrilled to finally know what it means, all these years he kept wondering, and now he has the answer. He assumed that Don Carlos Bukidnon was a famous Filipino, or maybe a Filipino hero, or something. I don’t know if he was disappointed to find out that it’s not — that it’s actually a place — but he was thrilled nonetheless. 

He still remembered his teacher’s name and tried looking her up on Facebook, but to no luck, he couldn’t find her. He figured maybe because of her old age now, she isn’t on social media. 

I asked if he really wanted to see her again, and maybe even talk to her. Obviously, he did. He really loved that teacher, most of his good memories in the Philippines were because of that teacher. He didn’t get into details about what they did in class and why he loved her so much, or why she’s made such an impact in his life, all I know is that he wanted to see her again. 

I was determined to help him look for her; living near Metro Manila, I think I could work something up to find her. He gave me her full name, so I think it’s enough to track down someone. How hard could it be? 

Turns out, very hard. It was such a chore. 

How many people have the exact same name as this teacher? More importantly, why was I doing this? Why was it important for me to find this teacher whom I’ve never met? Also, there are hundreds of schools around Metro Manila, how on earth will I find this specific school? Yet, I was still fixed on finding this teacher.

Chapter 2

“Remind me again why you’re doing this”

I asked one of my friends to help me in this quest to find the teacher. We both don’t have jobs yet, so we have a lot of free time. Besides, she has nothing better to do anyway, so it’ll be a great way for us to hang out.

“I told you, he’s my friend and I want to do something special for him”

“Yeah, I get that, but why go beyond limits? This teacher has no social media accounts, and even if she did, you wouldn’t know how she looks like”

“I know, I’m not saying I’m gonna instantly identify her just by a name. I’ll take the pictures of the people most likely to be this teacher, then I’ll show it to him. I’m sure he still recognizes her.”

Our process went like this: we would type in her name on Facebook and Google (we also searched on other social media, but it was unlikely for this teacher to have a Twitter or Instagram, given that she’s old now). Then, we would take the ones with the occupation “teacher” in some school around Metro Manila, then save their picture. I would send the pictures to Dash and ask him if any of them looks familiar, but none of them were. 

Actually, Dash doesn’t know I’m doing this for him, he was always puzzled as to why I kept sending him pictures of random people asking if any of them ring any bells. 

I wanted this to be a surprise. He’s coming to the Philippines next month to see me, so I wanted to do something special. This was the only thing I could think of. 

“Sure, but are you forgetting something? He told you he tried searching her on Facebook already but didn’t find her. So why are you doing the exact same thing expecting different results? Isn’t that kind of dumb” my friend says, rolling her eyes as she said it. I swear, she can be blunt if she has to. 

“For starters, he’s in Korea and the person he’s looking for is in the Philippines. Maybe the search engines work differently, and since I’m here in the Philippines, it might be easier for me to find her.”

“That’s not how social media works, you can easily track down people from across the globe if you want to” She sounded bored and frustrated already. I get why she feels that way, sometimes I get carried away in doing stuff for people (who never ask me to do them in the first place), and she always gets dragged along.

“Whatever, will you just help me? I promise if we don’t find this teacher by the end of the week, I’ll stop.” 

“Alright, but if we do find this teacher, he’d better ask you to be his girlfriend because the effort you put into this is too much, even for you.” 

Chapter 3

It’s been three weeks and we haven’t found the teacher. I even went as far as messaging the people who are most likely to be her. 

“Good day! You don’t know me, but I’m looking for this teacher who made an impact on my friend’s life when he was in elementary. If I may ask, did you have any Korean students before, and if you did, did you call them “Don Carlos Bukidnon?”

This was really embarrassing to do, but I did it anyway. I know it sounds desperate, but I was so fanatical to do this.

The responses I received are not what I’ve hoped for. Figures. 

Some didn’t know what I was talking about, some did have Korean students before but never gave them such a nickname, others just got mad at me for randomly messaging them and asking personal information. 

I was ready to give up when suddenly my friend messaged me.

