How hard did aging hit me?

In 2009, life was much simpler and less complicated. I craved for more sleep (I was customer care specialist catering to clients 12-13 hours away from me) which meant staying at home way too often. I would buy cheesy, classic romantic films and binge watch them when I get off work on Saturday mornings. Some weekend mornings would be spent until late in the afternoon with my colleagues over sunrise beers, good food and seemingly endless laughter about bloopers during our calls. Or we'd just simply hang out at Starbucks for the lack of a better place to go. Or we'd go to the beach. Attendance should be mandatory, or I'd die of envy the next day because my friends had fun while I chose to sulk behind a book.

Ten years ago, me-time meant book hunting, and I would hop from one bookstore to the next just to find a copy of Eleanor Rigby and Far From Xanadu, and later I would be told that the second book isn't available in the Philippines and I had to get it shipped. Which I did because books, along with coffee and cakes were my only indulgence. I would read well late into the night, during idle moments at work when no one bothered to call, or even in the bus on my way to work. I read not only because I wanted to learn more but also for pleasure. And also, because it gave me a distinct kind of comfort I couldn't find from anything else. Maybe except coffee. Most of the time I could be found in a coffeeshop (sometimes during lunch time at work) all by myself occupying a table for two, reading a book. Then I'll plug earphones in my ears and listen to the Backstreet Boys and other 90s hits, Avril Lavigne and Linkin' Park and my playlists were made of MP3s converted from YouTube otherwise ripped from original CDs. When I got a bit bored I'd write poems and sad things on Starbucks napkins and leave them for the next person to sit on my table. When it's time to go, I'll buy chocolate cake, sometimes mocha or mango cashew to bring home to Mom.

Problems in 2009 meant I wasn't able to hit my average handling time in my calls. This is despite the fact that each and every one of my customers hung up their phones happy and completely satisfied. But I was always good in everything I did (I am, still 😂). Irate and rude callers were a challenge, and could potentially be a source of emotional and mental stress and anxiety. Music therapy always worked though. Life issues meant there's a colleague with attitude problem or a newbie that poses threats to the team's skyrocketing stats. We worked on numbers. To prove we're good enough for incentives, we had to show numbers. Being friends with everyone won't save our asses anyway. It's just the numbers.

Now, it's 2019, and a lot of things have changed. I am now in a corporate setting like a normal person. I was never a morning person and it was a challenge to adjust. I need more rest than ever, and it's not because of work, but because now I have an autoimmune condition. I now have to go to the doctor every other month to get checked, and buy prescriptions. I'd soak myself in Kdramas on weekends when I am in the mood for some light, romantic comedy. I would go out with friends from my current work, previous work, people from church or some random people I met at an event and somehow managed to make them Facebook friends, and catch up with them over cups of coffee or tea and talk about how crappy the last indie movie we've seen, otherwise formulating a long-term and sustainable solution to the worsening problem of plastic waste in Metro Manila. Or we'd watch a musical where the tickets are usually more expensive than a day's meal of an average Filipino family.

These days, me-time is going to a spa and get a massage and also getting my nails done. I indulge myself in hoarding sheet masks and other skincare products that promise to retard skin aging, in red lipsticks and eyeliner that'll stay on my face the entire day. Or I'd go to a restaurant and find out if their xiao long bao is really world-class and authentic Taiwanese before attending the Sunday mass. I would also go grocery shopping and put some more greens in my cart. Books became a necessity - now I need to read books because it somehow became part of my livelihood as I get paid for my reviews. I need to be critical now about what I read, otherwise people would judge my entire existence based on my taste in literature. People who, for the life of them, don't even know who the hell is Edmond Dantes. People are like that these days. They will question your opinions just for the sake of argument and if you're not as tough as you have to be, you'd start questioning the way you think, the way you live your life and even your self-worth. Many have become lawyers, doctors, movie and lit critics, social and political analysts, and spriritual directors and it's all thanks to social media.

Problems these days also vary. There's traffic, and also there's on how to get along with the unprofessional colleague who's a chronic liar and acts superior to everyone to the point of annoyance. I have to be more open-minded about things, and could no longer be too blunt about my opinions on politics, family, marriage, sex, veganism, Catholicism, body shapes and sizes, drug addiction, EJK, language competency and domestic partnerships because there's always, always one person that'll take offense. It will ignite unnecessary debate. They will start to blabber about what they heard from their teachers or from YouTube or from Facebook. They refuse to think for one moment, and consider the fact that maybe, we have different life experiences. Maybe we grew up in two, totally different settings. Maybe they are more privileged that I am. Until I'd just regret saying anything at all which is dumb and also unfair because hey, stop being a know-it-all misogynist prig because it makes you worse than the monster you condemn. But I could shut them down by listening to my Spotify playlist which I need to pay more than a hundred bucks monthly because who has time to convert and download YouTube videos? Then I'd write. I make them judgmental people the bad guys on the book that'll take me years to finish. But I'll finish it anyway, print it and find it in bookstores and take pictures of them on bookstore shelves for self-validation.

Ten years ago, life was simple. Time seemed eternal. Happiness meant there's one copy of Eleanor Rigby left in the shelves of Fully Booked Trinoma.

But life happened. Maybe it made me a bit wiser. Fiercer.

If I could go back in time, I definitely would. Only I would bring the books I wrote. And also, my Spotify premium.

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