Young, Dumb and Enlightened

My Symphony: Letting Go / William Black feat. Park Avenue

It’s kind of interesting and almost a bit scary how we twenty-somethings talk about Quarter-life Crisis like we are damn sure we are only a quarter through the rest of our lives. I mean, does it ever cross our minds that maybe we are farther down the road than we would ever be willing to believe? I think it’s the term “quarter” that is to blame here. It is quite misleading. I think that a lot of us live each day with the subconscious mentality that we have about a hundred years to live. If this was a guaranteed reality, if we were for sure going to have 100 years to live, then the whole concept of quarter-life crisis and our passive choice to succumb to the repercussions of it would be greatly justified.

But what if this wasn’t the case? What if we were already halfway through our lives? What if we only had 20, 25, 28 more years to live? What if right now marked the exact halfway point of our journey, and we had no other choice but to accommodate the reality that 50 years was all we were given on this planet?

It sort of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?

This has been on my mind in the past couple of weeks, and I can’t help but share my thoughts with you guys. This isn’t any form of jab at the younger generation, nor is this a snide commentary about millennials because god knows I do love millennials, and I do admire a lot of things about the new generation of earthlings. This is simply a reminder — perhaps an unsolicited one, but a gentle reminder nonetheless:

We do not have a specific amount of years, or months, or days to live. It is the most obvious of truths, but also the one that is the most overlooked or forgotten. The world can be tough and life can be challenging, but if we look at age 50 as the new age 100 and at least partially entertain the possibility that we are already halfway through life (HALFway through! That’s huuuge! That’s a huuge deal!) I think it will have at least a little impact on how we treat the world, how we treat others and, most especially, how we treat ourselves.

We all have dreams, and we all want success. But now is the time to realize that there is no exclusive model of what success looks like. At the end of the day, dreams can be made of sunsets and hugs or poetry and laughter, and success can be as simple and as priceless as being irrevocably at peace with the person that you are, in the world that you live, and with the people that you’re with.

Hey, I don’t know much; I’m only 24 years old. But I don’t need to live til 60 to know that we don’t all have 100 years, let alone forever, to live.

Wise men always say, that when you’re young, it feels like there is an unlimited amount of days, and years, and decades. And then you grow old and find that all of your yesterdays were as short as they were sweet. The hourglass is going, and your main duty is to make sure you have lived your life as fully as possible by the time all the sand hits the bottom vessel.

#InnerPeaceIsTheNewSuccess
#Quarterlifecrisis

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To My Friends Who Are Still Trapped In Toxic Relationships

My Symphony: Skeletons / Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Love is not a prison. Maybe at this point in your life it sometimes feels like it is, but it shouldn’t be. It’s not a prison. It shouldn’t look like one, it shouldn’t sound like one, and it certainly shouldn’t operate like one. You should be able to hang out with your friends, with your family, with your co-workers, even with the sidewalk fishball vendor you’ve gotten to know well over conversations about politics and religion on the corner of your street as you wait for the bus every morning. You need to understand that you are not behind bars. You can go outside and live. You are allowed to watch the sunset from breathtaking horizons with your loved ones. Your hands are not tied, your feet are not chained, your life is not limited by four rusty corners. You can breathe, and whenever you do, you should be able to breathe deeply and freely.

Love is not a game. You shouldn’t be tossing and turning at night debating with yourself about where you stand in someone’s life. You shouldn’t be losing sleep wondering if you are worth loving, because you are. And that person making you question that is nothing short of garbage, and you need to throw him or her out of your life as forcefully as you can. All of the mind games just need to stop. You are not a toy and your soul is not a punching bag. You should be looking at someone in the eyes and not feel like you’re staring at a stranger. You should be able to look inside them and feel like you’re home. You should be able to hold them without fearing that they’re going to let go first, because they won’t… because they never did… because they never will.

Love is not a test. You do not have to pass anything. This isn’t an examination where you have to burn the midnight oil to make sure you don’t fail. There is nothing to fail at, only bits of lessons you can learn, only glimpses of perfection you can sometimes miss. You shouldn’t ever feel like you have to prove something, or that you have to improve something – about yourself, about your life, about the world that you live in. You shouldn’t ever feel like you’re walking around eggshells in fear of “fucking things up”, because “fucking things up” should be a thing so un-thought of that you have started to forget what it even means to fuck things up. And in the slim instance that you do fuck things up, you should be so engulfed in the realness and the greatness of what you have with that person that you are confident enough that love itself can straighten out what is crooked; that even though you know a genuine apology cannot fix everything, it is a magnificent start.

