Pride and Honesty

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”– C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”

 

One of the best perks I’ve always had available for me as a teacher is having the abundance of meeting people from all walks of life.

Tonight I was able to have this honest conversation with an adult student who’ve had a very enlightening experience from someone who told her the awful truth about herself, which resonated with my own shortcomings as well. This student is very much like me in terms of our views about life, and apparently with our susceptibility to being too proud of ourselves.

She said that in the past, there was a man who told her that she was very prideful. That man told her that she wasn’t giving her 100% effort because of her pride. Most of her actions were half-assed, only 80% because she was very proud of herself as she couldn’t, or wouldn’t accept some terms of the jobs that she wanted because she didn’t want to lower her pride. She didn’t have to tell me the details of this, but I did understand where she was coming from. If you are too proud of yourself, no job is ever good enough for you until you get frustrated of the fruitless search and just settle where you feel the most secured.

When I told her that I didn’t like crying in public, and I wouldn’t at any terms would cry in front of someone, she said that it’s a sign of pride. When I thought about it, why don’t I want to cry in front of anybody, even my own mother? Is crying a sign of weakness? I don’t believe so. On the contrary, I think crying is a very liberating experience, a release of pent-up emotions we have. Even when watching a tear-jerker, I’d suppress my sobs and my tears if I’m watching the movie with someone. Ironically, I love watching emotional movies because I love crying at emotionally moving scenes. Crying is painful, but the experience is nonetheless relaxing afterward.

Moreover, I shared that I didn’t like asking for help. Even when the going is getting very though indeed, I’d rather battle the problem myself than bother others with my problem. In my defense, I’m like this because I don’t want to trouble others. On the other hand, I might have been unconsciously avoiding help because I want to prove to myself that I am smart, I am strong, and I can stand up on my own. Unconsciously, I might have been prejudiced of others concern and judgment on my personal matters.

Despite my care-free demeanor, I’m a private person.  It’s only in writing (and unknown internet corners) that I can be honest with myself. Perhaps I don’t want others tampering with my judgment and let their decisions lead my life. Probably in the recess of my mind, my biased, narrow view of the world is supreme and absolute.

Heck, realizing this, I’m actually on an express ride to ruining my life.

Furthermore, the pride that I have of myself is so great that I didn’t even want to acknowledge that I am prideful. Honestly, it kinda makes my stomach churn when I think how true these things about myself are.

Time and time again, I would admit to myself that I have insecurities, I am scared of many things. Even when I tell myself that I don’t give a fuck that people think I’m weird, impulsive, and aggressive, I know deep down in my heart that I don’t give a fuck about my image, but at the same time, I’m scared of people disapproving me. Isn’t that the reason why I can poke-fun at myself at the expense of others finding me funny and fun to be around? When I am jealous and I feel that I’m not  fine, is it pride or strength that can make me say, “I’m fine” in the end?

In conclusion, I have to give a fuck about my image although I don’t want to because I love being who I am and I don’t want to change for others. I don’t think I’m hurting others with my pride, but I definitely am hurting myself for trying so hard to stand strong with this mask.

By the end of the class, the tables have turned and my student became my teacher instead; my life teacher. She gave me a piece of advice. As someone whom I feel has genuinely been in the same kind of dilemma as me, I definitely believe her.

She gave me a mission: cry in public. It’s a simple act, a very natural one at that, but as I’ve said, it’s something next to impossible for me. What will I lose anyway? I’d probably gain something even, as my student encouraged. No matter what the outcome will be, it will be a new experience.

To be very honest, I don’t know where to start mending myself. I know I don’t have to lose all this pride, but I’d have to learn to rely more on people, be more open to them, and risk more. I know that risk is a very important element of change which I am trying to make the theme of this year, so what’s holding me back? I’m confident that my friends love me, so why can’t I be more honest to them like they are to me? If I let these people who I trust rely on me, by not depending more on them, am I not insulting their capabilities?

What a revelation this night has been.  It’s not an easy one to swallow, but I appreciate every corner of it. 🙂

 

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A Not-so- Creative Rant

Forgive me, but let me drawl out a drama building inside me for a veeeeery long time. Mind you, this is not even the first time, so that means this topic is getting me very depressed probably.

