The choices I make define who I am. And yet conversely, they don’t.
Over the last 4 months of my life, I’ve made choices (both long-thought-out and otherwise), which have made all the difference in my life as it stands today.
Bluntly put, I am self-employed (as co-proprietor and marketing manager of The Black Fleet), employed (I am also my father’s apprentice in the Funeral business) and still struggling to either rid myself of, or muster the courage to fight for my theatrical dreams. Much as I’d like to be sure of that aspect and everything else beside and besides it, I am not. And I can not apologize to others nor myself for my inability to know things for sure and to answer probing questions about my career and future without batting an eyelash, flinching, second-guessing or gulping.
Okay now, this always happens:
“So hija, where do you work now?”
“What are you doing with your life?”
“What are your plans?”
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
(I am officially mortified. I am panicking within, wanting to cover my ears and wanting to get past this conversation right about NOW)
“Ano po… uhhhngsgsngseoinmg8656snfsngskdgblahblahblah”
(I just had an out of body experience and I have no idea what I just said)
No one ever tells you how long, winding and excruciating the road (or rather crossroads) can be post-graduation. You can never be prepared for the alarms that go off in your already swamped head, saturated by thoughts of self-doubt, pity, momentary idealism and positivity only to be crushed by the bite of bitter reality.
No one ever warns you about how alone you can feel in this battle. Because really, you really are alone in it. Whatever choice you make, job you take, mistake you make, the operative word becomes, and is ostensibly YOU.
I have long been in silence and self-imposed isolation from the blogosphere because I fear that these very thoughts which hound me, then end up in the public domain, do nothing for me nor for those that read it. I did not want others to get engulfed by the negativity I sometimes bring to the table. Similarly, I was becoming a little bit concerned that some would get the impression that they knew every little detail about me, and thus, would feel they had the “right” to comment on my daily dealings and relationships. Despite my absence however, I am now back, not necessarily with a vengeance, but rather, with a desire to share and hopefully help people who may be experiencing life in the similar vein or shade.
As I try to make sense of all the words, thoughts and fragments colliding into each other in my now-bubble-of-a-brain, and as a try to find a more coherent way of expressing and explaining myself, allow me to share with you why the prospect of choice scares me and how it has, in many different ways, become either a bane or a blessing.
1. The Choice to Share:
A lot have wondered why I’m such a “big-sharer”. Most seem a little appalled with my ability to share myself and my life with others. I personally, don’t see anything wrong with it. To each his own. Go eat your own (brand of shit). It’s a part of me, which I’ve come to realize as one of my defining characteristics. In the same manner that I accept you for your “flaws” and faux pas, indulge you when you’re awfully mean, rude or just plain annoying, my choice to share is mine and mine alone. I share because it’s how I cope and how I relate with people the best. I share because it’s through expressing myself that I understand myself and others. By the same token, whoever I choose to share things with (be it my zit, mirror, dog, blog or the entire planet) is, again, a choice, I alone, made, make and will make.
2. The Choice of the “Job”
I am on my second week in a “corporate” job, sitting in an office, attending to clients (both dead and alive), writing, rewriting, reading, researching, observing, attending meetings, driving, etc, huddled in a punishingly cold room in clothes I dread wearing. In a company that deals with the most delicate of issues, a factor as tiny as color can make a client go completely berserk and out the door. Thus, white, black, grey, gross baby hues have become my staple colors and the little miss rainbow bright dresser in me has taken a leave.
So how do I feel about the “job”? I was asked earlier if I was happy in it, with it, doing it. Is it so wrong that I have no hard and fast answer to that? Is it also such a crime that I’ve lost my sensibilities when it comes to the word happy? How does one know for sure anyway what that “happiness” in the workplace really entails? I have friends in jobs they’ve had for more than a year, who aren’t happy but choose to do it because it’s a “job”. I also have friends still not knowing what to do and what job to take and yet raring to find one quick because the general notion seems to be “You have find a job!”.
So am I happy in my present situation and job? I don’t know. Yet.
However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last two weeks, it’s that fulfillment or happiness is a “choice”. It’s a disposition. I’m happy knowing I’m helping in my family business, making my Dad happy and proud, knowing I’m part of something much bigger and more important than me and my trivial concerns. I’m happy knowing I have been of service to those in need, that in the darkest pits that come with death, you provide a little bit more light and ease to those left behind.
But am I happy-happy? I don’t know.
I’ve forgotten what that means and what actually makes me feel that way. Have I fallen into a pit of mediocrity and settling? Have I paused in fear of going along with the playing scenario? Have I made the right decision in choosing to work for my family business instead of taking and waiting for opportunities elsewhere? Did I choose this impulsively and for the wrong reasons? Or was/is there a higher power that led me to my current state? Was it fate? Who knows? Who knows anything for sure anyway?
All I know is that a choice was made. A choice, freely chosen and arrived at, by me. Whether or not that choice determines the rest of my life, is right or wrong, makes me happy or otherwise, veers me away or towards my purpose, I’d like to believe it will all come and reveal itself in due time. I’d like to believe mistakes are made not to stunt change but to encourage them.
3. The Choice not to choose (Whether to get on or off the stage)
This choice, as in all other choices anyway, remains hinged on me. No one has ever told me to stop, get off and give up. The choice to stay or to leave it behind remains to be unanswered and yes, I remain in limbo. Too many questions disturb me that I don’t know where to start. A part of me wants to jump off, take that ginormous leap of faith and forget all the reasonable reasons not to pursue theater. And yet the other half tells me that using my head may be the right decision. Do I give it up or do I fight for it? Again, I don’t know. For now, I am not brave enough, sure enough and secure enough with myself to exclaim, “Yes! I’m doing theater. I choose theater!”. At the same time, I also don’t have enough courage to let it go and face the damn consequences. I don’t want to choose Yes because doing so would mean giving my everything to theater and facing financial difficulties and all. It would mean foregoing other opportunities which I may/might regret in the future. It will entail a life of juggling and accepting a life of instability. While I believe in living in the now, I also believe in preparing for what tomorrow may bring. And because I want a minimum of 4 children, forward thinking wouldn’t be so bad, would it? On the other hand, I don’t want to choose No because that would mean ending something I haven’t even started or tried enough yet. I don’t want to choose because I don’t have the answers yet. However I feel like I’m delaying the answers, in the hopes that they will magically fall into my hands. The choice not to choose is a punishing and vicious cycle of leaving everything to nothing, of wanting and yet not finding the means to achieve it.
My choice not to choose is still a choice in itself, a choice that’s kind of wasted.
In any case, let me be comforted temporarily by the thought that started it all, that…
The choices I make define who I am. And yet conversely, they don’t.