Love is not a contest. You are not trying to be better than anyone; You are not racing to the finish against anyone. It is not a competition, nor is it a race. When you look at yourself in the mirror, you should see how beautiful you are, even when you never explicitly acknowledge that. You shouldn’t feel less than what and who you are because of the relationship that you are in. You should never, ever, be compared to anyone in his or her past or present life. You shouldn’t feel insecure about how you look, or ever doubt that you are worth it, or ever fear being incomplete without your partner’s validation, because you know you were whole long before you even met this garbage person.

You should be looked at like a Vincent van Gogh art piece, listened to like a Beethoven symphony, embraced like the warm waves in the Pacific Ocean, and kissed like the first drop of rain after a long, dry summer.

If there was anything I wish could be learned the easy way, it’s that you are amazing, just the way you are. We all have doubts about ourselves, we all have insecurities about ourselves, and we all have imperfections we wish we didn’t have. We’re just humans. But when the time comes that you do share your life with someone, it has to be with a person who builds you up, who makes you feel better not just about yourself but about life in general. It should be with someone who brings the sunshine in any rainy day.

So get up. Get out. And start living the life you deserve, with the people who deserve you.

Truthfully,

Kenn Edward Tenorio ❤

Today, I Turn Twenty-four

My Symphonies: Home / Day Wave

Wasting Time / Day Wave

Semi-rocking the guybun in 2016 (*Not a recent photo, thank god!).

So today, I turn twenty-four. 

I remember typing out almost the exact same words back in May 2013, when I wrote Today, I Turn Twenty. This time is different, though. When I turned 20, I felt a lot of uncertainty and discomfort towards aging. In fact, I used to be a self-proclaimed ageist. The mere thought of being a year older always made me feel nauseous and quite anxious. Every year, when I “celebrated” my birthday, I would always try to hide how upset I was with the fact that humans have to naturally age. I hated the concept of getting old.

But this year is different. For the first time, I actually feel very at peace with turning a year older. And not just that; I also feel very at peace with the fact that every year, everything and everyone else turns a year older. It is finally safe to say that I have come to terms with the way the world works – Things and people age; there’s nothing we can do about it.

I am writing today not just because it’s my birthday, but also because I want to acknowledge change. Change, who comes when it’s time for it to come. Change, who is the master of beauty and tragedy. Change, who is the initiator of bliss and chaos. And Change, who so effortlessly comes with aging.

When I think of my life from the beginning leading up to this point, I see it in chapters. And what’s great about chapters is that they tell us that apart from the end and the beginning of every book, there are tiny little ends and beginnings in between. And these little ends and little beginnings create something beautiful – something worth reading, worth telling and worth living. This has been my life:

The Childhood Years, when I first learned to take life one step at a time (literally); when I played in playgrounds and scratched my knee like every kid did; when I looked at grown-ups around me and wondered if I, one day, was also gonna be as big and as complex and as successful as they were; when life was a never-ending cycle of naps, tantrums, school, lunch boxes and Cartoon Network…

The High School Years, when I tackled so many things for the first time without much knowledge about life and the world I lived in; when I fell in love for the first time, got my heart broken for the first time, failed an exam for the first time, topped the class in something for the first time, made great friends and mortal enemies for the first time, and played in the field of teenage angst, romance, betrayal and overall drama for the first time; The High School Years was that one chapter that gave the first definite shape of my personality…

The University of the Philippines Years, which gets a special chapter due to the silent but steady impact it had on me. This chapter was when I learned that I can handle change (a major change) for the first time. I learned that simplicity doesn’t have to mean boring, and that modesty doesn’t have to mean defeat. I learned to take matters into my own hands, stand up for myself and carry on through the tough days without having to cry for help. This chapter was when I started to really genuinely appreciate sunsets, deep meaningful conversations and the importance of getting to know people outside of my shiny little bubble…

The Great Move, the chapter that tells of my move to Canada with my family. This, more than anything by far, has been the greatest teacher. This chapter was when I found myself in a world so different from where I grew up in. I learned so many things about other cultures especially when I was in Vancouver Film School. I learned so much about the sad realities of life, and how we all have a choice to bounce back from them. This was the chapter when I went through depression triggered by an unrequited love, and later on realized it was all just a lack of love for myself. I would say that without this chapter, I wouldn’t have been able to handle the next…

