She was pink lipstick and mascara-filled eyes. A fine nose, a high-pitched voice. She had a mind so intricate, so filled with flowery words used to playing sweet melodies of poetry. She was a helium-filled balloon; holding her hand made me feel like a child for even a little while longer. And together, with eyes on each other, we flew. We talked of cotton candy clouds and a glitter-filled jars, for days and days on end. But before I knew it, she burst into nothingness and left me hanging in the air. For the first time ever, the sensation of falling filled me, mind and soul. Yet if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have known that I was capable of flying in thin air on my own. She was an angel, and it took me longer than I should have to realize that, so was I. She was a breath of cold air, and though, for a while, the thought of her chilled me down to the bones, she is now naught but a gust of wind – pleasant, smooth, calming. And in a storm of harsh words and even harsher people, I look up to the sky and thank her silently for making me see naught but cotton candy clouds.
//Author’s Note: this essay has mentions of depression and suicide. Nonetheless, it is meant to be an inspirational piece, not a dark one. If you are easily triggered, you can close this now. Thank you//
An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether their life has any meaning, purpose, or value. (James, R.)
I experienced the opposite of an existential crisis – an existential breakthrough. Instead of being confused about the universe and my role in it – like I always did – for the first time in my life, I finally understood it all. Instead of questions piling on top of one another in my frustrated head, answers started hitting my face, like calm gusts of wind, wave after wave.
I bought a pair of earphones, and for the first time in months, used them during the car ride home. Having instrumental music blasting in my ear, while staring at the blurry city lights outside the window…. Such a mind-blowing, relaxing, feel-good experience happens so rarely (not just to me, but to anyone in the world) that it has earned its way into becoming one of my ‘core memories’, a term coined by the latest Pixar movie Inside Out.
I heard that a woman’s mind is a lot like a web – wherein one memory is interconnected with a bunch of other memories – while a man’s mind is a lot like an assortment of boxes – wherein each box is an enclosed topic. Tonight, it was as if electricity pulsed through my web of a mind, resurfacing memories from years ago, tidbits of yesterday, brief instances from 12 hours ago… and like a jigsaw puzzle, my mind pieced it all together. My whole body vibrated with the joy of “I finally understand it!! Eureka!”
I reached one of my many lowest breaking points. I was so sure I had no purpose, no worth, no reason to continue on. I was reminded of every problem the world was suffering and I told myself “I can’t anymore. I don’t want to anymore. No more, please.” I was hell-bent into believing that I was not hardwired for this world. That sometimes, the universe does a tiny little hiccup, and in the end, chokes up a pathetic mistake like me.
What I realize is that I have always been so selfish. I was always concerned about my calling, in how I felt every day, in what I was thinking, what I wanted, what I didn’t have. It’s such a narrow way of thinking. It was as if I were in a labyrinth, trying to find myself. I would have found what I was looking for faster if I had looked at the whole map. Instead, I looked at my own two feet to see if I was walking straight, forgetting completely what I was looking for in the first place.
I fell in love. And like a lost drowning man in a sea full of thrashing waves, whenever the bliss of the deep dark nothingness tempted me to stop breathing for air, I would think about his eyes, and how much they’d wince in pain if he ever had to stand in front of my coffin. I used my love, admiration, and respect for him as my personal buoy to continue living.
All this time…
Whenever the darkness wraps their arms around me at night and I had nothing but my bare hands to wipe the tears away, I would think about my families – my blood-related family, my Search-In family, my cosplay family, my friendship-bonded family, my Victory family, and how much it would hurt them if I successfully hurt myself. I used my responsibilities as an eldest, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, to continue living.
A few days ago…
A friend of mine told me, “You should not only live for your loved ones, but also for yourself.” Remember every single thing that has made you unique, everything that has made you you. Inflate your own life vest by blowing your very soul into it. Inhale your own characteristics, and squeeze them all in it. Be your own life buoy.
I’ve realized that, using love, responsibility or confidence may work for other people, but not for me. My life consists of every person I have ever met, loved, hated, admired, but my life is not about pleasing them. It’s not about pleasing myself through eternal contentment with how I turned out to be.
I am not going to continue living just so none of you would cry over my death. Life should not simply be about avoiding a dark path. That’s not what it means to be alive, that’s barely holding on.
5 years ago…
I had another one of my “dark days”, and after I have stabilized, I wrote down my reflection. I wrote along the lines of “I can’t die yet. One day, I will be crossing the road like I always did, and a little girl will be walking a little too early. A truck will be coming at full speed, and I would have to be there, alive, to save that kid. If I die now, I won’t save that kid in the future.”
I remembered that journal entry with such clarity. I now realize that If I die any moment now, no one would save that girl. Sure, any other human being would see it coming and save her, but I have to think that I have an intangible role in the world. I have to believe I’m important, in a way that other people’s lives depend on me. I will save someone’s life in a way that no one else would. And so, I have to live for them. .
And by ‘them’, I don’t mean just that little girl. I aspire to become a film director, not to gain wealth or fame, but to reach out to the audience, and hopefully change a kid’s outlook on life.
June 26 2015…
When the legalization of gay marriage was announced, my first thought was about the kids. For some reason, I have this strong urge to help kid. I thought of the homosexual kids being confused about their identity because they grew up with homophobic parents, the kids that being called “gay”, the kids being bullied, the kids going through depression, the kids thinking of suicide, the kids being victims of our educational system, the kids with no money for school, the kids living with divorced parents.
And maybe this strong urge to help kids is part of my purpose.
