This tag used to mean something (like how #TheFridayCurrently meant something; remember that?), but now I’ve transformed it into an excuse to provide updates into my incredibly meaningless existence!
I kid. Gallows humor, if you will. Fact is, 2016 ain’t been all that great, as I’m sure you’ve guessed from all the emo nonsense I’ve been posting. Frankly, any year where a string of music legends die can’t be good–we said goodbye to Starman only to drown in tears of Purple Rain–but you can’t choose what you lose in this life, I suppose. Only how you deal with the loss.
(Consider that a bonus “thing I learned in 2016.” Teaser before the pleaser, if a listicle of existential angst is what pleases you. If it is, you’re probably a millennial.)
All right, enough snarking. I was challenged by Style Reader to do this challenge, and keep things “interesting.” So. Here are ten things I’ve learned so far from the deluge that is 2016.
1. Everyone needs a pat on the back. Everyone.
As Ingrid Michaelson once said, “Everybody, everybody wants to be loved.” That old chestnut of leadership advice that says “All the affirmation you need should come from you.”? It’s bogus. Totally. No matter how self-actuated someone is, they still deserve to be told they’ve done a good job, and that they’re really making a difference in your life, no matter how big or small that difference is. Since #Gratitude is possible, why not share a little bit of it? “Thank you’s” come free anyway.
Which leads me to my next point…
2. When overwhelmed, learn to be grateful.
Take it from me; it’s ridiculously easy to focus on the nasty, dark, bitter side of life. When the deadlines pile up and the people handing out the deadlines can’t seem to realize you’re “helpless…down for the count and drowning in ’em”, it feels great to scream loudly at the world: “I hope that you…burn.” But if you keep focusing on the negatives of your situation, “You will never be satisfied.”
Instead, “look around, look around, at how lucky you are to be alive right now!” “Take a break!” and think about everyone who’s helped you write your way out of the hurricane. You’ll find, when you do, things look “So much better!”
(Whoops, wrong musical.)
3. Life is full of psychological warfare. Expect to take a few hits.
Ever really had to put your foot down, but been too afraid to for the fear of, I dunno, getting yelled at? People screaming at me is my third-worst fear, with the second being rampant passive-aggression and the first being treated as a non-entity. All of these are ways that ordinary people emotionally/psychologically bully other people, and we all know how to do them, so chances are no matter how much you try to avoid being on someone’s bad side…one day you will be. You will get yelled at. You will be on the receiving end of some pretty intense passive-aggression (and not just the Vaguebooking kind). And you will be treated as a non-entity.
Accept the reality that people will bully you just because that is something all people do. We’re flawed. We’re human. Hurting others is one of the few things we can probably do perfectly, so don’t let the fear of being banged up emotionally stop you from standing up for yourself or doing what you need to do. Someone needs to rise above, and if you’re the one having problems, usually that means it has to be you. After all, it’s likely one day you’ll be the one playing the mind-games, and you’ll need someone to be the bigger person to snap you out of them.
Speaking of mind games…
4. Be careful who you trust…
Oh no, spoilers! SEASON SIX ENDED ALREADY; GET CAUGHT UP.
Being a people-pleaser is definitely the worst way to avoid getting caught up in some toxic emotional shenanigans. If said toxic emotional shenaniganizer is already embedded in your life, it’s really hard to avoid getting manipulated, no matter how much you know the person can be bad for you. You’re attached. You’ve shared things. You have a bond. Connections are good but sometimes they can also blind us to, well, self-preservation.
If you are already in a toxic relationship, then allow yourself the time and strength you need to let it go, and know that it will take time. However, a wiser strategy would be not to get into these sorts of relationships in the first place. I used to be–still am, I think–someone who would get attached way too easily, and be very open and trusting with almost anyone who was kind. This year though, that habit got me into a lot of trouble. Being candid is good, but being guarded can sometimes be better. As any Pokémon Go player can tell you, there are a ton of snakes in the grass. Especially along Makati Avenue. And Leviste Street. And Ayala Triangle.
(I do not need more Ekans for crying out loud! SHOW ME A DRATINI!)
Don’t reveal too much until you can get the measure of someone. I’m not saying hide behind a wall, but understand that there are some things about you people really do have to earn the right to know. More often than not, these aren’t deep dark secrets (I have a policy of having very few of those; they can be used against you.), but day-to-day feelings and insecurities that can be easily misconstrued, misread, and manipulated for the rumor mill’s consumption. Know who you can open up to, and try to open up only to them. It helps with inner strength not to vent 24/7 anyway.
5. …but always keep your heart open.
Not exactly what I meant, but we’ll run with it.
Okay, so we’ve established that there are a lot of potential Ollys out there, ready to stab you “for the Watch.” Knowing that, it’s easy to become bitter, closed-off, and cold. Don’t. It’ll only make you more likely to become an Aliser Thorne, and soon you’ll be manipulating an Olly of your own to turn traitor on some other Lord Commander, perpetuating the cycle. Bitterness is like an infection; it spreads if it isn’t treated, and the only treatment for it is to learn to keep an open heart. If you think about it, Olly thought he was doing the right thing. So many of the people who turn “traitor” on us do. We’re broken creatures with skewed perspectives of right and wrong, so often our best intentions lead us into very bad places. Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t some genuinely malicious people out there, but for the most part, the vast majority do dark deeds believing this is really their best choice.
As difficult as this is to say (and trust me, I’m basically shooting myself in the foot saying it), forgive. Learn to see the people behind the knives in the dark, because they are still people. Hate doesn’t solve anything, but, to quote St. Peter, “Love covers over a multitude of sins.” You don’t have to trust someone to be kind to them. You don’t have to like someone to be compassionate. All it takes, frankly, is humility–get off your high-horse of offense and realize that you are just as imperfect as they are, and just as deserving of a second chance.
