Learning, Surviving, Living

The past decade has seen me go through a roller coaster ride of meaningful experiences and emotions I thought I won’t be able to handle. 

During the early years of my 20s, I was that working girl in Makati City, trying to find my place in the corporate world. I jumped from one job to another, looking for opportunities that would lead me to what I have always wanted to be—a writer.

I was able to land my dream job—a writer for a magazine. I saw my name on print, traveled a lot, met people of different walks of life, and wrote stories of people and places.

However, along those years was where I found myself clueless about what to do next. I wanted to break free from my comfort zone and try my luck on freelance writing—simply because I no longer enjoy the corporate setting. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my job. But it was the corporate culture that has kept me wanting to break free. 

I enjoyed being a writer for a magazine. I loved how it made me alive as a writer.

It was not easy. The journey to being an independent writer was not something I worked for overnight. It took me five long years to save, do research, build my network, and acquire the skills I need to survive without an employer. 

There did come a time when I felt in doubt, hopeless even. What will happen next? Can I support myself? Why do I have to chase a dream of uncertainty? Girl, what were you thinking?

It was a point where I also experienced the so-called quarter-life crisis. While working my way towards that big plan, personal issues begin to crop up—failed relationships, family and health issues, financial woes, etc. It was overwhelming that I just want to take a long break from all of it–pack my bags and head up north.

Nope, that did not happen.

I need to feed myself. I have bills to pay.  

I find solace with my mother’s words, which she has been repeating over and over again—you will find a place in this world. That no matter how lost you are with your life, how hard it is to achieve a dream, that even if it takes some time to know where you should be, you will find your place. The place destined for you. It is not merely a location. It is a point where you know you can say, “This is for me.” Whether you find yourself loving baking cakes instead of pursuing a career in line with your education, or you find excitement in being a stay-at-home mom rather than maintaining a corporate career.

You see, there will always be a place for you. You just have to find it. And if you can’t find it—you create it. 

Create a place where you can thrive. Where you are not only surviving but living. 

Losing a father

Just as I was preparing myself to make the big jump, the most important man in my life left me.

My father was my listener. He was the listener of my dreams and aspirations in life. He believed in my capabilities, even when it deviates from the path other people take. I usually take the road less traveled, yet my Papa was there to keep me grounded, reminding me, supporting me. 

Even when Papa is already gone, I still feel the love and support from him. My Papa is my angel.

Losing my father to kidney disease was one of the most painful moments in my life. I lost a father and a friend. Until now, the pain is there that I still can’t pick myself up and muster the strength to talk about the loss. It has not escaped me since. And I know it won’t in this lifetime. But I find comfort in knowing that somewhere in Heaven, my father is rooting for me to win every single day. Because I know that in every dream I achieve, a big part of it is the achievement of his own. 

Pandemic woes

The onset of 2020 was when I went freelancing full-time. I quit my long-time job and embraced a freelance lifestyle. With me are a couple of clients, six months’ worth of savings, and big faith.

Then came the lockdown.

For a certain moment, I worried about things. Will they still keep me? What if I lose my projects? What if I ran out of savings? Should I go back to working full-time? Is it too late for me?

I went back to my mother’s word. I believe I already found my place. And I should fight for it, face the challenges that may come with it. 

Most of all, why should I worry about things I can’t control? Of things that have not happened yet?

The challenges of the pandemic are a problem of all, the selfish side of me just thought of how it will affect me. I had to recollect myself and reflect on this mindset. 

This pandemic taught me to care less about myself and more for others. To be emphatic. To be informed. To reach out. To be understanding rather than being irate. And to deal with things that I have in control of.

More than a year into this pandemic, I am grateful for the projects that are given to me and for the people who believe in my capabilities. It taught me to be rooted, to keep the faith, and surrender my anxieties to a higher force that is God. All I need is to persevere, do my work, and remain still. 

Surviving, living 

The past couple of years have taught me to stay strong—not only for myself but for the people around me. At a point where you just want to cry with all the circumstances that happened, of losing a father, of going through the mental and financial challenges of this pandemic, of worrying what will happen in these times of uncertainties.

Your life is your ship. As the chieftain, you have to anchor yourself with faith.

No one said life is easy. There will be ups and downs to test your faith and values. But you have to remain intact with your core. These shall pass, just like how storms come and go. Just like how ships navigate through an ocean of giant waves. They test your capabilities to withstand strong winds, all you need is to bend or go along with it, remain anchored to your values, and believe that better days are ahead.

Live a life that pleases the Lord. Use it to not merely survive. You have to live—a life of meaning, a life of purpose.

This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project Season 2: Dear Survivor”. The initiative continues to respond to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. The initiative aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. The “Write to Ignite Blogging Project” Season 2 is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, with Eastern Communications and Jobstreet as co-presenters, with AirAsia and Xiaomi as major sponsors, and with Teleperformance as sponsor.

Gelyka Dumaraos

Gel is a writer and wanderer from the Philippines. She maintains this blog, Musings and Pathways, as a platform for her thoughts on love and life and stories of places and people she meets while on the road. Aside from writing and being a freelance media consultant, she is recently into baking and cooking. Gel lives with her fiance in a humble, work-in-progress abode in the beautiful province of Rizal. Email her at gelykaruthdumaraos@gmail.com.

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1 Comment

  1. Our mothers know best. Whenever I decide on something important, I turn to my mom for advice and she’s never wrong.
    I was teary-eyed when I read about your father. I’m still having a hard time talking about him without crying. I love your work. Very touching. Keep on writing. Just do whatever the makes you happy. Take care always. Miss you.

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