Lawyer Up

One question we’ve all been asked at one point of our lives is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” And after realizing that becoming a superhero or a mermaid was not exactly realistic, we start thinking about our possible jobs in the future.

Now, I grew up watching a wide variety of American TV series. i remember watching ER and thinking of being a doctor. The good thing is that I’m not very squeamish, and I enjoy watching gory horror films. Some people would even refer to such movies as “torture porn”. However, the path to wearing that white coat and stethoscope around one’s neck was both 1) expensive and 2) long. Not to mention the fact that most pre-med courses involved a lot of math, chemistry, and physics. I feel like I could handle the chemistry and struggle through the physics, but its really the math that would get me.

Then I thought of the people who would stand in front of me from 8 AM to 4 PM from Monday to Friday for ten months: teachers. I’m pretty good at explaining concepts and ideas to other people. But teachers do so much work for little pay. Their patience is tested constantly, and I happen to be a very impatient person. Their social lives and behavior even outside school is greatly restricted by having to be role models for the youth. Thus, they are expected to be prim and proper at all times. No cussing, no provocative clothing or too much makeup, no smoking or drinking in or near the school.

So whenever I was asked this question, I said I want to be a lawyer. It’s certainly not the heated arguments, overwhelming paperwork, or constant pressure that caught my eye. It was, in all honesty, the supposed money. I have an aunt who graduated from the top law school in our country, and her life now is my dream life. She lives alone in a decent condominium unit, has her own car and driver, travels around the Philippines, collects paintings, has no debts and lots of savings, etc. There was no motivation to defend the oppressed or seek justice. There wasn’t any emotion behind my choice.

Of course, my parents, friends, and teachers all made it clear to me how challenging and tiring law school is. And after that, you still had to face the bar exam. Pass and you will be celebrated and praised. Fail and your dreams will be temporarily crushed.

According to one professor, there’s already an oversupply of lawyers in the world today. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll become a six figure earning hotshot. There’s not nearly as much glamour and excitement. There’s just more of what you had in law school: stress, pressure, and fatigue. I also recall reading an article about lawyers having the highest burnout rate among professions. Apparently, most lawyers stop practicing law upon reaching the age of 40 or 50.

It’s discouraging, of course. And being realistic, I considered other options I could explore after college. For some reason, I want to pursue something more. I just don’t want to stop with my undergraduate degree. Right now, I’m also considering taking a master’s degree in communication, economics, or finance.

However, law school is still my first priority. While I admit that I was first attracted to it by the money, I now fully understand that it is not guaranteed. Nothing ever really is guaranteed. But I don’t really know why I want to be a lawyer. Is it for truth and justice? Is it for the sake of being a lawyer? Is it to prove that I am intelligent, skilled, and determined enough to survive law school and pass the bar? Maybe all of the above.

I hope to find the answer soon. I don’t want to go to law school without knowing exactly why, since it appears immense willpower is necessary to force yourself to stay there. And while I can only imagine exactly how hard it will be, I just keep in mind that nothing great ever comes easily.

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt: Describe your ultimate job. If you’re in your dream job, tell us all about it — what is it that you love? What fulfills you? If you’re not in your dream job, describe for us what your ultimate job would be.

Cheers.

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Three Ways I Survived Bullying

I grew up in the early 2000s, an era that despite being nearly a decade away still feels like yesterday. It was a time when the summers weren’t too hot, and the rainy season didn’t bring destructive floods. It was a time of my innocence and naivete. It was also the time I was bullied.

Since I went to an Augustinian-run school that took pride in its quality Catholic education, my parents were confident that I was doing just fine. On the surface, I was. My grades were average to above-average. I came home from school with some stains and dirt on my uniform. I did my homework and refused to eat my vegetables and felt like a badass every time I stayed awake past 10 PM. But as I said, that was on the surface.

At night, when I would lie in bed, the pain would wash over me. I would remember that time a classmate of mine put a headband on my head and said I was gay. Or that one time a group of high school students came out of nowhere and cornered me in a hallway, saying the same thing: you’re gay. There are a whole bunch of “events”, but I won’t make myself suffer by reliving more of them.

