growing up

1 Timothy 4:12: scattered thoughts on being young and setting an example.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this verse lately.

When I was younger, I read it as a vindication, something I could use to beat old people on the head with (not literally, of course) when they patronized me for being young and ignorant. The NIV translation is even more effective for this sort of thing; it reads: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young…” and that “Don’t let” feels forceful, powerful, defiant in the hands of an angry teenager who thinks that grown-ups just don’t understand.

I’m twenty-five now, and while in some ways, I’m still that angry teenager–I think they call it “moody artist” now that I’m closer to thirty than my teenage years–I’d like to think I have a better grasp of what that verse is supposed to mean, one that’s made me less likely to use it as an immediate and violent comeback, and more as a call to–forgive my choice in words–play the long game.

At a meeting I was in last week, someone said something that stuck with me. They said, and I paraphrase: “If you aren’t married, with children, in debt, and struggling to keep a business afloat, you have no right to complain.

The angry teenager in me couldn’t help herself: I retorted with, “Try living with a mental illness.” This sparked a mini-argument where I, the lone twenty-something notorious for being emotionally unstable, was pitted against a table full of “adults” who were, by most standards, further along in life and life experience than I was. Most of them chose not to engage with either me or the original speaker, but enough was said that I left the meeting angry.

That I am, to be honest, still fighting that anger, even now.

In the initial rush of “righteous indignation” after that exchange, 1 Timothy 4:12 popped into my head, and I was tempted to wield the initial half of it as a weapon against that old enemy: grown-ups who just don’t understand. But before I could march over to the person and “rebuke” them, I suddenly remembered the second half: “…but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”

Timothy was a young leader in charge of shepherding a multi-generational church in a culture that placed the old above the young in status. In this situation, Paul does not ask Timothy to use his calling or his position to exert his authority. Instead, he asks Timothy to set an example.

A friend and I had a conversation recently about the things he didn’t like in the music industry, one that boiled down to me encouraging him to make the change by being everything he felt the indie scene should be. We see posts about this on the internet all the time–be the change you wish to see in the world, and all that–but lately it’s hit home that the best way to fight things you don’t like is not to rant or shout them down: it’s to just be different.

I don’t often feel like a good example of what is like to be a Christian or a leader. Actually, scratch that: I never feel like a good example of either of those things. I will be the first to admit that I can be impulsive, stubborn, arrogant, and self-righteous: things that lately I’m becoming more aware of. Heck, I know that my initial violent reaction was, for all of my good intentions, colored with self-righteousness. And yet the charge is clear: to ensure that no one “despises me for my youth,” I need to overcome all these things and set that example in speech (good luck), in conduct (for real?!), in love (oh boy), in faith (you’re kidding, right?), and in purity (does a ring count?).

Funny, though, that this realization feels less like a rebuke and more like an encouragement. I know what I am, and what I’m not, but lately that knowledge has stung less. When God points out my self-righteousness, my anger, or my pride, I don’t feel like he’s condemning me at all. Instead, it’s like dance class, when the teacher tells me my back isn’t straight yet or I need to watch my turns: an implicit acknowledgment that we will get there, together, eventually.

I got angry at what that person said in my meeting last week, because it felt like someone was invalidating my struggles, telling me my problems were not “real” in comparison to more grown-up concerns like taking care of kids or working on one’s marriage. But looking back, how many times have I invalidated someone else’s problems because they weren’t to the scale of my own? How often have I worn my own issues–child of a broken family, bullied throughout grade-school and highschool, rejected by relatives and peers alike, struggling with mental unwellness–as badges of honor, as marks of experience that somehow make my opinions and perspectives and issues “more valid?”

I’m still sorting out my anger. That’s probably why I wrote this, to be honest: because I don’t think it’s right to say that if you’re not married, with kids, in debt, and running a business then you have no right to have your problems be seen as real problems. But I will be the first to say my way of handling the issue–picking a fight in front of a bunch of other people, turning it into me vs. the grown-ups who don’t understand–did not help things. I recently finished reading Wikichurch by Pastor Steve Murrell, and in it he emphasizes how generations need to labor together, but it’s hard to when one side is saying, “You’re inexperienced, ignorant, whiny babies who have had everything handed to you because of our hard work,” while the other is all, “You’re obsolete dinosaurs who ruined everything, and now we have to fix it.”

Picking fights won’t help. Beating people on the head with the first half of 1 Timothy 4:12 won’t help. Instead, the calling is to be better, even when the truth is you are an inexperienced, ignorant twenty-five year old with a truckload of issues and bitterness and character flaws.

