Magic, Dreams, and Good Madness

Two years ago, I defied gravity. I made a career decision that whisked me away from my comfort zone. It was the biggest leap of faith I’ve made to date, and one that I am absolutely grateful to God for.

I’ve stubbornly held on to my comfort zone in Dumaguete City for ages, having lived here for most of my life. I thought I was content where I was, that I was where I was meant to be. Nothing happened to me, and I thought I was happy with that.

But it was fear that was holding me back. Change scared me. I didn’t want to disrupt the life I had in Dumaguete City. Each time an opportunity to move up at work came up (promotions meant working away from Dumaguete), I relied on my usual excuses: my folks, who are both in their late 70’s, needed me to take care of them, my father needed me to handle the editorial side of the family newspaper business, I can save more money living and working in Dumaguete, etc. Even the cats that I was feeding at our work building also became an excuse. It turned out I was using these excuses as my crutch, that I was just limping through life because I was afraid to put myself out there.

I even talked myself into thinking that I don’t have it in me to meet the responsibilities of managing our office in Cebu, that I’m not good enough. I allowed all my insecurities to weigh me down and pin me down. I couldn’t see what my boss, our regional director, saw in me. She was forever encouraging me – at one point even forced me – to accept the opportunities to move up to management level. Thank goodness that she, and God, knocked some sense in me.

Two years ago, I took a risk, and it was one that paid off big time. Sure, the money isn’t that much (It’s government. ‘Nuff said.) but all that I learned the past two years was more than what I’ve learned working in Dumaguete for the past 15 years. Those two years were the most trying for me, both professionally and personally. I had a hard time adjusting to the new work environment, new people, new ways, new thinking. I was tried and tested, pounded and stretched to breaking point. The stress ate me up and spit me out. I cried, I couldn’t sleep, I ate a lot. I was a mess for most of the first year.

I remember that night in my parents’ bedroom, my Dad and I were talking in the dark, and I was crying my heart out as I told him how I just want to quit my job and walk away from it all. That time, I wanted him to tell me to go ahead and quit. After patiently listening to my ranting and quiet wailing, he said: “If you want to give up now, fine, I’ll support you. But I raised you not to give up easily, and this is easy.” He told me to give it a year, and if I still felt the same way, then I should quit. 

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Now, after two years,  I’m so thankful that I listened to my father. Dads know best, too. I have grown to love and thrive where I am now. Well, there are still those moments where I rant, want to pull my hair out or mentally skewer some people. Things haven’t changed, it’s how I deal with it that has. I’ve proven to myself that not only can I do it, but I’ve exceeded my own expectations. And that’s the most important thing, isn’t it?

It’s another start of the year today. There’s still so much I want to see, taste, experiment. I want to go on an adventure. I want to dive in unchartered waters. I want to fly and see how high I can go. I want to fall and find out how deep is my rock bottom. I want to face my fears and shoot them down one by one. Fear shackles us and makes us near-sighted. It’s like a side-view mirror, making us believe that our limits appear closer than they actually are.

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I surprised myself in the past two years. Surprised myself with what I can do, how far I can go, how spontaneous I can be, how I can laugh over my own mistakes and foolishness, how brave I can be. For this year and the next, I want to keep on surprising myself. Fingers crossed that I’ll have some of that “magic, dreams, and good madness” that Neil Gaiman is referring to. It’s been ages since I last kissed someone who thought I was wonderful (the last person to do this is now happily married), and I haven’t read any fine books lately. The dream is to go off on an adventure and fall in love with the world.

I can’t wait to live this year.

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I write to live, or live to write. Whichever it is, writing is my life.

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