This is the story of everything that happened between the time I last wrote and now.

I was hopeful about 2016. At first, I had nothing figured out. I had no job, no pending applications to grad school nor to anywhere else, and nothing to do all day. All I had was the comfort of knowing that I was fresh out of college. I had graduated a year early, so there was absolutely no pressure to rush into anything.

Fast forward to a couple of months later, I had trips abroad to look forward to, and a long list of valid excuses to stop the job hunt. I was comfortable, but unhappy because I left the part of myself that demanded to be excellent at something, at anything, unsatisfied. The ability to sit through all of Seth Rogen’s movies in one sitting did not count as an achievement, nor an ability.

Then the unexpected, sort of expected, happened. I had been offered admission to a top university in Canada and to the number one law school in the Philippines. The world seemed to revolve around me, all while I was prancing around New York, going on dates with people I had no intentions of calling back or ever seeing again. The future looked so bright, forked yes, but bright, nonetheless. It no longer seemed like the forest I envisioned it to be months ago. It was now a well-lit highway, and I was driving through it in a Rolls Royce that had a full tank of gas.

Eventually, I had to choose a path, and doing so meant abandoning the other way and having no means of turning back. It was one of the scariest decisions I had to make. My heart told me to take a deep breath and to plunge into the unknown – into Canada, one of the few places on Earth where I actually felt like myself. It was such a special place for me, too. I found and lost love for the first time in one of its quiet suburbs, and discovered parts of myself that have changed the way I felt about my body somewhere downtown. On the other hand, my mind argued that moving to Canada was an emotional decision rather than a rational one. I knew nothing about living on my own. I couldn’t cook anything that involved more than two ingredients (with one of them being cooking oil). I’ve never really experienced living the hard life – I’ve never had to commute for more than 20 minutes by necessity, have never had to skip meals to afford my books in school, have never had to lift my own luggage to a spacious condo where I’ve never had to pay rent. It seemed to be the obvious choice, or at least it was the easier one, except for the part where I had to go through the gates of academic hell (A.K.A. law school). The choice was made even more apparent when I didn’t receive the financial aid I needed to fund my studies in Canada.

For a while, I was frustrated at the lack of support from the people who were “supposed to” help me. It became clear that they were fully supportive as long as I went according to their plan. But then I realised, how spoiled did I have to be to get angry at people who were basically handing me the key to a successful life? After all, they were only making sure that I could handle myself when they were gone. I conceded, and accepted my fate as my decision, not theirs.

As the countdown to orientation day reached single digits, I began to wrap up the year that had passed. I was grateful to my younger self for a series of good decisions – excelling in college, thus giving me a Latin honour that I could carry with me for life, doing well in the law school admissions, and taking that year-long break to do everything I deprived myself from doing in hopes of reaching my goals in college. I went on one last trip abroad, as I predicted that I would no longer have the time to explore my favourite cities. I did everything in my ability to move on from my failing relationship, to clear my mind for the stress it’s about to go through. Most importantly, I made the most of my last days at home, with which a bond I thought I had broken long ago was repaired and strengthened with appreciation.

That countdown ended without warning. There was so much on my plate, so much lodged down my throat that I couldn’t even swallow. I began to question my decision… my decision that no longer felt mine. I couldn’t convince myself to think of it otherwise. When I tried to, I put so much pressure on myself that I collapsed. It didn’t help that I suddenly had an irrational fear of meeting my professors after reading about them online. I didn’t want to go to class any more because I didn’t think it was worth the courage, the tears, and frankly, the lack of sleep. So three days into law school, I dropped out.

At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. It felt like the right thing to do. My brain eventually caught up with my heart. I wasted everyone’s time and money. It would have been better if I didn’t go in the first place. Or at the very least, I could have tried to last the entire week. But neither of those better things happened, nor will they ever.

Of course, now I’m depressed. By handing in my request to withdraw my enrolment, I handed over the keys to the Rolls Royce I was driving towards the future. I am now walking back to the fork, but it’s no longer the bright highway. It’s back to being a forest, now with taller trees. Not only do I have to go through it on my own, I have to navigate it without a flashlight.

by Royce


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