“Any luck in finding the teacher?” 

“None. I guess I’ll just have to think of something else to do”

“Like?” 

“I don’t know, maybe buy him a souvenir or Filipino snacks.” 

“Sounds horrible haha ready to give up?” 

“Def. You were right, I didn’t have to go this far. I’m just making things complicated”

“Too bad. I guess you don’t need this anymore” 

She sends a link to a Facebook post of one of our mutual friends. It’s a picture of her with an old woman who looked like she was in her late 50s or early 60s, she had a golden brown complexion, and her hair was black with strands of white hair. She has kind eyes and a soft smile, and she was wearing a red blouse and black pencil skirt. 

The caption read “Visiting one of the greatest teachers I’ve ever met, Ms….” 

It’s the teacher’s name

I immediately messaged my friend about her post, asking who this teacher was, where she taught, and if she had any social media accounts. My friend said her teacher didn’t have any social media, that she and her classmates would just visit her from time to time. She just gave me the name of the school and its location.

I saved the picture of my friend with her teacher then sent it to Dash.


“That was my teacher! How did you find her? She looks older now, but I know her” 

“I know where she is. If you want, we could visit her when you come to the Philippines” 

“That would be great! Thank you! I really want to talk to her again. How did you find her? I couldn’t find her no matter how hard I tried!” 

It’s like I could hear the excitement in his voice. 

A wave of relief washed over me when I finally found her. Well, my friend did, but I’ll be taking the credit on this one. 

I confirmed to my friend that this was the teacher we were looking for. She also felt relieved, not about finding the teacher but more about me shutting up about it already. I thanked her multiple times and treated her to dinner. 

All I have to do now is wait for next month. 

Chapter 4

The day is finally here.

We met a day after he arrived in the Philippines, at a McDonalds near his hotel. We decided that I will be the one who goes to him instead of the other way around because he doesn’t know how to commute around Metro Manila.

When I first saw him, the first thing that came to mind was this person is way out of my league. I gazed upon his dark brown eyes and noticed he has no eyelid fold. He has thick wavy hair, plump lips, and a surprisingly sharp jawline. He’s a lot taller than I expected; I had to tilt my head upward to talk to him, and sometimes he would bend over a little just so he could hear me. 

We ate as I initiated small talk, “how was your flight?”, “what do you want to do?”, “is there anything you want to try?”, “there’s this place I want to take you to, you’ll love it”

We had no solid itinerary, we just toured around Metro Manila. We visited museums, took a stroll around Luneta Park, ate at well-known Filipino restaurants, tried various street food, then we ended the night eating at Jollibee. Seriously, this guy has an appetite of a lion. Even after eating all those food earlier (and having dinner already), he still wanted to have Jollibee as a post-dinner. 

As we were walking back to his hotel, he mentioned about visiting his former teacher, that he wanted to do it tomorrow. Of course, I agreed. We both said our goodnights, then I went home. I felt giddy about today and excited for tomorrow. 

Another adventure awaits us. 

Chapter 5

We rode a jeepney going to his former school. I handed him our travel fare and told him to give it to the driver and say “bayad po” to let the driver know we were about to pay. At first, he didn’t want to do it because he thought I was toying with him and that he felt embarrassed saying two Tagalog words. After a minute of encouraging him (and also teasing him a little), he did it. 

We finally arrived at the school around lunchtime, and before we could enter the gate a security guard stopped us, saying we needed to hand over a valid ID and register our names, and our purpose of visiting.

I jotted down the information needed then asked the guard where we could find this teacher. He pointed towards the second floor and gave us the directions to the faculty where this teacher is most likely to be, then we were on our way. Dash felt excited and nervous at the same time; he has been waiting for this day for so long, and at last, that day has arrived. 

It was the weekday, so there were a lot of students around. Some were playing, some were eating, and others were studying. Lunchtime I remembered, that’s why there are so many students outside the classrooms. We kept walking, all the while Dash kept telling stories about his memories in this school.    

