How does it feel to be 24?

At this point in my life, I’m hanging out/meeting people who usually avoid the following questions: “So what batch ka sa (insert your university here)?” Or “How old are you?” Malalaman mo na lang sa birthday nila, sa facebook, or based on the ages of your mutual friends. But what draws you together is the stress of the working life, the large (and increasing) numbers of bills (especially the c word), price inflation, and basically being a ‘responsible’, grown up member of society. I now understand the need for coffee every morning and like a friend said, why bars are filled after work hours. As much as I joke that it’s always my 21st birthday, I think I can officially care less at 24 (there! I said it!). Life is an amazing blessing, and I definitely feel loved during my yet-another-year on earth.

Looking through my written journal this year, I ran into a lot of work related rants, along with goals that either happened for a while or were procrastinated even until now. I didn’t quite reach the potential I set out for myself, but I did start out this year a bit lost. I was unsure of the direction my career would take, given that I only work in a small company–that, along with a few good friends leaving the office.

Far left: the lovely lady who referred me to my current job; beside her is the other lovely lady who guided me through it all; I’m beside my fellow stress companion in the last year and hopefully throughout the next

Two days from now (and two weeks later), I’ll have to face two more “losses” in my regular routine. I’m starting to see a similar pattern in my working life.

My front mates ever since we moved into the new office. I fondly call them B1 and B2 behind their backs :D. I’ll miss our WTF moments.

But the awesome thing about friends is, your relationship will still work despite the distance. It can be a constant, no matter how many things have happened in between. Because you’ll always have something to talk about or you can simply sit still and it won’t matter.

Several awkward years and college crushes later, these girls and I still are making time to see each other. Girl on the left recounted we started being friends after I drank from her jug in grade 7 and we started being hyper; I joked that it was spiked. Ten years later, all three of us (and three more, not in the picture)  are meeting up to have intentionally spiked drinks 😉

My fellow Powerpuff girls aka the best girl friends I met during college. Three relationships, several oddly named crushes, and 10+ terms later, we find no shame in asking for tarot card advice or crying to one another during our darkest times. Whether it’s about love, tragedy, laughter, or some new artery clogging dish, I’m sure to find these two beside me when the worst of life has come.

Life also throws you some unexpected companions. They’re not there to replace the people who’ve left; they’re just part of that saying, people come and go. They add a little color, mixing up the palette that your life constantly creates and recreates.

Ang lalaki ay parang leche flan, minsan sweet, minsan leche. And with small packages come great things; to the happiest companion I’ve had in the last six months, thank you! 🙂

And because in this crazy world, all we really have is who were with at the moment, we always make sure to look for one another (no matter what the hour, lol!).

And because I do not want to miss any of the wonderful people who have made this year amazing, bearable, and exciting, someone will get a special mention (since we have no group picture together). Because every time we met up with another, there was always some traffic, meeting, or god-knows-what delaying our much needed cocktails. But we pushed through with the much needed ranting, raving, and hugging nonetheless. Here’s to more misadventures on the way to our meet ups, Ms. Amanda St. Clair :))

We better get a decent picture with Johna during our 2012 (hopefully) monthly meet ups 😉

Of course, I wouldn’t have felt so loved during my birthday if it wasn’t for the one who’s been at my side in the last four years. He surprised me with a video of my friends sending out sweet birthday messages–many of them wonderfully unexpected and tear jerking.

I am the luckiest girl in the world. Like Lorraine said, “I used to cook rice in your kitchen. Now you’ve found someone who’ll cook for you.” Ayiii! Apart from cooking, he takes care of me, believes in me, and is always honest with me. A girl can’t ask for anymore.

Another deserving (sort of) solo will be given to my ultimate best friend: my sister. Because she hates pictures, she’ll have to bear with a graphic interpretation. Hehe!

Thanks for all the misadventures, whether on a pen and paper RPG, while getting stuck kayaking through Ha Long Bay, or simply getting lost through the streets. Tootytootz! Don’t stop believing.