Those helpless innocent kids, those people I hope to save in the future… I have to continue living, for them. I’m alive for others. We all are. Our greatest fault as human beings is believing that anything that we are is ours alone. Thinking that our kindness should simply be ‘quirks that will get people to date us’ rather than have it become an active work of reaching out to others is one of our biggest mistakes as a species.
The thing that hit me the most tonight was remembering that day I was so so close to committing suicide. Grade 9 Sports Fest, 12pm right after the Angelus. I was on the rooftop, standing on the ledge. One more step. That was all it took.
If I do commit suicide, I would have blocked so many possibilites. I wouldn’t have had this awesome epiphany tonight and I wouldn’t have felt this awesome feeling. I wouldn’t have joined Search-In and become a part of Circle 15, and CirCore3. I wouldn’t have passed in the top university of the Philippines. I wouldn’t have started cosplaying, and met the funniest, corniest, most creative people ever. Tonight, my whole life since that day just flashed in my head.
I can’t ever commit suicide. Not ever. Not today, not next month, not during college, not after it. I understand it now. It’s not just about looking back and seeing how far I’ve gone. It’s not about looking at what and who I have now, and worrying about how they will feel.
My past and my present is not going to save me.
My endless possibilities of the future will.
Because I have finally found myself in that labyrinth, I no longer worry about where my feet take me. I have thrown away that so-called map. Instead, I look forward to every twist and turn, every nook and cranny. I will use hope – hope that I will save someone – to continue living. And for everyone’s sake, god I hope that this time, it works.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one.”
― John Lennon
I read an article once: “Why do people cry over fictional characters more than actual real people?”
I remember it said that it’s because of closure.
When a fictional character leaves, it is sudden. One moment he’s there, and next, he’s telling his best friend goodbye and falling off the St Bart’s Hospital rooftop. One moment they’re his companions, and the next, the madman with a blue box is travelling alone once again.
When 149 other students say goodbye, we don’t feel anything. Because it’s been ingrained to us, we think about it every single day, that it has lost its thrill. We got so used to the fear of losing someone, got so used to looking around and seeing them there, that when graduation comes, you don’t feel the loneliness just yet. You got used to that assurance that they’re still there.
When you’re in your toga, taking pictures with people, saying your last words to the people you’re going to see for the last time, you don’t feel it just yet. It doesn’t sink it just yet. It’s as if you’ve accepted the fact that they were going to leave.
But no. You haven’t accepted it. You are in a state of denial where your mind, body, heart and soul still believes that it’s not over yet.
Because when you walk on that stage, you feel as if it’s just another Graduation rehearsal. You sing the Baccalaureate songs like you did countless times before. It does not sink in that that was the last time you were going to do it, that it was already the real deal.
But one day, you’ll walk along the corridors and listen for voices you will never hear again – batch songs, angklung ensembles, shouts of joy, shrieks of laughter… One day, you’ll enter a classroom and feel that something is missing – there’s no one asking for food, or complaining that there’s none, or no one asking around for answers. One day you’ll look around and be surrounded by a sea of strangers you cannot even look twice at.
One day, you’ll wonder where this person is, and you’ll realize that he’s not just a few steps away. One day, you’ll think of how they’re doing, you’ll worry if they’re still alive in the first place, if they were able to reach their dreams, or if their nightmares have caught up to them. One day, you’ll miss the way they laughed, or the annoying sounds of their voices, or the way they complained.
It’s a slow process. You won’t see it coming. It won’t hit you like a tidal wave. It will drown you like a wooden boat with tiny holes on its floor. And once you’re at the bottom, you won’t be able to breathe. You won’t be able to do anything but struggle and scream, to no avail.
That’s what missing someone feels like.
- Life does not end with just one failed test, or many.
- Life does not end just because you weren’t able to graduate.
- Life does not end just because you didn’t get into the top university.
- Life does not end just because you do not have a job, or if you lost yours.
So don’t be disheartened.
This endless, pressuring, supposedly ‘righteous’ cycle of “study, graduate, work, get a family” exists, solely because it is the foundation of society. Remember. Of SOCIETY. Not of Life itself.
Life can be lived in the mountains, on the streets, in the middle of nowhere. Life can begin simply, and end simply. Life does not need to end if you don’t follow this “go to school, go to college, go to work” cycle.
Remember: Life does not need to end because of this cycle.
But… you know what?
Sadly, some lives do.
Too young to work, too old to play. Our worth is judged by how well we do in general things that have no relation to what we are passionate in.We are judged by how well we follow another human’s instructions.
The only way to survive and ace is by brainwashing not just our minds but our hearts too, for there is no space for both what we wish and what others expect us to accomplish.
Some just suffer through it all, others try to make a stand, a few simply gave up and ended their lives. How often do we hear such news nowadays. How tragic.
This is our curse.
We are the victims of every critic, every bigoted, narrow-minded, judgmental person in the world. We are prejudiced. People think that everything we do are yet too childish to be taken seriously, but unlike children, we are not allowed the same privilege of a child to let our imaginations grow and run wild. “It’s to train you for reality, you see,” they say.
What we like, others hate. It has nothing to do with the quality of what we are obsessed with. Rather, it has more to do with the fact that teenagers are the target audience – or rather, just a majority of it. One Direction, Glee, Justin Bieber, Daniel Padilla… All over the world, people loathe us.
This stage of life is most essential, for it shapes our beings, shapes our future. Our actions will be recorded in merits and awards and it’s either you are a talented youth, or just a nobody.
For those whose skills are overlooked, whose talents are underestimated, or when the field of their passion itself is less appreciated, this is a difficult task. The school itself – the place for higher education – does not give them a chance to showcase, to hone, to nurture, their unique and special abilities.
Tell me life is fair now.