Meant for a different frontline
Train sings to my ears, “Play that song, the one that makes me go all night long…”
All night long. I have been trying to be productive for some nights now. I have been reading, attempting to catch up with my school backlog, preparing for exams. At the same time, I have been worrying.
After college graduation in 2013, I worked as a research associate in UP-NIH. I stayed there until I was finally hired as a nurse at the Philippine General Hospital in 2014.
In my third year as a nurse in PGH, I decided to enroll in law school. I juggled “toxic” shifts and law school for almost three years. The journey was fun, exhausting, but fulfilling. When I doubted the career path I chose, I just told myself that this was what I wanted. I considered myself privileged for having a stable job and an opportunity to study at the same time. However, due to health concerns secondary to stress, I decided to resign from work after almost six years in service.
At about the same time, COVID-19 emerged and later became a pandemic.
We have been in home quarantine for 70-plus days now as imposed by the government, and things have not been easy (but not quite as hard as the extreme experiences of the less fortunate). This lockdown has turned me into a huge mass of uncertainty in a small human frame.
I have been reflecting, regretting, consoling, encouraging myself all at the same time. I have to say, if only worrying was a course, I would have aced it.
I have been worrying because as far as I understand what’s happening, the Philippines is nowhere near winning against this pandemic. COVID-19 is like Thanos with the gauntlet and infinity stones defeating the Avengers in “Endgame,” except that the Philippines did not even reach the point of nearly removing the gauntlet from Thanos. We are, at the current rate, sadly no match against COVID-19.
The daily dose of bad news has been consuming my sanity, turning my hair from black to white. Frowning and cursing have been my default facial and verbal expressions. In general, this lockdown has been full of fear, uncertainties, frustrations, anger, helplessness, and hopelessness.
In the first days of the lockdown, I felt regret and guilt. I felt that this time was supposed to be when I should be serving in the hospital — where nurses like myself were needed the most. I should not have resigned. I felt useless because I was not in the frontlines when I was very capable to help. My emotional patriotic self was telling me to go back, to volunteer, but my rational self was telling me otherwise.
After days of processing this internal conflict, I finally resolved that perhaps, the job was not meant for me to do. For some reason, I was spared what my colleagues are unfortunately experiencing now. I did not have to worry about risking my family’s safety by going on duty and then socializing with them. I did not have to leave my siblings for work. I did not have to leave my dog. Perhaps, I am meant for something else, and I hold on to this belief—whether it be true or just my mind trying to cope.
I figured I should get going while feeling all these unwanted emotions. I thought that I’d prefer making myself preoccupied with something productive than with worries that make me more insane day by day.
So now, I am trying to turn these feelings of frustration and anger I have toward our incompetent government into fuel for my goal of becoming a good and just lawyer. I choose to believe that I am not in the medical frontlines now because I am meant to be in the frontlines for justice in the near future. I choose to believe that this country will need me more in the future in my capacity as a lawyer.
Thus, here I am, with my cup of iced coffee, currently listening to Train, playing songs that make me go all night long, listening to “This’ll Be My Year” even though it’s not, flipping through the pages of this book on labor law until I reach tonight’s reading quota.
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Angela Fabon, a 27-year-old Romblomanon, is a registered nurse who is currently a third year law student in Arellano University School of Law.
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