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. ❤ ❤ ❤

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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?…

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.

The Effervescent Flair Of My Peter Pan Love Affair

My Symphony: Magic / Colbie Caillat 

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Sometimes, life gets too hectic that I forget how quickly things can change at any given moment. One minute you are so deeply in love with someone with everything that your heart could possibly give, and the next, you are broken up with that person. Your eyes are red and puffy from crying yourself to sleep three nights in a row, and all you really want to do is disappear for a solid month or so just to give yourself ample amount of time to heal.

But when it gets really interesting is not in the beginning nor the end. Just like with all of this world’s greatest stories, the juiciest part is in the details – in the middle of everything. When it gets really amazing and worthwhile is in the little moments that make up this large, exhilarating mental collage of love, life and everything in between.

I am at the point in my life where I am no longer a kid, but also very far from being an adult. I am in this blank emotional space that puts me in a tight spot between wanting to settle down with someone, and wanting to explore the world around me. Given my restlessness, my occasional histrionic antics and my constant indecision, being in this space hasn’t been easy. I have to admit I have always felt like I am on the edge of a precipice, just letting the wind cradle me back and forth, waiting for life to happen.

And then, out of nowhere, I find myself in a completely different place. Quite magical, very surreal, somehow scary but nonetheless invigorating. What do I mean by this? Well, you know that feeling when you were a kid and your parents brought you to the candy store? That has been me lately. I feel like a little kid in a candy store just completely overjoyed upon the sight and the scent of sweet treats right in front of me.

In this case, though (partly because I am 23, and partly because I have outgrown candies), my source of joy has been a boy – a boy who has gotten me on a sugar rush that never ends, inside a candy store that sells no candies.

I honestly never thought that love could be this simple. I guess maybe that’s why young love is so special. Unlike mature love (a.k.a. the rational type of love), young love is straightforward. It is fearless, it is bold, and it is so many kinds of wrong in all the right ways. And if it were up to me, I would continue giving my heart to people as if I had never gotten my heart broken before.

With you, I feel like my young self again. You make me fall without fearing getting hurt in the process (because it is inevitable, anyways). You make me want to take miscalculated risks, because we know those are the only risks we’re not going to regret having had taken by the time we get older.

Instead of settling down with you, I want to take it off with you. I want to go places, see other cultures, learn languages and embrace every single living thing a little tighter than I already do. You inspire me to grow, but not necessarily grow up. And it’s a good thing. It means that you keep me centered, but just enough so the tip of my toes can still reach out to the sides and feel the edges. You make me fearless, and you ground me just enough so I can eventually be catapulted into action.

Whenever you kiss me, I do not feel owned; I just feel loved. I do not think about the logical side to kissing whenever our lips meet. In fact, whenever our lips meet, I do not think at all. I do not have to worry about the next move, or how I am going to slide my lower lip and press it against the tip of your chin after I bite your tongue casually. I just let go.

Even hugging you is playful in the most romantic way. The second our bodies meet, I melt into yours and you melt into mine. There is nothing complicated about it. Just two bodies with like-minded souls coming in contact. I think it’s beautiful.

When we talk, we do not have to compete or make the effort to sound smarter than the other, because being smart or not is not the point. Conversations in this young love are filled with ideas, unfiltered thoughts and realities, and the sheer pleasure of learning more about each other, one verbal paragraph at a time.

At night, when I go to bed, I feel like I am sleeping right next to my bestfriend. There is no heavy emotional stuff to discuss before bedtime, so we talk aimlessly and then we laugh. And then we laugh a little more until we find our eyelids getting heavier with exhaustion. And then we fall into slumber. That simple.

I hear your name and butterflies fill my stomach. I see you and I instantly become giddy. It is love we have, but it never has to be overly complex and dramatic. It is love, but I still have a crush on you. It is love, but you still somehow make me speechless and occasionally stumble on my words. It is love, but you give me momentary speech impediments.

We are young, and what we have is definitely young love. And I like that.

I like that our normal is other people’s crazy. I like that we have allowed ourselves to fall for each other without thinking of any consequences. I like that we get to be lovers and friends at the same time and build each other up without even trying. And I like that, even just for now, I get to spend my life with someone so alive, so pure, so amazing. Someone who definitely makes any ride worthwhile.

