Tender Truths

February 14, 2016

tender truths

i’ve been listening to music a lot more lately. those same ones i used to listen to back in grade school, in love with a boy i hardly care about anymore today. a bit awkward how the feelings come swooshing back but they don’t mean anything anymore. they’re only cold feelings stuck within songs from moments of our past lives. it intrigues me. music is for the soul. if i could be really really real, unafraid of eyes glued to my vulnerability, maybe all i’d do is sing. i’d strum on my guitar or play the piano so passionately while i sing. except i can’t because there are a lot of things i can’t do. if only i had ten more lives to fit in everything i want to.

i’m writing this now because i just read through some parts of a new frankie magazine i bought a week ago. such a ripoff (in australia, $10 and here in the philippines $20) but so, so worth every single cent no matter. in awe yet again how the silent sciences and forces of this universe leads you always to the right people, the perfect reads. destiny for others, just physics to me. i read it yesterday afternoon, breeze seeping through the windows while i blast songs from yesterdayagos.

i am constantly understanding myself and how it’s really like to be human. we try every day, that’s the best we ought to do. try to be what, to do what? well, what else than to be the persons we need to be, to do what we have to do.

a wonderful writer by the name of rowena grant-frost says all the right words about not understanding but just going on anyway. and it’s so purely honest, i want to share it here for you:

“i can describe my career in numbers: 10 years, two degrees, five jobs, lots of words. the sum of my work is probably more than just numbers, but when i look back at it all, when i try to find the bigger whole that these bits add up to, all that goes through my head is this: “i don’t know, i don’t know, i don’t know.”

it’s a thought that gnaws at me when i find myself working. “why am i doing this?” “i don’t know.” “should i do something different?” “i don’t know.” “will any of this ever mean anything more than it does now, with all the stress and the noise and the pressure?” “i don’t know. probably not. this is probably it forever.”

sometimes i’m brave enough to ask myself if i’m happy. the answer, when it comes, is usually small and halting: “i don’t know.”

sometimes i find myself looking at other people and wondering if they feel the same way. other people, on their way to work with their polished shoes and crisp collared shirts, who seem so sure of themselves and their place in the world and their reasons for doing exactly what they’re doing. do they ever find themselves wondering what it all might add up to? what, in the end, the late nights and terse emails and piles of paper and folders, and meetings and reminders might mean? they seem so certain. they don’t seem to wonder. they seem so ready and eager to go.

i try to look on the bright side. i feel very grateful for everything i’ve achieved so far and know that other people have to struggle up much bigger hills than my own. but gratitude and optimism can only get you so far. gratitude and optimism can’t satisfy lingering doubts, or tell you what it all add up to — or if it is meant to add up to anything at all. they don’t soothe the voice that keeps prodding and asking: “what are you doing? why are you doing it? do you think any of it really matters, in the end?”

the voice wants answers, but i haven’t got any. i just keep going, ploughing ahead, solving problems and busily working, while i watch the days and weeks and years flit past. one day, you might also wake up and realise that it’s been 10 years. two degrees. five jobs. lots of words.”

these 10 years have sometimes felt like an exercise in contortion. they have sometimes felt like i have twisted and wrapped myself into strange shapes to continue on. sometimes i have felt like i have become someone else entirely: the kind of person who doesn’t think about anything other than the achievement of goals, not their meaning. the kind of person who is committed and confident and sure. the kind of person who believes, intrinsically, in what they are doing. the kind of person who is not afraid.

when you go home after eight hours of being someone else, your head feels as full as a fishbowl and your shoulders feel as heavy as your heart. instead of relaxing, you find yourself trying to reconcile the distance between who you think you are and who you need to become to get by.

i have tried letting go. i have tried resigning every conceit i have about myself and just accepting that i need to become someone else for good. but every time i have tried to let go, i’ve found some small part of myself clinging determinedly to the remaining strands of who i imagine i am, or who i imagine i should be.

“this is all you have left,” the small voice tells me. “make it mean something.”

so i carry on and watch the years go by. and hope that, in the end, it matters.”


when i read this i feel a tug inside. all of a sudden i don’t anymore feel alone. for weeks now i’ve been battling a similar war. making sense of who i really am and who i should be. i want so badly to understand, to find answers to my never-ending questions on how to balance everything out and not disappoint anyone. this leaves me helpless when i allow it.

and yet still, trying to put myself in rowena’s shoes,  i feel very grateful for having a very deep why. to live with purpose everyday, every movement with a sprinkling of meaning. it’s full, it’s messy, but it’s totally meant.

but at the same time, why don’t i feel like i belong? why does it feel like i should be happiest here and yet i’m not? i’m still looking for something, i still need to fill a part of myself i’m not getting. i just don’t know what it is, and it’s hard to move when what i want is so hazy.

i wonder if it’s selfish of me to want happiness for myself.

but you know what i desire deep in my heart?

the loudest of music pounding on my eardrums, flowing through my heart until i can’t hear anymore the voices that shackle me helpless everyday. i want to dance in front of other people so bad, with those same silly bops and boogies i do in my underwear when i’m alone in my room. the girl i see in my bedroom mirror, i want to see that same her across all other mirrors in the real world. the real me out there, living fiercely, moving with grace no matter how clumsy i can really be, throwing out love after love even when it’s hard. i want to accept sadness with joy. to fall in love and be able to hold hands with the boy that i love so everyone can see. i need someplace else to be real. to find my god up in the mountains where there’s only the two of us, nobody else, nothing else, no thought else. i want to to allow myself to be absolutely flawed and imperfect without being judged and being considered a bad person. i want to be the best i can be, but i also just want to do that whilst being me. i want to be honest. goddamn, i want to be so so so honest so bad. and to spend entire days living slow, reading a book or playing scrabble without thinking about anything else.

i leave the city for a bit for fresh air i’ve been longing for in months. i ride with my cousins as they head back to their home in a city up in the mountains. their busyness is a blessing even to me. they don’t find much time to spend with me but it isn’t at all a problem. i find a lot of time alone here, in milk tea shops sometimes but mostly on the bar at their place i marked my work place.

away from expectations, in here i am just me. not completely me still, but more me than i feel when i’m back home. so i silently write and draft plans away, eat lots of sweets (cupcakes, cinnamon buns, an assortment of fruits, chocolates, crispy brownies, so on) in between. i find time to jog and meditate, even read books past midnight. and then when we both find time, b and i talk over the phone and talk about how things have been. i feel so free.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Jeline Catt (@jelinecatt) February 17, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    Ugh i love this. The line “one day, you might also wake up and realise that it’s been 10 years. two degrees. five jobs. lots of words” really got me. I’ve been getting the same sentiments every once in a while. Ahhhh

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