STORY: The Countdown to May 10

I’m the middle of fluffing paper pompom centerpieces for an AR Events birthday tomorrow, when I found myself tearing up about a speech I’m making for myself in my head. Yes, I am aware of the weirdness of that first sentence.

I’m becoming more and more emotional as May 10, my last work day, approaches. I’ve finally formally handed out my resignation letter last April 10 and the journey to that moment was a slow one. It took so many internal debates that started off as whispers at the back of my head late at night, to shouting for attention at random parts of the day. I’ve been trying to understand myself for the past months, struggling to figure out what my problems were that led to my resignation. Why am I so agitated to leave? What greater meaning does resignation have? How will this fix anything? What is broken in the first place? And every day, I find a different answer, sometimes, just a different perspective of the same reasons I keep telling myself to justify my actions.

Then I realised, the first problem I had with resignation was how I needed to justify it. Why did there need to be any other reason for resignation than just my happiness? I just wanted to leave because it would make me happy. Period. It’s as if everyone I ever talked to about it was still waiting for another answer, clearly unsatisfied with the truth I just bared to them. So I scrambled my brains for a more satisfactory answer (even if I didn’t feel I needed one in the first place). Was it the money? No. I wouldn’t be resigning and not have another job to replace it if this were the reason. Was it the people? No. I don’t find relief in knowing I won’t see any of the people in the office anymore. If anything, I’m starting to feel separation anxiety from realising that I may never see some of those people ever again. Was it the work? No. I honest-to-goodness like what I do. I’m pretty good at it, and I feel fulfilled seeing things get done. Then I came to the conclusion that I didn’t hate anything about what I was leaving, I just had other things I loved more, if not the same.

That leads me to my next problem. What was the purpose of it all – the money, the career, the commercials, the shoots, the late nights, the stress? Was I really meant to be placed on this earth to just sleep enough to wake up the next day, then to tire myself enough to fall back to sleep at night? When I started asking these questions last year, I grew more anxious every day without an answer. Of course, these thoughts and questions were always pushed back, made to wait for extra time, in favor of the deadlines of the day. I condition myself to think that, “what is the meeting today about?” is more important than, “what do I want to do with my life?” Then one day, I couldn’t trick myself anymore. I knew that the questions I didn’t give enough time to answer were more important, and that I will never have the time for them, if I don’t make time. Resignation would give me time. So here we are, three weeks away from all the time I need.

The last problem I have is a more practical one, and the same problem anyone I ever confided in had, too. How was I going to survive? As much as I want to be a philosopher of life and practice what I preach about money not being the most important thing, I still had to live in this world. How was I going to pay for food? for my credit cards? for my phone bill? for my car? for my movie tickets? Before I even begin to explain how I will live without a job, I’ll be the first to tell you how I am aware of my privilege. I don’t have rent or utility bills to pay for, or a family to support. Heck, even if I didn’t have a single penny left on me, I know I still wouldn’t be sleeping on the streets. My family isn’t rich, and I am sensible enough not to drag them into my soul searching journey. But I am grateful that they have not discouraged me from doing what I’m doing because of money. I assured them I won’t be asking for anything more than the roof on my head and whatever food they already have on the table. Everything else, I will manage somehow.

So, back to my “somehow.” One, I have AR Events. I earned enough from this last event to last me a few weeks. Two, after that money runs out, I have Street Smart Customs – Jose’s newly opened car shop. I’m helping Jose out with all the paper work, and though we agreed I won’t be asking for salary, as I’m doing this as a supportive girlfriend who wants to help him succeed, we also agreed that should I lack funds, he would cover the last two months of my car loan. It’s been a tricky road figuring out our working relationship. I made it very clear that he should treat me like a business partner, not his girlfriend, starting May 11 (my official first day as an SSC employee). If he needed me to run errands, he should tell me and I should do it, whether I felt like it or not. I would in turn set protocols for the business that Jose had to follow, whether he felt like it or not, too. Nothing personal. Three, I’m working out an out-of-office arrangement with my current office that, should it push through, will last me another two months.

I stopped myself from planning for anything further down the line, because that defeats the purpose of my resignation in the first place. So what is the purpose, you ask? Time. Time to think about the thoughts I always consider less important than deadlines. Time to know who I am and what I really want to do. Time to understand and truly find what happiness is for me. Time to do absolutely nothing. Time to just stop and not know what will happen next. Time to just be okay with sitting in the middle of the day, fluffing pompoms, maybe even a little crying, while blogging about how I feel.

