Life, happiness

a repost from daily inquirer
Self fulfillment is always something hard to achieve. Follow your heart the set the chase for your dreams

Youngblood
Life, happiness
By Glaiza Lyn A. Tan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:14:00 07/25/2009

Filed Under: Employment, Education
“What is the meaning of life? To be happy and useful.” —The Dalai Lama

I HAVE dreamed of going places, of becoming rich. I want my own house, car and business.

When I was still studying, I never got to ride a plane. Never ate in a fancy restaurant. Never pampered myself. So one can just imagine how eager I was to work after college for that hard, cold cash. I wanted to do everything I was never able to do: travel, dine, shop, hair treatment, facials.

True enough, I was able to experience those things when I landed a job. At one point, I believed money could buy happiness. I was really very happy with all the things I could afford, especially when I saw the faces of the members of my family whenever I brought home some pizza.

Three months after I started working, however, the pleasure started to wane. Either the work had changed or I did. But my work remained the same, so I guess it was I who changed.

Like most other jobs, mine was not perfect, but it was not bad either. In fact, my place of work was a haven of opportunities and challenges for a career like mine. I thought I was just experiencing a quarter-life crisis, but I wasn’t. As I later discovered, I was clinically depressed.

Every day for a year, I would wake up at 5 a.m. to be early for work. I would eat breakfast and take a bath. After that I should have been on my way for the long MRT ride. Instead I would curl up in bed, and cover my head with a pillow. And at that moment, my tear glands would erupt. This would go on for a while, until I could gather the strength to get up. Only then would I leave the house without saying goodbye to my mom.

Walking to the jeepney terminal, I would recite some small wishes: that someone would snatch my bag, or that a car would hit me (without serious injury, of course), or that I would have dengue, or that I would fall and sprain my ankle. I wanted to have any valid excuse for not reporting for work.

I wished everything would stop. I wanted to get out of the life I had, right there and then. I wished the MRT ride from Taft Avenue to Quezon Avenue would take more than an hour. And then I would walk very slowly to my destination to kill time.

Once there, I had to take a deep breath before I could make every step. My body felt so heavy that I had to drag my feet. I would go straight to the restroom, sit on the toilet bowl, and stay there for several minutes so I could be by myself and not have to speak to anyone.

Back at home, I would cry myself to sleep. I cried because I had to live tomorrow as I did today. I cried because I had to live today as I did yesterday. I cried because I won’t be happy and couldn’t be. I cried because I wanted to end my life.

Everything, every minute, every second, every breath seemed useless and worthless. I lost my purpose for living. I was not after the money anymore. I was not longing for the work experience or the thrill of discovery. Family and friends understood me only superficially. What else was there to work for? To yearn for? To live for?

I felt useless and worthless. I could not take what I was doing. I was not suited for my job and I could not make myself suited for it despite all my efforts. If happiness is appreciating what you have, I had lost that ability.

The place may be a haven, but it was not for me. I was angry with the world because it was not what I expected it to be.

But I hated myself more for allowing this to happen. I knew that I was blessed. I wore decent clothes, and I had a supportive family. Still selfishly, I was willing to give up all I had, while many people out there would have been willing to give up everything for what I had.

Who would think that I would experience such a great depression? I graduated summa cum laude from the University of the Philippines, and I believed I could understand everything, do anything and overcome any challenge. But I wasn’t feeling invincible anymore.

What kept me going was the hope of getting out. The hope of retrieving the capacity to appreciate life, to be happy despite the lack of hard, cold cash. Just like in the good old times.

I thought I wanted the money and the fame. I thought that like most people, I could overlook my craving for fulfillment while enjoying the benefits of a great career.

But I am not like most people. I now realize that what I really want is a simple, comfortable life, a happy family, healthy kids, a loving husband, a successful marriage, a master’s degree, a doctorate, a medical degree. These are all I hope for now.

I continue to battle my depression. I continue to be haunted by my experience, and its memory brings me to tears. But I know that there’s no other way to deal with it but to face it and resist it. And sharing this might help those who are having the same experience.

To them I say: Have faith. Be happy. Read all the quotes you can Google that will give you strength. Never say die. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t forget to eat a bowl of noodle soup.

In the end, I chose to be unemployed and to study for a master’s degree. Certainly my decision was untimely, considering the country’s economic situation. And where I came from, studying in an institution that still has to build a reputation is frowned upon. But I believe you must do what you love to do.

Years from now and with more responsibilities, I may come to believe otherwise. I may regret my choices. Heck, I may even regret writing this. But right now, following my heart suffices. In my current state, I am learning more, making new friends, and meeting different people. I’m doing what I like with so much fulfillment. And I am rebuilding my life.

I still dream of going places. Someday, I will be where I want to be. It may take a long time, but I know it is worth all the risks. As Charles Schulz once put it: “My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?”

(Glaiza Lyn A. Tan, 22, is taking her master’s in Molecular Medicine at the St. Luke’s College of Medicine-William H. Quasha Memorial.)

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