A resolution

1653576_10152304301653086_1609669697_n

It may be too late to be making any “New Year” resolutions, but I’m posting this image taken by good friend Nikki anyway.

I went into 2014 not knowing what lay ahead. I had a pretty good first day of 2014. I was happy. Like every other first year, I was at home, waiting for 12am with my family and welcoming it with free fireworks from our neighbors. I got a flurry of Happy New Year messages and I responded back happy. I didn’t mind being at home. I didn’t mind being single. I was in a better place than January 2013, considering what lay ahead then.

Yet I didn’t know what the rest of the year would be like. We all go into a new year, a new month, a new day with some sort of expectation–the rush hour commute, seeing so and so at work, eating at your favorite lunch place. Last year, I was still recovering from a job loss but I knew the rest of the year would be spent getting back on my feet.

I had no idea what lay ahead in 2014 back in January. After five years, I came into the year single. I was in a job that was okay, but not much else. I came into the year with no idea what lay ahead but I was ready for whatever it had to offer. I guess it was that new beginning, a sort of palimpsest that I haven’t had in a looooooong time, relationship-, career-, and social-life wise.

Fast forward to now: I got out of that okay job. The decision made me anxious for a few weeks. An opening came up in January at a certain food website. I wasn’t sure about jumping ship so soon–and then, there was no guarantee I’d get the job. It wasn’t in my nature to leave a position so soon and test the waters in a place I was barely familiar with. But I was overthinking even applying and like my friends told me, there’s nothing lost by sending an email. Well, look where that got me 🙂

So one night, slightly tipsy from my drink, I said to Nikki,

“Applying for that job was my brave thing in January. I need to do something brave in February.”

I think I did. I sorta did. I spent a few days overthinking it, haha. But I did it anyway. It’s nothing dramatic, but considering everything I’ve been through feelings wise I’d say it’s a bit of a speed walk.

I’m looking forward to more brave moments. Not rash, not stupid. Maybe a little stupid. Brave.

Caught in the middle

The scariest thing about growing up is asking yourself what’s next, and discovering that even after reaching your number one goal after graduation, it isn’t enough. There will always be that inner struggle—that discontent void or uncertainty about your current situation and the never ending question if there is more to what you already have.

But why should I complain? Growing up is also about adapting to the circumstances you are in. Sixty percent of the time, I am doing what I love and at the end of the day, it’s what I aspired for myself three years ago. The remaining 40 percent includes the downsides and inevitabilities of my situation—you can’t have everything, so I have to deal with what is happening with (subtle) power and grace. What can’t kill me can only make me stronger—dealing with things will also make me a better person, and hopefully, better prepared for the big things I hope to achieve in the future. Life isn’t over yet, and discontent—wait, let me rephrase, aspiration—keeps me running (although I’d rather speed walk, haha) to the finish line.

The one thing I love most about what I’m doing? The everyday chance to learn. I learn from my colleague’s advice, from so-called ’emergency’ (read: last minute) situations, and the professionals I interview. Just a few days ago, I got to sit down with one of the country’s top cinematographers. I got a one on one session on how to plan a short film, a movie, and commercial, and even got right down to the equipment needed.

I also learn a lot about people. I’ve been told to have ‘kutob,’ which according to my weak translation skill, is a sort of gut feeling about someone’s overall personality (read: trustworthy or not? friend or foe?). But even gut can fail, and only experience can improve better judgement. I have loads to learn about timing (and controlling) my reactions and responses to the people I work with and deal with outside of work, but I’ve gone a long way from the girl who easily trusted just about anyone.

Then there’s what I learn about myself. Thankfully, I don’t like to bullshit myself. If I’m pep talking myself, it’s about the reality of a situation and how I can turn it around. And in all honesty, I haven’t been the best person in the last few months. I let my anger consume me, I sometimes don’t give a second thought about what I say to superiors, and I still let other negative, defeatist emotions get the better of me. I still struggle with these weaknesses, and I’m grateful my colleagues at work are Gela whisperers (aka people who call me out on my defects with love 😉 . There’s still a lot of work for me to do, a lot more growing up that I need to demand from myself before I can say I’m truly ready for the next step forward.

I’m still not quite sure what’s next for me, but I’m certainly more conscious of what is required to get there. Hopefully these constant reminders of being grateful and driven will clarify things in the future. Life is scary, but it can only be lived if I don’t hold back.

 

Quick Rant

Write, just write. But write with a purpose in mind, with the basic parts in mind, because otherwise, you won’t make that deadline once you’re lost in between two paragraphs or sentences. Never mind the grammar—for now—but mind the direction in which your words are going towards. You should, at the very least, give a hint of the idea or the story, and not leave the reader wondering what you were trying to say in the first place.

Do not rely on your editor or go-to critic to tell you the POINT, the DIRECTION, and THE ENDING of your story. At the very least, he/she should have a hint or feeling of what it is on your third draft. Because if your editor ends up having to research online for the information and the general purpose of the story, then he/she will end up rewriting and redefining your piece. And if he/she has to resort to online information—then that defeats of putting your hard earned work on another medium.

So please writers, feeling writers, beginner writers, and for-the-face-and-PR-writers, do your editors a favor and FINISH what you’ve started. Don’t just submit the FIRST draft; give the THIRD, so that he or she doesn’t have to intrude and think, “why were you assigned to write in the first place?”

Editors are here to make you look good, but we are not here to finish your piece when you’re too lazy to do so—if that is the case, give us free reign and interview you instead so we can set the general direction. And if you can’t stand thinking amid “writer’s block,” then why are you writing in the first place? Don’t reduce our jobs to mere “assisting” or in taking all the credit if you didn’t bother taking the extra mile to sound as best as you could.