We are young, and we have so much more to learn. But, boy, I have decided. You are one of the rare ones. And I am keeping you in my life forever, no matter where this zigzagging road called life will take us.

Afterall, little boys can never be sad inside a candy store. 🙂

‪‎Love Is Not A Game I Play Anymore‬

I think that at the end of the day, the greatest irony of love is that no matter how many times you fall, you never get used to it. It is a constant struggle, a constant push-and-pull, a constant give-and-take. For the longest time, I thought that being in love meant so much more than what it actually does.

Love is a theme many artists have bled for, many warriors have died for, many friends have fought for. But love is simple. And it took me almost a decade to realize that love, at its very core, is nothing else but friendship. A friendship that lets you grow, encourages you to be better and effortlessly inspires you to be kinder. To things, to people, to life. To the world in general.

And right now, I am seeing it (love) in the brightest light. I never thought it could be this real and this non-complex. Love is a verb, not a glittery adjective or an excessively imposing noun. It’s something you do.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do. You can stay in my heart for an eternity, or you can stay for a mere second. But as long as you are here, I will love you for all that I am, with all that I have, because of everything that you are. ❤

I Have All The Chill In The World (Until I Actually Like Someone)

My Symphony: Follow Me / Hardwell feat. Jason Derulo

Kenntativity

Today I just had one of the most major realizations in my life — I realized that I have all the chill in the world… until I actually, seriously, legitimately like someone. 

If we were just hanging out or, say, casually dating, I wouldn’t mind being my chill self at all times. You could text me those super cheesy Snapchat stickers and I would respond three or four hours later with a “haha” or a simple “omg you’re so cute”. 

Because I’m chill like that. 

You could choose to talk to me whenever, wherever you please, at your own convenience, and I wouldn’t feel stupid or taken for granted. We’d spend one night together having sex, making out, watching your favorite TV shows and hanging out with your pet cat, and then not see each other for another week or so, and it would be totally fine with me.

Because I’m chill like that. 

I would talk to five other guys on Skype and Messenger while you and I throw sweet nothings to each other. I wouldn’t mind you being with your girl friends, your guy friends, your gay friends, your lesbian friends, or your family for the better part of the entire month. I wouldn’t even complain if we made a weekend plan together and have you text me 12 minutes before we were supposed to meet up that you “couldn’t make it because of a social emergency” a.k.a. you having been invited to a high school house party last minute. I would read your brief sorry text and shrug it off, as I sip on my third glass of red wine at home, consequently opening Grindr or Tinder or maybe even Craigslist.

Because I’m chill like that. 

As a modern day nonconformist, I would be even more chill in the sense that I would never ever doubt you, or feel any sort of jealousy with the people you spend time with while we’re still just dating. I would never, ever, be the first one to ask you to spend some time with me. I would totally be cool with a couple of casual kisses and a couple of casual fucks here and there every other month.

Because I’m chill like that. 

But here’s the thing: I like you. A lot. And when I like someone, I don’t hold back. I immediately lose all my chill, and I like and love with all that I have.

Do you even have any idea how much energy it takes for me to hold back? To tread lightly? To “take it easy”? I am a lot of things, but stingy isn’t one of them, especially when it comes to life experiences that I very well treasure and hold close to my heart. Experiences like you, and your smiles, and all that you are.

I am one of the chill-est people you’ll ever meet, but expect the exact opposite once I have fallen in love with you. Because, babe, I love out loud. And I am not going to sit back, feel sorry for myself and apologize to anyone for being this way. Because honestly, if you ever get overwhelmed with the way that I love and eventually decide to walk away, I would rather be walked away from because of loving too much and showing too much, rather than loving too much but showing too little. I am not chill like that, no. Not when it comes to you.

So, yes. I want all of you with all of me. I want you in my Saturday nights, but especially in my Sunday afternoons. I want your name popping up on my notifications every now and then, and I want to hear your voice as often as possible. And no, I am not saying you have to be by my side every second of every fucking day; All I want is for you to at least want to be by my side every second of every fucking day. Because I want the same thing, and I need the same thing. When you can’t see me for the night or have to cancel a plan we made due to the other elements in your life propelling into action, I just need you to respect and love me enough to at least let me know, and make me feel like you feel badly about it, even if you don’t. I want your cool kisses in the morning and your warm embrace at night, and when I go hop in the shower I want to hear your voice saying “Wait for me”.