We reached the faculty and asked one of the people there where we could find this teacher, she pointed towards the end of the room. Sitting at a desk at the far corner of the room was her, the teacher we were looking for. I easily recognized her because she looked exactly like the one in the photo, wearing the same red blouse but this time she was wearing black slacks. She had glasses on and it appears that she was checking papers. 

Dash approaches her, I see his hands slightly trembling. I stood still from where I was (just a few meters away from them), I couldn’t hear what they were saying because of all the noise from the students. I figured it was best to wait for Dash outside the faculty, I started to feel awkward just standing there looking at the both of them.  

After what seemed to be an hour, Dash went out of the room. He smiles at me and calmly says “let’s go”

We reached the first floor and I followed him as he headed towards a nearby bench. We sat there in silence for a few seconds, then he began telling me what he and his teacher talked about. Sadly, she doesn’t remember him. We kinda predicted this because it’s been years since they’ve last seen each other, and she’s probably had tons of students over the years. Even after he mentioned the nickname, she still couldn’t remember having Dash as a student. This saddened him a little, but he wasn’t disappointed that his teacher couldn’t recall him, he was still glad that they were able to talk. She told him that she taught a lot of Korean students before, so him being Korean isn’t enough to spark up her memory. She was kind to ask about him, she even told him about herself. She has a husband and three children now and lives near the school so that traffic won’t be a problem for her. She’s planning on retiring next year and going back to her hometown in (surprise surprise), Don Carlos. They laughed, they shared stories, then said their goodbyes.

“Are you okay?” I almost grabbed his hand but it felt inappropriate, so I ended up just waving my hand

“Yeeaah” he elongated the word a bit

“You sure? Doesn’t sound like it” 

“To tell you the truth, it’s a bit sad that she doesn’t remember me, but that’s okay. I was able to get to know her more right now and she got to know me too. It was like meeting her for the first time. It’s also sad that she’s retiring next year, but I think it’s for the best, she’s been teaching for so long already. He paused for a second “Thank you for finding her for me, I really appreciate it. No one has ever done something this spectacular for me” 

We sat there for a moment in silence, looking at the kids running back to their classrooms since lunchtime is over. I can’t help but imagine Dash in his elementary days, running around the corridors, having lunch in the canteen, playing in the playground. Being here must be nostalgic for him.

“You spoke with your teacher for quite a long time, what else did you talk about?” I asked to break the the silence

He took a deep breath then answered “My teacher asked if you were my girlfriend and I told her you’re not. Apparently, she saw you watching us. She wanted to speak to you as well but you just left” 

“Sorry, I just felt awkward standing there and didn’t want to intrude because I might ruin the moment” 

“Too bad, I wanted to introduce you to her” he smiled, “she asked if you have a boyfriend but I said I don’t know, so she told me to ask you”

 I felt my face turn hot — was I blushing?

I let out a nervous laugh “I don’t”

“Good to know” he smirked

My Former Crush (a personal narrative)

I checked twice if he’s online, not that I’m going to send him a message or anything, or that I’m waiting for him to message me first (I know he will never do that). 

I’m not in the mood for a chat anyway, but just for the hell of it, I imagine what our conversation would be like 

“Heeyy” — to make it sound playful 

“Hey”

“How are you?” 

“Still the same”

“Nothing new?”

“Nope”

“Oh okay”

And it ends at that, our conversation would be dry as a desert. Just the thought of it makes me feel dreary. 

It wasn’t always like that though, sometimes our conversation would be fun. He would tell me stories about his childhood, his friends and family, a game he’s playing, or his thoughts and feelings. Whenever I would talk about myself, he would listen for a while then find a way to talk about himself again. He liked talking about himself, but not in an arrogant way. He did mention that I’m the only person he talks to about this stuff, so, in a way, I felt special. I didn’t mind when he did most of the talking because I’m more of a listener anyway, I feel uncomfortable and a bit insecure in doing most of the talking (I just like initiating the conversation and keeping the conversation flowing, but not being the topic of the discussion), also it was a way to get to know him more. He stopped asking about me, he only did that the first time we spoke. He asked general questions in getting to know a person, “what school do you go to?”, “what’s your major?”, he even asked what type of coffee do I like. I genuinely enjoyed our conversations.

