If you have to ask me when was the last time I felt happy then I would probably recall the last time I took a selfie, I smiled thinking things that could’ve happened if I just followed my heart. And it feels like if a stranger would say to me that everything is going to be alright, then I will immediately hug him and be my best friend.
The last time I felt genuinely happy was the day I graduated from college. Felt like the hardest part of life was now to be done and all I have to do is to find a job and have a place for myself. I already had plans after graduation like applying for a position from a hospital I spent my internship or teaching as a form of giving back to the school I’ve come from. I was full of hopes and dreams and I never knew that when you already had plans for everything, life has its way of telling you that you are never in control.
Let me take you to the months left before the last time I felt that happiness. We were practicing for the graduation ceremony so we had to go to school for like everyday. Not to mention that my degree needs a board exam and the school is inviting board review groups to present their program with our parents. I was with my dad but parents are seated in the front row. I am not really sure why but I was with my classmates in the back row. Some of our teachers are also there listening to every presentation, lame jokes and subtle blows to other review groups. Yes, in my country board exams are more of a battle of life and death. Different schools aim to have their student be in the top 10. You fail and everyone thinks that you are dumb. You passed for the second time and some may say that you passed because you already knew how the exam goes. Now that my mom told me that board passers in some countries don’t really aim to have the highest score and there are no such thing as top 10 passers, I am starting to think that I was somewhat fooled. For the record, I wasn’t able to take the exam. Right after graduation, my mom called me telling that I have to go to the US after graduation and that she already looking forward to see me. But then during my internship, we were told to top the boards. Back when we were students, we were told to top the boards. Our mind was programmed in that way. It is good because we are forced to excel but then knowing now that board exam results only test your intellectual ability, there is so much more to know in terms of patient care.
At the airport, I know that this means I will not take the boards. It means that I already accept that I will never have my visions of making an oath as a physical therapist, visions of me jumping after looking my name among the list of passers, and posting a thank you note in all of my social media accounts. At the cost of being able to see my mom, I let go. And months after, they had their exam and a part of me is lost. I thought I already prepared myself for this but honestly, it was difficulty. That was the last time I felt so happy, right after graduation. For the past months, I get to see them working as a physical therapist and here I am, not able to figure out the next plan I have. To tell you, when I was in my 2nd year I once told myself that no matter what happens, I will pass the board exam. I never doubted myself not being able to pass the exam on my first take but now I seem to think that maybe, I wasn’t that doubtful in the first place because the future tells me that I won’t be able to. Funny how life proves you wrong the time when you think you’ve figured out everything.
As I am writing this blog, my close friend messaged me about her plans to be a doctor. I was with her during my internship and she is really the brightest among all the interns I’ve been with. I know it sounds impossible but she is humble despite of her achievements. Her character made me want to be friends with her. She took her NMAT twice to be able to qualify for a full scholarship in medical school. And somehow during our conversation, she told me how she really wants to become a doctor and she has her plans about it. Instantly, everything just flashed in the back of my mind. The envisions to myself once again became vivid. I asked her if she really wanted to become a doctor and she told me “sobra” (so much). That’s when I told her to hold on to that dream and she should not be like me who let go of the things I really wanted in my life. That she should not be like me.
And now things are different. Totally opposite from what I imagined for myself. I know that my plans were no better than God’s plans but sometimes I get bugged by the “what ifs” of life. What if I had more courage to stay and take the boards? Will I be happier if I did? What if I was able to be in the top 10? Those questions make me even feel worse for not having the balls not to listen to anyone and just take the boards even if it means that I won’t be seeing my mom. But then what if I took the risk and fail? Did God allowed this to happen because he knew I was going to fail and the best thing He can make is to let me not take the exam? Whatever the answer is, I don’t really want to know. Because back then, I only focus to pass the quizzes and long exams, back then I am with my friends enjoying the weekends and push ourselves to the limits during practical exams. We pray for each other, we laugh together, we cry when one of us didn’t pass, I was sure that no matter how hard my exams are, I will pass it and be able to graduate and pass the board exam – in short, back then I was happier. And as I try to contain the emotions I have right now, you should know that I really wanted to tell you everything but that would be destructive to my part. I am not sure if I’ve move on to them, it still makes me sad. What I am sure of is that it doesn’t make me cry anymore. I don’t know if my eyes were tired of crying or I finally realize that I can’t do anything about it.
And if you see me waiting for the train with my eyes dry and my face cold and numb, it isn’t because I am cold or sleepy or arrogant. I am still in myself a year ago when everything was planned in my mind. Thinking that hard work pays off. When hopes and dreams were more colorful and alive, when I was more than my smiles. And I tell you how to befriend me, tell me to hold on and I will hug like a long lost best friend. Because I am still living the life I think I deserve a year ago when I was sure nothing could stop me and everything was planned. Year ago when I felt like miracles do come true, year ago when I was, happier.