But hey, as Paul says in another letter, “And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Here’s to, hopefully, learning to set better examples.

 

The Friday Currently 013: Slow Down

There’s a LONG (as in, tl;dr) ramble at the end of this, so I’ll make it quick.  It’s Friday, and I am C U R R E N T L Y . . .

R E A D I N G  Anna Karenina as part of my 2015 Book Challenge.  Everyone else read it in uni, but my ModLit professor had us read Crime and Punishment instead so consider this my “Book I should have read in school.”

So far, Anna annoys me, but the book’s not bad so I keep going.

W R I T I N G  songs! I sent in my Elements Music Camp submission yesterday.  Fingers crossed that I make it to the live audition rounds at least!

L I S T E N I N G 
to the Inside Out official movie soundtrack…but more on that later.

W A T C H I N G nothing much? Been too busy with the whole 2015 Book Challenge thing.

F E E L I N G  slightly worried. Traffic’s bad and I have to head home and pack for my Pampanga trip…plus get up early enough to make it to Makati by 8am.  What is #TeamNoSleep?

S M E L L I N G  canned air.  Still at the office due to traffic.  Mum’s probably not even close.

W E A R I N G  Muji chambray shirt, Banana Republic pleated cotton summer skirt, Call It Spring nude pumps (that i had to buy on lunch break because my actual shoes gave out), and a Uniqlo belt–basically casual Friday.

L O V I N G  The Berry Company juices!

W A N T I N G this weekend to officially start. Payday Friday + rain = terror highways.  Oh Metro Manila.

W I S H I N G I was in bed, reading, with any device where I can get messages FAR FAR AWAY FROM ME because sometimes I need to be alone.

T H I N K I N G  about feelings.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a spoiler-free ramble.  If you haven’t caught Pixar’s latest offering, or read a summary of it on some Wiki somewhere, do not proceed further.  Watch the movie, then come back and read this.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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If you can’t already tell from the GIF, I watched Inside Out last Sunday with Maman. The film was amazing, both in terms of compelling, complex story (in fact, I’m still wrapping my head around it) and (of course) Kleenex rating.

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“Who’s your friend who likes to play…” 

What I liked most about Inside Out was how it treated the subject of “always being happy.”  As someone who, for a long time, struggled with the idea that “Nobody likes you when you cry,” I needed that message, especially since, for the past few weeks, I’ve been on the verge of what I can only call crazy.

Like a lot of other people, I’ve internalized the idea that Sadness–with all its outward signs of crying, breaking down, and feeling blue–is irrational, and immature.  When it comes to maturity, I’m admittedly worse than most, so I’ve tried to project as many outward signs of being a “grown-up” as possible, to compensate. 

Unfortunately, wanting to curl into a ball and clap my hands over my ears is not one of these signs, which has led me to spending most of the past month waging war against myself: fighting back the urge to break down and cry while at the same time trying to understand why I wanted to do so.

It all came to a head when I ended up walking out of Hideaway (of course not when I was due to host) and breaking down because of some nasty Facebook comments on how the event was being organized.  I’d managed to bottle things in at first, but when one commenter suggested I should be shot (and people were liking the comment)…I lost it.

mature person would be able to take stuff like this in stride, but in that moment I felt anything but mature–alone, terrified, lonely, lost, doomed to failure, yes, but not grown-up or professional or any of those big words I’ve treated like armor.  I was not the Ball of Sunshine, Miss Perpetual Energy, the Energizer Bunny, The Trooper, Make-it-Happen Frankie.

In short, I was none of the things people seemed to expect and/or demand I should be…and in that moment I could no longer explain why.

I figured it out, though, when I watched Riley play out onscreen the “shut down” I’d experienced.  Her brain (run by frantic emotions scattered across a twisted mindscape) was in chaos, and it managing everything had become all too much.  Suddenly, Sadness’ quote at the beginning of the movie made sense to me: “Crying helps me slow down.”

(Maybe not so much the ‘obsess over life’s problems’ part, though?)

Like Riley’s big move, in the past month or so my life’s been more than a little shaken up.  The pressure to grow up, step up, and accomplish all that I felt was expected of me (as employee, as band frontwoman, as artist, as organizer of Hideaway), had finally caught up, but I was so afraid of losing momentum or being an emotional wreck/immature kid that I’d stuck to keeping it in until it all went away.

Once again, I’d refused to be brave enough to open my mouth sooner and speak up about the fact that I was in over my head, so my body did it for me.

