It was around 11:20 in the morning when Sam and I decided to come up to the philosophy department to wait until it was time for oral exams, only to find out that our professor was nowhere to be found. We didn’t expect that especially because he gave cuts for every tardy we had. Allison’s been prolonging her agony for twenty minutes since we arrived. To kill time, we resorted to peeping inside his private office like it was a forbidden realm us mere students were suddenly given access to. There was an open laptop, a neon green lightning cord, rows and rows of books, but what stood out the most was a navy blue couch with pillows and a blanket that gave the academic nook a homey touch. Along with his name plate, stickers from the foreign universities he attended continents away were plastered on the glass window, as if to say I’ve gotten my doctorate, earned the right to have my own place and to control your time, so now you wait here until I finish the conversation that dragged on at the cafeteria longer than expected. Pictures and selfies were taken to commemorate the case of the missing Dr. Oscar Bulaong and the brief moments of lightness that alleviated the nervousness we were all probably feeling before the ten minutes that would soon define thirty percent of our grade started to elapse.
Can you steal something that is rightfully yours? I once had a voice, a voice that was taken away under the premise that much more would be taken away from me if I used it. Now I ask: was it really seized or was it surrendered, was it willingly or with hesitation? The internal dialogue that occurs within me whether to speak up or remain quiet, to identify as minority or not, has gone on and on a million of times in the hopes of finally coming to an epiphany but it has only brought me deeper and deeper into the abyss that is my cowardice. Times I felt like Ariel from the Little Mermaid; she can only choose one: to talk or walk, when I didn’t need to: I could eat my cake and have it too, yet chose to remain mute. Behind my back, my mother asked my younger sister who behind her back asked me if I was indeed such to which I replied in my mind with questions of why this was being brought up, if it really mattered, even if I already knew the answers to them. I had every opportunity to answer the question but the dull sound of the electric fan in our silent room did instead.
For you to suspect a rumor’s subject of being its fountainhead says plenty about what you really think of me. Both of us are aware of the power of words. I know you’re upset about what it’s done, but what happens now? We were associated long before the both of you were. Indirectly calling me out for something I haven’t confirmed I did or didn’t do just shows your devotion, or should I say obsession with this megalomaniac you don’t even realize, indeed has the upper hand- something you claim to have, and willingness to trample a friendship we both thought was genuine, at least I did. Tell me if you think it was worth it. Sure, it hurt you, it hurt him, but have you considered it hurt me the most?
It’s weird, how I know how it feels like to be treated like a daughter-in-law when I’ve never had a boyfriend. We were both taught in class that each action has an intrinsic meaning and sometimes I worry our friendship doesn’t follow that principle. Your parents break the boundaries you’re supposed to, and while it’s flattering they’re willing to do that, I wonder what you’d be willing to do for me. This poses the question: where do I really stand with you? Would you at least answer that? If you’re worried I’m expecting anything, or that I’d get hurt, don’t. Some clarity from you is the only thing I want. This is not a joke.
We’ve both identified as the betrayer and the betrayed with respect to our favourite book but something you don’t know is that in our case, the roles have been reversed without malicious intent. Plenty people know the story and I’m surprised it hasn’t reached you yet, given we’re in the same social circles. Times I wish I could just come clean, but as you’ve said, one wrong move can cost you everything. In fact, you’ve written about loss so eloquently I know you’d empathize, but I’m scared you won’t forgive me. I could choose to make the confession once we graduate from college; we’d probably laugh it off then, but what if things don’t turn out that way and regret ends up eating me alive?
The funny thing is that you’ve antagonized me without others knowing and you think you’ve won everyone over. I’ll give credit where it’s due, you know how to play the game of power but you’re forgetting your opponent is someone better at it. Too bad, because you’ll need the looks to pull that winning move off. We all know I’m the innocent Chinese good girl who’s both the mom and baby of our friend group. Some of the naivete has worn off, but nothing too drastic to change my general perception. Believe me, while Math isn’t my strongest suit, I do know how to calculate my moves. Now, let me ask you again: do you really want to pick a fight? Because if that’s what you prefer, I’ll take it public and see how you fare.
Some thoughts from the wildest, most reckless, most change-filled year of my life thus far.
- Fake it til you make it, always. I’ve done it more than five times this year and got everything in the bag. All it takes is confidence to pull off the show, and nonchalance when things don’t pull through.
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. That book changed my fucking life; even more than Ayn Rand did, I daresay and I was crazy obsessed with her. It was then I realized I was so much like Tereza: too serious, heavy, sentimental, emotional, there was so much weight.
- First dose of the benchmark subjects of an Atenean education, aka the theology and philosophy subjects. I’m an atheist but I learned a lot about love. Neither am I a good verbal communicator but Mam Jackie helped me hone my speaking skills through the oral exams. Given everything, all I can say is that they weren’t kidding when they said these courses change your perspectives on life completely.