The Dark Ages, was a chapter that started out so magnificent, and so daring, and so adventure-filled and exciting. But I give it its chapter title due to the overall draining energy that surrounded it from the beginning, and more so towards the end. I fell in love with a guy that was ready to give me the world, but wasn’t ready to love me for who I am. I experienced physical abuse, verbal violence and worst of all, emotional manipulation. I learned that love isn’t enough – a relationship has to have friendship, compromises, acceptance and most importantly, respect. I learned that I am resilient, and that no matter what life was gonna throw my way after this chapter, I can absolutely handle it…

The Renaissance, cheesy, I know, but whoever said “There is light at the end of the tunnel” is hands down a genius. It’s true! Now I find myself in a place happier and brighter than anywhere I have ever been. I can definitely say that I am right where I am supposed to be in life right now, feeling exactly what I am supposed to be feeling at the moment, and being with the people whom I am most precisely supposed to be with at this chapter in my life. I am grateful for the genuine love I’ve found, blissful for the friends and family I have been blessed with, and ecstatic to take on the coming months and years of this journey called life…

I look at where I am today, and I realize that I should be happy about turning a year older. Turning a year older means I am still alive right now. I can still do whatever I want to do with my life, and go places, see new things, meet new people. Turning a year older means I have survived all the years before this; that I have embraced change time and time again, and that I have triumphed over obstacles and challenges that went my way.

Chapters. That word is subtly synonymous to “hope”, to “life”, to “change”. And today, I would like to celebrate turning a year older by thanking everyone in my life (literally EVERYONE, including those who are no longer a part of it in the present) for making me who and what I am today.

Because, girl, I’m slaying. ❤ ❤ ❤

The Boy Who Cried “Let’s Hang Out!”

My Symphony: Something Here / Day Wave

Growing up is strange in that the people you used to hang out with everyday begin to gradually but steadily diminish into faces without names, and names without faces. Hours of deep, meaningful conversations at the football field have turned into minuscule scroll-down glimpses on Facebook. Countless heart-to-hearts have deteriorated into the most casual of “what’s up’s” and “hello’s”.

Who are we? Or, I guess, the more appropriate and less ambitious question is, who were we?

We were once kids, who (without doubts or hesitation) would knock on each other’s doors at two in the morning just because. We were once kids, who unconsciously spent more time with each other than with anyone else, on a daily basis. We were kids who drank their first beers together, smoked their first cigarettes together, and lived through their first heartaches and heartbreaks together.

Perhaps friendships are just naturally more challenging as we age. Back in high school, everything was just easy. We were in the same school, in the same classes, liking the same things, sharing the same goals (mostly consisted of passing Physics and submitting our Research papers on time). Some were even living on the same street, talking about the same trends, listening to the same music. ‘Follow’ meant literally following each other around school during lunch, recess and dismissal, ‘Like’ literally meant liking each other for and despite all his/her flaws and imperfection. ‘Friends’ literally meant people you cry with one second and laugh with the next. Life was a series of sleepovers, unplanned Saturday afternoons at the mall, secrets involving crushes and mortal enemies, and the usual horsing around over fishballs and ice crumbles.

But growing up has changed all of that. Hanging out is now a super-conscious decision you have to make. You don’t just happen to be in the same vicinity with your friends all the time. A mere meet-up for coffee takes a lot of scheduling, rescheduling and compromising. Nothing is as easy as it was. Now, you actually have to really want to see someone in order for you to afford the time and energy (and sometimes money) that it takes to meet with someone.

And this is exactly why friendships in this stage of our lives are the most important: these are now the friendships we choose to have, the friendships we choose to keep; the relationships we decide are gonna progress and develop into something larger and realer as the years go by. We no longer share our deepest darkest secrets to just everyone in our circle, and in the rare event that we have a sleepover, it isn’t just high school buddies passing time anymore; it’s like-minded souls mutually sharing in each other’s worlds, exchanging thoughts and ideas, basking in the light and warmth of a presence which, although rarely present, will always be genuine. We stopped being kids hanging out, and started becoming human beings connecting.

I love you, dear friends.

P.S. Let’s not be strangers…

Being Flawless Is Easy; Being Raw and Real Is Not

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Maybe the largest measurement of maturity in the context of romantic relationships is the levels at which you find yourself just being vulnerable around someone. It’s when you let your guard down and just be real with them.

I used to always make sure I looked my best whenever I went on dates. Is my hair sleek and perfectly in place? Are my shoes thoroughly polished? Is my leather wallet wiped spotless? Have I sprayed enough perfume so that my date can smell me from five miles away?

