Batangas Beach Trip: 2020 in Hindsight

As you’re reading this, I’m hoping you’re healthy, safe, and doing well in general. On a personal note, I am fine as well, though it hasn’t been exactly easy. To say that 2020 is a strange year is such an understatement. To be living in these times feels like an endless series of anxieties, frustrations, and disappointments. The year started for me with so much optimism, especially since I was just a few months removed from my sickness and was gearing to start a new chapter. The year did start a new chapter but not in a way I — or anyone — ever imagined.

The first few months of the quarantine were okay, mainly because I had hope that all this would resolve after a few months at the most. But when it was becoming clear that they wouldn’t and the thought finally had sunk in, I was gradually placed in a feeling of despair.

The way I function is that I try to keep it together. I’m so used to just being calm and nonchalant when dealing with issues, so much so that others think I’m too chill. I don’t talk a lot about how I feel, but I don’t really overthink as well. I simply believe in the best when it comes to people and situations, and I like to be hopeful that problems would alleviate soon because I can’t fully absorb negative situations, and I have a hard time processing them. But eventually, all the negative thoughts just become overwhelming, and before you know it, you’re caught in a cycle of numbness and sadness.

I used to distract myself with travel, so I didn’t have to “deal” with things, if you know what I mean. That’s the “escapist” in me. I like immersing myself in another world. But the pandemic took away exactly that.

Still, living in this pandemic this year has also brought about opportunities to think about things, to put things into perspective, and to think hard and clear about what really matters in life.

First, the broad perspective. Since the lockdown in March, streets have been empty. Skies are bluer, and the urban noise has been replaced by hushed tones of people chatting. People are greeting each other, offering to help others, and are rediscovering the joys of walking in parks, biking in the streets, and other physical activities.

But as idyllic as that sounds, it also reveals the brutal reality of economic inequality: people who have the means are able to stay home while so many others are not. This is just one of the inconvenient truths that make the pandemic so tragic.

In the end, we will need to figure out how to put back everything together. The new normal showed that people can change. On the other hand, it has also highlighted how our faulty systems make it difficult for most to even take the first step towards that change. Unfortunate events often create opportunity. Hopefully, we can come up with something that would provide equal opportunity for all.

Then, there are personal implications. Without getting into specifics, I’ll just say that this year served as a reminder of the idea that, if we limit ourselves to what is rational or logical, we prevent ourselves from discovering what can be possible. Getting out of one’s comfort zone can sometimes seem scary and even stupid, but sometimes, it’s the only way to make sense out of things. The best ideas and greatest inventions were made because people questioned the status quo and dared to “break the rules.” When we limit ourselves to the familiar, we can save ourselves from the pain, but we also shield ourselves from happiness. It’s worth being vulnerable and allowing life to consume us once in a while.

Jump off that cliff. Sometimes, you just have stop overthinking.

I thought I had lots more to say, but as I kept on writing and rewriting each paragraph, I realize it’s hard to form a coherent thought when much of what happened this year lacked cohesion and was simply a matter of just trying to get through another day.

But of course, I can’t end this post without thanking Allysha, who modeled for the pictures used in this post, as well as Kuya Diony and Eric, whom I shared this day with at Vista de Puente, Batangas City. I was really needing a change of scenery and the sight of the ocean sure did wonders. (This is the farthest I’ve gone this year. Yay!)

Wear a mask, practice social distancing, and regularly wash your hands. Have a safe and healthy 2021, everyone!

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