October 2014.

It’s amazing how fast time goes by. It has been a year since the end of my last semester in college, a year after I decided to sit back and think about what to do with my life, a year since I chose to live in freedom more than anything else.

Most college students nearing the end of their university life know exactly what to do next. That’s the reason why people go to college anyway. The choice of degree is expected to predetermine the choice of work. If you are not me then you have probably figured everything out. You know exactly what to do next after you step out of college.

But I am not that kind of person. I don’t want to be that kind of person.

If you are like me on this matter rest assured that I have your back.

In this week’s post, I would like to share with you the half-review of my past year. I tried to write everything in a single article but the post became so lengthy. So I decided that it would be better for the other half to be featured in the next post.

I know 2014 has not ended yet. But for me, the journey I had since the beginning of this year has pretty much ended. I am ready to close this chapter of my life and figure out what to do next. I am ready to set bigger goals—goals that will declare the person in me.

From my story I hope that you would be inspired to do one thing.

Take risks.

Consider this article a permission for you to do so.

When I did the bizarre things I never thought I would do in the past year, no one gave me permission to do so other than my self. Because of that I felt frightened and dislocated sometimes.

But you don’t have to go through the same thing I went through. I offer my hand to you as you leap into the unknown, as you confront your fears and trust in faith. I am here, so don’t be afraid. Many people have done it before. There is practically no reason for you not to do so.

So take risks and have faith. Believe me. The worst never happens.

The Hundred-paged Document that Nobody Read (October 2013)

The bulk of this month was spent finishing a thick thesis that didn’t resonate much with my definition of fun.

In my last semester in college, I began to feel dislocated from university life in general. I didn’t want to stay in that place any longer—a place where everything you have to put in your brain is determined by a bigger authority.

At the end of my college life, I had only two subjects left—one I thought I liked (Thesis Writing) and one I totally didn’t like (Spanish).

It is not that I disliked learning. I am an extremely voracious consumer of knowledge. But the university setup is something I think I won’t thrive in, at least not anymore. This is a realization that hit me just of late after reading Chris Gullibeau and Scott Dinsmore.

The university, like the church, is still a hierarchy no matter how secular it is and no matter how liberal its education system is. I think my university has honored a lot of rights but I was yearning for more.

I want to be entitled to the right to determine what to put inside my head every single day.

Although this was still a vague idea back in October 2013, every single sensation that my body gave me as I wrote a hundred-paged document that no one actually read, not even me, was to finish school as fast as I can and just move on.

I finished and bounded the damn thesis, which my adviser thought was great.

What she didn’t know was that I procrastinated a lot before I finished the job and that I left college with no soul left in me.

Lost Again (November 2013)

After leaving college, I went with my aunt and my cousin’s family to Southern Luzon to visit Legazpi City and Hacienda Escudero. This trip was enough to relieve me of all the stress of thesis writing and I got back home with the intention of reflecting on what to do next with my life.

The first thing I did was to read a book on career planning. But before I did that, I had a very small idea of what kind of job I would want to do. I thought anything related to some work I did in the past will do as a career. Back then I did not realize how big a concept “career” was. I did not know how different it was from work, passion, dreams, and goals. I thought if I chose one of the four kinds of jobs I preferred back then—academe, social development, disability work, or special/inclusive education—I’ll have to do that and be proficient with that for the rest of my life.

Reading the career planning book was quite helpful in reviewing my previous life interests but I was still practically disabled.

I did not know what to do with my life.

Bread and Butter (December 2013)

As I was thinking about the “career” I would pursue, a job was actually offered to me by the institution that was the subject matter of my thesis—The Philippine Mental Health Association Baguio-Benguet Chapter. I was asked if I could continue writing their history to cover the years not included in my study, 1974 to 2013. Little did I knew that this would be my first real entrepreneurial venture.

But the go signal for starting the project came at a later time. I was excited about the project but I also have to earn money sooner so with the suggestion of my aunt, I applied as an E-Learning Professional for an Online English School for Japanese students. It’s not like I planned for this. I never wanted to teach English. But I was lost and uncertain so I needed time to think while earning a good enough amount of money to pay for my monthly bills.

The work was so flexible, I did my personal projects in the morning while I worked in the evening. Although it was not ideal, this job provided me enough income to support myself while introspecting about my North Star—the life I was meant to live.