Because I am not chill. Not with you, no.

With you, I am honestly a raging, skyrocketing, samba-dancing strip of lava just ready to take over everything. I am not chill with you, and I don’t want to be. People always talk about settling down in relationships. Well, I don’t want to settle down with you; I want to freaking conquer the world with you and live out loud with you. I don’t want you to be my resting place; I want you to be the spring that catapults me up to fly into the vast skies above. I don’t want us to chill. I don’t even want us to “hang out”. We are better than that, and you know we are realer than that. Screw hanging out. Let’s motherfucking DATE. Screw chilling, let’s motherfucking have a DINNER. And screw “see you tomorrow”, let’s motherfucking “see you now”.

I am not a fan of holding back, and it sucks that I am feeling worried about the possibility of you being scared away by the reality of my heart’s functions. This is me, and this is it. I love you, and I wouldn’t be so non-chill if I didn’t. And, I guess, I just feel like life is too short to hold back when it comes to the matters of the heart. I’ll save the chilling and the holding back for the shallow, boring, non-engaging people I meet along the way, but definitely not with you. You are one of the most amazing people I have ever met, and I’m not going to just settle for a once-a-week kind of romance with you. You deserve more (way more) than that.

P.S. Yes, it’s safe to say that it’s not you, it’s me. 

What It’s Like To Be Inside Looking Out

My Symphony: “Always” / Panama 

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If this was high school, I’d be the perkiest, coolest, most popular kid to ever grace the corridors and hallways of my Alma Mater.

But nope.

This ain’t high school. This is the real world. I am 22 years old, and the only thing I am gracing isn’t the hallways of a school but the streets of this small town, as I try to look for a job that will support me and my lifestyle choices.

At this point, it is safe to say that I am not living the dream. In fact, I feel like I am living the nightmare. My very own version of nightmare. You might say that I am being a little too dramatic about this, but I am not. This is actually the bold, bulging truth. I am happy, yes. But I am not living. 

You see, my whole life, I’ve never been the type who conforms to what anyone else tells me to do. I’ve never been fond of career goals, business plans, 401K’s or the idea of spending close-to-a-decade amount of time in Med school. To state the obvious, I’ve never really been a follower of the whole “Right Path To Success” platform. That’s not to say I am a dreamless bastard, though. In fact, I have this huge dream, this glittery, flowy, almost ethereal dream that has perpetuated within me for many years. And this is the purpose of my writing here today. I need to get this one out, because when the American poet Maya Angelou said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you”, she probably wasn’t fucking around.

So here I go…

People usually wonder what it’s like to be “in”. It’s just how it typically goes. Ever since we were  little kids, we were being unconsciously bombarded with elements and factors that contribute to the whole obsession with fitting in, with getting there, with making it. We were encouraged to excel at school, to make as many friends as we could, or to be a part of as many activities and clubs as possible. Not everyone will admit this, but once upon a time in Kindergarten World, we had wished we had the same lunchbox as our seatmate Elizabeth, or that we owned a pair of shoes that looked exactly like what our super gross rich classmate Harry Campbell wore. Sometimes, being seven and clueless, we would take an accidental glance at the neighbor’s kid named Sarah McDowell and wonder (very deliberately) why she always carried with her a cute little shiny handbag while all we had was the same old backpack that aunt Debrah bought us for our third birthday.

It was stressful.

And then we grow up thinking that it will get better, but it doesn’t. Sometimes it does, for sure. But most of the time, it actually gets worse.

We are faced with expectations (lots of them, especially when you are in your 20’s). There are college applications and then, right after you’re done with college, you are faced with career expectations. Inject throughout both those scenarios the cruelty of relationship expectations and you have yourself the perfect recipe for a 20-something’s psychological and spiritual downfall.

Unfortunately for us, we do live in a material world. Most of us don’t mind it, because most of us don’t even notice it, but it’s true: all that surrounds us (and I’m talking about people who live in the city in particular) is an insistent visual reminder of what we should be doing. Every way we turn and every sight we see, we are being reminded that if we do not accomplish this or that by the time we turn x years old, we will be deemed failures. Society and that Pumpkin Spice Latte drinking office girl sitting in the corner of Starbucks will frown at us and maybe even choke upon the sight of us.