Now that I’m several pictures through this post, I realize I don’t take enough images of the people who’ve made mark in my life. I also have to reconnect with the rest, despite the convenient Twitter and Facebook interaction we have on a weekly basis. They say that behind every great man is a great woman. In my case, behind me are many wonderful men and women. Twenty-three had its ups and downs, but there were always those who brought me back up or didn’t mind going down with me.

Change is terrifying, but given the adjustments I’ve managed to survive through and the blessings I’ve kept, I think 24 is an age worth looking forward to. Although I had started out the year a bit lost, I did manage to find the direction I was headed to. I could have planned it a lot earlier, but I’ve discovered that I seem to make the best decisions several experiences later. With my grad school application requirements about begging to be finished, I hope I can find more opportunities (or at least another turn) into my career. There’s also the game face (and attitude) I’ll need for my job, which will hopefully bring what my colleagues and I do best to the next level.

In terms of my insatiable wanderlust, I already have a trip to Malaysia set out in March. Given the new responsibilities that are just two days ahead, I’ll have to lessen my trips and focus my finances on practical matters. But knowing my sneaky methods and the unorthodox ways of the universe, I hope that there are more places to scratch off my mental travel list in the next year. It doesn’t have to be several countries in a continent–I’ll be content with one country (really).

Here’s to a Happy New Year and more memorable moments ahead! 🙂

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The greatest lesson 2011 has taught me

As long as you have several reasons to be thankful for–as long as you have blessings in spite of the adversities, then you should be complaining less and smiling more.

Our brothers and sisters in Mindanao are experiencing a tragedy my feelings can only grasp mentally. Sendong is not only the wrath of nature at its angriest–it is yet-another wake up call that we must take care of our environment and constantly acknowledge how powerless we are without taking care of our earth and one another. Our fellow Filipinos have lost loved ones, livelihoods, money, homes, and other traumatizing aspects And as much as we hate to define ourselves with these aspects, it is what we hold on to as we go through life. So let’s not take for granted what we already have and quit the whining if none of it feels “enough.” Let’s also not forget to extend a hand to those in need; donations are still being accepted at LBC, Red Cross, and at your local parish.

—-

Dear Universe,

I’m sorry I wasn’t more thankful in the last 12 months. But now I am. I honestly can’t ask for more. The list I’m about to present is only a sign that I must do more and not waste my time away. Life, get ready for me again!

  1. More work opportunities. And finally that push to apply for graduate studies.
  2. Old friendships strengthened
  3. New ones made! I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store for us :))
  4. Safe and enjoyable trips around Vietnam…TWICE! First time was alone, where I discovered you can stick me anywhere and the next an enjoyable adventure with family 😀
  5. Memorable work trips to Camarines Sur, Clark, and Bukidnon. We have such a beautiful country! I’m grateful I got started in seeing some of it 🙂
  6. Safe trips home after late night outs (I don’t doubt that some men aren’t assholes because I’ve met gentlemen kind enough to drop me off home at the crack of dawn)
  7. And related to number 6: the universe reminding me to alert when I nearly got mugged in a taxi (on the way to work; imagine, number six was much safer)
  8.  Another year into my relationship; seriously, what did I do to deserve him? 😀
  9. A step closer to independence aka the ability to support myself 80% of the time, and also the ability to help my family
  10. There were events that pissed me off, left me wondering, why is something so simple so hard to remedy? But you universe, taught me to be more patient and pointed out how wrong I was to deal with these things (and people) in my anger. Here’s to a more good vibes/quieter me in 2012?
  11. 1-9 >>>>> 10. At the end of the day, numbers do matter, and I will look back at 2011 with a smile. And a few embarrassing giggles in between.

I think DJ Earworm’s 2011 Mashup is the best summary of the year that was:

Pre-birthday reflection

Once upon a time, I told myself I wouldn’t grow up to be bitter, angry, jaded, and cynical.