Our conversations started getting dry after the second time I told him about my feelings. That’s right, the second time, that’s when he put me in the inescapable friend zone. 

The first time I expressed my feelings for him, he told me he liked me too. You can imagine how I felt that time, it was like fireworks. We never really got into detail about it, I just said I liked him, and he responded by saying he liked me too, and that was the end of it. I didn’t ask if he would date me or if this would bloom into a romantic relationship, I felt embarrassed in doing that. It’s funny that I was able to work up the courage to express my feelings for him, but not to define what was going on between us. 

The reason why I told him twice was that I never really talked to him in person, it was only on Facebook. I know I said we went to the same church but in different locations. I met him at a summer camp where all the other churches got together, and I struck up a short conversation with him at that time. That is why I was only able to talk to him online, the church he went to was far from the one I attended. I fell in love with him (or at least, I thought I did) through Facebook. 

The second time I told him was when I saw him in person at a different church event around December. We had a decent conversation and played the game we both love: Magic: The Gathering. That’s when I fell in love with him in person, but I guess he didn’t feel the same way anymore because when I got home I received a message from him saying that he just wanted to be friends. Obviously, that hurt like hell. The happiest moment of my life, crushed and burned by a single message. 

A few weeks after this “incident”, we went on a date. We live far from each other, so we agreed to meet halfway at a mall. It was almost Christmas and I wanted to give him a gift to remember me by because, as corny as it sounds, I swore to myself that would be the last time I will ever talk to him. That day was our last day and this gift was a symbol of my goodbye. 

Gosh, I was emotional. It’s astonishing. 

I swore that I will never talk to him again after that day, and if I see him at a church event, I will avoid him.  

He wanted to give me a gift, but I refused because I don’t want any remembrance of him, I just wanted to forget him. 

I could be corny and melodramatic sometimes.

Anyway, what I thought would be a heavy and dramatic day actually turned out to be fun. We were together for a short time, but it was fun. I learned more about his personality, and I could say he’s pretty weird (the good type of weird). The type of weird you fall in love with. He would randomly sing, not just the hushed singing, but out loud singing, but it didn’t matter to me, I found it funny. Typically, I feel embarrassed when someone would do that sort of thing, but with him, I didn’t, surprisingly I liked it. I didn’t care what other people might think about his loud, random singing, we had our own world. 

When it was time to leave, he told me he wanted to meet again (that isn’t a church event). We realized that it wasn’t right to be at a church event and not listen to the sermon and participate in the activities. 

We never met nor spoke to each other after that day (figures). I’m over and done with the whole friend zone thing. Sometimes, I can’t help but think about how he’s doing, or what’s new with him. I’ve gotten so used to talking to him, that not hearing from him kills me. 

I know I can message him anytime, what do I have to lose? But I don’t think it’s wise to do so. I should just calm down. 

I remember telling my friends about what happened, and I remember them getting really angry at him for doing what he did to me. They were strongly opposed to me meeting him after the “incident”, but I wanted to meet him, I had to. I never got mad at him, I felt hurt of course, but I never felt anger towards him. I guess, what I learned from this is that a person isn’t evil just because they don’t share the same feelings as you. Granted, he did get my hopes high because he said he liked me as well, but that wasn’t valid because it was only through Facebook. Maybe I just gave meaning to everything he said when really he was just talking to me. I know he didn’t do anything wrong, he just rejected me, and that isn’t a bad thing. My cousin pointed out that maybe, at some point, he genuinely liked me but the feelings just faded for some unknown reason. I don’t know about that, it’s a good thought though. 

I come to the conclusion that I still love him (if ever it was love), not because I’m waiting for him, but because I can’t force myself to stop having feelings for him.

Two Cities

I’ve lost the two cities
where we first met 

with the smooth scent of yours 
that lingers everywhere

Two cities that I thought would last forever
now I don’t know where to go 

Should I just stop, or still search for you? 