So, yes. It is stressful, I figure. But you know what else is stressful? Wanting the exact opposite. 

My whole life, I didn’t feel like someone on the outside looking in. I’ve been the exact opposite. I’ve been  inside looking out

I have always had inside of me this incompressible yearning to be elsewhere. Just… elsewhere. Anywhere but here. Something like that.

I’ve always had in me this powerful longing to escape, to break through walls, smash through roofs and fly over mountains. It’s this sort of constant itching to go on the wildest adventure of my life, of dropping everything and just going somewhere nice. Somewhere warmer, open-er, livelier. Maybe even somewhere nobody else has been. And I don’t know what exactly this inside-looking-out personality of mine has coagulated from, but I know that this has been me for the longest time that I can remember. It’s usually more difficult for most people, but determining whether or not a life of conformity was for me has been very easy. I just had to ask myself these ten super simple questions:

  1. Do I really have to have a six-digit income, compromising my time for money?
  2. Do I really need to have a triumphant coming out as the Entrepreneur magazine’s youngest tycoon in year 2018?
  3. Do I really want whatever materialistic things everyone else has?
  4. Am I gonna die if I do not marry and have kids at 25?
  5. Will it hurt my soul so bad if I decided to buy a one-way ticket to Indonesia or Thailand instead of buying the newest iPhone and the newest Jeep?
  6. Say I decided to work as a cashier at Walmart; will that really mean I have failed as a human being because I do not sit for 8-9 hours a day behind a mahogany desk on the 36th floor of Manhattan’s busiest commercial building?
  7. Would I really be happier if I owned more? If I had more? If had earned more?
  8. Does being alive mean making ends meet and making sure I pay all my bills?
  9. Do I really have the capacity to envision myself working for a corporation for the rest of my life?
  10. And, most importantly, will I ever be ready to trade all of my time and my energy for a dream that, somewhere down the road, may turn out to be not mine but someone else’s?

And the answer to all of these questions is a big, fat, poutine-devouring, cholesterol-obsessing, obese-looking NO.

At the end of the day, I refuse to obsess over society-dictated goals because I have my own mind, my own will and my own person. I do not have to trace out the edges of my life against some carefully carved out model designed by someone else. If you come to think of it, almost everyone is on to some grand master plan for the future – go to school, get a job, pay the bills, find the man, have kids (make them go through the same cycle), be happy. It is this vicious cycle where your freedom and right to a life of your own are being taken away from you without you even knowing it.

There has got to be something bigger than just schooling, or working, or buying a house and making money. There has got to be something more to life than just surviving, or financially thriving. Sometimes, I even ask myself the question, “Would I rather be rich and die not knowing who I really am, or would I rather be so-so (meaning roof on top of my head, food in my mouth three times a day, clean water in my stomach and a few good real friends and family), and die not only knowing who I am, but also die knowing that I have gotten to know the world that I once lived in, that I once breathed in?” 

This has been said before (a billion times) but I will say it again: life is fucking short. We are all here right now, but a time will come when we won’t be. We won’t be here anymore. Hell, even our planet Earth will one day collapse! The sun will explode and everything that we know right now will be non-existent. Where will your riches take you? How will your 13-million dollar condo unit in LA save you from feeling already dead even minutes before you actually die? Will you be laying in your death bed remembering all the hours you worked in the office? Or will you be laying there remembering the few moments in which you truly felt alive?

I personally would rather invest in actual life experiences rather than tangible materialistic possessions because at the end of the day, I have been through enough in life to realize that things are just things. Money is just money. When it comes down to it, life is meant to be lived and experienced (not owned and achieved). It is already there! Our lives, in front of us. This is it. The clock is ticking and we only get this one run to experience love, laughter, friendship and even crazy-ass adventures that will always keep us human.

There is a reason we do not have wires attached to us. We are not electric appliances or robots that were made to conform and follow a specific program. We are allowed to make our own goals, our own plans. There is so much out there to see, so many people to meet, so many highs and lows to go through, and so many oceans to swim in!

So, I guess, it really is time for me to act on this. It’s been 22 years. If I do not start working on my dreams now, when will I?

I am determined to live.