Disillusioned, Enlightened (somehow)

This afternoon, a friend forwarded me an e-mail with the subject: Are You A Victim of Diminishing Dreams Syndrome? Curious, I opened it and began to read. (Click here for the blog entry.)

I’m glad I read it because it perfectly relates to where I am now in my life. It also stirred something inside me, something that has long been dormant: Hope. 

I am not at a crossroad. I am stuck.

Just like the author of the blog entry I cited above, I once had a dream. I had a lot of dreams, actually.

When I was in Kindergarten, I said this during graduation: “I want to be a lawyer.” I didn’t know what a lawyer was, but it sounded good so I held on to that dream. Not for long though. Back in grade school, I wanted to be a journalist. Until I realize that the media, just like the politicians, are also corrupt. I thought, This isn’t the life I want. Then I wanted to become a fashion designer or an interior designer, until I realized talent wasn’t enough. When I was in high school, I shifted back and forth from wanting to become a marine biologist to becoming an archaeologist and vice versa (a product of watching too much Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel). Senior year came, and I had to decide fast. Archaeology isn’t offered by a lot of universities, as well as Marine Biology (also…I don’t know how to swim, so my dream was dead even before I started living it).

My mother wanted me to take Chemical Engineering, something I was afraid to take because 1) a lot of Math is involved, and 2) my immune system is too weak to be exposed to chemicals. I only took exams in three universities, I passed all of them but ultimately I had to choose between Chemical Engineering or International Studies. I chose the latter. Most people would say, “What the hell?” (well, a lot actually did) but I sticked to this plan and told myself that someday, I will be a Diplomat. Or an Ambassador.

I knew it won’t be easy, but I still had that tiny glimmer of hope inside me. Then I had my internship in Department of Foreign Affairs. The experience that I had there had me disillusioned. I thought my dream was within my reach, but no. Most people there had to work seven years as a contractual worker before they even get regularized. You have to work long hours, but the pay isn’t high either. Before you become a Foreign Service Officer, you have to take the Foreign Service Exam which is very, very, very difficult. I was able to talk to an officer, and she told me that when she took the exam, there were thousands of examinees and only twenty people passed including her. There was even an instance that only one person passed the exam. So much for aiming high.

I ended up working for an international bank. Quite far from what I studied. Sure, I studied International Economics and European Economics but really, you don’t get to apply those things at work, especially if you’re not in Europe. I told myself, I will stay here until I get enough experience, then I will pursue another career. I gave myself two years.

Three years and eight months later, I’m still here. I have been promoted more than twice, but I feel stuck. I couldn’t leave because the pay is high and the benefits are better than that of its competitors, plus it’s difficult to find a new job given the current state of our economy.

More than once I thought. “Hey, I’m not really happy! I can’t wait for the week to end and the work is getting repetitive.” But then when I asked around, everyone else felt the same way.

So, from thereon, I thought, “That’s life.” And then I just forced myself to chug along, day after day after day after day after day.

The excerpt above explains exactly how I feel right now, seriously. I guess this is how it feels when you have nothing to look forward to anymore. I go on along, day after day, thinking that if I could only wait for another year then it will soon be over. But it’s not healthy, right? Dragging yourself to work everyday asking yourself, When will this ever end?

As Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

The question is: What do I love? The only thing that comes to mind is traveling. It excites me. It gives me the adrenaline rush that I’ve been craving, something that my job cannot. But what traveling cannot give me is stability. So what now?

WHAT DO YOU REALLY WANT? I stare at this question and try to rack my brain for answers. But the answers cannot be found in my brain, but deep in my heart.

What do I love doing? What makes me happy? What would make me feel complete?

I love reading books and traveling. Finding a good book, exploring a new place, and spending time with my loved ones make me happy. But what would make me feel complete? I should think about this.

Perhaps I should loosen up a bit and stop pressuring myself. I should step out of my shell and view this in an entirely different perspective.

Ergo, I will assign myself a project. Everyday I will write:

  • one thing that I am grateful for (rediscover the little pleasures in life)
  • one thing that I want to do before I die (fill my bucket list slowly)

Hopefully this exercise would help me appreciate what I have, and help me refocus my hopes and dreams…one day at a time.

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