I understand that emotional control is a big part of growing up, but what I like about Inside Out’s version of it is that it’s less about holding emotions back (or, in Joy’s case, confining them to chalk circles at the back of the control center) and more about allowing them to coexist, blend together, merge and converge.  I’m trying to grasp that all my feelings are valid, even the more primal, “negative” ones.  After all, as “Inside Out” helpfully pointed out, a healthy amount of Fear helps ensure safety, a touch of Anger can fuel passion and drive, small doses of Disgust factor into discernment, and being at peace with Sadness breeds empathy.

(It also pointed out that an overdose of Joy can result in acting like a controlling, narrow-minded, high-strung ninny…but I won’t get into that.)

So that’s it for this week’s edition of The Friday Currently.  If you read to the end, I salute you.  Hopefully next week, I would have eased back into homeostasis…and shorter blogs.  Until then, though, I remain,

~aRoamingTsinay~

The Sunday Currently was created by Siddathornton. I’ve added/subtracted categories for the sake of the narrative, and also because I’m copying the format of NothingSpaces.com.

The Friday Currently, 010: Human = Error

Apologies for not posting this yesterday, folks!  I’m going to be honest: it completely slipped my mind.  In fact, it probably would have never hit me that I’d forgotten if someone hadn’t asked me about my blog at an event I attended today.

In fact, speaking of events, it was sort-of because of one that The Friday Currently got pushed back to a Saturday night.  See, last Thursday, my officemate Jovel celebrated her birthday, so last Friday, I made a very uncharacteristic decision…

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…of going out on a Friday night.

Yep, that is not Photoshop.  I am actually sitting with my officemates in a booth in one of The Fort Strip‘s most popular watering holes, Cable Car.  And while the only “watering” I actually did was with, well, water (my teetotaler ways are well established; thanks vocal nodules), that does not take away from the fact that legendary Lola of Manila and self-proclaimed agoraphobe, Frankie Torres, actually socialized on a Friday night.  Of her own free will, I might add.

Happy Birthday, Jovel!

Now that I’ve given my excuses, let’s jump right into the meat of the matter.  Ladies and gentlemen, it is Saturday, but as of Friday I was C U R R E N T L Y…

R E A D I N G  The Lake of Dead Languagesa Carol Goodman thriller in the tradition of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History.  It takes place at a boarding school in the Hudson River area (I’m not that well-versed in US geography to give more detailed specifics) where Latin (the aforementioned “dead language”) is a featured subject and Classics scholarship is still somewhat valued.  There’s all the elements of a good boarding school mystery–death and thwarted love and the tangled webs girls weave with their secrets–set against the background of Goodman’s rich, very sensuous language.  This novel got me buying her books, and while all of the ones I’ve read were really good, The Lake of Dead Languages holds a special place in my heart.

W R I T I N G  more songs.  I hesitate to say that I’m on a “roll,” but I am finding it easier to put words together lately.  More so than usual.  I’m afraid of the drought that inevitably comes after, but in the interim I’ll try to squeeze as many verses out of this chord-challenged brain of mine.

Actually debuted two of my new (complete) songs tonight at the event I went to, Logos: Gethsemane.  The first one, Last Line, was far from a hit–fumbled with the barre chords and had trouble tuning; mistakes that made my hands shake though thankfully not my voice–but I think The Brightest might be more-or-less ready to demo.  I’m still a bit shaken by my mistakes…but more on that later.

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L I S T E N I N G 
most of the week to the Acoustic Covers playlist on Spotify–lots of moody folk and billowy indie to offset the staggering amount of pop-rock and punk-pop I’ve been listening to lately.  I’ve discovered a couple of new favorites in the process: Edge of Seventeen (originally performed by Stevie Nicks) and the acoustic version of an old The Darkness favorite, I Believe in a Thing Called Love.

I between covers, I’ve also been listening to the archives from This American Life, a storytelling/slice-of-life podcast that I’ve been subscribed to for quite a few months now.  In the process, I’ve discovered yet another song favorite: Selective Memory by Eels.

Take a listen, if you haven’t heard it yet.  It’s gloomy and sad, but isn’t that perfect for the weather?

W A T C H I N G nothing new, to be honest.  Not a big TV-watching week for me.

F E E L I N G  irritated that my laptop’s slowing down again.  *sigh*

S M E L L I N G  the lemon from my lemon-water.

W E A R I N G  my PJs, as you do.

