“You won’t believe your mind’s capacity to adapt.”
Been chatting with a friend who is now in law school and is currently battling with relapses from a drug abuse problem. Talking about the difficulties in taking up law in the country’s premier university, he surmised that people hype up the difficulty level. The last semester was actually so easy that he went crazy with the stuff and the effect is now backlashing during finals.
Anyway, that quoted line above took me aback. He was able to put into one sentence how I feel and think about my, our, capacity to deal with stress and life’s issues.
As a kid, I dealt with “problems” like they were the end of the world for me. Something is not given, or I get scolded for something, and I feel like I wanna die. Once, I was so mad at my Mama for some small matter (like for scolding me when I made the mistake of singing while eating), so in tears, I rode my bike in the living room and pedaled so fast and hit the living room door, again and again, hoping to kill myself. I was seven (or so). And oh, my bike still had training wheels.
As I grew older, my mind learned to adapt to the parents. I got over the over-emo kid (I think). I learned to drown out their voices when they nag from the other room… well, almost. They, too, adapted to me. They made sure I stayed in the room they were in while they scold or nag to make sure I hear everything. A nag session can last for two straight hours. And then again, my mind once more adapted. I learned to seemingly listen to them as I daydreamed while standing in front of them.
On another side of my world, I had to deal with another harsh environment: grade school. When you’re different, kids can be the meanest and most uncharitable of humans towards you. English is my first language so I didn’t use to understand much of my native tongue. Because of this, I got shunned and the kids didn’t want to play with me. Didn’t want to lend me their toys. Stopped and stared and pointed and whispered loudly amongst themselves when I ask to join them. My parents coming to school and threatening to sue them in front of the class did not help — I became more of an outcast. Neither did my goody-two-shoes attitude and overachieving help my case. I had a growing need to be cool and accepted and loved by them that I acted like such a loser and imitated the boys — their strut, their games (sipa, dampa, kite-flying, and handheld gaming), and their clothes — coz they seemed to be having fun the most fun. When I started calling them pare they avoided me like the plague. Braces at 10 years old with crisscrossing rubber bands, nor the gingivitis that came with it, did not make my life any easier. Even with all my awards, I was such a loser.
But I adapted.
The day my braces came off was born the Beaumeister known today: always laughing and smiling like nothing in this world can ever get me down.
As I went to class, the classmates commented “There seems to be something different with her” in our native tongue. I smiled.
“There really IS something different…” another said. I smiled again. I was enjoying myself.
Somebody took a potshot at me — a daily/hourly activity for them — and I looked at the offender. This time, no tears in my eyes. I just… smiled. The offender became the offended and tried again. And again. Others joined in and started throwing insults at me… bad breath, stinky, spoiled brat, know-it-all, stick figure, monkey… and I just kept smiling. They finally gave up complaining they hated that they can’t get me mad. The next coming days became better as well.
High school wasn’t a walk in the park either, still I survived. Initiation into high school in a premier all-girls school wasn’t the best thing that happened to me so I was moved to a school completely the opposite of that elite, tight-assed institution. A public school of more than 10,000 students (during my time), all belonging to the the lower class C and D of the city. I must have been the only student there with a driver taking me to a from school. My first year went great, but during sophomore year when I was moved to another section which was the rival of my old, new problems arose. Most of my new classmates literally made my life a living hell — vandalizing and breaking my stuff, making me fall flat on my backside in front of the whole school, spreading rumors about me, turning my old friends on me — while the nicer ones just stood to one side in silence. I wasn’t able to take it. I had to move to another school… again. Before the school year ended, our Values Education teacher made us do a class activity: each student was to light a candle and one by one, approach the person they think they hurt the most during the whole year. Everyone, and I mean everyone, one by one, approached me and asked for my forgiveness. I was crying nonstop like a baby from the first classmate to the last. That activity was about me. It was for me. It was the most embarrassing yet most liberating moment of my high school life.
I vowed to be liked and lie low in the new school I was transferred to. I vowed not to be in the spotlight again. My way of adapting. I stuck to the library after school hours where no one would see me. No one except the one who would become my first boyfriend.
He was the batch’s top student from grade school to high school. With just two more years left, the Valedictorian spot was in the bag. He was my classmate in kindergarten (from which I was also pulled out of school, mid-school year, and moved to a different one – but that’s another story). His best friend courted me for a few months, but after I turned the poor bloke down, he gathered the courage to finally approach me… in the library. We became a pair after six months. My association to him (and my topnotch grades, of course) brought me back into the spotlight. It was all unavoidable. We were awarded “Model Students & Couple of the Year” before the end of Junior year with matching cardboard medals. In Senior Year, the school management separated our sections. The school was seeing “too much of us” they said. They broke the Pilot section system due to this – since there is no legal way to move the First and Second Honors students away from the section of the creme de la creme.
That was devastating to us, but we survived. I, however, started to come later and later to class. That must have been when my tardiness sickness emerged. I could no longer bring myself to get to class on time. Reaching flag ceremony on the dot was hard enough. I found myself flying out the door every single morning. ‘Til today, I don’t know why I’m still perpetually late. For this, I have not yet adapted.
College hurried my way and in no time, I was making another vow to myself: “I really really promise, that this time, I will be like any normal student. I will enjoy life. I will miss/cut classes. I will NOT be grade-conscious. I will have friends. They will not, in any condition, know that I was such a prissy straight A student during the past 12 years.” And guess what? I achieved it – at great cost. It was the stupidest promise I ever made in my whole life. It was that which led me to my first ever real life depressions – light years away from the little kid banging a BMX against a door. I became incapable of accomplishing anything — not even a single paper that would spell the difference between an INC and a 3 in my card, or a 6-unit semester — that the years dragged on. The depression was terrible enough that ’til this day I couldn’t tell the story about my college days in the classroom, or in the Chancellor’s office, with tears in my eyes. I have managed to block out from memory majority of what I have studied. It’s like I never took up my course. Heck, I don’t even know where I put my diploma after I got it. That’s my mind’s way of adapting.
I took a break from the world and drowned myself in gaming for a full year. As I mentioned in a previous post, I got back up my horse after the one year ended, quickly made something of myself in the corporate world, shone like a big ball of fire, and after a few years, the fire was put out as quickly as it appeared. My second great depression. This time, it seems to be taking a bit longer, and the pain more intense. Same as before, I have forgotten much of what I have done at work, even my many achievements that once I start picking up the pieces, it’s gonna be much from scratch again. The difference however, is that now I am aware I have a problem, while then, I just felt like running away from something. It was easier to start something new if you don’t know where you’re starting from. This time, I’m all worried about how I will perform when I begin, but most especially 2-3 years into the new thing I’m going to be doing. The apprehension is just too real.
With the way things have been, I fear this would be the predominant trend in my life ’til I kick the bucket. I fear I would become better once again, face problems bigger that what I have already encountered, and fall back into a third depression. I don’t want to be trapped in this unending cycle – adapting to life’s issues that get bigger and bigger over the years. I have long embraced being different, but right now I wish my life would be a little bit more boring and normal, and that I wouldn’t crave the excitement of being famous… or infamous.
I have always turned to inspirational quotes (and even made many of my own) for motivation, but they haven’t made much progress as of late. With the many lemons life has thrown me, I could have very well been the lemonade tycoon. I have often wondered if I was given all these coz “you are never given things you can’t handle” so that must mean I’m the best person for the job… or did all this happen to me due to my own doing? Was I hardwired from day one to want misery to be part of my life, and I simply can’t live without it? Heck, maybe that emo-kid in me has never really grown up at all.
Have I really been adapting? Or am I simply existing?