To my 25-year-old self,
At this point in time, you’re dead tired of and from your job and on most days you hate it. You dread going to work and you cry on some days before taking a deep breath, composing yourself, and heading to work. You are spiraling, and you are very unhappy.
Yet you choose to go to work every day because you still don’t know where you will head. The unknown scares you far more than being unhappy. You’d think maybe this is your quarter-life crisis happening right on cue.
And then you meet someone.
And this someone would be your mad love. What did one of your directors say? That you are entitled to that one mad love in your life, the kind of love that you would do everything for, be crazy for, and maybe even destroy yourself for. And that should be it. One mad love for the rest of your life, because this mad love should teach you a lot of life lessons.
He is someone who doesn’t fit your specs at all except for the fact that he wears glasses and he plays a musical instrument. He smokes (which is one of your deal breakers), he drinks, and aside from the fact that you work together, the list of things that you both have in common probably stops at ten. If this was high school, he’d be part of the ‘it’ crowd, the group of guys who act like they own the hallways, the ones who would sit at the sides and would rate the girls that pass by. And you, well, you know where you were in high school: Miss Goody Two Shoes, sometimes a wallflower, sometimes thrust in the limelight due to an academic achievement. The only times that your world would intersect with his is when he asks for help for his book report or when he wants to copy your homework. (Or when you would ask him for help for your drafting assignment because you hate it, and he’s good at it.)
But you will get close to him. You will spend more hours together than you would expect, including weekenders with neither of you taking a bath. You get to know someone better if you spend more than 15 hours a day together, seven days a week, and that’s what you guys did. Eventually you’d get to swap stories and interests. Share a meal, or three, or four, including snack runs and his yosi breaks in the wee hours of morning. You’d get to learn that he doesn’t know that you can press CTRL+A on a Word document, right click, and select ‘Update Field’ to update all the cross-references you have in the file (he has a 50-pager questionnaire and updates the fields one by one until that moment that you taught him that). You’d get to keep his corny jokes your ‘secrets,’ so when you pass by Satchmi at Megamall or see DoubleMint or Mevius, you’d think of his jokes and smile to yourself. You’ll debate as to how to pronounce Aeropostale, so you should know that there is a YouTube video online that tackles just that.
You’d get to know about his family and his sometimes issues with them. You’d get to know that one of his exes broke up with him on the day of their prom because she saw him dancing with his girl best friend whom she has been jealous with since time immemorial. You’ll learn he’s a comic geek, and he would share his comics with you, makes you start reading Civil War and Injustice: Gods Among Us. And you’ll like reading comics and later on graphic novels, because the art is amazing. You will have a newfound appreciation for this kind of genre that you never really thought of reading except for Archie comics when you were younger.
Since you would share so many meals together, you’d eventually expand your usual diet to accommodate his food cravings: Korean food (you still don’t like kimchi, so just say no every time he asks and eventually he’d get tired of asking), ramen (he’ll make you try this, because you said you didn’t like it without even trying it, and you won’t regret trying it), chicken wings, onion rings, Bon Chon chicken and other chicken because he just loves chicken generally, and Japanese food. You don’t like sashimi and sushi but he likes them so you got more than your fair bargain of Japanese food the entire time you’ll know him. (He won’t force you to eat sashimi, but he’ll make you try. So try. Just try whatever food he offers or suggests, because he usually is a good judge when it comes to food. Don’t stop him, however, from trying churros, because he wouldn’t like them. Just so he would know.)
He’ll be your constant companion. He’ll hang around your desk more than your teammates would, sometimes to sleep there because your cubicle is hidden from his own boss and from the directors, and sometimes just because he wants to cling. You find nothing strange about this, because you’ve gotten used to his presence. (And sometimes you will look for his presence.)
And then you’ll realize that one of the reasons you’re hanging on to a job that you didn’t like anymore was because of him. He was making your long days and nights more bearable. He would be your sounding board for your stressful days, and he listens. He listens and he remembers. He even listens to your plot bunnies for your novels and sometimes provides his inputs. (He’ll give you a plot for a crime novel, which you will park but it is interesting that you would want to write it.) He would remind you of things you forget, even if he has to tell you about them in front of your directors, who would find this strange.
(Eventually he’ll stop listening that intently, and stop remembering the little things. And it would hurt.)
But don’t overthink. Bless your romantic, really lonely heart, but for your sanity, do not overthink. Do not read too much in whatever he’s doing for you and with you.