Furthermore, because of this “good enough” bread-and-butter job I was able to launch this website and write again. I was able to rejuvenate my passion for reading and learning, something that really challenged me a lot in college and thus affected my grades.

Today, I am in the process of monetizing my passion for writing and self-improvement but until I get into that, I think this source of income pretty fits me well.

Into the Academe, Or Not (January 2014)

By this time, I was already exploring the possibility of blogging but my efforts were quite scattered and misdirected.

I was really thinking about venturing into the academe because it is the most logical and immediate answer to my dilemma. I pretty much know what academic life is, I had lived it for four and a half years. I had a good foundation in research and I was actually invited by one of my professors to try to apply to our university. In addition, I had this belief that the academe actually holds the solution to the problems of my country. Being an activist back in college, the prospect of using knowledge to change the world through the academic system sounded enticing.

I also had a strong passion for starting a whole new body of venture research on the history of disability in the Philippines. I started a blog and opened a Facebook fan page on the subject where I published some of my research findings calling the whole idea, Philippine Disability History.

At this time, I didn’t have any knowledge or background in blogging and social media. I didn’t have any competitive idea about leveraging the power of the internet to amplify one’s voice and be heard by other people. All I knew was I cared and I wanted to start something and probably inspire others to do so.

I am still quite amazed with the influence of this amateur venture research. Through the blog and the Facebook fan page, I was able to connect with interest groups from all over the world as well as individual advocates. They sent messages and shared some of my posts. I did not expect that through this blog I would be connected with a researcher of a similar interest who works as an instructor in the College of Saint Benilde in De La Salle University.

That is the power of blogging. It builds relationships and allows the meekest of the meek to be heard and inspire others to take action.

Today, I had slowed down with this research venture. It has been months since I last read a history book. But I do hope that in the coming months, I would find time to water this passion again and maybe continue the journey as an Independent Researcher.

The Voice Shouting Inside Me (February 2014)

By this month, I think I was really focused on finding a job. I was being inpatient about waiting for the PMHA to send me the signal to start the history and archiving project and as it has always been my nature, I started to feel a little tired with teaching English. I wanted to do something else.

So after three months of finishing my college life, I finally decided to look for a job.

Being the lazy cautious type of person that I am, I decided to plan out my job search strategy before venturing into the hustle. So I read the Two-Hour Job Search by Steve Dalton and applied his intuitive method.

I think Steve’s idea was very interesting and insightful. But after investing a lot of time reading his book and figuring out how to apply his methodology, two job openings emerged in front of me, which removed the need to search for more.

There was a vacant position at a nearby International School which needed a Middle School Social Studies Teacher. I was short-listed and was invited for an interview. The school principal wanted graduates from the University of the Philippines and the probability of my being hired was quite high.

At almost the same time, the University of the Philippines Los Baños was hiring instructors for its Social Science department and a very close instructor of mine was actually offering a hand to help me land a position.

Those were terribly sleepless nights.

There I was, emerging from a one-year depressive episode, lost and left with no soul after a crushing semester, confused on what to do next with my life and with no confidence left in me, just the desire to live and to actually make this life work. But now I was being forced to think about my life, to dig deep inside my soul, and make a decision quickly.

These were really enticing jobs but a voice inside me was starting to shout; it was already pounding my chest and it was grabbing my hand forcing me to listen.

I wanted to be a Social Studies Teacher, yes. I wanted to be an Academic, yes.

But I wanted to be more.

But I didn’t know it yet.

And to search for it, I needed time.

Lots and lots of time.

Beginnings of Nonconformity (March 2014)

What I did next was the first sign of unconventionality I saw in me in many years.

In my entire life, I followed what was told to me. I obeyed despite a desire to question and to do my own thing. For many years I conformed and thus made people around me happy.

But with two traditional jobs that could potentially jump start my career in teaching, what I did was the craziest thing I did for a long time.

I did not show up on the day of the interview and I did not follow up my interest on applying at Los Baños.

Yup. Crazy me.

I haven’t told this to anyone before, until now. And I know that some of my most well-intentioned friends and family members might think I am irresponsible with what I did.

“Sayang” they might think.

And I understand them for thinking so.

Believe me, there were nights after what I did when I would just lie down on my bed, look at the ceiling, and torture myself. “What was I thinking? What have I done?” I would ask.

