“What is this I’m feelin’
I just can’t explain
When you’re near
I’m just not the same.”
—Jamie Rivera, “I’ve Fallen For You”
No, Tita Jamie, this isn’t just love. At the risk of downplaying that many-splendored thing, this one’s a lot harder to explain. The most precise description from its “victims”—usually in their late 20s or early 30s—is “there’s something really lacking, you’re searching for something but you don’t know what and where to look, basta”—and they used to be so eloquent.
It can strike anywhere without warning—while they’re in the office pantry at 3 p.m., or while they’re staring at the ceiling at 2 a.m. Yeah, it sounds a lot like love, but unfortunately this one doesn’t make the world go round. In fact, it shatters theirs. So what is this?
It’s not midlife crisis; they’re too young for that. They refuse to believe they’re already halfway through their dying age: “I can’t be dying at 60 or 65,” they’ll say as one hand flicks a yosi. It’s not quarter-life crisis either; they went through that disillusioned and whining stage some five or seven years ago, and they’ve never looked back since. Now they’re called “Sir” and “Ma’am,” and they roll their eyes at fresh grads who think they’re too smart to just be making coffee for the boss.
They’ve long accepted life’s realities, like losing a promotion to devious colleagues who kiss ass to get on top, and they know that tweeting about it won’t make much of a difference. Paying the bills is still a bitch, but they’ve managed quite well, thank you very much. In fact, if what they’re feeling is the kind of restlessness that makes people go soul-searching in India, they can very well save up for it. They used to laugh at those who actually need to travel overseas just to “find themselves,” but now they know how it feels to be the punch line themselves. Hindi nakakatawa. Not funny.
It’s being neither at the start of the race nor near the finish line. It’s being somewhere in the middle but with a comfortable lead. In fact, they can already see the finish line from where they are. They don’t know exactly how far it is, but at least they know they’ve come this far—and yeah, they realize they’ve been running for quite a while. And for the first time, they feel really, really tired and they just want to stop, but they can’t. They actually can, but they won’t. “I’ve run this far, why should I stop now?” they’ll say.
The finish line doesn’t look as enticing as it used to, and they’re surprised to know they’re not thinking too much about finishing at all—not in this race at least. They’d like to make a detour or take a path off the beaten track—finally start their own business, get an MBA, or “pursue their true passion,” for lack of a less icky term—but they’re afraid. “What if I’m wrong? What if I fail? Will I ever get back on this race?” they’ll ask. No one knows for sure. What’s clear is this: They’re afraid of it more than they want it. For now.
Maybe that’s why they don’t have a name for this. They’re aware that it sounds more like being ungrateful for being blessed than an actual crisis, so they don’t talk openly about it. They deal with it alone or with others who are similarly anguished. Make no mistake about it: They know they’re blessed and they’re grateful for it, really; it’s just that they feel they want something more, there’s more to making money than this, they feel… basta.
From an outsider’s point of view, it’s just another case of arte—on a more mature and privileged level. “You have a great job, you don’t live from paycheck to paycheck, you can go shopping anytime you want to… So what’s the problem?” Basta.
But that feeling of still being unsettled despite winning so far? It doesn’t always mean being ungrateful. It just means that they know they can do so much better. It’s much like ranting about mediocrity and kissing ass even after seven years of working. That sounds a little juvenile, yes, but somehow it’s great to know they haven’t lost all the idealism in them after all their years in the corporate world. Hey, you want to slow down, you want to rest, you want to breathe. Guess what? You can. Because you deserve it.
Finally, something to call this crisis with no name: Bumu-bwelo lang. Just getting my footing.
This can be the start of bigger things, whether in this race or another. Of course, this can be potentially heartbreaking, too, but you couldn’t possibly have gone this far without a resilient heart and amazing talent. You have to be braver than you’ve ever been. Trust your self. She’s been running the race with you since the starting pistol, and she can’t embarrass you now. And what makes her so sure of you? Your self replies with something so obscure yet so familiar: Basta.
You understand that, don’t you?
Antoinette Jadaone, 28, is a freelance director and scriptwriter. Ironically, she says, she felt this crisis with no name after she made her first full-length film.