In Between States

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Photo source: ours80s.com

In school, we were taught that there are three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. The most prominent characteristic that differentiates each state is the compactness of their molecules, solid being the most compact.

(If you’re going to be really particular, yes, there’s another state of matter – plasma – but for the purposes of this post, let’s just stick to the first three for the metaphors.)

We were also taught that a material can change from one state to another. The most classic example is ice (solid) that turns to water (liquid) and then water vapor (gas).

I was reminiscing these lessons as I waited for a jeepney at a police outpost near my alma mater. At the time, I had just finished requesting for some documents I needed for something I was planning to do in the near future. Something that would dictate my life for the next few years.

You could say that I was worried. That day was a day of setting things in motion. I was actively trying to get a move on with my life and disrupt the routine I had learned to live with for almost eight months. Everything beneath my feet was shaking with the idea that from there on out, anything was possible and I was in-charge.

As cars continued to pass me by, I found myself dwelling on the changes that happened to me in a span of a year and how I got to where I am. More often than not, each change brought some sort of discomfort that I had to overcome. And at the time, when I was slowly being overcome by changes and worries, I needed to have a metaphor to anchor my sanity to.

I was in a state of confusion. I only had a general idea of where I wanted my life to go, but who was I kidding? I felt like I had no direction and that I was just making up plans for the sake of having plans. The best way I could describe it was being in between states, like being whatever it is that’s no longer water but not yet vapor.

Solid to Liquid

I graduated college feeling like life finally proved me wrong about not being good enough.

You see, though I excelled in school during elementary and high school, I never really believed like I could do great things. I was surrounded by people who were better than me and I always felt like I had to catch up or else I’ll fall off the roster.

But in college, I ended up fulfilling a wish of mine, which was to deliver the valedictory speech at the end of four years. Though my aim was only to inspire my batch mates with a speech (just like how our HS valedictorian inspired me), I found that after the four years in college, I became a solid person that can be proud of herself and can dream of better things.

I wasn’t complete as a person yet, but I felt concrete. I felt like I existed and I knew who I was.

But, when I was thrown into the corporate world, I found myself blending in to try to adopt. I wanted to do my best, and being blinded by the need to adjust, I mindlessly gave too much of myself.

Here’s a hard truth: I was too obsessed about finding a job and doing what was expected of me that I forgot how to define my life, that I lost parts of myself I didn’t need to lose.

For a short while, I was proud of myself for being able to survive in Manila all by myself, for accomplishing tasks I thought were impossible, for putting myself out there and for enduring challenges alone.

But I lived in the now. I just wore myself down as I tried to get by. Because I allowed the system to swallow me, I wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful.

Liquid to Gas

Just because I realized that something was going wrong doesn’t mean that I was able to do something about it immediately. I was stuck in a situation and the next steps were vague, if not invisible.

I endured. That meant I was aware of how toxic my routine had become but I was unable to take action. Everything proceeded as it did before but I got unhappier as the days passed.

Those were dark days. What got me through was the thought of going home to Lipa. I counted the hours and I had to actively find motivation to do anything.

It was like being in Limbo while yearning for what it would feel like to be in a better place.

Slowly, I was feeling stagnant and, I don’t know, I was just really down.

Gas to Solid

In the state of being lost, I found a flicker of hope. It started out as a crazy idea at first but at least it was something. I used that fantasy to build myself up, to be busy about something for myself. It wasn’t much, but it was a plan that made me smile.

It was only in desperation that I accepted that idea, to be honest. But it gave me myself back and even if it doesn’t go through, I’ll feel really thankful for it. (It was also thanks to thing thing that I was able to confirm what I feel like is my mission in life.)

It wasn’t easy to force my life to change, to take charge of my life. From being confused about who I’ve become to trying to become someone better, I had to silence my worries and trust my gut about most things. I had to exhaust all options and keep an open mind to where certain opportunities would lead.

It took everything in me to become someone I recognized once again.

I’m currently at this state now. I’m still trying to be a solid person again. I’ve made choices. I’ve committed to purposeful things. I’m moving forward.

As the days pass, I’m getting closer and closer to the person I want to be. I’m regaining confidence in myself. (The funny thing is, things aren’t going according to plan but they’re becoming better.)

Nothing’s set in stone yet but for the first time in a long while, I’m feeling excited about something meaningful again.

(Hello Pollen. It’s been a while.)

Plan ABC

Photo taken at Worldbex2017

I’m at the point of my life where I’m trying to shift gears and maneuver to the next destination. But, instead of having a set course, I only have a vague idea of where I want to go. I just have a general picture of the change I want to happen and the feel of what I want my life to be like in the near future.

(If you’ve lived alone for a while, you realize that you are in charge of your life and you do not have to put up with things not meaningful to you. You can make things/dreams happen now.)

At this point, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the next step. I’ve just been thinking about it months before but now, it’s actually going to happen. And though I’m mostly excited, part of my brain is doubting if I really can pull things off and if I really want to stir my life towards this course. 

