The plan was simple: study well, become a lawyer, work, have a family.
I studied my whole life with the goal of becoming a lawyer. I started writing when I was little and got exposed to the law library of my dad’s office everyday for years. I joined the debate varsity until college and majored in broadcast communication in hopes of being forced to voraciously consume news and data, and in turn be competent in politics, economics, and social issues. I worked on forming opinions, writing, and speaking about them. I was trying to prepare as best as I can for who I thought I wanted to become.
But I grew w e a r y. Sooooo fucking weary.
“WHY couldn’t I be good enough when it mattered?”
I fell into a deep depression and had to essentially pause my life for two years, starting right when I was about to graduate from my bachelor’s degree in 2015. The triggers of my depression are many and compounded, including my frustration with my academics. I was used to being good at the things I chose to do. “WHY couldn’t I be good enough when it mattered?”, “WHY did my body and mind give up on me on the home stretch?”
Since 2017, every other time I tried to pick up from where I left off in school, I faiedl. I am embarrassed to go back to school and file for an extension every semester. Every graduation season, I see younger kids graduate before I do. I see my contemporaries actually becoming lawyers, some are already doctors… while I’m here with an unfinished degree and a broken heart. My frustration with myself grew deeper every semester I don’t graduate.
Finals week is an intense trigger for me and I get debilitating panic attacks every sem-end, without fail. These panic attacks leave me exhausted, too exhausted to do anything I need to do for school in time.
It hasn’t happened yet this semester, but I have a nagging feeling it’s around the corner, waiting to happen. Please pray with me that it doesn’t happen at all.
The reason I chose the above as an accompanying photo is because it’s a place I never thought I would be in, yet it is where I am today. If you’d asked me, say, seven years ago where I’d be in 2019, I would have told you I see myself graduating Juris Doctor, having competed in moot courts, about to study for the Bar exam. Little did I know that life would push me into depression a few years later then bring me to this day in 2019 in a headscarf, getting my face done for a photo shoot.
“I am learning that there are ways to contribute to society in ways that also fulfill me.”
I used to question the Universe repeatedly, “Why?”, and I think I am beginning to understand. The break reminded me that I am an artist.
In my desperate attempts to rid my mind of dark thoughts and to distract my shaking hands from self-harm, I turned to art. I never quite feel as in-the-zone and at peace as when I am making art. It allowed me to slow down, connect with my soul, and really listen.
I discovered that in my heart of hearts, all I wanted to do was to fight for what is right, to help people, to share love, and contribute to the world effort for peace. That is why I wanted to become a lawyer. I saw my dad doing that everyday as a lawyer, and in my limited world view and experience, I believed that was the only way. But it isn’t. I am learning that there are ways to contribute to society in ways that also fulfill me.
My four-year delay in my graduation wasn’t all for nothing. It has allowed me to reevaluate my path and question what I want to do with my life. It has allowed me to express myself through makeup and modeling, and connect with talented and kind individuals who prove that beauty is truly found on the inside. It has allowed me to pursue opportunities I never thought would be open to me. It has taught me that my message and my purpose will find a way to be expressed in whatever I choose to do. I learned that there is no prescribed timeline for life; we all go our own pace.
I acknowledge that this situation is a privilege. Managing a mental illness is very difficult, some sadly don’t even make it to this point. Not everyone can go to college and certainly not everyone can be a college kid for 8 years.
My parents have been very patient and supportive of me all the way, no matter what. At some point I thought, “fuck this shit, I don’t even want that degree anymore”, but I remember all their sacrifices to put me through school and support all my endeavors. I remember all the work and sacrifice I made all those years too, and I become ashamed the thought has even crossed my mind.
So I shall change the narrative. Regain control of the situation, again and once and for all:
Fuck being the victim of circumstance. Fuck feeling helpless. Time to get my shit together. Time to fucking graduate. The world is mine for the taking.
UPDATE: I made it lol.
(C) Delightful Little Darlings