Ten years later (more or less), and I end up contradicting my then self.

My twenty-something self will turn twenty-something again in nine days. I’ve been finding myself reflecting on adult stuff (taxes, property, investments, a career, a family, marriage, all that jazz) during the commute home—mostly terrified that I am not even halfway towards the financial stability my parents have provided for us during my last twenty-something years. I watch teen shows for the trash, but follow the post-college ‘kids’ religiously to sympathize with their no go career, bills (and more bills) to pay, and relationship woes. And when I watch the former, I always say “ah you’re young. You’ll find someone else!” or “Eh, not like she’s supporting herself.”

Yes, 14-year-old me did not predict her 24-year-old future self to be terrified and absolutely confused as to where the rest of her life is headed.

Dear 14-year-old self,

I’m sorry I’ve become jaded about my future. I’m sorry that I lament more about how life is unfair rather than making things happen for me and the rest of this nation. I’m also sorry to say that your boobs will still be small at this age.

Having said that, life isn’t all that bad. You will end up having moments of cynicism and drinking to forget about the stresses of the job. But you won’t be doing that alone. You’ll still be with the friends you have now, and you’ll meet so many more that will listen as you whine, laugh with you as you make a joke out of it, or simply dance with you as you both forget—even momentarily—how you didn’t quite grow up to become what you envisioned.

Okay, my last sentence isn’t helping either. But your older self will need these cynicisms. You’ll need the reality check, because otherwise, your idealistic, gung-ho, reach for the stars self, won’t be ready to face the failure, rejection, frustration, or general blah-ness that comes with reaching your dreams. You will need these bad feelings, events, and yes, people, to remind you that there are hurdles and challenges to overcome. The realization of dreams aren’t handed to you—I’m sure you know this much. You know you have to work hard for it, no matter how long it takes. And you can’t feel entitled after a year or two of working your ass off for those dreams. No, don’t! Because once your mood gets the best of you, people will close the doors because of your attitude. No, you need to realize that there’s more to be done. That you have so much more potential to fulfill and you haven’t quite acquired everything you need. Life is forever a learning process, and whatever your age, there will always be something new to know.

And that’s when your optimism and idealism steps in. It steps in to balance your reality checks, so that it doesn’t discourage you from your goals.

So yeah, the only thing you really don’t have to look forward to? A flat chest. But…spoiler alert! Someone will love you, and want to keep them (and the rest of you) that way.

Xoxo,

Your twenty something self

 

“Living” vs. making a living

“Never settle,” said Steve Jobs. “Stop hesitating and live your dreams,” insists all these inspiring tumblr pictures. “What’s stopping you?” asks another gorgeous picture of the Chile or Swiss mountains.

All these random bursts of inspiration make sitting in front of your five-figure laptop worthless. It makes reporting to a well airconditioned office and having a home to be in not so glamorous.

It makes annoying, selfish complaints such as “Why is it not Friday, and only a weekday?” sound justifiable.

I said that annoying, selfish complaint to my dad today–partly as a joke, the other out of boredom–and he replied in good humor (and advice): “You have a job. Tomorrow there are people who will wake up looking for one.”

And he’s right. In the end, us priviliged upper middle class citizens really have nothing to complain about. Count your blessings. Don’t wallow in your complaints. The world is facing is an economic crisis, and if you’re managing to live day by day with little worries, then consider yourself lucky. I may not be visiting South Africa tomorrow, but it doesn’t make meeting up with friends in Makati any less exciting or enjoyable.

Happiness is a choice. Why shouldn’t we seize it?

Yes, I realize this self-pep-talk doesn’t make my other problems any less real. It’s just that I’m sick of all these over hyped pep talks making a decent life seem worthless, because it’s not. There is nothing wrong with making a living instead of “living.” Some of us can’t go off and study without having to make ends meat, and there is nothing wrong with that. Some of us have to save for months before visiting the world’s natural wonders–and spending that hard earned money is part of the thrill! There is nothing wrong with doing what is necessary to get by. It may not be glamorous, but if it makes each day happen without any life threatening worries, then I don’t see someone working to support a family or him/herself any less dignified than a travel adventurer.

