It’s been a month since my last article but I’m back with a worthwhile realization – I’ve been accumulating what I’ve wanted to say for the past few months like a serial hoarder trying to find justification in each thing that she collects.
The first quarter of 2018 has been one of the most radical few months that I’ve experienced in a while. From my dad retiring from his job here in the U.A.E., to a restructuring at my day job, to trying to keep my goals and dreams afloat with everything that’s happened – it has been a whirlwind of unexpected experiences that quite frankly made me more of an adult. I guess this comes with turning your quarter-life… I just didn’t expect it to hit me all at once. In all those things that I mentioned, one could imagine my initial reaction to when they arrived at my door – I instantly thought that the universe was out to get me and I ran for my life with my suitcase of resentment in one hand, and my luggage full of hopelessness in the other.
I didn’t like how my dad’s company dealt with his retirement. I didn’t like how my responsibilities changed at work. I didn’t like how I had to sacrifice my time and resources for an additional load of responsibility that I didn’t ask for. I was upset, angry, and selfish. I thought that life was being unfair again because it wasn’t going the way I envisioned in the ‘2018 Plan’ I made before the New Year. I was becoming a control freak to a flaw and I knew, from past encounters, that that kind of attitude was not going to get me anywhere; it was going to make things worse.
You may be wondering by now, what has this got to do with what I gave up for Lent?
First of all, Lent (more info here) is the Christian season of abstinence and fasting before Easter, the day of the Risen Christ. Every Lenten season, I would commit myself to giving up something of the material that I knew wasn’t good for my diet – sweets, fast food, carbonated drinks, alcohol, etc.… The usual ‘wants’ one would give up for the sake of having to give up something during this holy season. This year, I wanted to press the pause button on something that was ethereally intangible, something that’s always been my go-to whenever things were not going well in my life:
Nope. Not chocolate ice cream, rather my thought-domineering pessimism.
When my dad got his end-of-service letter due to his retirement age, I got really mad at how his company were running things. Who sets a meeting two to three weeks before to tell a person that they are being let go without any kind of heads-up or time to make necessary arrangements? How was my dad supposed to prepare for that? I felt helpless in the situation because how badly I wanted to take away the sadness in my dad’s eyes when he got home that day. When my company was going through a role restructuring, I got really upset because in my head I was thinking whether or not I was doing my job right? Did I do something wrong in how I was performing? I questioned my abilities and worth. I felt my self-esteem plummeting like a meteor heading for earth – getting obliterated into space dust as it reached the surface.
Mind you that all this happened during the same time period; hence, the two events struck me with loads of unwanted anxiety. With papa moving back to the Philippines, I became weirdly unfamiliar with the U.A.E., having got used to living with him in the country for the past 4 years. I felt exposed and breathing a different kind of air – one without a safety blanket and a shoulder to cry on when things got rough (yes, I am a Daddy’s Girl). The moment I dropped him off for his flight, it finally hit me – I became the family’s breadwinner. And that was a really tough pill for me to swallow. In turn, this carried over to my work. The moment my company finalized the restructuring, I found myself subconsciously resistant to the change because a lot of things were already changing in my life. So I clung hard to the familiar, doing the work that I knew and still had.
I pitied myself and constantly thought that I didn’t deserve what was happening to me. A day before Ash Wednesday, I found myself thinking about what I was going to give up for this season of Lent. While laying down on my bed thinking about the year that I initially planned, I thought to myself,
“What kind of lesson is He trying to teach me here?”
During Lent, most of us would vow to give up things that provided us a kind of guilty pleasure. The kind of things that we wouldn’t mind to stow away for 40 days because we know that after Easter, it will be there waiting for us to devour. This time around, I wanted my Lenten season to purify me the way that Jesus did in that desert thousands of years ago – coming out of it stronger than ever, beginning his ministry. I needed to get rid of the Vera who low-key felt better whenever she consoled herself by placing the blame on things that were out of her reach. It was a problem that I needed to resolve internally.
I woke up from my self-inflicted misery and thought about how stupid I was to even be questioning the things that had happened when they have already happened. I was dwelling in a past that I had no control over anymore. I shouldn’t be thinking about ‘why it happened to me?’ rather I should’ve been telling myself that ‘this happened to me for a good reason’.
The past 40 days weren’t easy. Just like anybody else during this time, there were moments where I was tempted to fall for that swig of antagonism. I admit of going on a few rant sprees to my friends during the first two weeks, but then after awhile I reached absolution. I stopped complaining about how certain things were and realized that I was doing that because I was an avid fan of setting expectations. I accepted the circumstances before me, looked at the brighter side of possibilities, and slowly started to let go.
Being my family’s breadwinner has taught me to not only be more responsible, but it has given me the motivation to work harder for they are the sole reason why I keep going. Being away from them has made me appreciate them and what they have done for me even more. I may have got a lighter workload from the company’s restructuring, but this meant that I had more time to really focus and execute well on the tasks ahead of me. It also gave me a better work-life balance.
As humans, we tend to attach ourselves to the external aspects of our lives – our family, our friends, our job, and our possessions – that when something unexpected happens to either one of them, we become uncomfortable and our minds start to rattle. We do this because those aspects of our lives are what we believe define us. Well, that’s just a waste of energy, don’t you think? We define who we are and we have the power to evolve that definition. Rather than getting reactive on what we believe defines us, we need to look at the situation and assess ourselves on why it’s making us feel this certain way.
From being scared and helpless about not being able to support my family the way my dad did, I turned that fear into motivation to work harder.
From questioning my abilities and worth, I accepted the changes in my job and looked forward to using the time, inside and outside of the office, more efficiently.
Whatever that reason is, our responsibility as the captain of our souls is to acknowledge the problem and develop it into something more useful – convert that dense energy into something sufficient. We focus too much of our time in building up our exterior that we tend to forget about the link we have within ourselves. Remember, the stronger the root, the less likely the tree will bow down. Once we become more in tune with the gears inside of us, we become more aware and appreciative of the little things that we usually overlook.
I thought it was fitting to share this entry because it’s something that I hope inspires whoever’s reading this to take a chance on looking inwards and recognise the areas of yourself where you think needs work. I’m not saying that this experience has made me 100% pessimist-free; rather it’s made me more positive than I ever was despite going through the above circumstances. Heck, I plan to do maintain this way of thinking even after Easter. If you’re reading this and are a Christian, I’m not implying that you wait for next year’s Lent to do this (my situation was just very timely), alright? Because, Christian or not, if you are committed to making the change that you know will make you into a person that not only you but for the world to be proud of, there’s no better time to do it than now.
To those who are celebrating, Happy Easter! 🙂
Thanks for reading, guys! Much love. Y’all have a good one!