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.

Ranking ALL the X-Men movies

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The X-Men films are unique among all the superhero franchises. This is, first and foremost, due to the fact that this is the longest running superhero franchise. Back in 2000, when the first X-Men movie came out, superhero movies were scarce. Flash-forward to today (2017), things are vastly different.

Back then, only popular heroes like Superman, Batman and Spider-man got big screen adaptations but nowadays even more obscure heroes like Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Guardians of the Galaxy get to have their moment in the sun. It is a testament to the enduring appeal of Marvel’s mutant family that even in today’s crowded superhero movie landscape, they  remain relevant. The X-Men franchise does this by doing what no other superhero franchise has done yet–evolve.

So, in honor of Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart’s final outing as Wolverine and Professor X, respectively, I thought I’d rank all ten of the X-films (so far)!

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#10: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Hugh Jackman’s first solo movie as the iconic character was, for me, the messiest film in the franchise which is sad because there are a lot of good elements in it. Hugh Jackman’s in fine form, as always. Liev Schreiber does great work as Sabretooth. Ryan Reynolds is fun as Wade Wilson, though this film butchers Deadpool (Thankfully, we all know that the studio would get him right the second time around).

The montage at the beginning of the film, showing Logan and Victor participating in all the world wars, was fantastic. And it really is a shame that the rest of the film couldn’t be as epic as those first few minutes.

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#9: X-Men: Apocalypse (2016)

While I don’t necessarily think that Apocalypse is a bad movie, it is a very forgettable one. I’ve seen the movie twice and even as I rack my brain, I can’t remember much about it apart from a few great moments that stood out for me–like (spoiler alert!) Magneto’s wife and child being killed, Quicksilver’s funny slow motion scene (that seemed to only be there because of how much people liked the similar scene that happened in Days of Future Past and not because it was actually needed in the movie), and Logan’s brief (bloody, badass) cameo.

Anyway, the X-kids are pretty cool but they didn’t get enough to do. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender continue to be excellent as Professor X and Magneto while Jennifer Lawrence sort of seemed bored as Mystique. I’d just skip re-watching this one on my next X-Men marathon.

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#8: X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

Most X-Men fans hate this one because of how it handled classic comic book storylines like the Dark Phoenix saga and the Mutant Cure… but I enjoyed it as its own thing. It is a very entertaining though overstuffed movie.

I do think that it fails at giving justice to some of its main characters. Jean Grey, despite being at the center of the main plot, was not given any agency as a character. She spent the entire movie being manipulated and used by the other characters and, in the end, she didn’t even get to sacrifice her own life, instead Logan killed her to save the others… which really is a shame because Jean Grey in the comics and the various animated series was always shown as a smart, capable hero in her own right. Rogue and Mystique also had their powers taken away. And Cyclops was unceremoniously killed off.

So… yeah. This movie had problems.

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#7: The Wolverine (2013)

Wolverine’s second solo outing was a lot better than the first. Unlike the first solo movie, The Wolverine had a much tighter plot, interesting themes, and some more dynamic supporting characters like Mariko, Yukio, and Yashida. My biggest complaint about this movie is that the first 2/3rds of the movie were excellent and the last act felt like it came from a different movie altogether.

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#6: X-Men (2000)

As far as first installments go, the first film in the X-Men franchise is a solid, cerebral take on Marvel’s mutant heroes. It does a good job of setting the tone for future films, introducing the characters and the world they inhabit, and it does a magnificent job of hammering home its themes about prejudice and discrimination.

The only reason I put this on the lower end of the list is because some of the next movies were able to expand on and improve all the themes and plots set up in this first one.

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#5: X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

Though many fans believe this to be the best X-Men movie, I’ve decided to place it at fifth. Now, don’t get me wrong… Days of Future Past is super fun and enjoyable. The time travel plot was used well. And, for a movie which was (let’s be real here) only really made in order to fix the continuity errors in the previous films, it’s pretty great! It’s definitely the most comic book-y X-Men film (aside from Deadpool).

