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.)

(Me, overthinking out loud)

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Photo credit: quotespics.net

It’s been difficult for me to say things, even if I knew that saying them would prevent a massive problem in the future. If it makes me uncomfortable, I’d fold. I’d just keep the thoughts in my head and drag them on until they finally explode in my face.

Now, I’ve already recognized that this is not a good practice, at least during critical times, and I know that I should do something about this. The first step, of course, would be trying to figure out why I’m like this.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of my MBTI because I’m no expert on that and I’ve tried my best not to research too much about it. (I mean, it also creeps me out to discover so much about myself on the internet.) But, I just had this Eureka moment earlier today that being an ISFJ might be related to it since, in one article I read, it said that not saying what they want to say is an ISFJ’s biggest regret.

Okay. I’m going out on a limb here but this is my analysis of the situation.

As a Sensor (I’m making up terms now), I am grounded in the present. I take everything in and everything makes such an impact to me. I’m sensitive to the now, the moments because I can concretize and capture them. This is often why I’m easily overwhelmed by whatever is happening around me and I feel lopsided when things are just too much.

As a Feeler, I am in touch with my emotions. I am easily affected by events and I can easily recognize how the people around me will be affected too.

As a Judger, I have preconceived notions about things which means I’m quick to evaluate people or things around me even before I really get to know them.

Combining all three factors, I realized that my functions make it easy for me to collect so much information about the world and to have opinions about them. I’m a sponge, absorbing everything, letting it overcome me and forming ideas out of them.

But I’m a fairly quiet sponge. I’d like to keep to myself. I will not openly blurt my thoughts. I’m conscious about the discomfort opening up will bring me. (Introvert potato is me. Introvert potato is life.)

Do you see the struggle here? So much input but little output!

(Hence, I write. Writing is my creative outlet.)

Again, I’m not entirely sure about how MBTI-accurate this is. It’s just all subjective, really. (I’m not even considering the SiFe and other functions thingymajeebeez yet.) But it kinda makes sense to me.

Well, that’s all for step one. If you’ve read this, thank you. I have no idea why you did. (In case it isn’t obvious, I just wrote this to overthink. So I really don’t care if I’m listened to. Okayyyyy. Bye.)

In which we attach meaning

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When you look at it this way, it’s easy to say that power is all in our head. After all, it is in our head that we give someone or something the power to mean everything.

Say for example, you find yourself walking home under unlit streetlights at an unholy hour. Your knuckles are turning white and your legs, jelly, and the only thing you feel is keeping you safe is holding your breath until you reach the gray gate you can hide behind. Of course, once someone jumps out to drag you and stuff you inside a rice sack, you’d have no choice. But in desperation, you cling onto beliefs, actions – that gush of air you aren’t willing to release – that you think would illogically save your life.

On a lighter note this time. Say, you were a baby and say, you were sad. There’s that one thing, be it a pillow, a blanket or a stuffed toy, that smelled like Mom, and it fought the monsters away. It made you braver, stronger and at one point of your life, it was impossible to let go. Until it’s gone, because, older now, it didn’t matter to you anymore.

There’s that piece of candy you’ve hidden away in one of your wallets and an old coin in one of your socks. Stuck between your favorite book is an old convenience store receipt and under your bed is a Grade 4 art project. At the bottom of your inbox is a message with a smiley at the end dated five years ago. You have a slightly worn-out shoe losing its pair and a woolly red shirt you aren’t ever going to throw. Unable to keep what they represent, you hold on to the physical; it’s all you are capable of.

In truth, we just want to get pieces of what we cannot have – our life, a smile, a moment and the beyond.

So comes the attachment. Other than naming, this is another that denotes value and finality. It means to distinguish that something ordinary is special without any special reason. Just because you said so. Doing so, also gives a false sense of permanence that the value stays and it does, as long as you’d like it to linger.

In the middle of the night, you look for a star and even if facts say it is different, you insist on the sameness and ask it to grant you a wish. We see what we see. And we love who we love.

Right now, I have a rosary bracelet around my left arm. It’s loose, barely breathing and I could almost hear it warn me to brace myself. Something is coming, I don’t know what, but the thought of my shield wearing down scares me. (I am excited to discover where finding a new one would lead me though).

The things that have power over us, those that mean the most, are valuable the way we are because we say so. To be attached is a choice and so is to escalate meaning.

It makes the world more complex in a way other than just a dumpsite of possessions. It explains why people are greedy and stubborn and materialistic. It keeps superstitions alive. It facilitates the transfer of emotions and the rest of the intangible. And, interestingly, it can even give value to what we can achieve as ourselves with a simple change in mindset.

(It’s a lovely thing, these brains of ours).

The Rules of Happy Crushing

Hearing my sister say it, I immediately believed that it was possible – happy crushing, the concept of liking someone without the emotional baggage of being rejected or expecting something to happen. She used it to describe her feelings towards a senior org-mate whom she admired for being adorably awkward. They don’t see each other often but that doesn’t matter, because when she does see him, it makes her day and when he’s gone, he’s gone.

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But, of course, anything lifting such great burden must have a catch. For happy crushing it’s this – you’d only be able to achieve the full effect when you follow its rules.

 

1) Keep the label at bay.

Remember, he’s only a happy crush in your head. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It doesn’t necessarily connect the two of you. It doesn’t even have to be used when referring to him. The label wasn’t made to give you any ideas.

2) Don’t tell anyone. Don’t even say it out loud.

When you declare that you like someone verbally, you’re more likely to grow fond of the person and of the feeling he invokes. Saying it makes it real. Sharing the knowledge makes it worse. It means that you’re asking for support about the matter and you’re getting way too attached for your own good.

3) Activate the feelings only when he is there.

What makes happy crushing work is its convenient feature that allows you to feel butterflies only in moments when your object of affection’s there. This lessens stress that can be induced by PEOt or post-experience overthinking. That’s if you get this rule right.

4) Don’t allow anything to linger.

When he’s gone, let him be. Don’t replay the moment over and over in your head. Don’t imagine any other scenarios that could happen when you meet again. And control your heart to stop liking him when he isn’t around.

5) Don’t ask about object of affection’s current relationship status.

For one, whether he’s single or taken, it shouldn’t matter. You aren’t looking for anything long term anyway. He’s an inspiration that cheers you up when you see him and that’s that. Knowing whether he has someone could hurt you and if it does hurt you, well honey, he might not just be a happy crush after all and that’s too complicated to discuss here.

6) Don’t stalk, and even check object of affection’s SNS profiles.

Close his Facebook profile because you don’t need any more reasons to like him. Superficial information is good; you don’t have to get too close. And don’t try to be at the same places he goes to, because there shouldn’t be a need to see him all the time.

7) Don’t invest on anything.

Scrap keepsakes. You don’t have to remember how it goes, how it feels like. Don’t do anything to make it permanent. Don’t think too much. Just let things happen; you don’t have to give anything up for him, to change your routine for him.

8) And if you’re a writer, don’t write about him.

No, he doesn’t have to be immortalized.

 

Get those right and the road to happy crushing will be a smooth sail. No worries indeed. 🙂