Friday, April 05, 2013

Battling Self-Pity

I am fortunate enough to afford to travel a little.  And most of the time, like today, I overlook this blessing.

Contrary to what one may commonly think, traveling doesn't make me feel rich; it makes me feel poor and small.  Staying in a first world country has made me feel so much of my third world citizenship (but not with third world behavior, that I could tell you).  And I am getting ready to feel poor again as I go to the States in a few weeks.  (Whut, two dollars for a single french macaron?!?)

Please don't judge me.  I know it is BAD to feel this way, looking at the negative side instead of emphasizing this blessing and capacity to go abroad.  That is why I want to battle it, too.

So why travel if it makes me feel that way?  Because even with that, travel is FUN and humbling.  Seeing new places, exposing yourself to another culture, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones, and learning and learning and learning - those are priceless.  You can't put a price tag on those.  And so I wouldn't mind feeling poor for a while in exchange for these things.

Before I knew of my disapproved travel grant requests, I initially planned on not going should I not get any.  But then, opportunities do not knock as often, and so I decided to go and use my savings. It was a long and stressful decision, but I am happy that family and friends have been supportive (well, my dad needed a little more prodding).

Then, when I have finally bought my ticket - until now, actually - I keep on thinking about how to make up for the money I'll "lose".  I have been extra attentive to possible job stints and more particular with my spending.  I also thought of buying crafting stuff and bags there and sell them here (though I could be the candidate for the worst saleswoman ever).  I even asked my US-based cousin to look for a temp sitting job which could help me pay for my expenses.  Or help me with a little crafting shopping. :p

My cousin said she knows someone who owns a homecare, and though it's far from ideal, I would gladly take care of old men and women to earn some bucks.  But my dad and aunts didn't agree of that plan - saying I won't be able to manage the work, and that I'll look pitiful in the scene.

Wishing life were easier, I am left thinking why I had to think of all these considerations before traveling.  While some would go to trips, care of their able parents, and get excited about shopping, I am dreading spending more than five dollars for a fastfood meal.  And boy, how many meals will I need to eat there.  (On a good note, while there, I think I'll finally be losing those extra pounds I've been trying to get rid off!)

I don't have any expensive indulges.  And I don't splurge on stuff.  Even if my siblings would contest that my crafting tools are expensive, I make sure that I look for the cheapest deals, and the decision process of whether to buy or not is long and disturbing.  I am such a low maintenance person, and I say this with pride.  I don't envy girls who wear designer clothes or sport expensive bags.  I am not embarrased to lug around my dinosaur BB model, while most of my students whip out the latest iPhone.  I am fortunate enough to drive a nice family-owned car, but I really wouldn't mind what it is I drive.  I am actually getting used to commuting again.  Hey, I am finally getting good at squeezing my body in those notoriously jampacked trains.

You know who I envy?  People who get to travel.  People who get to travel with ease.  Will that time ever come for me?

I would like to think and say "yes".  But with another future plan in mind, I don't think I could replenish my piggy bank soon.  If anything, it would just get leaner.

Here it is (let me say it out here so I'll have some sort of accountability and stand by that decision):  I will try apply in a number of US universities for my PhD. There, I've said it!  Gosh, I didn't know it entails some serious financial investment.  Tests alone would cost me a month's salary, plus the application fee for each university. And it's not as if I have the best credentials to feel safe in applying to just one school.  The target is five, at the bare minimum.  I wish I could say with confidence that it's gonna be worth it in the end, all the expenses and effort, but I don't even know if I will get in.  I've been constantly told that competition for slots is keen.

It's a big risk.  It's a financial gamble.  And then of course, there's the huge possibility of rejection, which I hope, should it unfortunately happen, would not take a blow at my self-esteem.  All I'm sure of now is that I have to do this, or else I'll regret not taking this chance.  So whether I make it or not, I just have to remind myself that I WANTED THIS.

And so with this new endeavor, I say goodbye to that buy-and-sell plan (no more capital for me), that little shopping spree as a VERY early birthday and Christmas present to myself (time to empty that Amazon cart!), and the plan to not hold back when it comes to my meals (Hello, Sky Flakes and instant noodles! {this I could actually say with delight, haha!} ).  Well, if there's a good side to it, at least I know I'm not gonna get any fatter!

While some people do not know where to get their next meal, here I am unrightfully pitiful of myself.  I know. I wish I could feel rich again, without actually having lots of money.

Did you know I was like that once?

Please pray with me as I ask for grace.  I am missing that.

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