Should I accept this agony of losing you? 

Or should I just move on from what’s been haunting me?

I’m tired of chasing you
but I don’t want to let you go 

Shouldn’t have let you torment me so sweetly 
Now I’m hurt so deeply 

Should I just leave you? Forget you? 

The thought of losing you drives me crazy 

Like hearing all goodbyes,
Those goodbyes said in one breath 

The two cities where you and I met

The two cities that connected us

Are now lost between our hello and goodbye

Tonight I Shall Drink Wine

Tonight I shall drink wine

For I remember that night so clearly,
As if it were a memory painted and hung on my bedroom wall 

Tonight I shall drink wine

For the thought of you forgetting me is not heartbreaking anymore
As it has become a common thing, a familiar feeling, to be forgotten 

Just like wishes made by children
On birthday candles and first stars 

They slowly fade 
And very soon gets left behind

Laughter and tears consigned to oblivion

May you think back to those days 
When time seemed to fly fast?
When time seemed so short and waiting seemed infinite 

May you recall those moments 
When we talked and ended up in another universe?

Conversations about Dear ones, Aspirations, Secrets, and Houses 

Tonight I shall drink wine 
And wait for the alcohol to intoxicate my body 
Leaving me feeling numb and full of regrets 

For there were so many things I wanted you to know 
But I’ll just leave it unsaid

Because all of those words won’t make any difference 

Will it matter if it tears my heart? 

Maybe it was meant to fall apart

Rediscovering My Love for Writing

I used to love writing. 

Every day, I made sure I wrote something, a poem, a short story, a thought, a sentence, or maybe just a phrase. I would usually bring a notebook and pen with me because you never know when creativity and epiphanies will strike. I used to write for the sake of writing! I didn’t care whether it was good or not, I loved doing it; and when I started sharing my writings on social media, people loved it. I received positive feedback from my friends and professors. 

I was always proud of my writings not because of the positive feedback, but because I knew this was me. I was telling my stories, I showed people who I was without shame, I was being true to myself.

Some of my friends shared my writings, some strangers even commented on my stuff saying that they were looking forward to reading more of my short stories 

Then suddenly, I lost it. The passion, the joy, the love for writing… gone 

Because people liked it so much, the thought of receiving feedback concerned me. Every time I would write a poem, I would always think if it was good enough for my “readers” when I would try and write a short story, I would stop myself, fearing that the story might be too cheesy, or too confusing, or just plain ugly for my “reader’s taste.”

I didn’t stop writing. From time to time, I would write, only this time I don’t bring a notebook and pen with me. I would just write everything on my phone so that I can delete it later on. There are even times that I would write a beginning, but feel lazy to write a middle or an ending; so now I have a lot of unfinished works. 

Whenever I push myself to finish what I’ve started, I don’t feel proud or happy about it, so I never post it on social media. Heck, even when I know I don’t have to share my stuff with others, I can just write for myself, I still feel horrible about my writings. 

It’s sad, not loving what you used to love anymore. It’s like losing a piece of yourself. 

I wanted to bring my love for writing back. 

I love reading as well, so the only solution I could think of that would help my situation was to search for books about writing. I clicked on this website that showed a long list of books about writing, and the one that intrigued me was this book called “Zen in the Art of Writing” by Ray Bradbury. I’m telling you if you’re in the same situation as I am, I highly recommend you read this book. There’s a PDF version that you can download for free. 

Anyway, I’m only in the first chapter (I just started and I’m a slow reader), but I’m already hooked. The first chapter was enough to inspire me to write again. This book made me aware that I was “so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself”. I realized I was so concerned with what others might think, I’ve set way-too-high standards for myself, and I wanted to fit in so badly with other writers writing about life-changing events or important stuff, that I forgot to be myself.

It’s a lovely book, and I look forward to reading more of it, 

and of course, writing more!

If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself. You don’t even know yourself. For the first thing a writer should be is — excited.

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury