I think I sometimes underestimate just how much people are ready to show up for me when I need them to. When you’ve uprooted yourself and you think that you haven’t really established a constant community in the unfamiliar place that you’ve ended up in, it feels a little weird to bother people who obviously already have their own lives. I don’t know how I would’ve fared if I didn’t have uni or other friends from the Philippines who ended up here, too, at the same time as me.
But yeah, I have a really great support system here. It’s small, but it’s warm, and generous, and will show up. I’m not the best at doing that, so it has also been a different kind of lesson for me. Hopefully, it’s apparent that I’ve been trying my best and trying to do better.
Anyway, I’ve handed in my dissertation. Officially, I did it two Mondays ago. It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve broken my seal and plunged into freedom. It’s a little scary. And now, I actually do have to confront the answers to the question I most hated hearing: What are you going to do after school?
I am currently in the process of looking for work and sorting out visa issues… It’s… kind of a nightmare, for the lack of a better term. Everyone I’ve spoken to is either someone who really, really gets it (because they’ve been in the same situation) or someone who is really, really frustrated because of all the hoops we have to jump through that they don’t necessarily have to. It sucks, but it is what it is.
It’s easy to kind of give up and give in, and I guess I ought to condition myself to be at peace with the very high possibility that my time here is up, and I need to go back, etc. etc. I love my family and friends back home, and in terms of career flexibility and financial stability, my life there is much better. I do think that a large part of why I want to stay here, at least for a little while longer, is that there are so many things I want to prove to myself, if that makes sense. And I know that that I can even think about “proving myself” is already a luxury, but here we are. And again, I’m just trying my best.
There are just a lot of versions of my life that I’d like to see play out here (like, strangely enough, I really want to teach), and sometimes, it feels too hard to try, but I think, no matter what happens, it’s worth it to do so.
(Just sucks because I am always on the brink of an anxious meltdown, but let’s face it: that’s likely to happen with or without visa issues.)
On a lighter note—
I’m very grateful for a lot of things. I always take photographs when I feel particularly thankful, and maybe I’ll share them in trickles over here, at some point. There’s no point other than to keep a record, and lately I’ve been realising how important it is to me that I do.
Funnily enough, I saw Julien Baker twice in a span of a week: once at All Points East, and then on Saturday, for a last minute show at The Lexington. (Thank God for post notifications.) It was such a small venue, a bit like when I first saw her in Sydney, so that was super nice. I know I pass this off as a weird and funny devotion thing, but her music and her ethos really did change my life.
She spoke a bit about the horrifying bus attack in Camden, and how grateful she was that we had chosen to spend our night going there to see her, and that we were all together and made these spaces safe for all of us to exist. I really appreciated that she takes the time to speak about these things when she plays, because while it can be a little frightening and awkward to be so earnest about such serious things, I think it may be worth it to endure those initial cloying feelings, just because they really do help people who need to hear those words of support and community.
I was glad to have been able to bring Richard along, too, for the brief time that he was around. I realised that having him close by for my first year here was really comforting and added a lot to my feelings of stability, so it was really, really nice to see him that day.
Sometimes the necessity of confrontation is really scary. Well, for myself, it’s super scary because I am so very averse to confrontation. Plus, self-reflection invites a lot of denial from my end. But, again, sometimes it’s necessary. When I feel the grip of pressure to be some particular thing that doesn’t feel like me, I have to kind of step back and look from a distance, and evaluate the work or the choices I’ve made, and really ask myself whether or not I’ve done or said what I meant to or if I’m happy or proud. Barring anyone else’s opinion.
It’s hard, because a lot rests on other people’s thoughts — and by this, I mean, whether or not I’m worthy of specific things — but I think there’s value in appreciating your own growth and expression, even though that’s an easy thing to forget. I put a lot of stock in what other people think, partly because forging connections through a shared understanding of meaning is an important aspect of why I make things, but sometimes that can really affect how I view my work or what I’ve done in my life. I think it takes a lot of energy and honesty to recognise that you are not a failure, just because you don’t necessarily always fit into a specific set of markers set arbitrarily by others.
I don’t know why I care, but I do. I think these types of validation will undoubtedly help you get to places you want to go. It’s frustrating that there are so many barriers that box you out of these spaces in the first place. It’s frustrating that, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’re still kept out of them.
So, yes, on one hand, particular opinions matter. On the other hand, I’m trying not to let these things diminish my personal valuation of my work. It’s tricky, and it’s discouraging, and when I dwell on these things, it gets so hard to get out of bed to move. But, move I must. If no one else is going to vouch for me, I should learn how to do that for myself.