TROUBLING sleepless nights. Serious anxiety. Mental anguish.

I am not merely enumerating the common emotions that would warrant an award of moral damages. Rather, this was my state of being while deciding on whether I should try my hand at this. Not that it’s unchartered territory for me.

I remember the first time I participated in a writing competition in 1988, my sophomore year in high school, in my humble home city of Cabanatuan. Our class was required to submit sample essays on diverse topics. As that was probably the first time I ever submitted an impressive piece, my Language teacher even confronted me, verifying if that was really my work. Talk about destroying a student’s self-esteem. Nonetheless, I stood firm by my masterpiece.

So off I was to the division round, where I competed with delegates from other schools, and emerged the division champ. Joined the regionals in Laoag City, placed third, and was sent to the nationals.

It took that much to convinced my doubtful mentor that I could (probably) write. After that feat, I became our school’s official representative to writers’ camps and regional schools press conferences, among others. I went on to become the features editor of our school paper for a year, while moonlighting as a counselor in a Dear Abby-fashioned advice column.

And so while the rest of the world around me was preoccupied with confused hormones, infatuations and secret admiration for the opposite sex, I was smitten with the typewriter, articles that needed proofreading and letters that sought advices on – what else – confused hormones, infatuations and secret, often unrequited, admiration.

Technically, feature writing became my first love.

While completing my Bachelor’s Degree, I wrote a number of essays that waited (in vain…) to be submitted to the Kule (our colloquial for The Collegian), or to major publications. I never had the guts to send any of them. I’ve lost them all, unfortunately, owing in part to my organization skills – or more aptly, the lack of it.

In The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, there is a memorable hard-hitting line: “People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don’t deserve them”. Sad, but true. Many opportunities pass people by, because they do not have enough faith in themselves to try and reach for their goals.

It’s been twenty years (now twenty-eight). I’m now a proud mother of three (now four), a lawyer in public service. I have written a considerable number of complaints, answers, motions, oppositions, briefs, memoranda, position papers, opinions. But I have to admit, nothing compares to the thrill of your first love. As Tim McGraw aptly described it: “Like an old photograph, time can make a feeling fade; But the memory of a first love never fades away.”

So there. I have decided to go back to my first love, probably (and with a taint of delusions of grandeur), my real calling – feature writing. I may not have the capacity to travel far like the journalist Annie Reed (Meg Ryan character) to meet Mr. Sleepless in Seattle; nor the guts of investigative reporter Josie Groucie (Drew Barrymore) who had to go through high school outcast hell all over again for a special report in the movie “Never Been Kissed”. Neither do I have the fashion sense and extreme metrosexual views of Carrie Bradshaw of “Sex in the City” fame. But it’s good to finally be able to try this out.

Is there a need to give a rundown of my seemingly shallow, juvenile accomplishments to justify this article’s publication? None, really. But bear with me, I’m just living the dream, convincing myself I deserve this much space.”

I wrote this in July of 2008, and I am re-publishing it to rekindle that exhilirating feeling of realizing that dream to have my own column in a newspaper.

Eight years later I started to let go, with that lame excuse of not having enough time running an office, or something like that. I realized I shouldn’t; I realized I couldn’t.

I’m still here, for the long run. And as with everything else that matters, I may not always have time, but I can make time for it. Thank you to my SunStar family for making me realize this.