Life after breakfast | Inquirer Opinion

Life after breakfast

04:10 AM February 20, 2020

I yearn for the quiet unfolding of life after breakfast. I’ve found a certain feeling that comes with knowing that the world is still unaware, oblivious to the fact that a young woman is already up and about, contemplating which is best to eat — a bowl of cereal, or this unidentifiable piece of meat sitting here for almost a week now?

Not that the world cares, of course; I know that it doesn’t (and never will), but that tiny little sense of freedom is undeniable. That I can be fully me just for a bit, that maybe I can pour the milk first before the cereal.


As I sit there munching on my bowl of carefully selected cereal, hair in a tangled mess, my thoughts wander into things past, those currently happening, and everything in between. This is another perk, I suppose, of mornings — I get to be alone with my thoughts, no matter how chaotic they may be, and then I can forget about them after.

Right now, I would say that my life is as tangled as my hair that resembles a bird’s nest. I have a rather turbulent job at the moment, and an even messier career path as a writer. The arts, unfortunately, isn’t hailed as much in the Philippine setting.


The definition of success comes in varying forms, but is mostly measured through titles like M.D., Eng., and Atty. I suppose that anything that comes after that is considered average, and then we have artists like me resting at the bottom, like this cereal now rapidly turning soggy.

I spoon some and shove them into my mouth, rather harshly this time, and with the tiny pain comes the existential crisis.

How should we be defining success, anyway? It’s a concept I’ve long associated with a mansion, one too many cars, and a silver vault full of money. As a child, I was taught to dream, and then work hard, because those two combined meant me living in that very mansion, with one too many cars, and a silver vault full of money.

The idea of success then made its way to me in the form of financial stability. Come the years of what I thought was enlightenment (college life), I found myself surrounded by people achieving for themselves here and there, making names for themselves — receiving recognition from the school and beyond, speaking to an audience, becoming lawyers and doctors, and even my ultimate dream of getting published.

So the idea of success shifted once again, morphing into the combined form of both riches and recognition. I thought that would be my end game, but the current state of my life says otherwise.

The world of adulting hasn’t been kind as of late, and I’m nowhere near riches nor recognition; I don’t think I would be in the next five to 10 years. I still have no idea how I’m supposed to define success, or make a blueprint of how to achieve that.

But oddly enough, I’m completely and utterly okay. I suppose when you realize that you’re only a dispensable member of society, things change. Turns out your company doesn’t really care, and you’re only there to drive profit.


As that TV show says, “one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.” So you slowly lose yourself the way that I am currently experiencing it — stuck with this meager breakfast, as I cannot afford anything better, no matter how much I grind.

If you ask me where I want to be, or how my life should be like, I will have no answer. All I know is that I want to pursue everything that makes me feel alive.

Perhaps a little bit later in life, I want to be sitting on a porch attached to a little cottage overlooking the sea, accompanied by the warmth of coffee in a little mug I’ve made months ago. It will be entirely my own space, and I’d feel incredibly blessed to wake up to and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea.

Just ahead are flowers of various hues and sizes, blooming all the way to the edge of the cliff. They sway with the gentle morning breeze, and later in the afternoon I’d pick some of them to adorn my little kitchen as I cook a hearty meal. Right beside these are vegetable patches that help sustain me, but everything else I’d get from a little town 30 minutes away.

My quiet moments will be mostly disrupted by a cat named Seychelles. And in the evenings, I’ll spend time with the love I’ve always been drawn to, talking about anything, even the most mundane parts of our day. There would not be much to do except all my little whims and passions — painting, writing, pottery, cooking. And I would have no room to spare for the woes of finances and other life worries. I’m sure I’ll make do, as long as I’m finally at peace.

And that, I suppose, is my quiet life after breakfast — contentment and utter peace, free from pressures and the many saturated concepts of success. For now, though, I’m stuck with this existential crisis and a bowl of now-soggy cereal for breakfast.

* * *

Nicole Tengco, 22, is a content writer at HQ Systems Corp.

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