personal updates

#TruthThursday: 10 Things I’ve Learned (So Far) In 2016

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!

Hooray!

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.

oliver-twist-meme-generator-please-sir-can-i-have-some-affirmation-45cbf2

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.

anigif_enhanced-3507-1411142641-1

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.

scrubs-janitor-scene

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…

anigif_enhanced-19641-1434361510-6

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.

open heart

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.

3821421

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.

4eb4e00f8f9fb00cb5b4e80b86ff49ba045b8022bc0aa13a76f5343140ab4c52

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.

evil-twin-brother-funny-picture

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.

cardboard-justice-001-1000

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.

And finally…

10. Purple cancels out yellow.

colourwheel01

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.”

tumblr_nuo6ifww1k1s26zcjo1_500

At the very least, hope you enjoyed the memes.

~aRT~

 

Advertisements

Searching for “Wow.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 2.56.02 PM

My Facebook page has become one long trigger warning for a quarter-life existential crisis. My college schoolmates are speaking at TEDx or traveling the world. My high school batchmates/schoolmates are setting up businesses, becoming bloggers, getting engaged, and/or auditioning for reality TV shows.

I amsick. With yet another cough and cold.

A few days ago, I started learning guitar again. The last time I picked up Elinor for any extended stretch of time, I was in college, hefting her on my back from class to class, stealing practice time between reviewing for finals and crunching out the beginnings of my thesis.  I would play and sing everywhere, puzzling over tabs and timing, discovering a world of music made outside of my body, a method that physically challenged my idea of control.  It was exciting, then–every new song was a small victory against a nagging feeling of being “lost” that I’d had since leaving my college theater org.

Now, I’m only just re-learning what it means to be excited, what it feels like to have a world of music that’s really only mine (or, well, as “only mine” as you can get when you’re born with the urge to constantly be documenting things for posterity).  See, that feeling I had back in college–of being lost, set adrift, having to start over–is back and in full force, tugging away at the last constant I have: my music.  Or, specifically, my dreams of music.

It’s taken me a while to admit this, because it feels like a character flaw, but I am a natural performer. I like to “wow.” On that stage, in front of a crowd, you are both able to connect with so many, and remain at a safe distance, where none of those people can hurt you, like friendship without the risk of familiarity (and, ergo, contempt).  That moment of approval feels so much like being liked, the amazement and/or curiosity silencing self-doubt, even for a moment.  For a girl with a lot of very loud self-doubt, those moments can be intoxicating, and the constant quest for them all-consuming, because isn’t it elemental human instinct to run for safety?

That “wow”–and the things I’ve done to get it–have been my safety for years, to the point that I’ve come to define myself as what–or, rather, the very many whats–I do.  Except, now, things are changing. It’s harder to juggle all the hats I’ve chosen to wear. Music, arguably my “number one life priority,” has now become my biggest struggle: it’s hard enough to steal time from your thesis, but reaching for guitar after work, when your body is screaming for mindless TV and sleep? Nigh-impossible. I’ve had to watch my slow stagnation, standing still in stark contrast to my bandmates who improve in leaps and bounds, threatening to render me obsolete. They have side-lines and gigs and a future.  I have…Keynote.  That, and a nagging sense that my chance at “wow” is getting farther and farther away, possibly too far away to ever reach.

It all came to a head when I lost my voice.  Jian–bandmate, remember? I mention him a lot, so you should.–is probably going to kill me for admitting this, but I got extremely sick recently and had to be forced into vocal rest. I say forced because I only called time after pushing through with a gig I had no capacity to sing, my bullheaded determination to “be professional” and not back out at the last minute causing a vocal catastrophe.  We took a break for two weeks, which became a month, and now, six weeks after my vocapocollapse (see what I did there?) my bandmates are back refreshed, ready, brimming with ideas and new experiences…while I am struggling to find my footing, afraid I’m being left behind.

For the first time, at twenty-three, I am having to look in the eye the chance that this glittering dream of a music career may dissolve in the murky reality that is a corporate nine-to-five, with its “adulting” and financial responsibilities and reality checks.  I never saw myself becoming just another working millennial, but ironically the truth is I might have to trade security of identity for security of a more terrestrial, pragmatic kind.

A girl has bills to pay.

Am I scared? Very. Watching the highlights reel that is my newsfeed, with everyone on it doing something new and big and different, it’s hard not to start fearing obscurity. The promise of having a stage and leaving a mark have become such constants in my life that having to face the very real possibility of those things never happening again has left me more than a little shaken. What do you do when the destiny you spent all this time preparing yourself for turns out to not be your destiny at all?  How do you start over, take back the years you feel you wasted building a dream that was made to fall apart anyway?

If there are easy answers for these questions, I don’t have them. But I have my guitar. And my iPhone camera. A few days ago, when I decided–or, rather, was half-encouraged, half-coerced–to try learning guitar again, I turned on Facebook Live and started recording a video of what it looked like to start from zero–a throwback to the first days of Elinor and I, those private video diaries that showed me fumbling with painful steel strings and dreaded chord shifts. I took a while to ramble, talking about my bandmates’ advice and my new guitar set-up and the song I was about to do. Then, I started to play.

The first time, I screwed up, and had to start over. That happened again a second time. And a third. Over and over, I missed notes or hit wrong ones, laughing nervously as I noticed the numbers of live audience rise and fall.

Frustrated, I stopped looking at the screen and instead stared at my fingers, picking slowly through the pattern until…I got it.  And again. And again. The notes were clean and sharp in a way they hadn’t been in ages.  I tried to sing along, but the timing failed me, and my playing fell apart again, so I kept quiet and watched as my fingers plucked at the strings faster and faster until the tempo nearly matched the original.

When I looked up, no one was watching. But, oddly enough, that didn’t matter. I’d done something I thought I couldn’t, and that was exciting. That was new, and different, and doing it felt like something slotting back into place, an anchor finding its mooring. Perhaps no one would ever know what I could do, but I did.  I did, and the “wow” that resulted from discovering that perhaps it was still possible to grow and reach and try and be myself–a self that I liked–without those big dreams to propel me…

…in that moment, it was enough.

~a Roaming Tsinay~

LINER NOTES: I wrote this as part of an assignment for an office writing workshop where we were asked to write a short essay based on a random word we’d drawn from a hat. For the curious, my word was, well, “wow.”

Also, this post is partially inspired by the work of a fellow MGC New Life alum. If you’re recovering from dreams of athletic (versus musical) stardom, I recommend you check out this blog by Johansen Aguilar.  

…I can’t believe I just plugged an HS classmate. What is the world coming to?

Status Message – 10/2/2015

Haven’t updated The Friday Currently (or the blog, to be honest) in a while. Lots of stuff’s been going on, and I’m not sure when I can check in next with a satisfactory post, but I am alive, that my 2015 Reading Challenge is going well, some things have changed, others haven’t, and…yes, I will be back soon.

I think.

(Also, have recently discovered that I am exactly over S yet.  I don’t think you can be over someone when you dream about them one night and the next day they show up at your doorstep–okay, not my doorstep, but close–just like you dreamed they would. Am I psychic? Am I psycho? Both? Bah.)

Until I come back, though, here’s a quick playlist I’ve put together of what I’m listening to at the mo’. If the embed doesn’t work, check it out here.  Hope you guys enjoy it!  I’ve got to go research Intramuros as I’m playing tour guide for Ciarán (remember him? Yeah, he’s here.) tomorrow.

See you…later?

~aRT~