Alright. Breathe…

So it’s been five months since I started with my new work as a teacher. My classes in reading are better, but my work as a writing (creative writing) teacher is not actually going anywhere. To be fair, there was a time when I thought I was going somewhere, but then these days I feel like I’ve hit the insecurity wall again and I’m stuck trying to get out. Suddenly, I can’t find my way to organize my class, and I’m frustrated as ever with the word “creative” in my writing class. I am pressured that my students have to write awesome stories at the end of day. In addition, what a hard act to follow the previous teacher of this subject was!

Despite nobody outright comparing me to his skills, I can’t help but put a pressure on myself. I majored in literature and I like writing, so I should know how to teach writing. That’s not true of course, but as I said, I can’t help but make this as a standard for myself. Especially since I’m teaching the subject, I have to believe that I can do it or else I should just quit this altogether.

To be fair to mysef, I do believe I can do it. The problem is I get so disheartened, distracted, and lazy so easily that I can’t improve well. The progress is stagard, and like my other students, I tend to regress.

Sad stories of adults, I tell you.

Moreover, creativity, I feel, is something I’ve always lacked. I’d only feel creative after being able to write something without being inspired by other writers; when the flow of words came from a bathroom break, a one-liner that popped in my head, an image, or something given by nature and I’m able to pen it down, that is when I feel creative.

In the most unfortunate circumstances, I am experiencing a block, no, I’m stuck behind a wall and whining in front of that wall about why I can’t get myself to write again while I have a job of teaching writing.

(Something tells me I’m part of a tragedy and the chorus is singing these very words I’m forging. Oh the irony of this piece!)

I used to love writing. It was my salvation when I couldn’t get myself to express my anger in words to the world. Writing was my self-imposed therapy which fortunately evolved into loving the craft itself, so I was able to produce proper written works like my own scripts, short-stories, poem, essays, etc. Heck, I even joined the newspaper clubs of my primary and secondary schools. Although I’ve always felt that I lacked something in terms of talent, but I’ve been a devoted writer.

Well, I have been a devoted writer. How tragic the feeling of writing that in the past tense.

With this predicament, how do I survive my classes so far? I prepare activities and that’s it. The goal is to get a class over and done with without shaming myself of my doubts and confusion. In retrospect, I have a feeling that the reason some of my classes are unsuccessful is because the students can also sense my unsureness. I mean, I have very good classes, the ones which are well-prepared. On the other hand, I have classes which I’d want the ground to open up and swallow me whole because of the stress of my students trying to bully me and outright testing my mastery of the subject. I sort of remember kids being able to sense fear from adults well.

In conclusion, I think I have to go back to writing if I want to succeed in teaching writing. Of course this isn’t only for my classes’ sake, but I personally want to go back to writing again. I miss the feeling of the words and inspiration polluting my brain.

When do I want this to happen? Write now! (cue in drums!)

Manga Recommendation: ORANGE

 

Orange by Takano Ichigo

 

On the day of the school’s opening, 16 year-old Takamiya Naho receives a letter from an unknown sender. It is later reveled in the contents that she will be meeting a new classmate to which the continuation and purpose of the letter would be all about. The letters are from her 27-year-old self who instructs her of things she should miss and not miss, including feelings she would have to express in order to avoid regrets. Ultimately, the letters are there to avoid a tragedy in her future-self’s present.

 

When my friend recommended the manga to me and my friends, it already seemed interesting. Upon reading this manga, I found that the theme of regret resonating so well with my recent experiences that I couldn’t help but be a bit depressed after reading it.

Regret is that painful feeling hand-in-hand with a certain memory of what-ifs. These memories that we should have seen and experience if only we had paid more attention to a certain person or event. These are memories we would never posses because we missed the chance to choose it.

Probably the most painful parts of this manga is Takamiya finding out the purpose of the letters and what she doesn’t have anymore in the future. The choices she have made in the past, despite not necessary wrong, led to a future lacking of something precious from her past. Even though Takamiya’s life in the future is happy with a loving husband and child, she is filled with sadness for the things she regretted not doing in the past.

I recommend this manga so much because I’ve been in a tragic situation with a lot of regrets connected to it myself. If only I can send a letter to myself in a parallel world, I’d tell her to give more attention to the people she loves because the reality of her present has a very sad aspect. I think we all can relate to the characters of this manga.

As of now, there’s only 10 chapters translated to English, but I feel this manga would always be worth the wait. 🙂

The Sempai

So this is how it is like to have a sempai or a “senior”.