Yep. Small things like that were a huge deal to me. And even though I am in no way declaring that I nowadays go around town in my pj’s smelling like a homeless person on crack, I am, to a great degree, more myself around people than I ever was. Being flawless is easy; it’s being raw and real that’s a challenge – especially in this physical, materialistic modern world that we live in.

The reality is, when it’s real, no amount of physical imperfection actually matters. This sounds so cheesy and overdramatic to an extent, but it’s true!

In the film Juno, there’s a wonderful quote we can all be really inspired with:

 Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.

Seriously, though. I’m telling you, based on experience, the right person really does think you’re the best even on your not-so-good days. And he/she will probably always think that way. Isn’t that just lovely?…

The 10 Most Successful Men On Earth

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Photo credit: Dwin Formaran | IG: @thedwinformaran

When we think of success, we often think of larger, wider, brighter things that are constantly seemingly out of reach. We envision stack after stack of dollar bills, glossy skyscrapers, mansions with heated pools, hundreds of paparazzi and a seven-digit pool of Instagram followers. More and more, the ways in which we measure success have been close to society’s norms but far from the truth. We have been blindly programmed to keep on dreaming with our eyes instead of dreaming with our hearts. And aren’t dreams an occurrence that takes place after we close our eyes, anyways?

If you Google “The most successful man on earth”, the first result will be a bulleted enumeration of names that are familiar to almost everyone: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and Walt Disney. Below you will find a link that invites you to see more of the article from which the enumeration was taken from. You will then be redirected to a page where you will see a larger list of people with their full names, their birth-death years and a brief description of their achievements, all cataloged under the area of industry or expertise they are/were best known for.

Now, don’t get me wrong; these people are undeniably notable, and they have achieved and invented a lot of things which have helped the world and a lot of people in many ways. This isn’t a hate mail addressed to them. They do deserve recognition, and they do deserve applause. But where it becomes worrisome is when we live our lives with the superconscious attempt to achieve as much as they have achieved, or to get as close as we can get to wherever they got to. Where it becomes ugly is when we start to view success as something that we need to work really, really hard for — when we begin to spend our days feeling somehow empty and defeated just because we do not look anything like Mark Zuckerberg’s chequing account or Kylie Jenner’s Snapchat stories.

Life is not a race, and it is definitely not a contest. Sometimes, the small things are actually the big ones, and the best things in life aren’t even things. So if you think you are not successful, have a look at this rather unorthodox list of the ten most successful men on earth…

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Photo credit: Alfred Marcial | IG: @alfredmarcial

  1. The Man Who Has Loved

It is one of the oldest stories in the world, and probably too old that it has transformed into a succinct cliche: “Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. It’s true! If you, at any point in your existence in this world, have felt that warm, cozy, almost-indescribable feeling in your chest when you look at someone deeply in the eyes, then consider yourself not just lucky, but successful. When we were younger, fairytales and rom-coms made us all believe that falling in love was easy. And then we grow up and learn that it doesn’t happen to everyone. True love takes courage, trust and, most importantly, friendship, and it only happens a couple of times throughout a lifetime. If you’ve ever experienced it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Appreciates Nature

The more you live, the sooner you realize that there’s no better place to be than right next to nature. Sunsets are more than just about days slipping into nights; they are a reminder. Blue skies are more than just nice sunny days; they are an enlightenment. Waterfalls and oceans aren’t just liquid grazing solid; they are an awakening. If you are someone who can sit still in peace as you appreciate a magnificent view of mountains, beaches, canyons and fields, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Truly Knows His Value

The modern world dictates that we need to do this and that because if we don’t, we are deemed failures. We as a society have become restless – always looking for ways to please people, always obsessing over more Likes, more Followers, more Retweets. Life has become less about genuine connection and more about virtual recognition. Most people nowadays turn to social media for affirmation, for attention and for valuation. If you are someone who is confident and mature enough to know your own value in this world without seeking validation in all the superficial corners of the Internet, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Literally)

There’s a reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: because we are human beings. And as humans, we are capable of change. We are allowed to grow, to get to know ourselves in our own ways, and to take on new life challenges that will later on help us become better individuals. We are not meant to stagnate in the same space for the rest of our lives. We are adaptable, versatile beings who are biologically designed to overcome struggles, drastic changes and overwhelming circumstances. If you are someone who welcomes change and challenges with brave and open arms, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Can Be Moved (Figuratively)