- The most unlikely people will betray you, leave you hanging, and disprove everything you’ve held to be true about them, including the credibility of their friendship. On the other hand, the most unexpected people will come to be your closest confidantes and make you feel less lonely. I think I realize this every year but I’m still stupid enough to be committing the same mistakes. Either way, trust no one because in the end you only have yourself.
- If there’s anything I’ve learned: Never kiss and tell, what happens at a party stays there, it’s better multiple people once than one person multiple times, and you have to have a heart of stone to do all of this.
- “Forgiveness is a two way street. You can drown someone in forgiveness, but if they don’t want, then reconciliation will never be possible.” – a quote from Fr. Dacanay during one theology class. This quote reminded me of the time when one of my bestfriends wasn’t speaking to me for almost two months. Yes, I may have tried to reach out, but there’s only so much I can do if the other party won’t budge.
- You know you’ve won when what you want is handed to you on a silver platter. It only gets ugly when you turn greedy and yearn for more. Good things come to those who wait, better things come to those who are content.
- A good friend offered to break the heart of the boy who broke mine. I’ve never had anyone be so protective of me before, nor have I ever felt so mature to refuse the offer. Things fell through in the end anyway, and I have fate and karma to thank- not revenge. I guess it paid off to take the high road.
- Everything is unfortunately transient. All these years I’ve been searching for stability but somehow it never lasts for so long. Am I foolish for thinking I can have it for good? Is its attainment a matter of not now, or not ever?
- I’m a late bloomer and that’s okay.
Ever since I shifted majors from Economics to English; BFA Creative Writing with a minor in English Literature to be exact, it feels as if my life has gone through a shift in terms of everything… particularly in terms of societal perception and expectations. Don’t get me wrong; I love writing, I love my course mates, I love my teachers, I learn a lot, and I’m much happier here than when I was in a business course.
All I want to say is that while institutionalizing your interests may sound like a brilliant idea at the beginning, it may not always turn out for the best.
1. A lot of the time, writing feels more of a chore, an obligation more than a composition done out of sheer inspiration. Instead of an artwork, what’s produced is a piece of writing, as if it were done by a factory machine: generic, boring, lifeless, without passion. In one of the writing classes I’m taking, requirements are given on Tuesday evening and you’re expected to turn in a piece by Friday midnight- how can anyone come up with a publishable piece given the time allotted to compose it? You’re literally forced to come up with something or else you’re screwed. Which explains the numerous mediocre pieces I’ve come up with. They all satisfied the prompt, yes, but none of them were good at the very least because they were done for the sake of submitting a school requirement. Which is kind of a sad excuse for writing…
2. I question my capabilities all the time. Because you’re an English major, people automatically assume you’re good at writing, and expect that of you as well. I mean, it’s your major, of course you’re expected to be the best at it. But what if you aren’t? The pressure is crazy. Willingness to learn isn’t enough when you’re taking creative writing because it’s abstract. Unlike math subjects, you can’t practice, memorize formulas, or study your ass off in order to master the craft. This course is founded on talent and inspiration, which are things that can’t be honed, sadly. As sad as it is to say: you can always try, but it’s either you have it or you don’t. The gauge of talent, which is number of times you’ve been published, doesn’t help either.
3. Unlike what the program proposes, there’s really no room for failure nor mistakes in general. You can’t turn in works that stemmed from an ambitious yet potentially good concept yet had bad execution because output is judged and graded at face value. And so there’s always this pressure to stay on the safe side, to stick with the usual writing patterns because you’re too scared to fail. After all, a C+ is better than a straight F. While there is recognition for effort, it’s not well-compensated for, and nobody wants to do something without a guarantee they won’t be failed for their attempts at engaging in unconventional writing styles.
4. You’re somewhat expected to have “good taste” in literature- supposedly cultured, scholarly, mostly canon and literary theorists, even for leisure reading. It’s as if liking mainstream books were taboo, at least that’s what I feel sometimes- which is why I consider reading ThoughtCatalog, YA novels, and New York Times bestselling novels to be guilty pleasures. One instance is that while I occasionally make fun of Lang Leav, I can’t help when some elitist people from my field, even some professors go as far as discrediting her as a writer. I’m all for personal opinion, but it feels like there’s a list of things English majors can and can’t like or find worthy of reading because it’s not “literary” enough which raises the question of who dictates what good art is and isn’t? So there’s a someone, but who?
5. There’s also this expectation of the endgoal being a successful, full-time, big shot, widely read author. But what if I wish to deviate? What if the things I enjoy writing are feelsy, cheesy things that aren’t for publication but for the purpose of personal consumption and catharsis? Does this make me less of a writer just because I don’t want to make it my full-time profession? It also disgusts me whenever people look down on sell-outs; I mean, you’ve got to start somewhere, you’ve got to put food on the table, and while arrogance won’t do that, altering your writing to cater to a larger audience will. I mean, what’s there to lose- you can write for yourself anyway, it just won’t be published but there’s still the option of working on it as an individual project.