But then again I remember how life became brutal to me in the past years, how early I suffered from something I think I did not deserve, and how painful it was not to live according to what my heart is telling me.

I reminded myself that when I asked my father if he could allow me to pursue my ministry instead of my college degree on that October night of 2010, I cried. I cried so hard that I fell into a terrible depression the following year—a depression that led to chronic dysthymia and other overwhelming problems,  a depression that I have to contend with every single day.

I reminded myself that it is my right—and indeed everyone’s right—to do what he knows is best for himself.

I knew deep inside me that I have to go into intense introspection, self-analysis, and meditation to achieve clarity on what I want to do next in life and to emerge completely from what happened to me back in 2011.

I think I deserve all the time to find my passion.

Today as I look back to that crazy decision of pursuing my search for passion, I realize that that very idea brought me out of depression more than the drugs or the psychiatrists did.

In the past months that I have been living my life as a writer, the symptoms of my depression and anxiety have subsided in ways I never thought possible. Back when I struggled with my depression, I didn’t like to do anything, a day was torture, and all I did was to lie down on my bed and watch television. But today, I wake up excited every morning because I have another article to write or another project to plan, or another idea to develop. It’s just amazing. Just simply amazing. The pursuit of happiness cures all things.

Intense Introspection and A New Belief System (April 2014)

After my decision to not follow through with the vacant positions, PMHA finally called me and said I could start writing their history again and archiving their documents.

I think this was good news because aside from the evening English classes, I had a new source of income, which I could tap into while investing a lot of time in introspection and learning.

So I did the PMHA job during the afternoon then I taught English in the evening while I pursued self-learning in the morning.

This set up worked so well for me that I was able to read lots of books more than I was able to do in my entire four and a half years in college. I was able to rekindle my lost passion for reading and learning.

I noticed that when I was in control of what I put inside my brain, I easily remember what I read and I strive to apply what I was learning.

This is one of the many self-discoveries I was able to find through reading and meditating.

After reading books in the morning, I would ride my bicycle in the late afternoon and stop in front of rice fields, breathe and just digest everything I learned.

Through my intense introspection, I learned that I was naturally inquisitive and nonconforming. I realized that I was able to be a young pastor at the church which I left because I repeatedly challenged my own beliefs, question what was taught to me by Christianity, and validated everything through research and empirical evidence. Finally, I gave up believing after my core values were no longer aligned with what the bigger pastors were telling.

Through my reading, I discovered that there was a large number of people who would actually praise individuals that left their jobs to pursue their passions, that there were many successful people in the world today who faced very similar dilemmas that I currently face, and that it was okay to challenge the status quo.

By this time, I learned the power of the internet and social media to build the person you want to be and to find accountability and impact other people for doing so.

Starting and Failing and Starting Again (May 2014)

After reading a lot on alternative lifestyle design, I bought a domain name and applied for self-hosting to venture into blogging.

The blogosphere just doesn’t fail to amaze me on how successful it is in amplifying the voice of ordinary people, in helping individuals build relationships with like-minded peers from other parts of the planet, and in providing the tools for everyone to create their own platforms.

So after getting a lot of inspiration and tips from bloggers that I follow, I designed and launched this website to see where it would bring me.

Creating and launching this website taught me a lot of things about life.

Well, among many things, it taught me how clouded my brain was. Until I started brainstorming the content and direction of this blog, I never realized how much crap has filled my consciousness that all the creativity I once had was almost all gone.

The first domain name I bought was actually different from what I am using right now. I bought “DailyPolymathy.com,” which I planned to use to talk about how I would pursue my different passions but later on, I found myself feeling empty and uninspired with the subject matter. That happened after a month or so of intense brainstorming with all the papers filled with doodles and scribbles and mind maps of what I planned to do with my platform!

I instead followed what resonated more in my heart and embraced the advice of Dave Ursillo to be “unapologetically me.” So I bought “VincentImbat.com” and started writing about my life and my story.

I consider this my first failure and my first taste of starting all over again. And in the next post, I will be writing about more failures and mishaps I did this year.

But it is what taking risks is all about. It’s about building up that pile of failure and being proud of it. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and doing something you completely don’t know. It’s about planning as you go and get your hands dirty.

That is what creates the better person you ought to be.

That is what creates the person within you that you will always be proud of.