How To Survive The Age of Social Media

The thing is, it can be difficult to live in this modern world if you’re not strong enough. Wherever you look, there’s something or someone to remind you that you are not good enough; that where you are in life at the moment isn’t up to par compared to your peers; that you may be losing at life because your most recent photo in social media did not get at least 300 Likes; that you must be depressed or “anti-social” just because you don’t subscribe to celebrity news and gossip; that maybe you’re a failure because twelve months have already passed and you still haven’t traveled anywhere; that perhaps you’re disgustingly impoverished because the last photo of coffee you posted on your feed was already six weeks ago and it wasn’t even from Starbucks.

There are so many trivial things that somehow contribute to our anxiety and our feelings of defeat, disappointment, and guilt within ourselves. For a lot of people, living in this social-media-driven world can be so stressful that it literally puts them in a state of panic, sometimes without them really even noticing.

The unfortunate truth is, if you’re not a vlogger, a social media influencer, a celebrity, or somebody born rich, being on social media can give more stress than inspiration or recreation.

So how does one survive “the age of social media”? This goes not only to the older generations but also to the millennials themselves. So here it is:

You survive by looking at a former college classmate’s epic photo in Mykonos and reminding yourself that as much as sipping cocktails in Greece sounds like a lot of fun, you do not absolutely need to be there;

You survive by developing an attitude of being happy for someone else’s happiness and successes instead of being envious.

You survive by inspiring yourself, instead of comparing yourself.

You survive by skipping the Messenger chat and directly calling up a friend to invite him to lunch.

You survive by taking hundreds of photographs of you and your loved ones on a trip, and having those photos printed out to be filed in an album, even if you only do this once in a while.

You survive by putting down your phone when your parents are talking to you, and actually listening to them.

You survive by taking out the headphones on a solo trip and starting conversations with other travelers.

You survive by going to a concert, or a play, or a music festival, and actually living in the moment, hearing every word spoken or sung, seeing every movement, breathing in deeply and closing your eyes when a gust of wind comes.

You survive by being on the beach to watch the sunset and, even just for a moment, actually seeing it through your eyes and not through the lenses of your phone camera.

You survive by looking at someone straight in the eyes when they are talking to you.

You survive by going for a jog or a walk and actually being present in the moment; by allowing real thoughts and raw emotions come to you while you’re on the move.

You survive by spending less time looking down, and more time looking ahead, looking up, looking sidewards, backwards; just any direction other than down.

You survive by waking up every morning literally counting your blessings, out loud; by being grateful for what it is that you have, and who it is that you are.

You survive by acknowledging that you are the only person you should be comparing yourself to; that you must constantly seek ways to be not just better, but the best version of you.

You survive by giving yourself permission to breathe through the obstacles and breathe in the victories.

Speaking of victories, there are many tiny victories within your day, no matter how terribly you think your day is going — There is victory in you waking up, there is victory in you being able to taste and swallow your meal (and the mere fact that you even have a meal to taste and swallow), there is victory in you having limbs that allow you to walk and lungs that allow you to breathe. And there is victory in the fact that you are reading this right now, with your eyes, which allow you to see beautiful things, places and people.

And so you survive by reminding yourself that happiness isn’t just a destination but a journey; that success isn’t a race but a dance; that having money and fame doesn’t always equal having a good life.

You survive, quite simply, by being nothing and no one else but yourself.

That fabulous, alive, amazing self. 🍃

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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

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 ❤

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?…

Pre-Birthday Thoughts

My Symphony: Gucci Bag / Reema Major 

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Almost 23.

At this point, it is safe to say that I have reached the equilibrium of my post-adolescent years (a.k.a. my early 20’s). I think that for the longest time, life for me was an unnecessary emotional struggle (90% of which was self-inflicted). I don’t know, maybe it is kind of normal for a pubescent creature to be melodramatic and somehow masochistic. But I feel like I’ve gone through enough bullshit in my life that now I am almost immune to it. Needless to say, life has been easier for me lately simply because I have managed to develop a mental process where I eliminate toxic people, excess things and rotten thoughts slash memories from my entire system. It’s been great!

I don’t believe that people change. People never change. You are who you are, and that’s probably who you’ve always been and who you always will be. That is my main belief system. And looking at myself right now, I am proud to say that I am still the direction-less kiddo you all knew from college. The truth is, I do not know what I want (generally speaking). And I am happy about that. Not knowing everything that you want only means being open to possibilities. Larger, wider, brighter possibilities. Not knowing comes with a sense of calmness. It comes with a pinch of excitement and mystery. It is quite beautiful, actually.

I grew up in an environment where everyone around me seemed to know every specific detail of what they wanted from life. At some point, I was also kind of pressured to know what the fuck I wanted to do with my life after college, and “stressful” is not a good enough adjective to describe what I went through with all that. But, see, the thing is, I have always been this way. I’ve always never known what I want from life, from the world, from the people around me. I rely more on my feelings and my gut instinct when it comes to my short-term decision-making (because I only ever really make decisions for the short term). The minute I consult my brain about what to do, I get into this repetitive tip-toeing from one thought to another, and it is never productive. This is why I thrive more on taking life one day at a time as opposed to carefully planning out every single detail five, ten or twenty years too early. That’s just not how I roll.

When I turned 22 last year, I was bulldozed with a lot of overwhelming questions about my grand plan for my future. And I know at least half of those people were probably genuinely concerned about me and my well-being, but I mean, let’s be real here: the other half just wanted to make me feel like shit. And they tried to make me feel that way! But they failed (hashtag LOL). To everyone who was so aggressive towards me on my birthday last year, and asked so many personal questions that didn’t need to be asked whatsoever (and also to anyone who is planning to sit me down and give me another pep talk about the great mother effing future this year), here is a piece of my mind regarding the matter:

Ladies and gentlemen, the biggest deception of life in the modern society is the greatness of the future and the fleetingness of our youth. Because the reality is, the future isn’t that great. Maybe it is kind of peachy, but it can never be as good, and as fabulous, and as spectacular as the here and now.  Why, you ask? Simple. Because it isn’t even here yet. It may or may not happen. That’s why it’s called the future. NO ONE KNOWS. And our youth? It is not at all fleeting. It is actually decently lengthy, and the only reason it doesn’t feel that way is because you jamokes have decided that for some reason, turning twenty means you have to go out there and start “adult-ing”. And I’m just sitting here eating my fries thinking Nah-uh! Adult-ing is so overrated and so overhyped. There is absolutely nothing special, impressive or even remotely satisfying about it. In modern day terminology, adult-ing refers to relatively young people complainingly taking on tasks that are supposed to be deemed “adult-like”, “responsible” and “mature”. But the fact of the matter is that, just because you are paying a couple of bills and not living with your parents, doesn’t mean you need to consciously label yourself as an adult. It honestly just metaphorically makes your youth go by faster. It’s a not-so-healthy state of mind which you blindly put yourself in. I swear to god, this world will judge you for being 22 and not successful. But that is a whole ‘nother blog entry because first of all, success is different for every single person. And second of all, screw society. So, for the love of perky coconut trees in the Bahamas and Mary Kate Olsen’s luscious locks, enjoy your youth and don’t let anyone take that away from you. Youth is not the one that’s fleeting, but your resistance to society’s pointless yiddie yaddah yaddah’s. 

Amen.

‪‎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. ❤