Then Vs. Now

Do I feel like the past twenty five years went by without notice? Does it really feel like this—thinking that maybe you missed out since you’ve lived in one place all your life?

I don’t think the past few years were nothing. They were something—they became the reason why I am in this foreign place, figuring out how to navigate this busy city, thinking I was well-equipped enough to survive it. For the record, I’m doing fine. But the “I can’t believe I’m here” episodes start to disappear one by one. Train rides feel longer now that I realize how far my travel time is every day. The energy to power through goes downhill as I wake up realizing I’m tired every day. When you get sick, you suddenly have a wake up call without warning and decide to just tend to yourself. That’s how it’s been for me these days.

I don’t know whether my customizable future has been a problem since I started this career in 2015. I never really looked far from where I was because that was what I was conditioned to be in at that point in time—location was not part of the picture. I think it has always been the variable anyway (just like in experiment set-ups during science class). Now that I managed to slowly break out of that bubble, the more I get myself to ask questions like, “are you out of your mind?” “which city are you living in next?” or “why suffer when you can just take the easy route?” I can’t even begin to enumerate the reasons why I’ve decided to move away for a while. They’re a lot.

I feel like I have reached my maximum in Manila. Is that valid enough of a reason? And as I slowly make my way through my classes in New York, I have begun to realize the things I like and don’t like about art. About design. About what I want to do with my career, and which direction to head to. They’re all just brewing in my head, and have become a daily afterthought as I make room for ideas to flourish and grow. This growth can’t be done elsewhere but New York. And here I was, thinking I was going to do plan A—but now I’m ending up doing plan B, C, or D. Or maybe a combination of all. I haven’t really thought about it yet.

So far in New York, I have pulled all my strings. I have spent mornings feeling recharged and ready to face anything after a good run; I have also dreaded the early afternoons where I sulk in disbelief and ask myself why I’m doing this. There are also numerous question marks as I see my classmates in art class being such pros and wondering why I am not as talented as them. I tell myself, “but you never went to art school, what do you expect?” but also I say, “that’s not even the point.” I have given myself enough leeway managing my emotions and expectations with the circumstances around me. Life is hard. But for it to be worthwhile, whoever said it was going to be easy anyway?

I have always been told that I’m still young and there is a whole lot to look forward to in this lifetime. Sure, that’s noted. But somehow, I’m torn between the person I was then to the person I am now, and the person I will be in the future. I know myself best, but also, who knows? I could be wrong.

I guess I’ll just have to work it out as I go along.


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