It still feels so unreal to me, how I got to this point. I would hear about these existential concerns in movies, with teenagers dropping everything to go on a road trip or a crazy adventure to nowhere, to find themselves. I always found it petty, pointless, and self-absorbed. Now, I find myself in that same state of mind, just a few years late from my teenage years. It’s so unlike me. But I’m excited – excited to see what life holds for this side of me I never gave the chance to reveal. I’m also scared – scared that I don’t find anything profound at the end of my journey. Most of all, I’m hopeful – hopeful that if I end up somewhere completely different from where I am now, or if I end up exactly as I were, that I’d be happier than I was before. And isn’t that what everyone really, truly wants?

STORY: More Goodbyes

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 11.02.35 PM.pngIt’s Maik and Mary’s last day today, and I wasn’t even able to go to office to greet them a proper goodbye. I think I’m extra emotional due to the lack of sleep from my food poisoning fiasco earlier today, but part of me is just honest-to-goodness sad about losing more people in my already very tiny circle.  Continue reading

STORY: Work from home

I’m in my bed, working on unfinished office work at 10:25pm, when I realised that I needed to pause. I NEED blog about how frustrated I’m feeling. It doesn’t help that my last post was about frustrations, too. It doesn’t help either that I’m reminded of the yearend reflection post that I have yet to get started on (February na, huhu!)

Anyway, right now, I’m doing the office work I wasn’t able to finish, because I left work at 630pm to watch a movie. My usual self would blame all of this to my being irresponsible. I shouldn’t have left the office with work still left to do, right? But, no. I’m not being an irresponsible employee. I’m being responsible for my well-being. For the past few months, I’ve been conditioning myself to think of work as just work. I have to remind myself that at the end of the day, when I leave my job, I will inevitably be forgotten and replaced. All my heartache and sacrifices will not change any of my co-workers’ lives. They will move on and they will survive without me. Yet, all the heartache and sacrifices I make will affect the rest of my life – long after I leave the job I had to endure them for.

I feel so defeated right now. I’ve been whining more frequently the past few months about how tired I am, and how I couldn’t care less about being a good employee. But, I also can’t help myself from wanting to do my best at my job. It hurts that I can’t stop myself from doing something that is making me more miserable than happy. How can I fight my own reflexes?

I hate that I’m working right now. I hate that I’m not resting and filling my mind with things that feed my soul (e.g. reading the latest trending articles on Buzzfeed). But, I also hate not being able to finish the job. I hate that I have to wake up extra early to make up for leaving the office ON TIME (I spent more than eight hours at work today, yet I still lacked time!)

I feel frustrated just trying to put my frustrations into words! I want to cry right now, but that will just make me even more tired. And if I get any more tired, I can’t get anything done tonight. And if I don’t get anything done tonight, I will just wake up with work piled up on top of the work that will come in tomorrow. So, no. Crying is not an option.

I better get back to whatever work it is I was doing. Hopefully, my next blog post will be about something under than my annoying self-pity stories (yes, I annoy myself, too). I’d hate to look back and think I lived such a miserable life. My days aren’t always like this. But, I still want to remember that I was in this moment… so I know what I never want to happen again.

STORY: 1AM Frustrations

It’s almost 1am. I’m tired but I can’t sleep. I keep filling my mind with things to think about because the moment it relaxes, I’m reminded of how frustrated I feel right now.

But since keeping myself awake all night isn’t helping me feel any better, might as well blog the frustration out. 

I’ve shared about AR Events many times before on this blog – most times with great optimism and unrealistic plans for its future. I’ve put the entire venture on pause last year because of the disappointment that crushed my heart when I realized it was so much more work than it is fun. I wanted to decorate, I wanted to plan the program, I wanted to make other people’s visions come to life. But to do those, and to keep doing those, I had to think about the money. 

The clients I’ve dealt with had visions that exceeded their budgets, but I had the heart that was willing to compensate for their lack of means. I just wanted so badly to execute the plan for them, to make them happy, to fulfil my artistic need, that I always ended up not earning from any of my stints. I keep saying I’m not in it for the money, but I can’t keep losing money over it either. It’s just not sustainable.

