I am sorry if I am evading you: A Migrant's Struggle for Self-Preservation

I am sorry if I am evading you.

I am just that – evasive.

I have mastered the art of evading people, in fact, I make alibis (not necessary lies) to avoid going to meet-ups.

I love people, but I don’t love everyone. Of course.

I love watching and observing people like I do with a specimen in a magnifying glass or a microscope. When I lived in Baguio, I spend time alone eating my meals close to the glass window so I can watch people. But I don’t feel comfortable being watched or being the centre of attention.

coastal walkway, new plymouth
I walked this beautiful coastal walkway in New Plymouth, Taranaki alone.

I love talking to people but only to some. I love listening to life stories told to me voluntarily. I don’t like to ask personal questions in the same way that I don’t like to be probed about my life, especially if you are not close to me. It is tantamount to intrusion of my privacy.

I love talking and cracking jokes but I have learned and being culturally different and straightforward, some people don’t get my sense of humour. I grew up in a neighborhood where we banter with sarcasm and brutal frankness. And then we roll with laughter.

It’s the same way that some Filipinos are stupefied and will never understand Duterte’s wit.

Sometimes I carry a book on purpose, not that I want to read but I want to pretend reading so that people will not bother me. Sometimes, the phone is also very useful in this case, pretending to text or browse, or whatever, so that people will not talk to me.

Back home, in the jeepney ( a public commute), people will ask me about my life in front of the rest of the fully-seated vehicle and within hearing distance from everybody. In the Philippines, you have to be nice to them or be called a snob. But I cannot also hide my irritation. In most cases, I am yes, called, snob.

Queenstown, New Zealand
Me and my soliloquy. Queenstown.

 

Filipinos, the typical ones will never understand me because I am different. I can go on days inside the house, even inside the room, and I am happy.

Once my cousin came to visit me and exclaimed, “What happened to you? Why are you always hiding in your room? You’re turning yellow. Get out!”

Here in New Zealand, my social circumstance has reinforced my introversion. In fact, I have developed a social anxiety that I tremble inside seeing people, well no, fellow Filipinos. This physiological reaction was conditioned back in Auckland with traumatic experiences with some Filipinos.

Filipinos who just like me struggled in the student pathway.

I will never forget that.

But the Pinoys here in Christchurch are good-natured, the exact same opposite with some of the people I met in Auckland. Sometimes, I wonder why the generosity and what I’d done to deserve their kindness.

Is it the crowding in Auckland that push some Filipinos to compete with each other in a way crab’s do in a crowded bucket?

Still my paranoia and alarm-antennae is up, always up, to detect distress signals, and when I do, it is time to move away.

One Tree Hill, AUckland, Feet
I climbed the summit of One Tree Hill Auckland, by myself, alternating barefoot and with shoes on.

Struggling as a migrant is a difficult experience especially if you are alone.But I’d rather be alone than be with people who bring with them a pin everytime, to prick my little bubbles of excitement over my little achievements.

I don’t want to be with people who always have something negative to say when I’m happy.

So I keep my social circle small. In fact, I don’t have, except for the people who I live with in the house and who I and talk once or twice a week and some of their friends.

When I worked in the store, I was evading people, fellow Filipinos, but then they were actually kind and encouraged me to have faith and not give up. They said they experienced the same. I will see the light too at the end of the tunnel.

I am grateful to them.

I desire social interaction but I also desire genuine people.

So If I am evading you, I’m just so sorry.

There are just three reasons:

  1. It may be because I am shy, which I am.
  2. Or, because I don’t like you because you are bad vibes.
  3. Or, maybe that I like you but I can’t stand your friend with the pin readied to pop my bubble of happiness.

If you are number 2 or number 3, going out with you, makes me all the more alone and depressed.

You may not understand me today but you will. In the future, you may meet people who will hurt you and put you down and you will be left with not choice but to avoid.  It is not  that you are rude or a snob, it is just that, you are doing it out self-preservation.

thomson park, christchurch
I visited this summit in Thomson Park Scenic Reserve on a New Year’s day with friends.
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10 COMMENTS

  1. Ann G. | 25th Mar 16

    I don’t know what happened with you back there in Auckland, but that’s just really sad.

    Currently, I have a close friend working in Jordan, I just talked to her a month ago and she’s having the same dilemma just like you. She said that she can’t stand her Filipino colleagues because they always have negative/rude/bad things to say to her. Mind you, this friend of mine is really a genuine sweet human being, that’s why I really don’t understand.

    Now at least I know that she’s not the only one who’s experiencing/experienced such ‘mentality’ from our fellow kababayan.

    • Pinay Thinks | 26th Mar 16

      Yes it happens that is why I am very cautious. But there are some Filipinos too that are really good. I met some already.

  2. January | 26th Mar 16

    That’s very sad.
    As a single mom, I know what it feels like to want to hide out of self-preservation. And I did. For a very long time.
    But, when the time feels right, I hope that you will find it in your heart to move on, to forgive but not forget, and to bloom again.

    • Pinay | 30th Mar 16

      Thank you single mom and thanks for reading my blog as well.

  3. wbidad2001 | 26th Mar 16

    I really like your writing.

    • Pinay Thinks | 27th Mar 16

      Thanks again. I visited your blog. I noticed you are writing research papers?

      • wbidad2001 | 29th Mar 16

        Yes mam. At present I am the dean if msu graduate school. I also studied in Larena.

        • Pinay | 30th Mar 16

          That’s really impressive, being dean at MSU grad school. My ancestors came from Siquijor as well.

  4. wbidad2001 | 26th Mar 16

    I spent my masteral in Birmingham University, England. I spent hours and hours biking the streets of the lonely city admiring green landscapes and blossoming tulips. It is in the loneliness with the cold wind chasing my back that I drew so much faith in the human spirit.

    I avoided pinoys abroad because for some reason many were pretentious. I yearned genuine acceptance which was hard to find in an individualistic western society.

    For some reason I grew strong. I drew on my inner reserves to move on despite the alienation.

    in hindsight, I now know that people can be a source of so much education when you learn to treat them with respect and interest. Just do not expect too much or anything in return.

    In the end we define our happiness. Whatever it is , it is in the peaceful solitude that I cherished so much.

    I really like you. You remind me of life as a student abroad.

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