What being 27 taught me

Hey there readers, I just turned 28 last month, and I found this craving for writing again about how life has been. I have started this blog seven years ago, as a form of self-expression, as a way of making sense about everything that was happening around me. What does 27 year-old Kate know about life so far? What have I learned? How am I going to navigate the next years knowing that I have lived one-third of my life in this planet? How am I going to be more intentional? How will I live? Dear ones, here’s what I know for sure.

  1. Family is the starting point of everything and it grounds you. I have learned to appreciate my family now more than ever. COVID and my father’s passing has definitely been a factor as to why I found so much strength in being with family. I tend to not spend a lot of time with my family because I was too busy chasing goals, making ends meet, hustling, working hard in academics, and just doing everything my competitive self wanted. But as I turned 28, I know, for sure, that my family is the starting point of everything that I want to do with my life. They are the foundation that created who I am and guided every step that I took and will be taking along the way. When I get too stressed in the hospital, I just have to go home, play with the dogs, sleep, and have deep and fun conversations with my sisters. Everything that I do makes sense because of the strong foundation that I have with family. We’ve been together since day one, and it comforts me that I have them and that they got me.
  2. Don’t be afraid to take the first step. Just like how a child unconsciously takes the first few steps, I learned that being a beginner at things is okay. Falling down is okay. Taking the first step may be the most difficult thing for someone to do, but, once you bravely take the plunge and just go with your gut, even if you know that so many bad things can happen or that you may fail, taking that first step is always worth it. I was so afraid of going back to medical school, taking weekly exams and so unsure about everything that I was doing. But here I am now, about to graduate in a few months. I can do simple medical procedures that I never thought I’ll be able to do or even be good at doing. I can now extract blood, insert intra foley catheter, make an IV line, administer drugs, do CPR, do suturing, deliver a baby, and a lot more, all because I took the first step, even if I know that I might fail or be bad at it the first few times. Life is about taking the first step again and again and being okay with falling over and over again.
  3. Keep on exploring. I guess getting older kind of erases the innate curious being inside us. I used to love watching discovery channel documentaries and travelling. But as we become adults, our schedules get more complex, our to do lists get longer and we forget the part of us who love to explore and discover things, and not just do things out of routine or necessity. I still want to explore places, even if it’s just a random coffee shop in our town, or a beach or mountain. I still want to feel exhilarated by the cold air, the sunrise, the sound of new music. I have learned that our yearning for exploration, is still here. It doesn’t fade away.
  4. Keep on learning. I used to love playing the ukulele. I loved learning. I loved reading. I know that this part of me will always be here. Right now, I get excited by learning the Biochemistry of medicine. It’s like I am starting medical school all over again without the pressure of learning it fast. I guess the thirst for learning has lessened through the years, but not learning is not living. This blog post is an attempt to put into paper what I have learned so far. Alas, learning never ends.
  5. Read. What more can I say? I love books. I love how imaginative I can be just by thinking about how the characters look like or how this world that the author conjured looks like in reality. Reading pumps up your imagination. Harry Potter has opened up that creative tunnel for me. Reading courtroom novels opened up my mind that other people can think a certain way. I just found a best friend in reading.
  6. Stay creative. Creativity gave me a push, a reason to live, a reason to play. Writing is my form of creative expression. Dressing up, buying clothes at thrift stores, hair styling. Anything can be a form of creative expression. Creativity will inspire you and you need to make time for it. I noticed that when I stop writing, that’s when my anxiety and depression come back, that’s when my soul slowly withers, and so I have to keep it up, it makes me cling towards living. It makes me wonder, it makes me think, it summarizes the 1 million thoughts that float in my head. We have to live creatively if we want to live a full and happy life. I try to incorporate it through my medical kit, I use a pink stethoscope, a pink tape measure, I use colorful pens, absolutely anything that could introduce play in my job. Living life in color, living creatively, even if I am in a very stressful environment, that is how I fight the norms of this society.
  7. A little competition is healthy, too much is a no no. I love a little bit of competition. I even got addicted to it when I was still a little kid. I guess I have to incorporate more of this in my life right now. I have been more of a zen person, to the point that I got fat because I was contented with where I am. I mean, it’s good, but I have to up my game and compete. It’s fun as long as you are not toxic to others. Use competition in a healthy way.
