30 January 2019

Seconds

Mt Pulag; the second time around

For the past year, the impact of time on me has been a little more vivid than usual. Never have I ever seen myself as invested on so many things all at once for various reasons. There's just too much of a crossroad there was in 2018 yet so many scattered empty points as well. Thought I was caught in another wave of that famed & feared purpose dilemma otherwise known as the quarter life crisis once more. Same old shits, brand new issues, and a good mix of both, for the second time around. Speaking of the second time, let me set the overrated firsts aside for this mean time to give way for these various seconds plots, life-wise. 

Second Chance. Eighteen months ago, I made a huge adjustment to keep up with the rising pressure courtesy of then forthcoming chem board exam – quitted my job, abstained from outdoors, focused on things I thought matter. Eventually, this move paid off. Long story short, I earned the card. But I found myself caught in the middle of nowhere thereafter. No plans and all, just a lot of time and reason to question everything. Life after boards was one for the books now, but it sure hit me big time, leaving me jobless for a moment and broke af. The most essential thing I needed during that time aside from money was a chance to get things back on track. But odds weren’t on my favor. I tried to pick things up where I left them. Tried to go back to research through my thesis, looked for another sustainable research stint, but to no avail. Then a lightning of self-realization crashed on me. Research life wasn’t for me to live anymore. What was once a beautiful thing to me was no longer beautiful. The comfort zone was suddenly a place I wanted to run from. The whole idea of doing something new and going somewhere else gave me cheap thrills. And it would be unwise not to acknowledge the truth that I haven't been doing other things because I don't like them but because I haven't been brave enough to try. Thus, the need to walk away. So I did run away, fulfilled the desires of a changed heart, and went with this premature decision fueled by a rather empty desire to get my life in order.  Long story short, I took that career change pill for a second chance, hoping to be at least half of that person I always hoped to be career-wise.

Second Move. Making a career in research is no less than a life-affirming experience. I love it, and no one can discount that. But all of it I traded for a childhood romance with petroleum industry that unknowingly grew and bloomed on me through the years. It has always been my dream, apparently. So when I chanced upon the possibility to make this dream into reality, I held a grip on it tight enough to make everything fall in their rightful places. But the road towards it was never easy. I have been put on a major cliffhanger waiting for a good three months making it the 2017 plot twist that never was. Tracing back to my early roots as an aspiring chemist during my freshman years of fancying over a petroleum refinery somewhere in Bataan for the longest time, being trapped in Batangas, rather, is likewise a blessing in disguise. And this eventual second big move has been insofar the best thing that happened to me in 2018.  The fulfillment of a lifetime fantasy of landing an oil & gas job was all worth it. 

Second Job. There are some flowers we only see when we take detours. So does this thrilling side story about a certain work I do on the sidelines – online chemistry tutorials. For all I know I may not be cut out for such kind of work since I don’t really consider myself a good teacher, but somehow I lucked a little out. While there are downsides that goes along with it being a company far from being perfect just like the rest, this kept me afloat in this current dense economy in Ph. Truly a good buffer to match the logarithmic inflation trend. Plus, less complications since it doesn’t require an open mind. But the bigger takeaway is that extra happiness I have been getting from it lately. I never thought that I would find such joy in doing this work. Unexpectedly, I was able to find this certain pleasure in touching strangers’ lives in the simplest of terms as helping them out in their academic struggles. Truly, teachers are my most favorite people in the world. And it’s just so good to be one once in a while.

Second Time. Fortunately, 2018 was not an all-work-no-play year for me. Towards the tail-end of the year, I managed to insert quick getaways, particularly on two of my most loved destinations up north (Sagada & Pulag) for the second time. Not to discount this trip, the excitement level failed to match the intensity during the first time. But the beauty of this return trip is having that second look with renewed enthusiasm over missed opportunities during the first time. Leaving this here for now with a hopeful promise to tell more stories soon enough.

Second Place. On other news – Once in our lives we may find ourselves on a place we do not want to be: the second spot. Been in such place for a couple of times for the most inconvenient reasons. Those silver medals I earned and treasured in certain courses of my student-life are living proofs of being there (or rather, almost there). But a worse kind of second place is that space we usually end up to when we turn out to be not the better choice. All the more it hurt if we get this kind of treatment from the very people we put first. But worst case, is choosing to stay in that very second spot, asymptotically working to get to that proverbial driver’s seat. It’s tiring and draining and unforgiving altogether. Second place is not always a bad place, so long as we always choose to be kind to ourselves.

Second Shot. Been a former firm believer of the right time at the right place for the right reason, so I don’t really mind giving a second shot, or even a third one. But while it’s true that some things deserve a second shot, a few others should be red-flagged. And that I think is the main point of trying – learning something out of failing, and trying to never do the same mistakes again. Falling once is alright, but falling twice by the same way on the same ground is a crime. But then, how far will we ever go with one eye and half a heart already down, depends on how deep the wound we sustain from the fall. Again, boils down to choosing to be kind to ourselves.

Second Thoughts. Among these and lots of other more that are going on in my life, there are just as much going on in my head. Right then and there for me are anxiety attacks just like Daenerys to Cersei, fairly aware of it but will never be prepared for it, all the time. Anyways, what keeps me thinking most of the time is a question of if I’m not at this point of the road where I currently chase a dream I once forego, then where would I be? While I’m more than satisfied with my current choice of being in hiatus from being a student, I still have doubts if I actually picked the better option. Putting this in perspective, I’ve been in grad school for a good six years now with this mountain of a thing called thesis hindering my graduation. I may not have closed the doors yet but this irreconcilable difference between me and this thing grows even bigger each passing day. This 2019, I am still contemplating of going for the improbable and have that bittersweet taste of the best and worst on both my old and new worlds. Weighing in if it's really plausible to be a student-worker just like the old times, been there done that. But the catch of this scheme I’m plotting is actually being in two places 70 kilometres apart at the same time, this time. To do so, I will need to be that badass two-timer of a lover who will brave the odds to juggle work with acads. I knoe, easier said than done.

Second Try. We could always be happy, but then we could be happier, not with the first – but with second tries. Some certain forces work in mysterious ways and maybe, just maybe, we may not fully understand the logic behind such illogical turnout of things. But if we learn the art of trusting the process, pinning an eye on silver linings, and doing what’s right, with a proper stand and attitude towards making our seconds rise above our firsts, then we're surely bound for the better.




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