 

On what is and what isn’t ours

In the age of open information, we assume that every bit of news is our business. Even our own business suddenly become’s everyone else’s business. Rarely does a tweet about your lunch or a boring day ever get any @you responses right?

In the last two weeks, amid CGMA’soperation and Ramgen Bautista’s high-profile murder, KC and Piolo’s break up managed to grab the world’s attention. Many of us weren’t surprised–need I say why? Others, I included, thought that KC should have known better.

The truth, however, in this entire matter: We should have known better than to have made comments.

You see, media loves to make us think we can talk about these celebrities as if they were our own friends. The status they attain and the perks they experience are things we aspire or wish for. Yet once in a blue moon will we ever get Adidas to sponsor our entire line, or date the sexiest man alive. So all we can do is talk about the meal they’ve tweeted about or the nth pair of shoes they’ve bought as if they personally texted us about these matters.

Of course, this type of attention is all part of fame’s price. We seek them out and they need our attention to make sure a product sells or their next film hits the top of the box office.

In the end, it’s all just business. Personal matters however, our not really our business. What Anne Curtis wears or her next great ad campaign is ours for aspiring. But Piolo’s orientation? KC’s feeling? Really?

We forget these people are people. That if we were in the same situation, we wouldn’t want someone saying “well you should’ve known better.” After all, don’t we make mistakes in order to learn from them?

I think Katrina Stuart Santiago’s piece, The Piolo Predicament, makes the best point on this matter. It’s a wakeup call to us chismosas:

Which is not to look down on how KC feels. Any girl who’s gone through a bad break-up, celebrity or not, would’ve seen those tears and known them to be real, would’ve heard her anger and known it to resonate.

Katrina makes her strongest point with how we have been reacting to Piolo and his predicament:

What is relevant is what the middle- to upper-class inhabitants of social media sites decided to do with what KC did not say, and how this has revealed itself to be a homophobia that’s just horrible, not only because we will refuse to admit it, but because we even think – because so many of us are doing it – that we are on the side of what is right and correct and valid in light of Piolo.

Granted that the rumors of Piolo’s homosexuality are considered as fact by many, granted that welove tsismis like this, and granted that right here is where we can all poke fun at the impossible images that this guy creates for himself. But do we really think that this kind of bombardment, almost a collective concerted effort at making fun of him, allows for anything productive at all?

In fact it is nothing but mean, and it is not only mean to Piolo, but it looks down on the kind of pain that KC as the aggrieved woman is going through. It looks down on Carmina Villaroel, whose name shouldn’t need to be dragged into a narrative on ending up with a homosexual man. It looks down on the kind of life that someone like Rustom Padilla aka BB Gandanghari has proven to be difficult but possible.

And what does it mean to come out of the closet, really? Are we even supposed to come out of the closet–straight or gay?

And yet, truth to tell, none of us needed to watch that interview. None of us needed to involve ourselves in this narrative at all. None of us were forced into this. We engaged with that video of KC crying and instead of feeling compassion and listening to what she had to say, we decided to read between the lines and bully Piolo into coming out of the closet.

But why would he? For us? Why would he do it for every tunay na lalaki or every bakla who is making fun of him already at this point? By this kind of reaction of a purportedly intelligent and educated class, no one – and I say no one – of Piolo’s stature would even think of coming out of the closet. For truth to tell, what is liberating about coming out of any closet, going public about anything at all, in a nation that has proven itself incapable of dealing with difference? What is it that someone like Piolo will gain by coming out of that closet, to a public that’s already making fun of him, already bullying him, at this point?

And seriously, what is our problem with anyone being in the closet? Many have lived and died within it, and that is their own cross to bear. And when we can’t promise freedom from oppression outside of that closet, staying within it could be pretty liberating, too.