  8. Sing. I have learned that singing takes stress away. Having a bad day? Sing. Having a boring day? Sing. I don’t have a scientific explanation as to why it feels so good to sing but what I know is based on personal experience, singing makes you feel better afterwards. So, sing!
  9. Make friends. I was never scared of shifting careers or changing workplace because I know that no matter where I go, I can easily make friends. Humans did not evolve to be alone. We are meant to socialize, build tribes, and face things TOGETHER. We are not meant to be islands. We are meant to work together, to slay goals together. Friends have saved me so many times. I survived every phase of my life because I had amazing friends who stood by my side, and backed me up when there were too many shit sandwiches. Friends will keep you sane and make you laugh.
  10. Dance. Dancing, just like singing, is a perfect way to feel better afterwards. I used to dance as a kid and even at work, I still did that. I have to get back at this if I want to feel happier, lol. It just makes me sad that there are less events where people can dance because of COVID but we can dance in our homes, have our solo dance parties, or even do zumba sessions.
  11. Sharpen your skills. At 27, I have a certain set of skills that I was able to develop and there are still a lot more that I need to learn. But even if we grow old, we must never stop sharpening our skills. We must make it an art. I once read a blog in Tiny Buddha about how Picasso was not the Picasso that we know when he was just starting out. I want to be more skillful than I am now. I am like this baby who doesn’t even know how to walk alone in terms of medical procedures and knowledge, but I know that I can’t be a Picasso overnight. It takes practice and it takes time, and I am patient with my process. I will be my own version of Picasso, in time.
  12. Chaos is inevitable. Wherever we go, whatever we do, chaos is just there. 28 years and this fact is still true. No matter how much you curate a perfect schedule, a flawless plan, something will always come up. Since this is certain, we have to learn how to dance with the rain instead of expecting that the weather will be good, or that it will always be sunny. Let me give you a reality check, it won’t. There are good days, but there are days when the world seems like it’s against you and your goals. But you know what? Those challenges make life exciting. Those crossroads and obstacles, make life interesting and make the reward all the more worth it. So let chaos come, but you, will be okay.
  13. Proceed, despite. This is a phrase that my doctor friend (Hi Doctor J!) often writes, and it really made a mark on me. No matter what hurdle comes your way, you have the power to choose the next move. Am I perfect? I definitely am not. I have so many days when I just want to give this all up and go back to my comfort zone and live an easier life. I do find myself questioning my decision to dive in the medical field. But somehow, I just can’t stop and I definitely don’t want to quit, even when I got so depressed when my Dad passed. I just can’t give up our dream. Hence, despite all those insanely painful things that happened, I choose to proceed, despite.
  14. Keep going. Hope is hard to find when you are inside the dark tunnel. I was 14 when I attempted to commit suicide. I couldn’t find the sense in living because of how turbulent our life was. I couldn’t find the reason, I just felt trapped. But what made me stop that dark choice was, the me that I saw 10 years later. I thought to myself, that it’s impossible that life will always be like this. I decided to live even if that was the last thing that I wanted to do. Fourteen years later, here I am, about to become a medical doctor, living with my family, four dogs, loving partner, and it gets absolutely better.
  15. You will rise. I know it sounds cliche. Sometimes the shit sandwich just keeps on coming and you just want it to stop. But let me tell you what being in rock bottom does to you, it teaches you that if you have reached rock bottom, there’s no other way but up. It is a fact. If you have been through the worst, there’s no way for you to go down because you are already at the bottom of the pit. The next events will be exciting, because it is now your climb. You can never climb down, there is no way but up. You will rise and good things will definitely come. Keep on working and never give up.
  16. Success comes to those who are willing to dedicate their energy and time to the things that excite them. Whenever I get decision paralysis, I just follow what excites me. When an idea or a career choice doesn’t excite me, then I am not having any part of it. Medicine, as challenging as it is at the moment, still excites me. Learning about diseases, and how to manage sick patients still pique my interest. I don’t want to paint a perfect picture for you, but if you are excited about something, you will keep on working at it and even if you get tired, you will still get up and keep doing the work over and over again, because as weird as it seems, this is what you love doing. It can be something as seemingly mundane as coloring nails or organizing your closet, but if it excites you, and you just have one life to live, isn’t it a sin to not do it?