Be grateful if your piece sounds better than you expected; I’ve felt more satisfaction and pride over a non-writer getting commended for his piece because a) he said, “it reads well, thank you!” b) he had a story, it was there. When information was lacking, he supplied the necessary information. I just had to organize his thoughts and string the pieces together.

Writing is willing yourself to write, and rewrite, no matter how many times it takes. If you do not respect this process, then let those who are open to suffering the consequences reap the rewards of such hard work.

 

On the misconceptions of writing

When I tell people what I do, there are times I cringe if someone reacts by saying, “well, I’ve always wanted to write,” or, “I actually write, I just can’t find the time.”  Or those who say they keep a blog or have a passion for writing yet place exclamation points everywhere and don’t seem to know when to put a break between the thoughts of their sentences, so they end up putting too many ideas together like this sentence right here!

You see, when a person tells me he/she is a doctor, I don’t respond with, “Well, I’ve always wanted to go out there and heal people.” Or I don’t tell my new friend the accountant that “I’ve always wanted to check and balance accounts.”

I may not be a number one best seller of a novel, and I have yet to start working my way up into getting a major magazine cover story (or working for an international title for that matter), but I do take my job seriously.

As much as it appears like we just type a bunch of words on a computer (or on what is now a rare chance, a notepad), the words simply do not flow out of the blue. We all went through English class, right? Remember the outline, topic sentence, and the parts of an essay? We still go through those processes, but with a little more attention to detail. One draft isn’t enough, as every style, syntax, spelling, and grammatical error must be accounted for. There are standards we must uphold, a cohesive flow that must be organized, and words chosen well enough to make a clear point. Periods must break in between thoughts, while commas are placed within sentences to catch the reader’s breath. Semi-colons bind two related thoughts but with just enough space for the concept to come together in your head.

Like any other job, it’s a calling. Working as a journalist in the Philippines could kill you. Writing a novel can take years and there’s a very small chance the book will sell enough to give a year’s equivalent of salary. Poems don’t make money and short stories are locked away in libraries. Copy writing is rigorous and local ad agencies don’t exactly pay six figures for viral tag lines. Online writing is more about quantity than quality. Magazines have a short shelf life and are battling against the digital age. There are consequences and challenges in each industry, yet all the writers involved find the job fulfilling.

Writing needs a purpose to stand on its own, and such an end needs to be made in order for people to take notice. A literary piece should tell a story that resounds a timeless theme; a news feature should invoke inquiry. A magazine cover story is well-researched, fact checked, and thoroughly edited. A viral blog post has chosen the right topic and is back linked. Good copy leads to interest in the product. Writing is an act; writing something on the other hand, is a responsibility.

Writers may not save lives or bring in billions to the economy. I am not going to put our lot on a pedestal and say that the world would stop without us. God knows we’re the last profession a dead civilization needs to rebuild itself. But we do take our jobs seriously and the best of us do what we’re asked professionally. Here’s to hoping that apart from buying your writer friend’s recent published material, you also appreciate how much work was put into it.

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

 

Horrah for home bound holidays

Thanks to Andres Bonifacio’s rally for a revolution, I am able to take a one-day break from the realities of the city and work life. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect (refer to the bitter, bitter previous entry). I am actually able to enjoy the slow calm of a holiday. Yes, in the middle of the week, I am not chasing after something or grumbling about someone.

The day started terribly. I woke up with an emotional hangover. I hated not knowing what to do with my bitterness, so I went to one of my awesome friends, George. George is a bear–okay, he’s cuddly,  loveable, and friendly like a bear. He’s not only adorable and tall, but also gives sage advice on everything. It also helps he’s taking a human resources management course, so his knowledge is useful to my crisis. I sought his advice in the form of tarot cards. And the cards were very sensible:

The main theme of my reading: the hierophant. According to learntarot.com, it can hold the following meanings:

getting an education: pursuing knowledge

becoming informed
increasing understanding
studying and learning
seeking a deeper meaning
finding out more

George’s interpretation: “You need to achieve an epiphany before moving on to better things.”

It was a humbling and enlightening experience, being told these words. And anyone aware (and has felt the wrath) of my pride would be surprised I took his words to heart.

Sometimes we need a slap on the face to get over ourselves. Some people are best told gently, but then I know I can take a surprise punch or slap with enough reflection. I am still growing up, and there are things I need to learn to prepare myself for the future. We can’t expect things to just come to us, we have to work for them. And sometimes the challenges (and shit) involved with getting there may not seem worth it–but it will get you somewhere, and it will aid you in the future. We have to work to get to where we want, to move on. We cannot just leave without resolving the things that bother us, and improving upon ourselves. It’s simply a matter of getting ready, and making yourself stronger for the challenges to come. No one ever said life would be easy.

 

 

 

Dear Facebook

No, I don’t want to inform my feed which specific articles I’ve read on Yahoo! and The Guardian.

It’s terrifying. It’s as if someone is watching me from across the window, reading over my shoulder, and is getting to know me through the links I click.

Yes, I realize I should only add people I know personally on Facebook (which I do). I also realize most of my friends have the same interests as me, so I will benefit from the list of articles they’ve read.

But do I really need a complete list of what they’ve been reading? It feels like an unnecessary progress report–or a conversation striker for a creepy stranger, whichever your preference.

Thank God we have a choice NOT to opt for this app. It just irks me to see it every time.