Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Truth in 2015

I made a promise to myself that 2015 would be my year.

Before that, I had been floating, just floating for so long. Floating as if all feeling and drive had been sucked out from me, as if they had never even existed.

I was unfocused. I drowned myself in the mundane (social media, Netflix and the like). 

I was resigned. I had checked out from doing anything that really made my heart open and explode with joy, because what was the point?

But scariest of all, I had no idea why I felt this way. 

I was in my junior year of college, had recently transferred to University of California, San Diego, had a loyal boyfriend of 2 years, new friends and was being challenged in an assortment of amazingly interesting classes. But it all felt pointless. Which made no sense because this was the perfect path to be on, one I had planned at length before taking to it. I had gotten into an awesome school, and now just needed to ace the last 2 years of university, kill the LSAT and apply for law school.

I only knew something was wrong when I got to the first quarter of my senior year. Sure, there were moments where tears would just start flowing, but I’ve always been a very sentimental person so I tacked it up to that. I was taking a Philosophy class that I needed to graduate and it was midterm time. It was the morning the paper was due and I was cramming the thing as best as I could. I was typing away on my laptop when a thought struck me, and wouldn’t leave. Then the thought turned into many.

What if I just didn’t do it? What if I didn’t turn in this paper? What if I just failed this class? What if I didn’t finish this course? What if I didn’t graduate? So what?

I toyed with the idea for longer than I ever should have but I turned in the paper, of course. I was much too chicken shit to not. After I handed the printed copy to my professor, I thought back to my earlier inner tirade and all I could say was — what the hell was that?

But the floating simply continued. There were some but no constant life-ruining reflections like the previous one, and then all of sudden, I graduated.

I decided to take a year off after graduation to 1.) spend 4 months studying for the LSAT, 2) take the LSAT in December, and 3.) spend the rest of the time with my family in the Philippines while I applied for law school.

I flew in to Manila in December and once all the crazy holiday high settled down, I began to settle into the next few months. I began working on several projects but by February, I dedicated myself to planning my mom’s wedding. This obviously required me to spend tons of time with my mom, time that we hadn’t been able to have ever since I had moved to the States, but this wasn’t the happy time you’d expect of finally reuniting with your best friend.

She didn’t like what she saw in me, and she had to make that abundantly clear to me on several occasions.

She was proud of me for everything I had done the last few years, of course, but I’ll never forget the words she told me after one massive fight.  

“You are not you, Cara. You are so angry, and I have no idea why.”

Once again, I had no idea why either. No idea except this tiny, niggling idea that had probably been there for longer than I wanted to admit, which is why it just felt part of me already.

What if I just didn’t do it? What if I didn’t go to law school? What if I started over? What if I took my life in a new turn? What if I didn’t do the plan I had laid out for myself years ago? So what?

Was it this idea that I just couldn’t seem to let go of that was making me angry? 

I began to explore the idea. I pictured my life without law school and being a lawyer. I saw the renewed struggle in starting over, and it didn’t seem so bad. Exciting even. I saw myself working or taking a master’s in something like International Studies, since I loved those courses in school. The ideas made me happy. But I also saw the disappointment in my family, and it killed me.

All I had ever wanted was to make them proud, and not going to law school, after all my plans and chats about it, was something I was scared would not tolerated.

As I spiraled further into these thoughts, the angrier and more depressed I became, because I knew. I can’t say I was confused because I knew the way out. 

I tried to escape for awhile, so in early April of this year, I ran off to Europe. I had always planned a post-grad Eurotrip anyway, even asked my family that any graduation present given to me just be a donation to my travel fund. So I did, and it is now one of the best experiences I have ever had. It was scary, because I had booked and planned everything in just a week, to leave in 3, and to stay for 2 months.

But being with myself, away from the Manila bubble and from my family, with nothing to lose and no one to pretend for, I was just me. It gave me the time and opportunity to really just be truthful to who I was, to the thoughts that were running through my head and to listen to the fears I had. After all, in a brand-spanking new place, what wasn’t there to be scared of? I had to face fears, with only the tools that I had and myself to reckon with. And in every instance, it paid off.

Whether I realized it or not, I was showing myself that I could conquer my fears. First, the trivial ones like going to a restaurant alone or getting lost on the Tube, and then I could tackle the bigger ones. I was showing myself that I could function in a new world, a world where I was just brazenly and truthfully me, and that I would be just fine.

That’s when I realized what traveling was all about, and why it is so vital (although that would take another entire post to really explain).

It still took awhile to really gather the courage to tell my family that I didn’t want to become a lawyer anymore. I also thought it would be better if I waited to tell them in person.

The response hasn’t been completely positive, some pretty painful in fact, but I am thankful to say that most of my family have taken the news and settled on one thing — “So what? Just decide on something and you’re going to be amazing at whatever you do anyway.” 

So that’s exactly what I am going to do.

I am getting off this toxic path, getting out of these bad habits of hiding and lying to myself and others. I am making plans and making decisions, decisions that are honest and completely my own.

Because if there is one thing I have learned in this most twisted but most rewarding of trails, it is that there is nothing more important nor more powerful than to live authentically. Just be your authentic self, and the path will become clear. 

So now, life and all its possibilities are open to me again. I have never felt more free and most definitely happier than I have been in years. I am not where I want to be yet, of course, but the beauty of ridding yourself of the clouds in your mind and the burdens on your back is that you are free to focus on the underlying feelings, the things that have been simmering underneath the surface for long. In my case, it was this deep, intense drive and hunger.

I am rediscovering the true meaning of what it means to crave the world. And as a word of advice: Don’t mess with a girl that’s craving.


  1. Cara - you will be amazing at anything you do but you will be even more amazing if you be true to the one person who matters most. That person, is you.

    When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
    No one recognized me, I didn't look the same

    But it's all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, you can't please everyone, so you've got to please yourself

    Ricky Nelson

  2. Turns out while drifting around with little or no aim in life we come across our share of setbacks or hard choices. But to keep a steady mind and not forget ones own priorities is the real test of faith. I think your choices are in line with your objectives. Liked this...