Dear 2019 Self

Let me begin by telling you who I am.

I am you two years from now.

I’m here to tell you the story of the things that will happen in the next few months. So grab a chair, sit down, and hear me out.

So it’s July 2019.

Girl, you are living your best life right now. After so many years of having to settle for mediocre projects, your clients are finally seeing your worth. You never thought freelancing is going to work for you, but here you are. After 6 years of freelancing, you have finally achieved what you’ve always wanted – a good job you can bring anywhere so you can travel the world.

In fact, you will end up traveling to five countries this year. You will also travel around the Philippines with your friends. This year is all about meeting new friends, learning a new language, and immersing in different cultures.

So savor the precious moments. Indulge yourself, because, I’m sorry to say this, but you won’t be able to do all these things in a long time.

Let’s forward to March 2020.

By now, you’ve already heard the news of the COVID-19 pandemic. But nothing would prepare you for how this pandemic would become so large of a calamity that it will affect everyone. And when I say, everyone, every single person in every country in the world will be affected by it.

Every town and city in your country will be placed on lockdown. You will end up walking for several kilometers just to go to the nearest market to buy supplies because public transportation will be limited. Everyone will be strictly required to wear face masks and face shields everywhere.

At first, you will not be affected by it all. Your clients’ businesses will slow down, but you will not lose your job and you will still get decent projects here and there. But you will end up suffering in the next few months because your family will be the most vulnerable people affected by this pandemic.

Papa will lose his job.

Millions of people will lose their jobs over the next months. Your father (sounds weird, but yes, our father) will be part of that statistic. You have a love and hate relationship with him, but you will learn to make peace with the past. You don’t really get affected by anything going on with his life, but this one will hit you differently. After years of building an important project, he will be betrayed by his own friend. In the middle of a pandemic when jobs are nowhere to be found. In a few years, he will become a senior citizen, and right now, he doesn’t have any idea what he’s going to do with his life. They will try not to show it, but you will see the look of despair in your parents’ eyes. And you will understand that. Because you know what it’s like to cope up with unemployment. Many years ago, you suffered from depression and anxiety because for almost a year, you were physically and mentally unable to work and had to live entirely out of your ex’s handouts.

Right now, you’ll end up shouldering most of the bills and expenses at home. You don’t mind it because you don’t have a family of your own anyway. But this time, you will start worrying again. Because if it happened to others, it can happen to you too. What will happen if I end up losing these clients and projects again? Where else will I go? Who else is going to help my family?

Your brother will break down too.

After months of being forced to stay home, one of your brothers will have a hard time coping. He will start having suicidal thoughts and he will end up crying for weeks. And like a domino, it will affect everyone in the family too. Mama will end up crying for days because she doesn’t know how to help your brother.

You’ve suffered depression in the past and if you’re being honest, it’s still there within you, but you have learned to live with it. You will end up being the person to help Mama so she can help your brother too.

In one of my trips to South Cotabato, I decided to go back to the lotus flower garden in Lake Sebu. Lotus flowers are special because even when their roots are in the dirtiest waters, they produce the most beautiful flower. I like to think that all these challenges in my life right will transform me by renewing my mind. Bloom in adversity, as they say.

Are you still listening to my story? We’re not even done with 2020 yet.

In the last quarter of 2020, your Lolo in Bicol will get sick, but you and your family can’t go check on him because flights will be canceled. You’ll end up rebooking your tickets three times until June 2021, but it will still get canceled. Direct flights from Cebu to Legazpi will be canceled too. You don’t know when you’ll be able to see him again – face to face. You have no idea how this pandemic is going to keep many families apart. Sometimes, you just want to give your loved ones a hug, and even that alone is too much to ask.

They say that you will be numb when you are in survival mode. It’s like you can’t feel your emotions. I can’t even say if at this point you are okay. The state of being okay is fleeting. But the good thing is; you are now at a point in life where you are emotionally stable enough to face the challenges head-on.

Fast forward, it’s July 2021 now. 5 more months and who knows, it will be year 3 of having to live through the pandemic. Right now, you can’t even call yourself a survivor. I mean, you don’t even know if the worst is yet to come. At this point, you will feel like you are still surviving.

But then again, we are all survivors of something.

You will feel guilty about a lot of things, but mostly for not doing enough. But they say, “It’s okay if all you did today was survive.”

So dear 2019 self, you are going to be fine. Work hard, help others, but most importantly, live. Because that’s the only way to survive the future.

Let me end this letter with these comforting words by Paulo Coelho, “None of us knows what might happen even the next minute, yet still, we go forward. Because we trust. Because we have Faith.”


Your 2021 Self

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.