I'm not willing to risk a "friendship" but I'm not willing to lose my "dignity" either. What should I do then?

On a day where everything almost seemed so wrong, I can't quite get a grip of myself. True enough, I still feel as if mistakes of the past are haunting me. There's also this fact, though, that I happen to think too much, and particularly because I somehow know too much. I even joked to Kim about this yesterday: I know too many things, I can actually start a gossip column and basically give myself a license to stab people's backs. Of course, I'm half-serious, or I'm channeling my fury elsewhere.

The few sets of happiness bursts that happened today, though, were quite extraordinary. I was satisfied with the photos I took today, although I still have to finish a roll of film and see them go from unexposed negative to out-of-focus enlargements. In another occasion, Sir Bascara even called me "a loss to the History department", which seemed like an unexpected ego boost, merely because I was paying attention. (It helps that I have seatmates who are actually history majors.) Eventually, however, I'd fall asleep in the bus and try to assess, for another time, what actually happened to me today. And so, for another time, I felt obsessively rejected, got an unwanted reality check, found myself running away from things again - of course, the journalistic self has dwelt on the negative again.

In between, I wondered why I can't seem to do anything about it. Indeed, during the career workshops last term, my lack of assertiveness seems to be the most pressing concern that'd probably make me an otherwise attractive prospect for a job. And suddenly, it doesn't matter whether my course could possibly give me more career opportunities, simply because I can't ask to push the chair forward. Another perspective which seemed to go my way says that people like me tend to respect authority - or, if you're one of those go-get-em type of people, I am such a complacent wuss whose apparent competence gets lost in the air.

Since that day when Maita took the sparkle away from me and pulled the chair forward - an option I could've done but never considered doing - the phrase assertiveness is key has been ringing around my head. True enough, I'd eventually learn it like most politician wannabes don't do, if only minimally, but already the situation calls for something so drastic it'd probably freak out most of you. Currently, though, I've been proud of only a few things - mainly, a handful of ambush interviews and an even smaller handful of possibilities. But, if I've learned about it earlier, probably I'd be good enough to gain the respect of people who, up to now, still refuse to give me my much-deserved (and not boosted) respect.

My environment doesn't exactly allow for this to develop. If I had the opportunity, I'd be quick to blame just that - the shortcomings, say, of my parents to make me aware of what is really happening and instead shield me in a wonderland, or maybe how people decided to slap a stereotype on me and keep it for the rest of my life. Whatever - my fallible logic would lead to me actually pointing fingers at myself, and the verdict would be, it's all your fault, damn it. Case closed.

I don't seem like a normal person, do I? I'm not the only one who gets lost in the post thinking about what to do, or more usually, finding myself lost in the company of "friends" who don't do what they're supposed to do. I'm not the only one who gets pushed around simply because I don't fit. It hurts to know that up to now, when I thought that problem would long be delegated to the history books, I'm still being pushed around, generic camaraderie giving way to a more personalized one aimed to push away those who basically don't fit their criteria. Or maybe I think too much, but who could blame me for doing just that? I am still thinking, there must be a way to make this right, so I'll observe. It's been years since I started, and I can't seem to go anywhere.

That conversation with Kim yesterday afternoon wasn't much, really. It was the usual aimless chat inside her car, with topics jumping from Sam Oh to Issa Marcelang to Steve Jobs, and in between, an unavoidable sprinkle of my own shielded life. And, quite unexpectedly, here comes those you're actually this and that positive statements, which flatter me, to be honest. At least, I thought, there's still something good people notice about me. But is that all there is to me? I still live in a fantasy that was people laughing along during LPEP: eventually they'd choose their own friends and be assertive enough in a personalized level to make things work. As I do things on a macro level, it's dead. And just when I do things a little more specifically - and they have worked, quite honestly, although circumstance "uses me from behind" and kills every opportunity. I remain hopeless, after all.

I'd probably think by now that destiny has been very, very unfair - that, up to now, I still don't get what my bloated ego wants me to think I actually deserve. Because when I found myself running away from things again, I realized, there's no use to sulking about this, because your lack of assertiveness led people closer to you - and push you around. That still is a relationship, after all. A healthy one, at that - on their side, at least. I ended up thinking, on the bus today, that I should get over thinking this and actually start working on the assertiveness issue.

You can't get over if you don't finish it. You can't finish if you don't get over it. What you do first is up to you.

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