Another reason why we do not have wires and cords attached to us: we aren’t robots. We are allowed to feel. We are allowed to cry, to laugh, to smile, to frown, to feel like we’re on top of the world one minute and in the deepest, darkest depths of hell the next. We are emotionally mobile creatures. If you are someone who can encounter a piece of art (a painting, a film, a writing, a song, et cetera) and be greatly moved by it, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Knows Kindness

It is absolutely scary to think that kindness is fast becoming a sort of an “endangered” virtue. It is also something that people think can be translated to a couple of nickels and dimes given to a street beggar every other week. Kindness is more than just the act of giving someone something of your possession; it is about empathy and compassion. When somebody is down, miserable and lonely, and you (despite your hectic schedule) decide to be there for them to comfort them, support them and encourage them? That’s kindness. If you’ve ever been there for someone during tough times, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Is Present

These days, it is too common to see people everywhere looking down at their smartphones and tablets that in the mega rare instance that you see someone who’s not, you think apocalypse just arrived and you have less than ten seconds to have your final look at everything around you before you vanish into the vast unknown. It’s nuts! Genuine eye-to-eye conversations have now turned into mouths speaking to each other with eyes staring directly down at separate screens. Most people just aren’t present in the present anymore. They are somewhere else all the time, scrolling, sharing, liking and commenting. If you are someone who knows the value of a moment enough to put your phone away and see someone clearly in front of you as you speak, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Isn’t Friendless

Friendship is one of those words that have gained traction but lost meaning. In reality, friendship, just like love, is a rare thing. Companionship happens a lot, and so does affiliation. But real, long-lasting friendships are rare. Friends are the people whom you can count on especially in times of emotional distress, and they are also whom you can count on in times of complete fun and randomness. Friends offer a type of love and care that you cannot feel from other people, and they are often the people who have seen you in your best and your worst. So if you have a solid circle of people whom you call friends (regardless of how big or small that circle is), congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Does What He Loves

Life is too short to do something that you do not enjoy doing. However, life is also not that simple. There are bills to pay, and not everyone gets the chance or the opportunity to do exactly what they love to do in a professional setting. A lot of people who love dancing work in banks; some who are passionate about painting work in sawmills; others who are very talented at singing work in hotels as housekeeping attendants. The list goes on. But let’s take a moment to appreciate the guy who changes from slacks to sweatpants to join dance rehearsals after his 5-PM end-of-shift at the bank. Let us appreciate the girl who vacuums floors and washes sheets at hotels so she can afford singing lessons. Let us appreciate the people who keep on painting despite their already-tired hands from working so hard in sawmills. If you are someone who may not be loving what you’re doing professionally but still finds ways to do what you love, congratulations!

  1. The Man Who Has Connected To Another Man (Or Woman) In A Genuine, Penetrating, Effervescent Way

This is probably one of the greatest successes one can experience in his lifetime: to feel a great connection between you and somebody else. If you come to think about it, this life we live is full of complications. There are more than seven billion people on this planet, and we are all just trying to live our lives the way we know how to live them. And we do get moments of joy and clarity, but there will always be nights when we hit our beds after a long day at school or at work and feel that something is missing; that something isn’t right. So when we happen to cross paths with someone who just “gets us”, someone who lights up our day just by existing, someone who literally finishes our sentences and someone who speaks to us without saying a word, we hold on to them. Because we know that genuine connections don’t happen everyday. If you are someone who knows somebody whom you feel that electric chemistry with, CONGRATULATIONS!

Skeletons In My Closet

Now that I look back on it from a higher, greener ground, I realize that the biggest pain I went through was far deeper and uglier than the sheer betrayal, physical assault and verbal belittling. I have come to realize that the absolute worst thing he had done to me – the gravest, most unforgivable thing he had done to me – was look at me in the eyes and not see me for who I really, truly, fully, was. The one heartache that’s bigger than any other heartaches: to be loved not for who you are but for what you can potentially be. Not you but the idea of you. A love not rooted in genuine passion, kindness and understanding, but a love founded in the depths of some sort of a superficial fantasy. The greatest pain, I have come to learn, was that he hurt me not because I was imperfect… but because I was just not enough. And the difference between the two (imperfection and incompleteness) is vast and overwhelming. It’s funny, though, how life works. Because as much as it was a nightmare, it was also an awakening. You get treated like shit first, and then you learn (the hard way) how you actually deserve to be treated. You get hurt first, before you can completely appreciate what it’s really like to be loved.