  17. Freedom rocks. I remembered my university days and how happy I was. UP had this culture of freedom. I can dress however I want because I am not in the province where judgemental looks were given to those who dress differently. I loved how radical, our professors think, and how self expression is the norm. I discovered at that age that freedom is one of my non-negotiables. I love being free to do what I want. So if a person makes me feel like I’m being strangled, or an environment is suffocating, I know that this isn’t where I am supposed to be. You get my point? To live fully is to be free.
  18. Try new things. You are never too young or too old to try something new. At the moment I still have so many things that I wish to try. I still want to go scuba diving. I still want to learn how to ride a bicycle. I still want to travel around the world and immerse in different cultures. I still want to have my own pet. The list goes on. Trying new things keeps our soul alive.
  19. People aren’t perfect. This is definitely a hard to swallow pill. However, getting older will teach you that every one of us has good and bad sides. There are people, whom you thought are good, but has this dark side that is just hard to believe that a human being can possess. The people that you love dearly have the power hurt you the most. But at the end of the day, people are people. We are all human beings who are trying our best to live in the best way we could, with what we have. We will make mistakes and hurt people along the way. It is just a matter of grace and establishing healthy boundaries.
  20. Celebrate. I guess we are all guilty at some point of being too hard on ourselves. When we have slayed one goal, we don’t even take enough time to celebrate. We just move on to the next goal. I learned that I should celebrate my wins, big or small. We should give ourselves a pat in the back whenever we do a good job, or finish a difficult project. Remember the effort and challenges along the way. Everyone deserves a celebration.
  21. Jump and take risks. Living a safe life is a big no for me. You will never know what you’re capable of until you take risks. You just have to be smart along the way so that you will not fall flat on your face. All of the best things that happened to me are a result of taking good and calculated risks. I’m not saying you should climb Mt. Everest or go skydiving. Just make brave choices from time to time, and let the magic unfold. You just have one life anyway.
  22. Party, explore, navigate. Getting lost is part of the game. Remember that. Whatever exploration means to you, do it and live it. Try new things. Meet and talk to people who have different beliefs as yours. Follow your curiosity. It will give you lessons that can only be learned through experience.
  23. Be brave in making decisions. I do believe that there is no such thing as a right or wrong decision. It’s a matter of being brave in living with the consequences of your choices. If you chose to get married early and have kids, then that’s good, just take the good with the bad. If you chose to be single, then that’s also good, take the good with the bad.
  24. You can only connect the dots looking backward. As Steve Jobs said in his Stanford speech, “You can only connect the dots looking backwards.” At this age, I still have so many dots that are yet to connect. It’s still too early to tell. But based on everything that happened in the past, where I am now makes sense. The people I met, the wins and losses, all of them made me who I am. And I am so fucking proud of the person that I turned out to be. I still have a lot of figuring out to do, but I look back and I am proud.
  25. Loss is inevitable. The biggest heartbreak in my life taught me so many lessons than no self-help book could. It’s really when you face the unthinkable, that you discover how strong you are and how much one person’s life can mean . It has been two and a half years since I lost my favorite person in the world. I learned how finite time is, so we must stop with the nonsense and just, love. But it’s true, the bigger the love, the bigger the loss. Nevertheless, just love.
  26. Learning to live without your North Star. The universe-sized hole in my heart is still here. Time doesn’t heal all wounds after all. There are wounds that one lifetime cannot heal but you will learn to live with them. You will get used to living with pain. Whenever I remember my Dad, I get sad, but I know that this sadness means that I have loved as much as my human heart could. And isn’t that beautiful? Doesn’t that make life worth it? I am one lucky human to have lived and loved someone so much. I am one lucky daughter to have 25 years with a Dad who gave an amount of love that could last more than a lifetime.
  27. Allowing others to love you. As trials came my way, I learned to accept love. I am still the strong, independent, and self-reliant woman that I used to be, but having lost my Dad, taught me to accept help. My heart feels so warm and fuzzy now that I have the confidence that I can stand alone, and it’s a lot of fun to have family and friends holding your hand and helping you live each day. Allow people to love you. Lean on others and be a shoulder to lean on. I have survived and thrived in the past 27 years because I had a tribe with me.

