That Place Called Qatar

“Kapag nagkapera ka eh gusto mo na lang gumawa ng pera tapos marerealize mo eight years na ang lumipas.” – Anthony to Mace, That Thing Called Tadhana The Movie

(When you make money, you’ll want to make more of it. Then, you’ll realize, it has been eight years.)

In my case, six years. I celebrated my 6th year anniversary in Qatar last February 26. I can’t believe it has been six years since I left my country with high hopes for a greener pasture and a brighter future. It is more than the years I spent in college. I don’t even know how it passed. It’s like I just woke up one day and I am not as young as I was before. Here I am now. Living on my own, paying my own bills and working hard to get what I want. Yeah, total independence. It’s funny how we rush into growing up believing that it is more fun and fulfilling not knowing that growing up means stepping out of your comfort zone and dealing with every cruel things this world has to offer.

“Aren’t we supposed to be great by this time?” Mace to Anthony. After watching this romantic comedy film, that line got me thinking. Am I really supposed to be great by now? Am I supposed to be successful? Am I supposed to be living the dream? What is greatness anyway? What is success? And yeah, what are my dreams? Or…do I even have one?

Six Years ago, I remember the first time I left. I had a bag full of dreams which I carried with me. The 30 kg baggage allowance isn’t even enough to bring all of them. But, I carried them all in my heart and they survived the 9-hour flight from Manila to Doha. At that time, I felt like I can conquer the world. The independence is quite liberating. It makes you believe that you can do everything you want. But, I was wrong. It wasn’t a walk in the park. It wasn’t as easy as I believed it would be. In fact, it was harder than I thought. My first year was filled with problems. The struggle in finding a fulfilling job, frustrations, homesickness all rolled into one. The succeeding years didn’t get any better. I still have to deal with same problems plus more. The struggle in staying in a job that I hate, frustrations, homesickness, money, family and relationship issues. Things are just falling apart one by one. I have told myself for so many times that I don’t want to do it anymore. Every time I will go home for an annual leave, I always tell myself that I will not be coming back. But, every time, I always find myself inside the plane going back to the place that I ought to forget. With tears in my eyes, I always watch the Philippine lights until they disappear from my sight.

It has been six years now. It’s amazing how I got this far. I don’t know how but I am glad I made it this far. I have always thought that I put my life into waste by staying here. I guess I became too busy making money to buy superficial happiness without noticing how time flies. I was too busy making money that I can’t enjoy. I was too busy making money not for myself but for those who are counting on me. It was a fulfillment for me to give back to my parents. But, as time goes by, I realize that I am losing my dreams. I don’t know how to dream anymore. I always imagine how my life would turn out if I didn’t take that flight to Qatar; if I didn’t agree to come here; if I gave up on my first year; if I didn’t do the things I did. Would I be happier? That will always be a mystery. Because this is where I am now, this is where I’m supposed to be, this is where God intended me to be. Yes, I spent six years of my life here. I still don’t own a house or a car or anything grand. I still fall short sometimes. I don’t have a career that I can proudly tell the world about. I haven’t done anything extraordinary. All I have are experiences, insecurities, learnings, realizations, triumphs and failures.

A friend once told me, “If I will be miserable, I should at least be miserable in a place that I like.” Friends always ask me why I keep on coming back if I don’t really want to. Why am I staying here if I can choose to go back home anytime? It’s true. It’s so easy to take the last flight out. To turn my back on this country and just leave everything behind and to never look back again. But, then I thought, Qatar made me stronger in every sense of the word. Qatar taught me many lessons, sometimes the hard way, that I will never forget. Qatar might have been tough on me but Qatar lead me to where I am supposed to be, to the people that, one way or the other, changed me. Qatar made me who I am.

I don’t know how long I would stay here. Maybe a year or two. Maybe another six years. I don’t really know. Would I do it differently if I could go back and rewrite the past? Maybe not… hmmm? On a second thought, maybe a few minor revisions would be helpful.

Are we really supposed to be great by this time? We are already great. We just haven’t realized it yet.

By the time I wave good bye to Qatar, God knows when, it will be bittersweet. But, just like before, I will  carry all my fulfilled, unfulfilled and even my forgotten dreams in my heart as I take that last flight out. With tears in my eyes, I will watch the Qatar lights as they disappear from my sight. I can’t wait for that day. Oh, I just realized, I never stopped dreaming. Because going back home for good has always been my dream.

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