After a week of failed attempts, I finally managed to squeeze my thesis defense presentation into 14 minutes – just 1 minute short of the department’s required 15-minute cap. To celebrate, I allowed myself time to read Ms Mina V Esguerra’s The Harder We Fall, which I’d been eyeing for months now before I went ahead and bought a copy today. Why did it take me so long to buy the book then? I’ve realized I may have a fear of stepping out of my comfort zone, and this story is nothing like the other books from Ms Mina that I’ve read, given that it’s set somewhere in the US. It’s also steamy – again, not my comfort zone – so although I immediately pounced on Welcome to Envy Park, which is set locally and is much milder, I took my time with The Harder We Fall and Never Just Friends, which came out at the same time. Maybe I’m just chicken. I think I like being safe.
As a self-confessed unadventurous type, a line from The Harder We Fall unnerved me. It goes, “The world isn’t kind to the ordinary anymore” and I’m able to relate to it very well because I’m just an ordinary person – the proverbial goldfish stuck in an ocean of whales and other majestic aquatic creatures. Short of pleading guilty to learned helplessness, I will admit that I find it very overwhelming to have so many expectations directed at me, even if it is only the simple lament of a concerned friend wondering why I’m being extremely unproductive about my life. For achievers, I am only slacking off and whining. But like I told T earlier – over dinner of breakfast food served in a karinderia that meager budgets prefer – there are moments when no matter what you do, you find yourself in a position where each effort amounts to nothing. It’s that point in life when you’re stagnant, and no matter how hard you push, you’re simply unable to take a step forward. All that’s left for you to do then is to relish your immobility. To take a breather and gauge your location, plot your direction, before you run full speed ahead as soon as you’re allowed to do so.
The thing about living amongst the driven is that very of them empathize with the problems of the not-so-driven. In the first place, these so-called problems will probably be attributed to poor life choices, lack of direction, or general de-motivation, else selfish laziness. My friends are like that. They try to empathize, but they can’t. So someday, I’m going to write something for the people who have experienced or are experiencing what I’m going through. This will not be to glorify mediocrity. This will be to remember that there is a sad kind of beauty in being ordinary, too. That just because you’re not one of the lucky few who know what they want to make of their lives doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of breathing the same air as people who have decided to go out there and happen to things. Someday, when I’m finally satisfied with what I’ve achieved in my life, perhaps I will write a book. In the meantime, I struggle.