(Sometimes I feel like I might have commitment issues because whenever things start to get real, I panic!)

But this sense of doubt must be natural, right? I mean, for the first time in my life, I actually didn’t overthink the decisions I made to start this whole moving on process. Though I was reasonable and logical as I did the steps I needed to do, I trusted my gut when it came to deciding whether to do it or not. So naturally, my brain will second-guess. 

Initially, not having a concrete plan was refreshing. It made me feel like I could really do anything and I should be bold when dreaming. It’s like pushing forward and worrying later. Like looking straight ahead at a certain unwavering goal and running forward.

I did plan for a goal, I’ll give myself that. But I didn’t worry about it’s implications and the consequences I’d have to deal with if I went through with it. 

Also, I gave myself safety cushions. I prepared backup plans (even if, now that I look at it, they don’t make much sense unless I could make them work.) 

But other than those two, I mostly just winged it. (There’s no manual for life anyway.)

Now that things are getting nearer, I can see how loose things have become. It’s like I’m taking the next step but I’m landing on gelatin. 

Yes, I have a fixed goal but I have mindlessly worked on ensuring that I have several options to get there. Because of that, I have unconsciously made things flexible so that I can pick an option at the last minute and save the day.

(Is this me being scared? Have I been playing safe all this time?)

Right now, though nothing’s set in stone, I have a feeling that in the end, I might be torn between two things that I’ve entangled myself with. And I won’t be sure what to do with that. 

Part of my brain is telling me to start being logical again. But honestly, I still have breathing room to do so. At the end of the day, I’m just really doing my best, because if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that I’m meant to be where I am right now and I’ll be where I’m meant to go because someone up there is going to guide me.

Innovation Conference 2016

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One of the very few photos I have of me during the conference

During one of our staff meetings, my boss asked me to say a few words about my experience as the Project Manager of Innovation Conference 2016. For a second, I was shell-shocked because I didn’t know how to put all my thoughts and emotions into words. There were so many moments and lessons playing around in my head, and it was almost impossible to say anything that gave it justice. It meant a lot to me.

Just a backgrounder: Ever since last July, I began working for Fiera de Manila, Inc. as a Marketing Assistant/Project Manager. Innovation Conference was a project turned over to me and was essentially, the first project I handled.

Innovation Conference 2016 was a prestigious learning event attended by C-level professionals. It was a big deal, to say the least, and I was a newbie to the industry, a potato. (Half of the time I was working on it, I tried not to dwell on the gravity of my responsibility so I could continue functioning.)

I learned a lot from this experience. Here are some of the lessons I got for almost three months of working on this project:

  1. Make mistakes but never the same mistake twice. Though I had experiences with organizing stuff in school, I didn’t really have an industry benchmark to guide me. I basically had little to no knowledge of what to do, so naturally, I did some things wrong. It took bravery to swallow reprimands, honestly, but once I got over that, I was able to focus on the task at hand and was able to learn.
  2. Have a team you can trust. I’m glad that I had the FMI team to back me up. They are veterans at what they do and they’re willing to help whenever I need it. I can also always ask questions about things I don’t know how to do yet and they won’t judge or laugh at my innocence.
  3. Nothing goes perfectly in events. Shit happens. Be flexible enough to accommodate the changes. (You will be driven insane otherwise.)
  4. At the end of the day, whatever happens, the event will always end. (Words of wisdom from my dad; mah mantra.)

I’m glad I was trusted with this project. It exhausted me but the stress was worth it.

Here’s to more good experiences!

 

 

The significance of comfort things

 

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There’s a reason why it’s red.

 

When asked about dreams and

limits, she resorted to

the cage inside her head

and the

shackles that bound her

to the darkness she tried to reign.

 

It was in a milk tea shop.

 

To think she could be

anything, only if

she believed in fairies again

and tried to

fix the way the puzzles fit

like building

blocks in her muddled brain.

 

Pillows, in plural.

 

She finds that it is easier to

fool the self

to perform the impossible with

things you buy in a store

that you

develop an attachment to.

 

Give me spaghetti in September.

 

In truth, the mind dictates

the possible and

accepts what it is that can be,

and can be

learned, for faith is a matter

of acceptance.

 

There’s a reason why it’s blue too.

Happy One Month!

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Today’s blessing: A proof that Pollen exists everywhere

More than a month ago, I was riding on a bus to Buendia when I got the email that would shift the course of my life.

I wasn’t immensely happy when I got the message. If anything, I was conflicted. I knew I wasn’t prepared to uproot myself from the life I got so used to in Lipa, but at the same time, it felt like it was about time to do so.

Things were happening so fast and I had to make decisions (all in a span of a 30-minute bus ride). I was hesitant because there wasn’t exactly a manual in making the right choice and I’ve been putting off accepting any job offer because I was so afraid of messing up the start of my career.