It’s great that there’s somebody older than you and a senior in a specific field always willing to guide you and to show you the ropes, but then you’re always indebted to them even if you personally do not favor their personality. What more if you don’t only have a sempai, but a sensei which translates to “teacher” from Japanese.

In the Philippines, kuya and ate are words we use to address older men and women than us, respectively. In its cultural context, despite the polite term, our association with these people is not exactly as stiff, distant, or formal as the word should mean. Simply, they are nicknames for people who are older than us, but establishing friendly, even intimate relationships with them is not a problem, which is a stark contrast in Japanese culture.

In Japan, anybody who is a level higher to you–whether in school, work, or any group activity–you address them as sempai, or “senior”. Age is not the case in the usage of the term. A younger member of a soccer club could be a sempai to an older member if that younger member has been in the club longer. This also implies that the younger member has a better knowledge of the skill to the older member. That older member would have to speak formally and rely a lot on the younger member’s guidance with club activities and enhancing his/her skills in soccer. On the other hand in the Philippines, we don’t have such strict notion of “seniority”. We learn each others age, get acquainted, forget about the age difference and just work together well as co-members and friends to make things well in the club. However, in Japanese culture, having a sempai also means having a lifetime of gratitude to another person, unless you’ve crossed that road of formality and established comfortable friendship.

As I become more exposed to Japanese culture through reading and media, the more I realize that this sempai-kouhai (junior) relationship is actually quite complicated. I find it painful that some Japanese people could still not be comfortable with each other just because of the sempai-kouhai relationship. Kouhais have to be careful with their language, or even the way they joke around a sempai because it could be that they’re not in a friendship level yet. Nonetheless, I think the benefit of kouhais to sempais is that the latter, acting as the responsible older brother and sister, instantly has a feeling of responsibility to aid their junior whenever they are in need of anything. The gratitude builds up and the kouhai is indebted for life. Not that this is an imposed, strict rule, but it’s implied and understood in a long history of people interrelationship within the culture.

Now, this is the story.

Last year, I studied basic Japanese. Finally, since it is my dream to be fluent in Japanese. So I became an ideal student. I would study during the week that I don’t have class and give it my all during my Saturday classes. Learning Nihonggo was difficult, but I enjoyed it a great deal. I was also very thankful that my sensei or teacher was very understanding and encouraging (although there were times I felt that her praises were bordering on flattery already). We went out for private lunches and meriendas which I enjoyed, although speaking in Japanese only was very challenging. Nonetheless, I was able to practice a lot because I was able to apply what I learned through those private hang outs. I guess what I only found uncomfortable with sensei is that she’s quite the conservative type. I was surprised that she likes to gossip about her students and her boss. There was even a time when a student got offended because her negative reaction to a May-December relationship. She doesn’t like violence, she doesn’t like noisy people, and she gossips and sort of back-bites others. I’m not sure if she’s doing the same about me (hopefully not), but even if I find this side of her disappointing, as my sempai and sensei in learning Nihonggo, I just can’t turn her away.

Do you get the connection now? This is what I mean by being forever indebted with another person. I’m kind because I’m grateful, but not necessarily happy.

Oh my.

What’s going on?

Though I’ve admitted that I don’t have feelings for my crush anymore, it bothers me that we don’t talk anymore. A simple hallway greeting would suffice, but I don’t get any of that anymore.

After our lunch schedule changed, she promised to say “I miss you” everyday, which to my surprise, she did! For a whole week I’d hear it. I guess the problem was me not ever being able to give back the affection in words. You have to understand that while her I miss you can be simple, friendly exchange of words, mine holds a deeper meaning because I liked her. My I miss you would not only contain how I miss our friendly banters over lunch, but everything I liked about her I have missed. So it wasn’t easy to say. When I finally decided to properly tell back that I do miss her, she started–somewhat–avoiding me or ignoring me.

Several times for the past three days, I greeted her many times, but she never returned the greeting. I could understand that she was busy, but what’s a second to greet back and get back to work? We even met eyes several times, but I didn’t know what to do anymore. I wanted to ask (in a non-serious way) if she was angry or why she’s been so lukewarm the past days. I kinda feel bothered again, so my reflex is to avoid. I tend to avoid people whom I feel don’t want me around in the first place.