BUT… and this is my personal opinion, the scenes set in the future were pretty boring and didn’t really hold up to the fun scenes set in the past. Also, why did they waste Ian McKellen in this movie??? He didn’t do anything. As a matter of fact, none of the future mutants, aside from Wolverine and Professor X, really contributed to the main plot… which is just a waste of so much potential.

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#4: X2: X-Men United (2003)

Of all the X-films, I’d say X2 is my favorite. There are just so many excellent moments in this one like Magneto’s escape from his plastic prison, Nightcrawler’s attack in the White House, Jean Grey’s sacrifice… The cast was wonderful, the story was thematically-rich (although similar in many ways to the first one), and the action sequences were top-notch.

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#3: Deadpool (2016)

Deadpool is definitely the most unique film in the franchise. Unlike the other X-films which are all serious and moody, Deadpool doesn’t take itself seriously AT ALL. It is very funny, irreverent and FRESH. This movie’s willingness to poke fun at the very franchise it is housed in is part of its appeal (“I’m taking you to the professor!” “McAvoy or Stewart? These timelines are so confusing!”). Its other secret weapon is Ryan Reynolds’ awesome performance. Definitely looking forward to the sequel!

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#2: X-Men: First Class (2011)

In my personal opinion, of all the X-Men films, First Class was the one that was most able to capture the feel of the original comic books and the ’80s animated series.

Here are the reasons why I loved it: Well, first of all, I’m a sucker for origin stories, so seeing how Professor X, Magneto, Mystique, Beast, and the rest of the gang came to be the way they were in the first three movies was, for me, a sight to behold. Second, it was very well-paced, largely fun and greatly entertaining. Third, it is also helped me to forget the rather dull Wolverine and Last Stand movies. Lastly, where else will you be able to watch a young Charles Xavier using his mutant power to hit on girls or young Magneto hunting down Nazis? This movie is awesome, is what I’m saying.

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#1: Logan (2017)

I don’t want to spoil anything since this movie just recently came out… but I will say that this is definitely the best movie in the X-Men franchise and probably one of the best superhero movies. It has a very mature and grounded plot, and the dark tone works well for the character of Wolverine.

Go see the movie! GO SEE IT RIGHT NOW!!!

 

Well, there you have it… My rankings of all ten X-Men movies so far! Do you agree? Disagree? Please feel free to tell me what you think! BYE!

 

 

“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.

Dear Anxiety

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Dear Anxiety,

You’ve been around all my life. And through the ages, you have grown from a tiny, seemingly insignificant little speck to a large, irritating monster.

From the very first moment I found you knocking at my door, I made it clear that you were unwelcome but you barged into my home anyway. Back then, you only showed up from time to time but now, you follow me wherever I go.

You follow me around during the day, making sure that I am constantly on edge. You follow me at night and fill my head with worries that keep me from sleeping soundly.

You laugh at my plans and poke holes into my schemes. You mock my desires and make me believe that I can never reach them.

You lay with me in bed and crush me with your weight. You enjoy it whenever I can’t sit up or stand from the burden of your load.

 

Although you’ve grown bigger and stronger, so have I.

I know that I will win because I am not alone. My family is the armor I know I can rely on. My friends are the shield that’ll cushion your attacks. God is the sword that’ll help me keep you from defeating me.

Go away, Anxiety.

I will not go down without a fight.

Ranking ALL of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Movies (So Far)–PART 2

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Alright, alright, alright.

I shall now rank the Top 7 MCU movies! (If you haven’t seen my rankings for #14-#8, you can read part 1 here.)

 

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#7: Ant-Man (2015)

Of Marvel’s many superheroes, Ant-Man seemed like the silliest and most unlikely candidate for a big screen live-action adaptation. Though Ant-Man (the Hank Pym version, at least) had always been a core Avenger, very few people outside of comic book aficionados knew who he was.

Ant-Man’s relative obscurity and perceived silliness turned out to be its greatest asset. The Ant-Man movie embraced the inherent goofiness of a character who can shrink and talk to ants and turned it into a funny, heartfelt, lovable heist film. It also helps that our main character Scott Lang is portrayed by the always likable Paul Rudd and is surrounded by a colorful cast of supporting characters (like Michael Peña’s Luis, Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, and Michael Douglas’s Hank Pym).