Anyway, fast forward to this month. I have two potential clients and I just declined one of them earlier because I couldn’t bring down my cost to meet their budget. A quick search online would show other suppliers with dirt cheap prices because of the equipment they’ve already invested in. I know I can’t compete with that no matter how much I want to do the project creative-wise. 

This other client, I’m starting to lose interest in because of money matters again. I know it isn’t my fault that their budget is too small for what they want, but I still feel guilty and inadequate. I keep thinking how a better events planner would have found a way to make it work. What’s making me feel worse is that I’ve already done a lot of pre-work and I haven’t asked for a single cent. Not that I want money right away, but I am afraid that the clients might change their mind and decide not to get me as their planner, when I’ve already done work for them (it’s happened before)! I’m still battling with myself and telling myself to stick to it ’til the end but it’s hard. I’ve been down this road before. I do all I possibly can to meet all the requirments but in the end it’s still not enough for the clients. If they don’t get rid of me, I might end up giving the project up myself out of frustration – even after so many hours of research, many site visits, many mood boards, and so much emotional investment!

It frustrates me so much that what used to give me joy – party planning and decorating – has been ruined by money. Now all I can think of when I start visualizing designs is how much each item will cost! All I see our peso symbols on everything that it sucks out all inspiration and excitement.

I don’t know what to do. I’m scheduling an ocular visit to the venue options with the client this weekend and I’m already dreading it. Not because of them as people, but because I am already foreseeing our terminated relationship. I can already imagine myself hating on myself as I stand at the venue I spent time, effort, and money on researching and visiting only to be left empty-handed.

It’s 1:42am and I am no less frustrated nor am I any more sleepy. Sigh.

STORY: The Unglamorous Life of a Start Up

No, I don’t have a start up business. I don’t want anyone being misled with the title. I’m simply a witness of someone who does have one.

I’ve always envied entrepreneurs. Particularly, the younger ones who are financially-independent even before they hit 30. But more than just the money, it’s the freedom and success they can achieve that an employee can’t- at least at the same pace. But watching Jose start as a 17-year old selling car plates to an almost 25-year old applying for business permits, I realized that these entrepreneurs go through stress and frustrations that an employee won’t (usually). An entreprenuer’s life isn’t such a glamorous one after all (at least at the beginning).

As Jose and I went through line after line, window after window, uninterested goverment employee to uninterested government employee, today, it dawned on me that his freedom from being his own boss also meant pressure to look after his own mistakes. He had to think about insurance, where to find good people to hire, how to get the electricity running, how soon he can earn back the money he gambled on the business, etc. As I ran through all the things he worries about, while I waited for him to finish photocopying some requirement, I tired myself out! Whew!

At the end of all my realizations though (all while Jose ran around with paperwork and I zombie-trailed behind him), I came to this conclusion – no life is less or more than the other. An entrepreneur or an employee will go through ups and downs all the same. The path and pace may be different but everyone just wants to move forward. Some people were just made to be their own bosses, others made to be part of system of others like them.

Now, the real question now is, which of the two paths do I want to really take? I always thought I was the employee-type, but maybe I’m ready to give the unglamorous start-up life a try? Maybe.

STORY: Toothbrush

It’s already January 12 and I have yet to write my year-end reflection post. It’s a self-imposed tradition I’ve kept for the past 4 years – this year being the 5th, if ever.

But, since I have yet the time (it takes a few hours, even a day or two, to reflect and analyze an entire year, ok?) or the will power to get started on it – probs because I’m not very inspired by the year that was – I’m going to write a regular blog post instead.

Yesterday, as Jose was coming out from his shower in his shop (yes, he’s got a shop now and, yes, he showers there), he told me I had a toothbrush by the sink. I went in to check, and there really was a 2nd toothbrush marked B (for babz). ❤ 

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is to me. Even with 9 years between us, I still don’t like assuming I’m part of the things he does. Especially with his shop, which is his baby come to life. That said, it feels really nice to know that he sort of gave me a little space in his new “kingdom” and made me feel always welcome in it.

Now, back to harnessing will power for my 2016 year end reflection post…

STORY: Songs

When I really listen to the songs on the radio, I often find myself wondering if someone would ever think about those lyrics when they think about me. Will I ever be the “one they’ll need in the passenger seat” or “the one they dreamed into life?” Not that I think I am that special or anything. I just find myself wondering if anyone will ever think of me as their kind of special – just like those in the songs.

