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.

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.

A Letter to My Best Friend

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Dear you,

Have you ever met someone who understood you so well that you wondered whether you knew this person in another time, another place, another reality?

Perhaps you had known each other in your previous lives. You’ve forged a bond so strong that one lifetime was not enough. Even in death, you couldn’t leave the other alone. So, in your next life, you sought to find each other and, once you did, you vowed to never leave the other’s side through all your many lifetimes.

Perhaps you had been created from the same grain of sand. While God was shaping your mind, body, and soul, He realized that you couldn’t survive the harsh realities of life without someone to aid you on your journey. And so, from the same grains of sand He used to mold you, He created another with a different mind and a different body but a similar soul.

Perhaps you had evolved from comparable particles. You both used to be made of particles that have been around since the universe had first been formed. Though those atoms were once lightyears away, somehow they found a way to travel through time and space to create two human beings who were intended to keep each other afloat.

 

For some inexplicable reason, I found you. Or you found me.

It could’ve been by chance but I’d like to think that there was a reason our paths intersected.

Though we are far apart, I rarely ever feel like you’re away.

Thank you for often knowing the right words to say. Thank you for sitting with me in silence when you do not.

Thank you for keeping me from drowning in my own sea of fears and worries.

Thank you for constantly reminding me that I needn’t carry the weight of the world on my shoulders.

 

Sincerely yours,

Me 🙂

 

Note to Self: Keep Going

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Dear you,

Yes, YOU! I know it is much easier said than done but KEEP GOING.

Keep going even though you feel like a failure. You are not. Just because you’ve stumbled once or twice doesn’t mean that you’ll never be able to stand back up again.

Keep going even though you don’t know where you are headed. Life is a labyrinth–full of twists and turns. And although you are unsure of what’s in store for you at the end, you must continue moving forward.

Keep going even though you feel like the world is conspiring against you. Yes, there are things in life that we cannot control… but there are things that we can change. We each are given different burdens in life and we must learn to deal with the cards we’re dealt.

Keep going even though you feel like you can’t. Things do get better even though it doesn’t seem that way from where you’re standing right now.

Keep going. Life is a battlefield but it’s one you can win.

Keep going. I believe in you.

Being an Introvert in a World of Extroverts

Introvert Adventures

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It can often be tiring to be an introverted person in this world that favors extroverts.

There are times wherein people doubt your intelligence just because you don’t speak up too often about your ideas… like that time back when you were in  school where you got a lower grade than you were expecting  because, despite high marks in all your exams and papers, you didn’t “participate enough” in class.

There are times where people think you are antisocial just because you find it hard to initiate conversations… like that time at a party where you felt out-of-place and you felt anxious about talking to people you didn’t really know all that well.

There are times when people think that you don’t care enough about things just because you aren’t all that comfortable with expressing yourself by talking… like those times when people would try debating with you face-to-face when…

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Feeling is not a weakness

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Allow yourself to feel the pain,

The hurt,

The frustration,

The disappointment.

Immerse yourself in the pool of your sorrows

But do not let yourself drown.

Cry when you stumble

But do not forget to stand again.

Process your disappointment

Without forgetting to move forward.

Do not conceal the pain inside you

Because the pain is a signal of change and of growth.

Embrace the uncertainty that comes with life’s ups and downs.

Feeling is not a weakness but a sign that you are alive.

“Life is too short to be lived on fast-forward”

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After you’ve read a story, the moments in it that stick to you the most usually happen at the very beginning and at the very end. As someone who loves reading and writing, this happens to me a lot. I can tell you in detail how the story begins… and I can tell you with enthusiasm how the story ends. The things that happen in the middle part of the story may become hazy in my memory.

Real life, as you all very well know, doesn’t really work like this. We don’t really remember where we began. We don’t recall how we were born, what our first words were, how we behaved as babies. We may only know these things from the stories our parents have told us. In the same way, we don’t how, when or why our end will come about. We only know that it’ll happen someday.

Life is one long middle part. And no two stories are the same.

There are times in my life where I feel as if I am getting left behind. A lot of my peers right now are already holding jobs, starting their careers. Some of them are traveling to places I’ve always dreamed of going to. Others have started romantic relationships, and some have even started having their own families.

And here I am, a fresh graduate. Unemployed. Single. No money for traveling.

I’ve been taking time searching for opportunities online, going to events, pondering on and planning my next moves. Every day, I’ve had to remind myself of my life verse Jeremiah 29:11 because it reassures me that God knows how I feel and that He has plans for me and that I shouldn’t be so impatient.

Yet I also feel pressure from well-meaning family members and relatives to move faster. They keep telling me (both directly and indirectly) to get my act together, find a job, find a partner, etc.

Though I agree with their sentiments, I also can’t shake my feelings of helplessness and worry. The jobs I wanted–the jobs I’ve sent my résumé to–have yet to respond. I have yet to find a single person I’d want to start a relationship with (well, I’ve found some but they don’t feel the same way about me haha). I feel like Sisyphus who, as a punishment, has to roll a stone up a hill every day, only to watch the stone slide down the hill before it reaches the peak.

Sometimes I wonder if there’s anything wrong with me, if I’m leveling up too slowly, if I’m normal

Yesterday, my dad, sensing my worries, printed this out for me:

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(I apologize for the quality of the photo. I hope the highlighted parts are still readable though.) The short essay was written by a woman named Jane Timbengan. I don’t know who she is but I see myself in the words she wrote. The part that stuck to me the most was when she said “Do not hurry. Life is too short to be lived on fast-forward.”

And that’s when it hit me. Life is not a book with a clear beginning and end. In books, the story ends as soon as the main character achieves his/her goals, finds what he/she was looking for. But that is not reality.

Life is one long middle part. And no two stories are the same.

Each life is a unique experience. Each life is a different story. Some find happiness early, others find it later in life. One is not better than the other.

We keep comparing our stories to the stories of others. We forget that our story is no less beautiful, no less meaningful, no less essential than theirs.

To my peers, let’s all stop hurrying and enjoy our life as it is in the present.