 

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#6: Doctor Strange (2016)

Marvel’s most recent superhero film is a doozy. I remember watching Doctor Strange in the theater with my dad last November. I already had a general idea of who Doctor Strange is and what he does because of all the Marvel animated shows I watch but my dad was 100% unprepared.

“What is even happening right now???” He’d whisper to me. Indeed, there are moments in Doctor Strange that need to be experienced to be believed. I could tell you about the FOLDING CITIES or the dimension with HANDS GROWING OUT OF HANDS or the TIME LOOPS but simply describing some of the trippier sequences would not really do this film justice. You need to just go watch it. Go watch it right now.

(General non-spoilery review: Much like all the other MCU films, Doctor Strange has a great cast, an interesting central protagonist, a redemptive story-arc, and thrilling action set-pieces but has a somewhat underused central villain. The fantastic, innovative visuals are what sets this movie apart from the rest of the pack.)

 

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#5: The Avengers (2012)

Like a red carpet for superheroes, The Avengers showcases Marvel’s finest crime-fighters (except for Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, and X-Men) as they battle Loki and his Chitauri army.

The Avengers tapped into that little fangirl inside of me that was just waiting to come out. There was that surge of happiness that came over me, watching all my favorite superheroes come together on the big screen to fight a battle they were never prepared for.  Filled with action, humor and heart, The Avengers has redefined what a comic book movie should be and has set a pretty high standard for all the next superhero flicks to come.

You have a problem with the movie? We have a Hulk.

 

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#4: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

In all honesty, I’ve never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy before I saw the film so when Marvel first announced that they were making this movie, I didn’t really have high expectations. When I did see it, I ended up falling in love with every single Guardian (especially Groot. Groot is love, Groot is life).

If you had asked me, before seeing the film, whether a movie that heavily featured a gun-wielding raccoon and a walking tree that can only say 3 words would be good, I’d have been skeptical. But Guardians of the Galaxy managed to make a seemingly bizarre premise work! Guardians is more of a light-hearted space opera featuring a lovable band of misfits rather than a straightforward ‘superhero flick’. This is a superhero story that even non-superhero fans could enjoy.

 

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#3: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

What makes the Captain America movies stand apart from the other MCU movies is that it is not afraid to make statements and observations about the political, social and cultural landscape of the world we live in. Captain America: The Winter Soldier does not deal with the more fantastical elements of the Marvel world and plays out more like a 70’s era spy thriller.

It has a clever plot that manages to feel somewhat realistic despite its more comic book-y ties, along with fantastic performances from Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Anthony Mackie, Robert Redford, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sebastian Stan. The Winter Soldier is definitely one of Marvel Studio’s best films. (I actually had a lot of difficulty deciding where to place these last three films.)

 

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#2: Iron Man (2008)

Ah, yes. The one that started it all. This one has a very special place in my heart. A lot would argue that The Avengers or Winter Soldier would be better candidates for the #2 spot in a ranking of MCU flicks and I don’t exactly disagree. The Avengers is amazing in every sense of the word but I find that after watching it repeatedly, the magic slowly fades (not completely, of course). The Winter Soldier, on the other hand, has a lot of brains but I also feel like it isn’t as balanced as this film.

Iron Man, which I’ve watched more times than I can count, still brings me the same joy I felt when I watched it onscreen for the first time. Not only is the movie funny and entertaining but it is also deeply moving.

 

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#1: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

I really ,really love this movie. It feels like both a continuation and a culmination of all the movies that had come before it. It manages to make a story that, in the wrong hands, could’ve felt overstuffed and overcrowded. Thankfully, the Russo brothers (who directed the film) knew what they were doing. Civil War feels both epic and personal.

I won’t give away any more details. Just go see the film. DO IT! DO ITTTTT!

 

Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed my personal ranking of all 14 MCU films! Did you agree or disagree with the way I ranked them? Feel free to let me know! Bye!