Even then, I knew why they said that to me. I wasn’t as masculine as any of the other boys. I didn’t play basketball, nor was I athletic in any way,. I didn’t start cursing in 4th Grade, or sneaking out of school to play computer games.

I sought comfort in my friends, but there were times they ended up laughing at me instead of defending or comforting me. Sometimes, they would bully me too. I thought of asking help from my teachers, but during this time, the concept of bullying was practically non-existent. Everything save for the most violent acts were dismissed as “child’s play”. I even considered  begging my parents to transfer me to another school, but I was too scared. I’m their only son, and I felt that admitting to being bullied would be a sign of my weakness. Eventually, I came to believe that it was.

I can safely say I was depressed during this time. Some nights, I just cried myself to sleep. But that adage holds true, I guess. Time heals all wounds. I’m 17 now. I’m still not as masculine as most of the jocks in my university, but at least no one walks up to me and calls me gay or faggot.

Am I happy now that the bullying has stopped? Yes, I am. Despite this, the bullying I experienced in my childhood will stay with me forever. While those wounds have healed, the scars remain. They always will. I can never erase those memories of me crying myself to sleep.

But if there’s one thing good about those scars, it’s that they serve as a reminder. Not that I was once weak, but that I am now strong. I survived all of the taunts and insults. I had the courage to wake up everyday and face the world, no matter how much I wanted to just disappear forever.

Now, if you’re being bullied, here’s what I want you to learn from me:

1) Seek help. At this point, our society is far more aware and concerned about bullying than it was back then. Don’t be ashamed the same way I was. I can’t imagine how hard it is to talk to someone about this, because I never did, but I hope you find (or already have) someone in your life you’re comfortable with. Someone you know will defend and support you.

Record audio of them harassing you, or have a friend record a video when those bullies start shoving you around. Go the police. Go to those bullies’ parents.

2) Fight back. I’m not advocating violence as your initial reaction to being bullied, but if someone throws a punch at you, I believe you have every right to punch back. Defending yourself isn’t wrong.

3) Cry. This doesn’t seem encouraging, doesn’t it? But those times I just let the tears flow are the times I got to release all of the negativity and sadness and pain inside me. As Isak Dinesen said, “the cure for anything is salt water – tears, sweat, or the sea.”

There may be more ways, but these were the basics for me.

Lastly, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, so I will say this: suicide is an option. But before you do, think about the chances you’ll miss, the experiences you’ll give up, and the people you’ll never meet. For me, the emptiness of death can never rival the fullness of life. If you have experienced or are currently experiencing bullying, and you feel that no one in the world cares about you, I want you to know that I do.

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt: We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

Cheers.

Hate Late

Have you ever been in a meeting schedule at 11 AM, and it’s already 11:30 and the person you’re meeting is nowhere in sight? So you’re sitting there by yourself in some cafe or restaurant, playing with your phone or reading the menu over and over again. Your patience has started to run out, so you take your phone and call the late motherfucker, and they just say, “Oh, sorry. I’m on my way.”

absolutely hate that.

Here in the Philippines, we have developed an unhealthy concept of Filipino time. In its simplest form, it’s basically socially accepted tardiness. The most common excuses include traffic or long lines at the LRT (our equivalent of a subway except it’s above the ground, not under it). This Filipino time is the reason why programs which are supposed to start at 8 AM “sharp” actually start at 9.

Despite having grown up in a culture that seemingly tolerates tardiness, I strongly disapprove of it. This disapproval manifests in two ways. First, I hate being late. As a student, I hate the feeling of walking into a classroom halfway through the professor’s lecture and have the other students look or stare at me. More than that, I just hate making people wait. Second, I hate it when other people are late. Of course, I try to find out if they have a valid excuse, like their car broke down or they got robbed or they were undergoing an exorcism. But if they give me a stupid excuse like “I forgot my make-up bag at home so I went back to get it”, I just lose it.

And it’s not just being late in person. It also includes being late in responding to text messages or Facebook messages. The “seen by” feature is both a blessing and a curse, and I badly wish a similar feature would be invented for text messaging.

