Young Blood

Cold goodbyes


So I sent my resignation letter for my fifth job. In that cold afternoon high up in the mountains, I held on to my office table, told myself “good luck” in a whisper, wrote my last log-out in the logbook, stepped out the door, and took one last look at the shaft where our workers pass when going down.

With heaviness in my heart and until I could take it no more, I picked up my ID. The guards said, “It seems you’re going home at exactly 5 p.m., madame.” I told them I was just tired. The guards opened the gate for me and I hopped into the company’s service vehicle.

I was trembling and starting to cry. The tears fell no matter how hard I tried to stop them from falling. That was my worst fear in choosing to work in a new place: crying when I have to leave. I told our driver, Sorry if you see me crying. I just cannot take the pain and pressure any longer. I thanked him for taking me to the staff house and reminded him to tell the morning-shift driver to pick me up at 3 a.m. the next day.

That was way back in 2011, a chapter in my life that I quit.

I felt so weak when I opened the door of the staff house. I told the mess ladies to check my laundry so that I could get my clothes and start packing. I am leaving, I told them. I cried again while talking to one of the ladies as I looked outside the window. I arrived here in this cold-weather place in February and I was so sad to leave in September. Those months I endured, but I could no longer hold on. I packed my bags and had an early dinner without talking to anyone.

I went to bed early, feeling so down, and had flashbacks of the time I arrived and the events that happened. I asked myself why I held on. It was all because of hope, but that hope suddenly disappeared. There are times when you feel like the world is going against you, times when you need the people around you to keep you from falling but who want to see you in pain and see you fall. And then I fell asleep.

The alarm woke me and I heard the service vehicle coming. I moved quickly to prepare myself for the trip.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic, but also determined to leave.

I heard one of my roommates stirring but I knew that there was no point in saying goodbye at that time. I fixed a cup of plain black coffee for it was really early, and the mess ladies weren’t around yet.

I left the staff house at 3:30 a.m., knowing that I would never return. That morning was really cold—probably 9 degrees, because I was shivering in my favorite thick jacket. I left behind some stuff that would not fit into my bags and that I could let go of.

Later I jumped into a van headed to Baguio City. I sent an e-mail to our big boss about my leaving. And then for the next few hours I was fully awake. I watched the sun rise along the Cordillera mountains, the sky turning to orange under the thick fog. The music playing in the van was purely country songs. The other passengers were sleeping while I enjoyed my window view: the beautiful mountain of Benguet, which I used to love but now had to leave. I whispered my farewell.

It was really sad to leave. I did not say goodbye to any of my work mates. I just gave myself an exit, with high hopes that I will get better soon and forget all the negative things that happened to me there. I told myself that I have to remember happy memories only—the after-work parties, the company outings, the early-morning jogs, and the nice food and warmth of the Igorot people.

It was like I was holding a pearl that I had to drop slowly. I held my hand out loosely because I had to save myself. I had to run away from the sadness. I had to let go in order to protect myself from more pain. And I believe that was one point in my life when I showed love to myself.

When I reached Baguio I was surprised that I did not cry. I was even wondering why the van driver almost forgot to get my payment for the ride. I took a taxi going to the bus terminal, and I had to again deal with a driver talking to me. He asked me where I was going. I answered: Home. But what about the job you have? he said. I told him: I’ll think about it when I reach home. I stepped into a bus and sat on a second-row seat. I received a call from a supervisor-friend, and that call made me cry until I reached Manila at around 6 p.m.

During the entire bus trip I was in tears, and the bus personnel were wondering why. I had no choice at that time but to cry. I did not feel hunger, I did not feel any need to use the rest room during bus stops. i just remained on my seat, staring blankly out the window. It was really a weak moment for me. But when I reached Laguna at 11 that night, I was no longer crying. I had regained myself.

A new dog welcomed me when I opened the door of our home, and that made me smile. I did not say anything to my sister, who thought I was on a field break again. I had dinner and went to sleep immediately.

I woke up the next day feeling better, as if nothing had happened. But I was in denial that bad things really happen when you least expect them. I spent the next two months healing myself emotionally through painting and music. The center of my world was myself. Why, I asked myself, were there times when things would not happen the way I wanted them to?

But I was able to move on and was even able to find a new job. I had different place assignments again, until I asked myself: What do I really want in my life?

So I decided to leave my sixth job last March and sailed home. I was taking more care of myself, and was valuing my family and our home more. I was able to see and appreciate things that I hardly paid attention to in the past. I traveled to my province for a vacation, to engage in self-realization, and to recharge.

I quit my fifth and sixth jobs not because I am a quitter but because I believe that there are more things worth focusing on. That better things and experiences are waiting for me in a different perspective. That I need to meet more kind-hearted people who will remind me again that, as Anne Frank said, people are still good at heart in spite of everything.

I have gathered the pieces of me and will start a new life. I am fully decided to pursue my next goal, and I have taken the first step: I have finally enrolled in medical school. One thing that I will never stop doing is chasing my long-term dream.

This is how “d.j.a.r.,” 27, describes herself: a traveler, a risk-taker, and a freshman medical student who believes it is never too late to start all over again.

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  • Chloroform

    good luck in starting over… hope someday you will see the truth…

  • TheGUM

    You have a good heart and you’re on the right path. Good luck and lots of success in med school.

  • Islaslolo

    For your emotional health, it was really important that you left your job. And I admire you for having the fortitude to do it. But most importantly, when you asked yourself, as you stated, “What do I really want in my life?, you really hit the nail on the head.

    My son who majored in economics in college took a year after graduation to realize what he wanted to do in life. He went back to school and took the arduous journey of becoming a doctor. He finished med school at 30 years old. Likewise, my niece who graduated from an Ivy League school in New York in engineering and was in a management training program in the Office of the Chairman, to boot, of a very large investment bank, quit her 6-figure salary job to go back to school to take her post-bac pre-med. She just graduated from med school and is in a residency program now.

    You are still young and it is easier for you to make a career correction, which of course you are now embarking. And I believe medicine is a very rewarding career. And as Eric Kandel said “… one of the most important decisions one has to make in life is the career you can have.”

    I just heard a pleasant interview with Dr. Eric Kandel on National Public Radio’s Science Friday program the other day. If I may, please listen to this interview so you can have an insight on what some doctors do. (Dr. Kandel is the recipient of the 2000 Noble Prize in Physiology or Medicine and is now 83 years old and still doing science.) I cannot give you the link here because my comment would be prevented from being published here so just go to the website of National Public Radio (US) then select “Science Friday” under Programs. The title of the segment is “New Clues to Memory Glitch Behind ‘Senior Moments’.

    Good luck in your endeavors. Remember: life is a journey.

  • sensei_aijin

    Your article shook me. I can very well relate to your situation because I, too, will be leaving my 7th job at the age of 40. While you searched for the career you wanted to, I on the other hand, is firm on my chosen career – in the legal profession. However, it seems that nowadays, it is very hard to be an honest and/or ethical lawyer while trying to earn a decent income. But with the Lord’s guidance, I know that both of us and the rest who seem to be like us, will also find our way towards what the Lord has planned for us. God bless.

  • Jean Louise

    I can very well relate. It takes a lot of courage to leave the job you’re currently in, in exchange of finding what you really want. :( I’m happy for you.. and I hope you’ll find where your heart really is. ^_^

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