July 20-26, 2020. The first half of last week was spent contemplating on and preparing last minute necessities for my impending departure from Manila. I made last minute trips to the mall, saw some friends, and finally got myself to pack the relatively few things I would be taking with me–considering that I would be staying abroad for a year. They all fit in just one suitcase and a duffel bag, actually. I flew out of Manila on July 22 and arrived in Paris the day after, spending a brief layover in Doha, Qatar. I wrote a separate blog entry narrating the experience of the entire transit.
The level of pre-departure anxiety I am feeling at the moment surpasses the anxiety I felt when I was first about to leave for Paris for my first year of graduate studies. Surely, the second time shouldn’t come off as uneasy as the first? But, hell, now it does. Maybe because I now know how lonely and difficult it can get, I now know how cold, literally and figuratively, it could be. Most importantly, I am leaving at a time of great uncertainty for everyone with regard to the situation of the pandemic, especially for loved ones who I will be leaving in the Philippines, compounded with the political situation that many friends and colleagues will be facing. Everyone will staying home to weather the storm, why am I leaving?
I had written a draft of this blog entry as it is, but felt it appropriate to just say, before anything else, that I am acutely aware of the tremendous privilege I have and by no means do I mean anything I say as a “flex” to anyone suffering during this pandemic. It’s been an odd thing to navigate, how to express one’s self at a time when anything some people can say or do can be considered as an insensitive display of privilege. Sometimes I just self-censor myself and not say or post anything at all, because the mere fact that many of us are online to discuss this, after all, is a privilege by itself. Where do we draw the line? Maybe I’ll write another blog entry on that some other time.
Anyway, much of the past two weeks, as with the fifteen weeks prior, was spent staying at home with my family, sometimes running errands for and with them, and arranging for my prospective departure for Paris in a few weeks’ time. I’m taking advantage of the time at home and have not gone out despite the relative freedom of the modified community quarantine, not just because it is the responsible and safe thing to do nowadays, but also because once I depart, it might be a while before I am able to return–not only because under normal circumstances it would be costly to fly back, but the pandemic has put in place so many complications as regards flying in and out of certain jurisdictions. I am just fortunate to have an existing resident student visa that I can return to Europe at this time despite its external borders being closed to citizens from most countries including the Philippines.
A slight problem in setting a weekly schedule of publishing blog entries is that life’s stories and continuing narratives don’t begin and end on Sundays when I usually conclude and wrap up my posts. Many events are bound to happen and overlap multiple weeks. Thus, there is the slight discomfort in writing about something that hasn’t ripened into a complete narrative, just because it is a Sunday.
This week, for example, started off like how most of my usual work weeks do, but near the end of it, I embarked on a trip to Bali, Indonesia with my law school buddies, and as of writing–we are still here and the trip is still on-going. There is, then, a reluctance to include this part of the week in this narrative.
One of the advantages of setting a target of just one blog entry a week is that I am able to allow myself the time to process my thoughts for at least a handful of days before publishing them. A week’s contemplation over certain feelings over daily events makes for better-worded recollections. This is not to say that there is no value in honest spontaneity, but those are better suited for Twitter or Facebook (if those thoughts get published at all). I wouldn’t say that more ruminated expressions are less genuine, but rather they are more circumspect and, well, a little more–polished. Most of all, I also get to avoid any prospective regrets should I want to take back whatever I might have initially wanted to say. Thoughts and feelings undergo processes, and they change over time–in this case, days, at least. I don’t usually harbor my initial reaction to most of life’s circumstances.
As I contemplate the seriousness of my LL.M. (Master of Laws) application, I am beginning to have early anxiety attacks. It is possible, after all, to be anxious and excited at the same time.
There have been lingering thoughts that bogged me down the entire week, mostly involving myself having to reassess my motivations and weighing them against the fear of uprooting myself from the Philippines and the uncertainty that comes with it. Does this endeavor really fit my desire to be of service, to find my place in the world, to be happy and find fulfillment? This really just started as a post-bar exam fantasy that I set into motion a few years ago, with no serious expectation that I’d actually get to do it. And yet, here I am today. I have yet to completely wrap my head around the idea of leaving.
Part of my anxiety is due to the fact that, a few days ago, I received a rejection letter from one of the French law schools I had really looked forward to attending. It is that law school that I often had in mind when I dreamed of being in France. Thus, the rejection disrupted my fantasy. It took me a day or two to get over it. I realized quickly enough that I have been through too many failures that have landed me exactly where I am right now, so I shouldn’t be too impaired by rejections. Experience has taught me that rejections and failures have always brought me to life situations that I wouldn’t anymore imagine not having gone through at this point. So, yes, this bound to lead me somewhere great.