In short I wish people just let you do your own thing without all the establishments on what makes a good writer, all these expectations and pressure on being a published author in the future, or the ivory tower that makes them think they’re the authority on anything literary. Sometimes I feel like my perception of writing has changed in a way because of all these things present in the industry, but I still love it anyway.
Personally, I don’t think I’m a good writer but that I’m articulate. Also, as early as now I’m pretty sure I won’t be a full-time, well-read famous writer. Maybe I’ll get into publishing or a magazine. Either way what I learn in the program doesn’t have to be channeled into what is established as the path for majors like me. Life is what you make it and that’s exactly what I’ll do.
Whether you admit it or not, your actions still say it all. You’ve taken sides and we all know which. Consciously or not, all that you did (and refuse to acknowledge) were clear signifiers of what you still refuse to come clean about. Personally, I don’t understand why you still feel the need to hide it when it’s so damn obvious. Is it because you’re oblivious or in denial? Or a coward? Playing it safe was definitely out of the question. Either way, I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment in which you decided for yourself that I was in the guilt.
Was it when you scolded me for maintaining my perfectly innocent friendships that you were brainwashed into thinking was a problem? Was it when you questioned my ability to differentiate right from wrong? Was it when you believed a malicious rumor about me? Was it when you told me I was the one who had to reach out and fix things? Was it when you distanced yourself from me altogether?
Somehow, I knew.
Clearly, you presupposed my being the villain in this story. I was the wrong one. Unluckily for you, others have noticed your flagrant bias against me, including one of the people who meant so much to you at a particular point of your life. Given the esteem I held you in, it was unsurprisingly surprising. But I had it coming anyway since I knew that having a perfect image of someone is always bound to end up in shards of broken impressions, no matter who they were. Friendship does not necessarily mean flawless. It was surprisingly unsurprising to realize this again even if I had my guards up this time.
I didn’t expect you to take sides but that’s how it came across. Even without hearing my side of the story, it looked like you’ve already jumped ship. When I first talked to you about it, I received nothing but suggestions on how to go about fixing things, as if you were expecting me to take all the blame. Everything you’ve done was in favor of the other party. You may not have explicitly said so, but at this rate, I don’t think you have to.
In the end, time will tell. Maybe I was wrong for thinking of you that way, but it’s highly unlikely.
Here’s to hoping that I am.
I’m not an economics major anymore but I won’t deny I enjoyed being one back then. Math and graphs aside, the concepts taught in class were actually very practical and applicable in real life situations. One of those that stuck to me most was the classification of goods, particularly the snob good and the Giffen Good.
A snob good is a good wherein the demand increases as the availability of the good lessens. To put it simply, people want these goods because they’re rare, expensive, or hard to acquire. A real life example of this is anything limited edition. Aside from the good itself, people seek the prestige they get from owning things like these.
On the other hand, a Giffen Good is a good wherein the demand increases as price increases. Sounds nice at the beginning, it kind of acts like a snob good! However, whenever the purchasing power of the people increases, the demand for the Giffen Good decreases. It’s an extreme case of an inferior good. The more available the Giffen good is, the less people want of it because the market is now offering much better things. An example of this is bread during the French Revolution. Bread was vital to the French diet, so people would still buy bread even if the price increased. But as soon as the French people had more money to spend, they stopped buying bread altogether because there were other better things in store.
A snob good should be distinguished from a Giffen Good because snob goods are snob goods at their own right. They possess an elusive quality to back them up which is why people want to have them so much. On the other hand, a Giffen Good is just something that behaves like a snob good because it’s the best that people can afford at the moment. But once nicer things come, or when people could afford better things, tendency is that Giffen Goods are ditched altogether because nobody wants them. On the occasion that people actually do avail of Giffen Goods, it’s because they’re settling.
I will apply this economic concept in real life because it’s relevant. There are some people who act like snob goods but in reality are actually Giffen Goods. Entitled pricks are misled into thinking they’re special snowflakes and that they’re all that, when in reality, people put up with them because they’re the best they can have for now. When more superb stuff suddenly pop up out of nowhere, these Giffen Goods (or should I say Giffen people) will be bound to be dropped like hot potatoes asap.
I’m writing this blog because obviously, there are people in my life who closely resemble the behavior of a Giffen Good. They act like snob goods even when it’s totally unwarranted to the point that it’s bordering on ridiculous. They probably haven’t evaluated their place, nor do they realize the fact that they’re sad Giffen Goods, but still, it’s kind of pathetic. It’s also funny how highly they think of themselves. Too bad they’re stuck in their ivory towers of Tell-me-are-you-fucking-serious-about-this-can-you-fucking-hear-yourself? Yeah, their egos be sky high but they ain’t even fly. I sincerely hope that they finally open their eyes to reality, which certainly doesn’t match up to their delusions.
Moral of the story? Don’t be a Giffen Good. That’s so basic.