I was reluctantly headed towards the gate of my condo with the intent of going to a nearby supermarket under the heat of the blazing four o’clock sun. I decided on wearing a bright teal colored hoodie that day, paired with my baggy pajama pants, and my go-to sneakers that apparently hadn’t been cleaned from my last escapade. “No one will probably call you out for your footwear anyway,” my nonchalant inner voice advised.
The request was definitely sudden but wasn’t that unexpected seeing as my mom’s belly had been looking more and more like a watermelon each passing day. Anyone could tell that she was about to give birth this month or even the next and that obviously meant it was time for the only other person at home to step up and become the other adult in the house. This was my moment. My time for maturity had come.
“Feels like the sky’s glaring on me today,” a random thought came as grey clouds were suddenly starting to form from above.
I had prepared for every eventuality that I might come across for this sudden mission. I had my pink sling bag stuffed with everything, literally everything from my QR card, credit card, vaccination card, ID card—you get the picture.
Shopping for groceries may be a normal thing for anyone at the age of eighteen, or even younger, but for a sheltered only child for most of my life, it honestly felt like entering society with a “stare at me” sign taped on my forehead, specifically printed in bold and all caps. If you couldn’t tell that this long ranting monologue was proof of my nervousness, then the sweat dripping down my forehead was definitely a sign. Or it could just be the sun.
Getting out of my thoughts, I made my way through the narrow sidewalk while putting on a pair of knockoff AirPods, now listening to a random song I clicked from my BTS playlist. In times like this, a good jamming session from your favorite band is best for calming nerves. I didn’t get to finish the song, though, since it didn’t actually take a full minute for me to reach my dreaded destination, unfortunately.
With only being a few inches away from the entrance, I could actually feel my anxiety steadily surfacing on my prepared and calm exterior from moments ago. Between me and the entrance, there were merely two steps of stairs that I had to cross. Easy, right? “More like crossing the Korean DMZ” is what actually came to mind.
I took the leap in, but now came the harder part: shopping to get out.
I wanted to end this trip as fast as possible. I quickly navigated my way through the path of consumers that made this very small grocery store even smaller. I only had a few things on the list that my mom gave me to shop for: a few canned goods, alcohol (the safe kind), hand soap, laundry detergent, food, a broom, a rag, and a few other things. Basically, if you need it at your home, that’s what I’m buying.
After a few minutes of roaming around the store, squeezing my way through people in crowded aisles including their unattended shopping carts that frustratingly blocked the wider paths, I still managed to find most of the things on my list. I suddenly missed my life before I took a step out of my home, the safety of being indoors, relying on foodpanda whenever we got lazy to cook at home, not being surrounded by people who were most likely judging your pajama-like outfit. Deciding to stop the rambling, I just carried on living in reality rather than wishing to be in the fantasy. By then I was almost done with my list.
I only had two items left, the broom and the rag. I struggled the most to find these since despite being in a store that made you feel claustrophobic, I found out there were actually a lot of areas where needed items could be hidden. The meek extrovert in me needed to come out by now, it was getting late and I couldn’t handle the place anymore, so I mustered up the courage and just asked a nearby saleslady at the aisle where on earth the broom and the rag were.
Coincidentally, both were literally at the aisle behind the one I was in. That lady must be laughing deep down at the situation I was in. She was just focused on her job, though, minding her own business after the help.
Now back to my situation, the items were placed at the very back of the store and you’d have to worm your way in just to get them, and I did just that. I won’t lie to you and say that it was a pleasant experience, especially since I had to put myself in and out of there twice to get both separately. Gotta admit I might have silently yelled my profanities at the time, low-key regretting all the take out I had while being a subterranean and lacking the communication skills to ask help from that saleslady earlier. Couldn’t do much about it now, the only thing left was to finally pay and leave the store. I made my way through the counter.
“Your credit card isn’t working, ma’am,” the cashier in front of me mentioned out of the blue.
I had no cash except for twenty pesos in my wallet that could only cough up flies, my mom wasn’t with me to help with the situation, she didn’t reply to my texts either, there were several people behind me waiting for their turn while I was holding the line up front—you couldn’t see it, but I was definitely panicking. I instantly wanted to go back to that broom aisle and hide, just like I always had at home. Well, I wasn’t at home, I was here in trouble, in the real world.
I was now headed towards the gate of my condo, bag of groceries in hand, and it was extremely heavy. I finally made it back to our unit, and my mom welcomed me for a successful trip. She asked me how it went and I really told her everything that happened, the claustrophobic atmosphere, asking for help, even the credit card problem. She asked me what you’re probably wondering.
“How did it end?” she asked.
“I tried it again,” I replied.
That answer somehow became a very important lesson. One will never be completely prepared for what life throws at you. The nervousness and anxiousness one has is a normal feeling, and trying over and over again is what matters. We shouldn’t stop ourselves from facing reality or society just because we aren’t ready. Rather, we try to emerge and face our insecurities. And that’s when we know we are truly ready—when we come out.
Fionin Maer Tagimacruz is currently taking up BS in Psychology and has always had a soft spot for all things fiction. She takes inspiration for her literary pieces from everything around her since her youth, spending hours indoors reading fantasy novels and watching sitcoms.