L O V I N G  the beef strips from Cable Car, and the new song that me (I know that technically should be I, but do what I want) and Stories Told’s “hitmaker,” Aned, started cooking up this afternoon.  The Elinor Project x Stories Told anyone?

W A N T I N G  to get better at guitar, frankly.  But wanting is, of course, distinctly different from doing something about it.

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My attempt to remind myself to “do something about it.”  And yes, that’s Stories Told‘s Jian who liked the stat.  #SupportiveBandmate

N E E D I N G  energy.  Or potato chips.  Or both.

T H I N K I N G

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Which, depending on how you swing it, could be a good thing or a bad thing.

W I S H I N G  I didn’t screw up as much.  Or, conversely, that screwing up didn’t bother me quite as much as it did.  Does.  Honestly, I hate making mistakes, and I don’t mean in the way most people do, which I imagine looks something like this:

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RBF: Resigned Bunny Face

No, when I make a mistake–or feel like I’ve made one/am making one–the (usually internal) is closer to this:

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Oh great…now what?!

Tonight’s Logos event really put that panic instinct to the test, as I faced every performer’s worst nightmare: screwing up onstage.  Several times.  As the opening act of the night  Great.

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But the truth is, do care.  Frequently.  Slipping up is a fact of life, but it’s a fact I’ve had a hard time reconciling myself to, owing largely to the cataclysmic results I imagine will always occur because I’ve had the all-too-common lapse in judgment or off moment.  Take for example tonight’s hiccups: failing to tune my guitar properly, fumbling with barre chords on my original song, rambling nervously through my opening spiel, and clearly having a hard time holding eye contact with a noisy, animated, sometimes-supportive but still-terrifying audience.  All these are, easily, chalked up to experience which, let’s be honest, I actually need–The Elinor Project hasn’t really been a regular on Open Mic rosters.  But there’s that little voice in the back of my head that whispers “You should be better than this by now.”  It’s the same little voice that told me I’d somehow lost all credibility as an artist–all the charm and intensity I might have shown before the night began–with those elementary mistakes.

Part of me probably will keep believing this voice for a while, or at least won’t have the guts to tell it to shut up.  However, I’m not a complete neurotic mess.  I am well aware–in fact, I even referenced it in the rambling speech to introduce my two new songs–that making mistakes is human.  More than that, it’s when you make those mistakes that you feel the most human.  Fallibility and vulnerability are part and parcel of what makes us humans and not perfectly-programmed automatons, and I’m beginning to recognize the need to accept that, realizing that fretting and looking the part of the perfectionist doesn’t in any way make up for your errors–it only makes you look like, at best, a mental case and, at worst, a humblebragging attention seeker fishing for compliments and/or sympathy.

After all, if I hadn’t made any mistakes, I wouldn’t have any stories.  Certainly, I wouldn’t have the two songs that I ended up performing tonight.  See, the “theme” of Logos: Gethsemane was to tell a story of a time that made you feel the most human.  I couldn’t think of a time when I felt most human, so I for a recent occurence when my humanity was shoved in my face: having to admit to myself that I’d liked someone I shouldn’t and made a fool of myself in the process.  Even at twenty-two, supposedly a mature adult, I’d made the highschool mistake of blowing an infatuation out of proportion, and I suffered the consequences both socially and emotionally.  But, after clearing up the rubble of my ruined reputation and self-disappointment, I’d realized that this really just was another useful lesson to take into account on the road to actually becoming the so-called grown up I’d perceived myself as failing to be.  Our hearts (and hormones) will inevitably betray us–what makes us mature is our ability to move on from that moment, recognizing the good in the bad, the human in the error.

The Brightest, the song I *did* managed to perform somewhat-well (average, to be honest; I am rusty on guitar and need more practice), is largely about that decision I made to let that person go, while acknowledging the feelings I’d once had and, admittedly, occasionally still had to battle away for the sake of self-preservation.  It is acknowledging the experience for what it was: a moment of vulnerability, and an opportunity to learn.

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So there you have it–I’m making peace with mistakes this week.  Goodness knows I’ll make more of them, but I guess that’s really only a consequence of playing life by ear.  Which is, really, all we can do, right?

Right?

UJy5k2T tumblr_m7jm5vF09F1rthy64That has been this week’s very GIF-heavy The Friday, Currently.  If you’ve read to the end, thank you for tolerating the experiment in style and please let me know if I should try it again next week.  Until then, I remain, yours ever…

~ARoamingTsinay~

The Sunday Currently was created by Siddathornton. I’ve added/subtracted categories for the sake of the narrative, and also because I’m copying the format of NothingSpaces.com.