My friends find this quirk of mine annoying at times, probably because they’re always late to class and meetings. But there’s nothing wrong with being punctual, isn’t it?

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt: Which quirky habit annoys you the most, and what quirky habit do you love — in yourself, or others.

Cheers.

Past the Hurdles

For those of you who watch the TV series Doctor Who, you would probably know about the Time And Relative Dimension In Space (TARDIS). For the uninitiated, the TARDIS is a spaceship that can travel to (almost) any point in time and space. Curious? Go watch Doctor Who… after you finish reading this.

Now, imagine you had a TARDIS. The catch is that it’s broken, and can’t go back into the past. It can only go to the future. Where would you go?

I know exactly where and when I would want to go. I want to skip the hardship of making my thesis in senior year of college. I want to go straight to my graduation, when I walk down that stage, shake hands with our Chancellor, and get my diploma. But I also plan on going to law school after college, and I don’t even want to think about how hard that would be. So I could skip that as well. And if I’m going to skip past law school, I’ll definitely skip reviewing for and actually taking the bar exam. If I could go to any point in my future, I would go to the day when I’m content.

The day when I wake up with a smile on my face because of the man/woman I love is lying right beside me. The day I wake up without worrying about money or food or debt. The day when my life is perfect.

The problem is, that day would never come. I can have a million dollars in my bank account, a sprawling estate, a perfect partner, and beautiful children. And I still wouldn’t be content. I want something better, something more. I dream of it all the time. It used to be only the best for myself. But as I grew older, I wanted something better for the people around me.

And besides, even if a day like that was possible, it wouldn’t be the same if I got there because of time travel. It wouldn’t mean as much compared to if I worked for it for so many years. Everyone and everything I would have then wouldn’t be as valuable to me.

I won’t turn down a chance to take the TARDIS for a spin though.

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt: If you could fast forward to a specific date in the future, when would it be?

Cheers.

Even Heroes Can Wear Thin

The five year old me used to sit excitedly on the couch, watching as my mother relayed the more interesting details of the past few days to the man on the other end of the telephone. I only got to spend time with him for a month or two each year, either during the long, cold nights of the Christmas break or the blistering heat in the summer. I remember waking up early in the morning with a smile on my face, a rarity even in my toddler days, as I looked forward to picking up my father from the airport.

My father, like many other Filipinos, chose to work overseas. He labored for at least 8 hours a day in the emptiness of the Saudi Arabian desert just to put food on our table back in the Philippines… Okay. This is a bit of an exaggeration. My father isn’t a construction worker, coal miner, or some other physically draining job. He was an accountant, who sat at his desk reviewing statements, reports, and bank records whilst enjoying the constant stream of cold air from his office’s aircon. He may have had it better than others, but it was still a sacrifice.

He sacrificed not seeing me come home from school everyday so we would have enough money to send me to a good school. He sacrificed being with the woman he promised to love everyday, my mother, so he could give her a beautiful house and expensive jewelry. And I wasn’t exaggerating when I said that he worked to put food on our table. While my mother also continued working, her income wouldn’t be enough to sustain the kind of life they dreamed for us, and for me.

Growing up, I learned to associate my father with the material things and money he provided. Not as a hero, or an idol, or a role model. It’s only when he retired (quite early, as a matter of fact) in 2011 that I started to really develop my relationship with him. It’s only at that time that I began to experience and appreciate the non-material things he gave me. The hugs, the typical chiding about crushes and girlfriends, and the horrible sharing of embarrassing stories about me with our neighbors and relatives.

But I still consider him my hero. For sacrificing so much, even until now. For staying faithful to my mother. For giving me everything I have now, and I have ever had. For showing me what fatherhood really means.

But even the greatest of our heroes begin to wear thin. It’s particularly faster for middle-aged men who don’t exercise and have been smoking cigarettes for more than 20 years. I admit that I fear for him. Emphysema, lung cancer, or some other horrible respiratory disease immediately comes to my mind every time he coughs.

He’s not perfect. He’s definitely not perfect. But he is my father. I don’t know how much I have left with him, but he will always be my hero. Not the only one, but the first and greatest.

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt: When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?

Cheers.