I guess I feel bad since I thought we were beginning to be friends, but apparently, that’s not gonna happen soon.

Peaceful co-existence as non-communicating co-teachers then.  How very sad. 😦

 

Facing the enemy

I feel that the longer I’m staying in my current work, the more enemies I’m making.

Of course, I don’t just pound on them and give them a good beating (although I feel that they deserve a slap or two sometimes), but my dragon-side comes out whenever these enemies are around.

I’ve never had enemies before and mainly because my life is not that adventurous to have one. So what irks me more is that these enemies are not even facing me properly. The bitches are probably having a meeting out of my snobbishness to their demands (unfair and illogical ones, mind you) and plotting how to make my work more miserable. Of course I know that they have power over me, and despite my dominant character I have to submit to them, but I don’t want to follow orders blindly.

I’m aware that I can be arrogant because I can make people feel stupid if they try to argue with me without evidence. Likewise, I wouldn’t engage myself in a debate or argument with just my feelings on the battlefield. It’s like labeling myself tactless and stupid. Although, in retrospect, I might have acted arrogant on the wrong people. I might have hit a wall too thick and high for myself to break or even cause damage, leaving me injured instead.

I guess what I learned out of my recent problems in school, in terms of dealing with bosses and parents of my students is that, they are beyond me (comprehending their illogical reasons is futile), so I should talk less, listen more, smile more, and lie more if I want to stay out of trouble. Being straight-forward with my evaluations has not earned me any merit anyway.

I just hope I can find the hole out of the latest rut I’ve managed to fall myself in. I’m dragging my dear co-teachers into my trouble and my guilt is shooting up the roof.


 

An enemy called anger is very difficult to dispel.

As much of a logical human being I want to be, when anger strikes, there goes my logic out the window. My mouth becomes a gun of foul complaints, probably bad and unfair judgment, and I harbor homicidal thoughts. I suddenly realize I am capable of real evil once angered to the hilt.

Getting angry is like drinking a very bad coffee which leaves a bitter aftertaste no matter how much spitting or tongue-brushing or gargling you make. The bitter taste remains until you forget about drinking the bad coffee and why you had to drink it in the first place.

Right now I’m not angry anymore, but I am terribly frustrated, swaying with depression, and craving for laughs. So I’ll cover myself with comfort manga and anime before going to sleep.


Finally, the greatest enemy I have to face is myself.

Woohoo, what cliche. Tse.

I think the biggest problem lies in myself.

I’ve been very lax these past two months since I’ve been enjoying the company of my new-found friends. However, while they are soaring with their work, I feel left behind. I’m suddenly losing confidence with myself since I’m not sure if I have completely understood our reading program, and I’m continuously struggling to build a good-enough program for my creative writing class so I can leave this school half sane at least. With subjects to learn and teach within five months, I feel that I have a lot to learn. Especially for someone who doesn’t have any background in early education, I should be working double, instead of mulling with this idea as a point of insecurity.

Yet here I am slacking off, having dinner here and there, watching anime and having manga-marathons until 5 in the morning. When will I ever stop procrastinating? When will I ever devote myself to this work?

I love teaching, but me and my laziness is my biggest enemy. I feel that while I have confidence that I can excel in my work if I want to, I don’t know how to stop my chronic laziness and half-assedness.

When this year began, I told myself that the changes that would happen in my life would be good for me; they would be strong and painful at times, but they would be good for me. I feel that I have adjusted well to the new changes, and I feel that more are coming, but I don’t want to be complacent with the idea of change. I don’t want to be too familiar with it, because being too familiar with something makes me forget why I decided to fix some aspects of my life in the first place.

I need to get back on  whatever goal I set for myself before.

 

I have to face the enemies.

Dream: Missed Flight

So I had this dream last week which goes like this:

Someone gave me a plane ticker to Japan for free. Things had been a bit busy so on the day itself, I was fumbling to remember which airport I had to go to. I actually ended up in a domestic airport and failed to remember the fact that the destination is Japan. After wasting time in that airport, I had to find my way to the right airport, but I couldn’t even find the right way to it. I even texted the person who gave me the ticket and my best friend to help me, but time was an enemy and I was running out of time. When I finally got my solution, I realized that I forgot my passport at home and that I actually don’t have a visa to be able to fly outside the country. In the end I just gave up and let the ticket go to waste. Everybody was disappointed at me.

