Instead of burning some calories in Koret today, I opted to sit down near the fireplace at school today to fix everything I have virtually–and that includes this blog. That way, everything will finally be in its proper place. I’m downing a tall cup of Chai Latte and cookies from the baon Wawa gave and although I’m going to pay for this on the elliptical tomorrow, I feel like sitting down to regroup and process everything that’s happened so far is a much-needed thing for me to accomplish at the moment.
I came to San Francisco with hopes of finding what it is that I’ve been missing from 2011. I began the year rough, went through a crazy mid-way mark, but finished off with an abundant blessing of loved ones, support, and a new-found inspiration to get me going farther. The first two months of living here and attending university was a tough thing, really. I was unsure of myself and I doubted my capacity to adapt. I was never the shy-type and I didn’t sacrifice my “recitation” during classes but every time I spoke, I felt like a part of my usual Ateneo-setting attitude lacked its presence. There was a ‘holding back’ and I didn’t know what to do about it.
However, as time is the cure for everything (and I mean everything, as you will notice as you read on), I have slowly emerged from being a fat caterpillar to creating my cocoon. The metaphor is lame, I know, but I like the thought of coming back to Manila as a butterfly. I may be a 155 pound butterfly, but I am one nonetheless. With this cocoon being my comfort zone, I believe that I have found myself here in the city. I’ve learned so much about myself and what I can do and acquired this sense of indestructibility that tells me that nothing can ever hurt me anymore. It’s amazing what this feeling does to me and I would have never thought I’d come this far.
Living here also taught me my limitations. It’s a humbling experience to be taken out of your normal routine and grapple your way through each day without knowing what lies ahead. It’s liberating to establish a new life–even if I’m going to be living it for just half a year–to explore new places, to create new relationships and to discover things that I once didn’t believe in. I harnessed the power of self and for once in a very long time, I have felt the peace that I’ve been looking for.
I left Manila with a smile on my face, but I’m coming back with eyes that feel the same. It’s one thing to get by with laughter and another thing to feel this kind of joy transcend through your entirety. There will be rough days, sure–but I have learned that, indeed, this too shall pass. I have talked to a few friends over Facebook and thanked them for telling me to keep going on because had I given up, I would have never reached my destination. I’ve wanted to thank my parents, too, because they have always assured me that in the end, everything will be okay. It’s even better than I expected.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’ve finally let my inhibitions and doubts go. This experience has given me a more positive outlook on life and has built my faith to be stronger than I thought it could be. These days, when I’m not attending class, I make sure that I devote time to exploring San Francisco, taking photos, going out on trips around the Bay Area and strengthening the new friendships that I have made here in USF. My favorite new relationship, though, is with myself–and I’m positive that it will turn out to be greater as the weeks come and go.
The best days, though, are the ones filled with the little things I usually take for granted. For example, conversations during lunch or dinners out made me realize how universal things like love, family and religion are, study dates outside Gleeson and on the field taught me that education is a shared desire across the globe, and well, sunny afternoons will always call out for shades, shorts, and our trusty cameras to do the clicking. One of the best free cuts I’ve had in a while was taking the bus down to Alamo Square and just laying on the grass with a beautiful view of the city. When you have extraordinary days like that close enough to reach, it’s almost impossible to bring you down.
Perhaps major lesson #1 that fate wanted to teach me is that la vie est belle— “Life is beautiful.”
*All photos were taken last Thursday, February 23 at Alamo Square, San Francisco, CA || Some photos from Francesca Coppola and Gracie Mendoza