Getting what I wanted all the time didn’t make me happy.

I didn’t know why or how. But I felt it, not in huge, full waves but in ripples. Every day. Every night. I’d be laughing at something my friend said, then as soon as the laughter dies, it’s there. I’d read a good book, write a good poem, or say a good prayer. The happiness swells, if only for a short while. But neither did it made me sad. The lack of happiness didn’t necessarily meant sadness. There could be a lot of other things in its place. Disappointment. Inner diaspora. Disillusionment.

So? What’s the fix?

Solve the problem? But there is no one problem; instead, what I had was layers and layers of not-so-happy-not-so-sad feelings. If only I could choose one, fix it… is it going to be enough?

I mulled over this. So much that it took over, that the ripples became waves, each bigger than the other, turning at me like an angry tsunami!

A character in a book I’ve read said that “knowledge before wisdom is dangerous.” She’s right. I decided to resign from my post without looking for another job. For those of you thinking, “ah, she can afford to do so, she’s well-off than me, blah-blah-blah…”

I am not. But what I had was enough to help my mom with the bills, buy fast dwindling toiletries. I also had valuable things that weren’t convertible to cash.

mark-solarski-209233 unsplash-logoMark Solarski

Faith. I had no concrete plan. Though I had an idea about what to do with the newly-found free time. I would update my resume. Write samples. Come up with a portfolio. Publish some pieces penned long ago. I’d probably watch those movies my friends had been egging me to watch. I’m not sure where this will lead me. But I know, somehow, that I will get there.

Grit. I’ve been working since college. And I’ve never really stopped working. And if you’ve been working for quite a while, you’d be like me — you’re used to earning (apart from spending). The day I stopped working, I stopped earning, too. I just ate, slept, consumed. Paid the bills while no one’s paying me. I know, I know. It felt like a nightmare. I don’t think I’m a workaholic but I pride myself for working so hard. Not earning made me feel worthless. Now, how am I going to go on with the plan? How do I really, really take a break from work, from any obligations?

I sucked it up. I drowned the nagging voice in my head with busy hands. I cleaned whatever it is that needed cleaning, dusting, mending… I used my hands to match my faith with grit.

unsplash-logoThomas Martinsen

Awareness. I’ve read it in some magazine that busy-ness makes it easy for us to lose sight of things, of feelings. I had that I was that. I felt like an empty shell of a Jan I used to know. I felt like a stranger to my own self. Which is a lot lonelier (I realized). When I first discussed about resigning, I remember one thing that popped out. I considered taking a different path. No more writing. Then I wondered, if I don’t write, what will I do? If I’m not a writer, what will I be? I remember my friend-slash-colleague giving me that “look.” He asked me if was a experiencing some life crisis. (He’s right, I just didn’t know it back then.)

I thought there was something missing in me. Some skill. Some habit. Some perspective. I’m not sure which, but I know. I just know something’s not in me. And that missing and unnamed thing is what’s holding me back to becoming the best at what I do. The best at who I am: a writer.

So… when I thought of trying out a different path, I was actually thinking of how this different path could help me find it. The missing piece of me. Even during my no-work time, where my schedule is supposedly free, I still found it difficult to be truly aware. I forgot. It was only when an opportunity knocked at me that I remembered. And it didn’t just came back as a memory, it came with a feeling — a strong sense of urgency in finding my piece. I need to get better. And if this opportunity will help me find that piece, so be it.


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