Reminder: Don’t be too hard on yourself

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For the past months or so, I had been feeling down. Things weren’t going well in my life and although obviously I know that life isn’t always a ride in the park, my first few months in the so-called “adult world” had been pretty rough.

I almost lost my best friend to suicide. My parents are stressed out because of unpaid debts. I didn’t get hired for the job I really, really, really wanted. I was rejected for the scholarship I had applied for. And on top of all that, I am bothered by the news of all the awful things happening in my country.

Yes, I know that my problems aren’t that big compared to what a lot of other people go through but, despite trying my best to keep smiling and moving forward, I couldn’t help but worry about everything.

And whenever I worry, I write.

 

Writing has always been my therapy. Ever since I was a kid, whenever I was feeling sad or lost or stressed or anxious, I’d write. I used to write only in my private journals but as I grew older, I became more open to sharing my writings with the world.

It can often be hard for artists to share their art because they fear rejection and/or judgment but I want to share my works because I like thinking that perhaps there are other people out there who are going through the same things I’m going through. Perhaps those people also need to hear these words that I’m writing for myself. Perhaps other people also need this reminder:

 

DON’T BE TOO HARD ON YOURSELF.

Yes, you. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Everyone goes through difficulties and hardships so don’t blame yourself for everything. If you feel helpless or hopeless, it’s okay. Things will be okay.

Once more, I repeat: Don’t be too hard on yourself.

 

Life is tough, okay? Challenges cannot be avoided. There are plenty of things we can’t control. The only thing we can really control is how we respond to our situation.

When we run into an obstacle, we ought to keep moving forward.

But before moving forward, don’t be afraid to FEEL your feelings. Allow yourself to feel the hurt, the pain, the sadness, the anger. Take it all in.

We are only human. No matter how hard we try, we can’t be happy 100% of the time. Negative emotions are part of the package. Don’t avoid them. Don’t keep them inside.

Breathe them in… and breathe them out.

 

Once you’ve allowed yourself to feel, REFLECT. Do not linger on what you’ve lost but think of what you’ve gained. Remind yourself of what you’ve learned from the situation. Have the wisdom to discern what you’ve done well, what you could’ve done better, and what was out of your control.

What’s next, you ask? Well, here’s the hard part: We keep living.

We are human. We feel, we hurt, we stumble… Then we keep going.

 

I know I need this reminder. I know you need this reminder. Whoever you are, wherever you are in the world, I don’t know what you’re going through… but I believe in you.

Do not despair. We can do it.

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I’m not giving up on you.

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We met when we were both in our first year of high school. We were about 11 or 12 years old. Neither of us really had any genuinely close friendships at the time. It was probably because we were both weird. It could’ve been because we were both bullied when we were younger. For whatever reason, we met, became friends, and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, I had found someone who understood me completely.

Years went by and we were still close. Throughout our last three years of high school, we and our three other best friends were practically inseparable.

We went through a lot together. We kept our grades up together, withstood social bullying together, and encouraged each other to pursue our passions. I know that without you and without our friends, high school would’ve been my Hell. Instead, my high school years were some of the most fun times of my life.

 

I still remember all those times we spent together doing group projects, eating Hong Kong noodles, filming a movie for our class, talking about random things like Japanese game shows.

I remember we had a fight once, though I don’t remember what we fought about. I only remember how lonely it felt when we didn’t talk to each other for a few days. Whatever we fought about was probably a petty matter and I regret that we didn’t make up sooner. It makes me sad thinking about those few days we lost.

Thankfully, after a while, things got back to the way they were. I was so relieved to have my best friend back.

 

Even after we graduated high school and went to different colleges, we still kept in touch. Every weekend, we’d talk over the phone. We’d talk for hours and hours. I would rant about how hard things are in UP and you’d brag (hahaha kidding) about your awesome grades. We’d talk about movies, books and TV shows.

We didn’t get to hang out a lot in person because college kept us both busy but, thankfully, when we did hang out, it felt as if we had never been apart at all.

 

Then, I remember you telling me that you were moving to Canada. I didn’t show it at the time but I felt devastated.

I remember coming to your house with one of our other best friends. We came to say our goodbyes. We brought you gifts and you gave us letters. I remember squeezing you tightly while we were walking together. I held you from behind and whispered “Please don’t go”.

Of course, you had to go. I understood.

 

At first, I found it difficult living so far away from you but, soon enough, we found a way to communicate with each other regularly. (Thank you, Facebook Messenger!)

Though it was still hard, we found a way to make things work. We talked a lot about silly things. We talked about things we liked. I’d tell you about how UP had been draining my energy, and you’d tell me about school and work.

Our conversations used to be a lot simpler. We talked about our feelings but our feelings weren’t as complex back then. Happy, sad, angry, tired, etc.

I noticed that as more time went on, our conversations grew more complex. We talked about anxiety, both in social situations and in other personal situations. We talked about our worries in the present and our even more complicated worries for the future. We talked about regret and how we wished we could turn back time and do some things differently. We talked about life and death, and how people seemed to view those two concepts as opposites instead of as natural extensions of the other. We talked about depression and how hard it was to keep surviving.

We talked to each other about things we would never be comfortable telling other people.

 

You told me about your therapist and I told you about my counsellor. You told me that you told your doctor about me and she assumed that we were lesbian lovers. I guess it can be hard for some people to fully grasp how intimate and enriching a friendship can be. Then again, you are more than a best friend to me, more than a sister. I don’t think there really is a word for who we are to each other (Best friends? Soul Sisters? Life Partners?).

 

We promised each other that no matter how hard things get, we’ll always be there for each other. We promised to keep each other from imploding. We promised that we would survive.

 

On Tuesday (May 9), I woke up thinking that it was just going to be another ordinary day. After brunch, I decided to check my FB messenger, knowing that you’d have left me a message. And you did. But it wasn’t the one I was expecting.

You thanked me for living and surviving with you. You apologized for not being able to keep your promises. “But I don’t expect you to forgive me”, you added.

Your final words to me were “I love and miss you. Good bye.

 

I really can’t bear the thought of being without you. Losing you would be like losing a piece of my soul. When I first read what you wrote, it was like our lives flashed before my eyes and I suddenly had to imagine a world without you and it was a world I didn’t want to be part of.

We have plans. We have so much we still have yet to do. You were going to be a veterinarian. I was going to be a filmmaker. We were going to save up enough money so we could visit each other.

We were going to go travel around the world, visit places like Macchu Picchu, Paris, Italy, wherever else.

And once we turn a hundred years old, we’d sit together in our porch and reminisce on all our memories together. You’d say to me “Hey, do you want to go to the cinema and watch Avengers 35? We can use our Senior Citizen cards and get in for free!” and I’d say “WHATTT? I can’t hear you! Can you pass me my hearing aid?

You’d shake your head while handing me my hearing aid. Then, we’d go to the theatre and I’d laugh while you throw out your back because you laughed too hard at a quip that the newly-rebooted Spider-man blurted out.

 

I know that you are still healing right now. So I won’t expect you to talk to me yet.

I just want you to know that I am not giving up on you.

I know that you will get through this.

 

I love you. I miss you. But this is not Good Bye.