No return, no exchange.


Post nursing school, I knew I have set the ball of destiny rolling. I knew my life would never be the same again.

I told the universe I wanted to get into this career path I have been avoiding since birth (or so it seems), and I did. But it’s always scary when your life’s plans actually start to come true. It’s always nice to dream about what you plan to do with your life; but the moment those dreams start coming true, you know you’ve just hopped on a one-way train to the unknown, and there’s no turning back.

This chosen career path means several things to me. It means I really am committed to staying here for at least the next three or so years of my life. The foundations have been laid. This will be my home base for the next few years. And it was my decision.

It also means that I have defined what I’m going to do for the next decade or so of my life. Unlike my old advertising career which sort of just fell into my lap, this is something I actually chose. I thought about it long and hard. Everyone told me to keep writing, to not “sell out”, but in the end, I followed my gut.

It was no ordinary decision. I’ve just dived into a current, and I don’t know where it’s going to take me.

I can’t help but feel that I’m living real life now. I used to just cruise through life, not caring where it took me. Now I want to know what I’m here for. I want to know what I’m capable of doing, of becoming. Is this what our mid-twenties are all about?

Four years ago, when we were in uni, me and my friends talked only about parties, boys, alcohol, illegal substances, and rock n’ roll. Real life was something that only happened to other people.

Now we talk about three things: career, relationships, and the eternal dilemma of stretching ourselves as far as we can go versus early marriage. I’ve heard it echo from the mouths of so many of my closest female friends: “I want to see the world/ live my youth to the fullest/ see what I’m all about, but I love him and I’m afraid to leave him”. What happened to our reckless teenage years? We used to think we’d never let anything hold us back from conquering the world, and we certainly wouldn’t have let love stand in our way.

That’s another odd thought- I’m actually old enough to get married! I could do it if I wanted to, and my parents would actually take my decision seriously. When you’re young, you can be reckless with love. But at this age, the decisions you make will actually matter in the long run.

When did real life begin?

One thing I’ve learned is that the moment you come close to attaining your dream, another door opens offering you an attractive escape route, a final temptation to remain in the security of your comfort zone forever. What could be more tempting than living the life you’ve always planned, growing old safe and secure in the company of your life-long friends? But this is to test your desire and the strength of your will.

I can almost predict what my life would have turned out to be like had I stayed. I would have continued making a good but unfulfilling living with advertising because the perks are just too good to give up. During my free time, I’d dabble in a bunch of projects, or in whatever I felt like, never mind that none of them will ever really amount to anything. I’d probably never grow up. I’d marry earlier than I planned because it would seem like the sensible thing to do. After all, I had found the love of my life, hadn’t I? (Bahaha) What could be more perfect? Then somewhere along the road, I’ll start asking myself “What if?”. What if I had gone to the States? What if I had bothered to actually see what I can make of myself? But by that time, it will already have been too late to find out.

I probably would have been happy, just because I never bothered to venture outwards and see for myself if there was life outside of what I knew. It would be a happiness by default. Would I have been content? I don’t know. I know I wasn’t right before I left.

Now, here I am in the most uncertain of times. I came here not knowing anything. I’ve gotten by here on guts, and resourcefulness. I’ve started friendships that have yet to pass the test of time. After four years, I still don’t know what’s going to happen to me here, and I get a bit scared when I think of how the next years will change me. I know I will be so different from the person I was when I left. Will there be anything left waiting for me in Manila, the home of my heart?

But demmit, when have I ever felt so alive? I am in the hands of the universe. I laugh, cry, get homesick, feel lost, can’t relate to anything… but when have I ever felt so effin alive?? When else have dreams seemed so possible? When have I ever been so in tune with myself? When have I ever known, with such certainty, what I want to become?

We’re always told that we should live our own lives, but I’ve never actually felt like my life was mine til now. I know it’s mine because I chose for it to be this way. Nobody else decided for me. Nobody forced me to be here.

And I can now declare, that I don’t want my old life back anymore. That was a different phase of my life. I can never bring it back. This is a beginning.


I WANT (Yeah. I always get into the habit of making a mental note of what I want in a day cause I can never seem to verbalize it – at least not out loud)

… an hour-long neck, shoulder, and back massage. A HARD massage.
… to lie on the beach for an afternoon with absolutely no agenda other than to relax.

… to go on a long train ride or sit in a park all afternoon just people watching.

… to wander the city with nothing but my camera.

…to catch a really, really good live band in some non-dressy, artsy place, far away from the suburbs, where the vibe is good, the crowd is real, and the beer is cheap. I NEED live music. I need to hear live drums. I need to hear bass. I need to hear singing.

… to eat at a vegetarian resto or at least, some really good Greek pizza.

… a cozy evening of good company and alcohol.

… to watch Burlesque in the cinemas. And Harry Potter. And Black Swan.

… to buy a shitload of new books. I have nothing to read.

… to get out of the effin suburbs!!


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