It was always the what if for me – what if I had to wait for some other offer? What if this wasn’t what I really wanted? What if I don’t become happy?

In the end, it all came down to me wanting to get one foot out the door. I just wanted to get this next phase of my life started already. I want to get over the messy bits, to learn about the mystical corporate world and to do something.

Now here I am and I don’t even know how to describe what I’m feeling. (Honestly, now is only the second time I’m allowing myself to evaluate my feelings towards work ever since I got hired.)

It’s been a month. Wow. A lot has changed for this potato.

I remember being one week in and still holding my breath in the office because I was worried about breathing too loudly. I also used to sit on my hands to stop them from shaking and to put pressure on my feet to calm them down. I avoided eye contact because I wouldn’t be able to hold it. And I spoke softly, quietly. I was trying to exist as lightly as possible.

But, I guess, I can say that now, I’ve set my universals. I’ve established my routine and my comfort zone here in Makati (and because of that, I’m ready to break them.)

I have an idea on what to do and I’m not afraid of just being myself anymore. I sing out loud (that’s the ultimate cue of comfort). I laugh and hang out in places other than my portion of the room upstairs. I deliberately go down to just be around people. And I don’t worry as much as I did before.

I’ve opened up to the people too. I’ve let my walls down enough to share my stories, to be interested in getting to know them and to actually care about them. (By now, no matter how much I try to deny it, I know that I’m already attached to them.)

Looking at everything that has happened now, I realize that this one month isn’t a celebration of the first leg of my career. It’s not even about my first job. It’s about me growing up in a month and me learning from the path that God has led me to. It’s about being grateful for all the help and guidance that I’ve received early on and will be receiving from this point forward. It’s about life and the human will to thrive against challenges.

Work-wise, the load is already getting heavier. Life-wise, I’ve still got a lot to learn. Me-wise, so far, everything’s been an adventure.

Happy One Month to this working girl. Flowers can thrive in the city too. (Always be yourself and bring yourself wherever you go.)

Uprooted vs. Branching Out

My family, the weekend they brought me back to Manila

This is a weird sense of change. After overthinking and internally panicking, I realize that I’m actually doing well. 

Uproot (v.) – to pull (a plant and its root) completely out of the ground; to remove (something) completely; to make someone leave home and move to a different place [Merriam-Webster]

Last week, I was silently bearing the weight of all the changes I had to suddenly adjust to. I knew, of course, that this was going to be my life at some point but being thrust upon the Manila jungle was no joke. Everything happened so fast.

I tried to set universals, my routine. I tried to find logic in whatever I was doing. It was to keep me sane. And, by acting independently, I somehow convinced myself that I was in control. (Spoiler: it didn’t feel as good as I imagined.)

Don’t be a potato, Pollen. I was getting increasingly confident with Makati and work, yes, but I always needed to put up a facade of strength and it was only when I went back to Lipa for the weekends that I realized how tiring that was. I was drained and even if people were nice to me back in the office and around generally, I dreaded going back.

Uprooted, that’s what I felt happened to me. I felt like I was unfairly plucked out of my serene carefree life. It made me helpless, tired and somehow, at the pit of my stomach, really angry at the unkown.

Branch out (v.) – to grow; to spread

Right now, I finally feel like this is where I’m supposed be right now. I’m growing increasingly sure of my steps and I talk a little louder. Everything is stil changing and the ropes would take time getting used to but strange as it is, in a span of three days, I have found comfort. 

It’s weird, I know. How can I say this so early? Aren’t I jinxing my luck?

Honestly, things have only gone wrong in my head. Nothing concrete has slapped me in the face yet. Things are good, not perfect but good. And it’s only the sense of impending doom is paralyzing me.

I just wish things would keep going up from here. I wish this isn’t a mistake to declare to the world that I’m okay. I wish I can keep learning like this, with my heart now calm and eager.

Branching out, I realize, is what I’m doing now. I’m exploring, shaking legs, sweaty hands and all; nonetheless, I’m getting somewhere. I may not know where I’ll get from here but my foot is out and I’m following the sun.

This change is weird, but it’s starting to feel good.

To belong to someone (a poem)

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Photo credits: images.fineartamerica.com 

Her footsteps are heavy, imprinted on
Sans; perhaps, she wore a cloak
of secrets; perhaps, she stared
at the burning
concrete for too long.
Wasting away until she, black under her
nails, stopped bothering; maybe it
was instinct, or maybe the
ancient need to
be heard somewhere.
But the collar, like a camping song around
fire, encased her neck; perhaps she
was a little desperate; perhaps it was
fear of actual contentment
that comfort
washed over her despite.
Her breath smells like soap, boxed until
needed; maybe that was the
system of change; maybe time hits
like motorcycle-wind
and the thrill of adventure.
Gazing at the blankness of tonight, she
sleeps; perhaps the signals meant
no harm in trying; perhaps
she knew
how to walk now.