When I was younger, the words came to me more freely than they do now. I could write about the most mundane of things, like a trip to the library or a day spent cleaning my room. I was too eager to write about anything, about everything, that I lacked filter and the words just poured through my fingertips like drops of water.

Now they pour out like drops of blood. These days, writing about things feels somehow like slicing my flesh open so that I can extract what’s within me: the joy, the ache, the fear and thrill. It is more difficult now than I’ve been accustomed to, and everytime I try—and goodness, do I try—I end up getting frustrated because the roaring thing inside couldn’t get out in peace. A big fraction of this year has been spent facing the glow of my laptop, two to three lines in, and then blank. Perhaps this is one reason I’ve been so erratic this year: I lacked my one vital outlet, my saving grace.

And so, for the last time this year, I scratch and claw and dig for all the words that I’ve kept caged for so long. For the last day of 2015, I open up the prison of my mind.

2015 was supposed to be a big year: I was planning on taking on the NMAT (and acing it). In fact, I took a review course last summer while taking up Basic Statistics at the university. However, I wasn’t prepared for the fatigue all that endless studying would bring. I’ve been in college since 2010 and this academic year is my 6th year—supposedly my graduation year, had I been on time in my previous course which was Dentistry. A realization: no matter how much you value learning, studying can wear you out. For my first few years in college, I relied heavily on my being a young blood. I was fresh from high school, barely tired, eager to learn bigger things and to prove myself to people. When I shifted to Biology, the academic routine started wearing me out. I didn’t study as systematically as I’d like (think: studying each night, reading in advance, doing requirements in advance, maximizing the weekend) and, eventually, I felt burnt out. There were times when I was terribly exhausted from all the sleepless nights spent cramming for my studies. Either I’d settle down and say this is enough or I’d fall asleep ignoring my countless alarms. The latter happened way more frequently than I’d like.

In short, my academic routine was disappointing when I allowed it to be. And how I allowed my bad habits to disappoint me so many times this year. I kept thinking how on earth could I even cultivate such terrible habits (wow, such pride), and I judged myself negatively for them. As for the October NMAT, I was gripped by panic and I backed out. Sigh.

There were so many times when I felt out of control. I kept searching for the steady, determined girl I used to be. I mean, she has to be somewhere inside me, right? I can be like her again, I kept thinking.

But, honestly, there is no going back—to the way things were, to the person you used to be.

And, I realized, that’s a good thing. 2015 has taught me that the only way is onward. No more detours to girlhood and glory days. For instance, I had this notion that my glory days were in UP and that my life would never be as fulfilling as when I was a scholar of the nation. True, my present university may be lacking in terms of stimuli, and I often get this feeling that I’m not learning anything meaningful—but I choose to overlook these things now. I must be where I am, for good reason: because the rest of my life is still ahead. Memories of my college years will soon turn gray, but not my future experiences: my siblings growing up, joy and growth in the family, medical school, licensure exams, training, get-togethers with friends, dates, trips, settling down… Or perhaps something different altogether.

There is so much to look forward to, but all this time, I’ve been gazing at all the things that have come and gone: people, places, habits, time itself.

It took me a long, hard year to learn this important lesson: move forward; look ahead.

Of course, this year has brought me hard-earned (i.e., with blood, sweat, and tears) wisdom as well as pleasant surprises:

  • Mommy getting pregnant with the newest member of our family, Baby Lucas “George” Aliman. My mother went through 9 months of pregnancy while juggling being a mother (to 2 kids and a young adult who suddenly embarked on her first romantic relationship), a doctor, a sister, and a daughter. She’s the most selfless person I know. I love you, Mommy. I’m so grateful and lucky to have you as my mother. Thank you for everything that you do.
  • Daddy staying at home for longer than a month, so now he’s a professional bassist (at home). I got to witness my father start his clinical practice here in the country. Every single day he’d come home with stories about his patients, something I’d look forward to because I could sense his joy and excitement, his passion to serve. It’s wonderful. I love you, Dad. Thank you.
  • Roi Pangyarihan. Best friend, soulmate, Patrick to my Spongebob. Who knew we’d end up together? (Answer: Everyone, except the two of us. I guess.) I’d save the story for a lengthier post. Roi, I love you. Thank you.

Highlights of 2015:

  • I took a language class on Japanese (Module 1) in UP Diliman.
  • UPM Fiesta a.k.a. the first ever UP February Fair (in the whole UP System) I’ve ever attended. Please tell me it counts. Saw The Ransom Collective!! And more indie and mainstream local acts.
  • Elastic Hearts. Hi, Kaye & Patrisse. Overnight! Overnight! Hahaha.
  • Cinemalaya XI, from which I only watched one film: Above The Clouds by Pepe Diokno. Climbing Mt. Pulag came to rest on my bucket list after watching this film.
  • TEDxUPM. My favorites were: Dr. Raquel Fortun’s talk about her work as an expert witness in the country (or, her talk about chairs, haha), Jerrold Tarog’s talk on music and film and their similarities, and Ebe Dancel’s talk about his struggles, with music as his savior. Especially Ebe’s. (Ebe Dancel – Bawat Daan)
  • I got to witness Caesarian sections twice in the operating room. Of course, the excited, soon-to-be med student in me was very psyched, underneath all that proper protective equipment (PPE).
  • Coming home to a wonderful, dimpled baby in the house. Super cute.
  • My 21st birthday, about which I got teased a lot by my younger classmates in Biology but it is something I’m proud of and thankful for. 21 years of grace.
  • Seeing old friends.
  • Roi. Always.

Goodbye, 2015. You have been difficult but wonderful nonetheless.


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