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STORY: Wardrobe Capsule

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 12.31.18 AM.png

I’m not a fashion person. I can’t tell the difference between brands’ summer or fall collections. I don’t know how to pronounce fancy clothes’ names. I’m not even willing to spend over P1000 on clothes or shoes. The times I do go over P1000 are those times when I get so frustrated about not finding something that’s just right that I want to get things over with by buying the first thing that fits right.

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STORY: Remember This Day

I want to always remember this day – Saturday, July 30, 2016. You’d think something grand would have happened for me to want to engrave this day forever in my heart, but it wasn’t grand at all. It was such a simple moment, yet it felt bigger than many of the so-called milestones I’ve experienced so far.

I finally got what I (secretly) always wanted – trust. The kind of trust that is not based on my gender, my financial capacity, my looks – basically anything unrelated to the task at hand. It’s the kind of trust that’s based solely on the belief that I am able to do something because I have proven that I can do it. This, of course, does not count any work-related tasks. I am being paid to do whatever I do at the office and I am expected to be good at it. I am not being entrusted with work because they trust me, specifically. They would have asked any other person in my position to do the same thing.

Anyway, back to my special day.

Out of the blue, my day offered to let me drive his NEW car to our weekend food stall activity. For the past five weeks, we have been using Jose’s pick up to carry us and our stuff to and from Greenfield (where our stall is at) since we couldn’t fit ourselves and our stuff in my tiny car. That’s it.

Nothing special, right? Wrong! What made my dad’s offer so special?

  • I didn’t need to use his car. If my dad found out that I needed help with transportation, I knew he still would have offered I use his car… but out of love and care for me, rather than trust.
  • I didn’t ask him to lend me his car. He let me use his car because he wanted me to use it. Again, if I had asked to use the car, he probably would have still lent it but because he wanted to give me what I want, not because he trusted me.
  • It’s his NEW car. It isn’t an expensive car but to us, a new car is a new car. And my dad is still at that stage where he wants to keep it new for as long as he can. He’s always cleaning it and rearranging stuff inside it. He’s still very attached to it. So the fact that he was willing to let it out of his sight meant he trusted the person who is taking it out of his sight.
  • He didn’t make fun of me. Usually, my dad and Jose (and every other male I know), would mock how I drive. No matter how good I get (and I don’t think I was every thaaaaat bad or was worse than any of them when they started out, TBH), they never fail to bring up all the “wrong” things I used to do when I drive (i.e. how I drive too close to the sidewalks which I don’t do anymore!) I was actually waiting for him to say something like, “Bring it home in one piece, okay!” but he didn’t. I thought he was lending it to me to mock me, but he surprisingly just announced his offer to use his car and left it at that.
  • He didn’t doubt me. Just as all of our stuff were loaded in the car and my mom and sisters were getting in, I kissed my dad goodbye. I was still waiting for him to say, “you take care, okay!” or “be careful with <insert some car-related thing here>” but again, he didn’t. He just let me kiss him and say goodbye. I honestly felt he was confident to let his car be used by someone else, no matter that it was a girl or more importantly, that it was me.

I still can’t believe how happy that simple moment felt. I have tried so hard these past years to prove that I will not be limited or be judged by my gender, and a part of that struggle came from inside my home.

My parents aren’t as traditional as others, but they are still born from a different time. To them, there is nothing wrong in thinking that being a woman automatically means staying at home and being a man automatically means being good with cars. I had to argue every single thing with them (from why I had to wash the dishes simply because I was a girl to why my brother had to walk the day simply because he as a boy) to prove my point. One of those points is how they automatically assume I’m never going to be a good driver, or least a driver they can truly trust, because I’m a girl.

On July 30, 2016, I think I finally got to prove at least one of my points. And it felt better than I thought it would.

STORY: Mental To-Do List

I am so frustrated right now! There are things I want to get over and done with but can’t at the moment because I have to be at the office. Not that the things I need to get done are urgent, but I just can’t stand the idea of not being able to tick something off my to-do list right away!

I can’t take something off my head until it’s done. That means, even if I know that the whole day will go by without me getting to accomplish it, I still keep a mental note of it the whole day. It agitates me that my mental to-do list doesn’t get any shorter as the day goes by!

I just want to leave my desk and get everything over with. If only I could. 😦