I woke up.

Upon searching for the meaning of the dream from Dream Moods, my trusty dream meaning online dictionary, it gave me this answer:

To dream that you miss your flight or a connection or that it was cancelled indicates that you are feeling helpless and trapped by some situation. You feel that you are being held back, either physically or mentally. Alternatively, the dream may also suggest that you are feeling disconnected in some aspect of your life – work, relationship or home life.

I was shocked by this meaning since at work, I felt trapped by some sudden changes which I felt very frustrated about. I personally felt that change was done to inflict some sort of pain to me by my bosses to make me realize again whose power I have to submit to. I felt helpless that despite my reasons, I can’t make them change their minds about it.

I was so amused by this meaning that I shared this to my co-teachers. We all just laughed about it of course, since we’re all together in the predicament.

Now what I left out from the dream was who gave me the ticket; it was my crush.

Of course I’ve been gushing previously about my warped feelings regarding losing the feeling of liking her and wanting it back. Recently I realized that I’m not totally over her, and that she still has power over me. Sometimes I think that I just miss the feeling of liking someone because life was more thrilling with that situation.

In retrospect, this dream is also telling me that I’m trapped in this limbo of being in like with her. I guess I’ll always like her as long as we’re working in the same place. I’m always going to see her anyway, and there will always be times that we’ll talk, we’ll laugh together, and even be too close for my comfort. Some words will be said and I’ll find myself seeking her again even if I don’t want to anymore.

I guess dreams really speak for our subconscious, honest selves, doesn’t it? Crazy!

 

“Making Sense of Suicide with Sylvia Plath” (quotes)

I wasn’t certain what I was going to do, as I had no skills and nothing to offer but an expensive college degree. I know Smith got you places, New York and Cambridge and all that. But it’s come to mean less, college. They start companies at nineteen and become billionaires and buy bowling alleys. I don’t want to generalize, but unless you come in the form of a Sylvia Plath app, these tech kids probably don’t care much about you.


But getting older is actually not so awful. One of the good things, for instance, is the growing ability to make sense of the past. What I see now at forty is just how easy it was, with no purpose other than feeling good and making money, to become unequivocally lost.


Henry looked at me, and I got it. He wanted his wife to be more than just a stripper. He wanted her to be a story. He knew what I didn’t yet, which is aside from birth and death, stories are everything.


I wasn’t interested in dancing, though,” she said.
“Just being looked at?”
“Adored,” she said.


My father would tell me about how some people survive hardship, while others, inevitably, don’t. How in those situations, no matter how much I like thos people, it is important to create distance. How a drowning man will pull you down with him, even if he doesn’t want to.


I want Henry to have a had a good ending; I know he didn’t have a good ending; I’m back at the beginning wondering how he ended. There’s the guilt, of course, because maybe I could have done something. But also, my chemical makeup can’t believe that the blissful oblivion could be better than laughing in the bathroom with me.


I’ve figured out after all these years, is that I don’t live quite as largely as the two of you did. I don’t feel as much, and that makes life survivable. When I’m wandering around in the night, I don’t go all the way to the edge. I can make it all blank and just wish for things.


So here’s what I wish for you, poet genius. Here’s what I wish for Henry, the friend I didn’t save. I wish that you were correct about the whirling blackness. That the oblivion was, in fact blissful. And that, in the dark space, your dried up heart–withered from overuse–finally found the blood you were looking for. So that as the air seeped out of your lungs, the rest of your body was able, finally, to bloom, to burst, to blaze.

 

Katie Crouch, “Making Sense of Suicide with Sylvia Plath” (essay)

Choices

You have to continuously make choices throughout your life. Whether it is made consciously or unconsciously, by making a choice means that you must have also given up on something. If you do not hold any regret in your choice, that means you must have made the right decision.

Robico, Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun /となりの怪物くん/ My Little Monster (Japanese comics / manga)

Blushing

Who would have thought blushing could be this intense?

For the first time in a very very very long while (last time this happened I was in 6th grade of elementary school) I blushed because of someone I like. I don’t know I didn’t notice that before, but the heat traveled from my neck, to my entire face, and up to my scalp.

WHAT A FUCKING EXPERIENCE!

AND SHIT SHIT SHIT THE BLUSH WAS SO TELLING!

 

tonari-no-kaibutsu-kun-3538107

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