(All of y’all feel free to quote me on that. Preferrably at me, when I’m refusing to forgive someone, because I am obviously a hypocrite.)
6. It will hurt sometimes. Don’t run from the pain.
There’s this lyric from Paramore’s Hello Cold World that I managed to butcher in a recent performance, which goes something like, “You say you’re really hurting/At least you’re feeling something.” I think that’s basically life, in a nutshell: pain sucks, but being numb is worse, because numb things are just one step above being dead. And pain usually (I say usually because we can’t deny sometimes bad things happen for no apparent reason) has a reason for existing. If you hold your hand over a flame, your skin blisters and burns to tell you “HEY, TAKE YOUR HAND OFF OF THE FLAME, STUPID!” It’s a signal, a megaphone that something has to give or shift or change. Pain, unfortunately, is often the human side effect of growth: it’s how we learn. If you don’t feel it, you’re probably stagnating, which eventually ends in death, or something like it.
I’m not saying embrace the fact it’ll hurt. Human nature means we’re conditioned to avoid pain as much as possible, and sometimes the challenge of avoiding things that hurt us can become the “pain” in itself that we need to grow. But when the time comes that you’re inevitably going to get it, don’t run from that reality or try to escape. Breathe deep, allow the pain to do what it has to, then move on.
Parang CBC lang yan, bes. Just pray you get a nurse who can find the vein properly. And who won’t mind you cussing/crying/cracking gallows-humor jokes to cope with that big fat needle.
7. Sometimes, it’s the worst people who can recognize the worst in you.
Okay, maybe “hate” is too strong a word…
This year I got a lot of insight into my personal weaknesses from people I personally wanted to brain with a hatchet. I guess that’s to be expected–the people who love us, as much as they try to be honest, do love us, and so it’s easy to excuse some behaviors as quirks that you can put up with. As one of my friends said (and I paraphrase), “When you like someone, you put up with their crap because you like them.”
People who don’t like you don’t feel the need to put up with your crap, which makes it a lot easier to call it out, and accurately. While it was a huge blow to my pride to have someone I wanted to strangle (and still do, sometimes) point out my insecurities and inability to “trust the process” of my life…huge blow aside, the guy was right, and that’s useful information he’s just given me on how to live my life. I realized that even if you don’t particularly like the source of your reality check, you should probably accept the reality check all the same. After all, self-awareness is always a good thing, even if the catalyst is the patronizing INTJ to your self-deprecating INFJ.
But, since we’re on the topic of hating people…
8. Admit it; sometimes you hate people because they remind you of yourself.
The only difference between that “patronizing INTJ” and me, the “self-deprecating INFJ,”is a single letter. And while, apparently, that single letter can spell a ton of difference–someone just schooled me in Jungian typology–I’m inclined to believe that the three other letters we hold in common mean that he and I have a lot in common too. See, when I was ranting to my mom about this guy, I took a second to really listen to what I was saying, and I realized…a lot of the things I dislike about him are things I’m guilty of myself.
Patronizing tone? Check.
Superiority complex? Check.
Overbearing arrogance? Check, check, check.
And this guy isn’t the first “arch nemesis” I’ve had that’s looked, well, remarkably like me. In fact, it’s a bit of a pattern: the person I tend to fear or loathe the most, in any environment, tends to be the person who’s most like me, or someone I could become. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. Though we’re loath to admit it, deep down we know the things we don’t like some people for are just things we’re afraid we’ll one day do…
9. …because we’re all messed up somewhere.
I’m related to an addict. The person doesn’t use anymore, thanks more to the fact that the drugs have permanently addled their mind than any of Duterte’s “OBOSEN!” threats. But when they did, they basically chose the drugs over me. And I hated them. A lot. It was too easy. They abandoned me. They emotionally abused me. They permanently damaged their mind to the point that it’s difficult to have a conversation with them, let alone a meaningful relationship.
It’s easy to hate someone when all you’re looking at is their flaws, but the fact is, all of us have the capacity to have those same flaws. The great equalizer of humanity is our limitless potential for being extremely sick and messed up. In the words of the Joker, “All it takes is one bad day.”
When you realize that you could be–but by the grace of God–just one bad day away from becoming the addict or the pusher or the despot that you despise…it really puts things into perspective. In fact, it helps with all the other things I just talked about here: keeping an open heart, being grateful, affirming others, etcetera. It’s a little easier to be compassionate when you realize that you might need it too, someday.
I’m related to an addict, and because of what they did, I used to hate addicts and pushers. I wanted to kill the person that sold them the drugs. But then the killings actually started happening, dead bodies marked with cardboard signs saying “Adik ako, wag tularan.” In response, a bunch of people started walking around saying, “Lahat tayo posibleng adik.” And I realized they were right. Me and that person I’m related to, we have a lot of the same issues and insecurities. Theirs drove them to drugs. Mine drove me to…legal things that are possibly just as destructive. Lahat tayo posibleng adik. We’re all messed up somewhere, and, but for grace, we are all living at the mercy of that one bad day.
Understanding that, it at least makes you think before condemning someone.
10. Purple cancels out yellow.
It’s basic color theory. Explains how color-correcting concealers work. And why, if you’re a peroxide blond(e), you need to use “purple shampoo.”
Welp, that’s it for me. Hope you managed to wade through my cynicism and actually pick up something “inspiring.”
At the very least, hope you enjoyed the memes.