Do not read too much into how he would hug you before he would go home, or how he’d buy you whatever it is that you crave when you can’t find it (after all, this whole thing started with some stupid Choco Mallows). Don’t think that there’s something more when he buys you Ferrero after you tell him randomly how no guy has ever given you Ferrero or when he takes you out on Valentine’s to a restaurant you haven’t been to and one that he wanted you to try and then pays for the dinner. Do not read too much when he waits for you so that you guys would head home together, even if you would go separate ways. Do not read too much into how he would ask for your advice for his gifts to his family for Christmas and how you would buy these gifts together. Do not read too much into how you would also go out on weekends even if neither of you go to work, how you would just intentionally meet up. Do not read too much on how you would be each other’s automatic movie buddy.
Do not read too much into how comfortable you are with each other, so much so that it’s fine if you share a plate when you eat, when you drink from each other’s glasses, or when it becomes so easy to order things because you guys suddenly have default orders in restaurants you usually go to. Do not read too much on how he would know to give your back a rub when you suddenly sit up and stretch because your bad back starts to hurt from the long hours spent sitting in front of your computer. Do not read too much into the songs he would share (Tiesto’s Wasted would be one of your favorites, and you’ll discover The Royal Concept, and they’d be mainstays in your playlists), or the movies and TV series that he’d make you watch so that you guys would have more things other than work to talk about. Do not read too much into how when there is a meeting and everyone should be present, the first seat he would go to is usually the one next to you, how you would look for each other, how you would know what each other is thinking just by a glance. (Eventually that would stop, too, and yes, it would also hurt.)
Don’t do it. Even if others are doing it for you. Even if people would ask you what the hell is going on between you two.
Don’t. Don’t do that, because if you do, if you think that there’s something more, let me break it to you: there isn’t. To him, you’re just his friend, you’re his closest friend, and that’s all you’ll ever be. Everything he does, it all comes from a place of friendship; everything that just happened was because that’s how he treats his friends.
Because once you do overthink things, you’d start giving him everything, because that’s how you usually are when you love, right? All out. There isn’t any other way. You’d start to give and give and give, even if he isn’t reciprocating or even if what he’s giving back is just a portion of what you’re giving. Even if you’re just a high second priority to his first priority girls.
You will feel special. You will feel needed. You will feel happy. You both will do a lot of things that make you feel and want him as your boyfriend. And after a long time of being alone, you will like feeling these, but like everything else that you throw up in the air, eventually it will all come down. So protect your heart. Don’t open it up to him wholly, because he won’t be able to return the love you so willingly give. Remember that he isn’t your boyfriend, and no matter how hard you will for it to happen, he won’t cross that line.
Learn from him. But don’t make the experience last for longer than it should. I know you believe in slow burn love stories, in best friends turn lovers because that’s your favorite trope, but it isn’t going to happen in this case.
Learn to save yourself. Don’t choose him over everyone else, especially over yourself, every single time. Get out of it, while you still have respect for yourself. While you feel that other people still respect you for your choices. You will feel inadequate because you won’t be what he wants, but don’t measure yourself based on that. Because you are good enough, and you know you are, but you would second-guess yourself when you shouldn’t.
Learn from him, but when it starts to be too hard, when you start to cry far more than you should over him, when he is the reason why it becomes hard to breathe, get out of it. Stop ugly crying over him on office floors in your friend’s arms because it hurts. Stop trying to fake it till you make it, because you will be miserable. Stop defending him for some of the douche-y things he’d end up doing.
See the things he’s doing for what they are, and not with rose-colored glasses that are tainted by your love for him.
Another thing: please do not lose your closest friends because of him. You’ve already lost a number along the way because of boys and guys, and you should know by now that most of the time it’s not worth it.
And last but not the least, the most important thing you have to remember: do not lose sight of who you are. Do not change yourself to be someone you hope he’d like. Because one day (like on the day your future self is writing this letter), you’ll stop to wonder what have you become after coming out of that. And you find yourself not really remembering who you are. And it would be hard to pick up the pieces, to try to find the parts of true self before all of that, and it would be a long process.
So there. You’ll meet him, but don’t run away immediately. Stay for a bit. Because he’ll teach you a lot of things, and he’ll be the root of some epic life lessons. He’ll make you try things you haven’t even known you would do, like this big life change you just did.
And then get out of it. Don’t hang on to something that wasn’t there.
Your future self.