Indeed, 27 has been amazing.

Read this before dating a medical student.

Medical folk are probably one of the most incompatible professions in relationships. If you are the type who loves being smothered by attention or being around your significant other 90%  of the time, then I guess you have to read this. These people are always busy, and it takes a very mature person to date a medical student. If you are interested in someone who is in the medical field, specifically, a medical student, then read below. 

1. She is most probably Type A. 
      Medical schools have a rigorous application. They will take the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT), undergo a panel interview, and make sure that their background has this long list of achievements in order to be shortlisted for an interview in a medical school. And you know what kind of person does that? A crazy one. Nah, I’m just kidding. But she is probably a bookworm, someone who’s had a lot of achievements, a perfectionist, and a person with high standards for everything that she does. It may make her look crazy to some guys, but to the right person, these qualities will be adorable. Who doesn’t want a woman, who knows what she wants, rolls up her sleeves and does the legwork to slay her goals? You will undoubtedly succeed if you have a woman like this walking beside you.

2. Understand that medicine is her calling. 
      We are dreamers and doers. We dream deep. We want to take good care of our patients in their most vulnerable state. Whatever the reason is for us to enter med school, it is probably a genuine one because we wouldn’t study for almost a decade and not have a reason that will make us stay. You have to bear with this vocation and love this caring and passionate side of her. 

3. She will reschedule and reschedule. 
      This is one of the downsides of dating a medical student. We may try to be present in your life and we will work hard to give any relationship the time it needs, but understand that rescheduling and cancelling dates will happen. This will not be our fault, it’s just that we want to spend the little free time we have to sleep. We just do not have the energy, or our schedules shifted in a whim that’s why this is happening. If you are not mature enough to understand this, then don’t date a medical student. Never ever take her calling against her.

4. She genuinely cares. 
      We may not have the luxury of time but know that when a med student spends time with you, it means you are important. She probably has cases to learn and tons of books to read, but if she chooses to even spend an hour or a few minutes just to see you, it’s because she truly cares and that you are special.

5. If she doesn’t respond to texts, she’s most probably studying.
      Stop that jealousy whatever. If she doesn’t reply she’s either sleeping, studying or watching k-drama. Do we even have time to chat with other people? We can barely manage our lives. lol. We don’t have time for fights and more complications in our lives. Our plate is just too full. 

6. She will often fall asleep when you’re together.
      If you’re watching a movie, she’ll fall asleep. If you’re just sitting on the couch, she’ll fall asleep. Get ready to spend time with a narcoleptic person, just kidding. We’re just exhausted. You are not boring. It’s not you, we’re just sleepy. Please do not take it into against her too. She’s just tired from a 12-hour study session.

7. Medicine comes first, you are second. 
      We know our priorities well. Our calling will always come first. When we become doctors, our patients come first. Don’t even dare date a medical student and expect that they will spend every hour of everyday with you. It’s just not happening. 

8. She needs a supportive partner.
      A superhero job needs a superhero partner. That is the bottom line of it. She chose a demanding life of service and that means you have to be onboard with that. Doing simple errands, driving, and even doing chores would mean the world to her. We often fail at taking care of ourselves, and when someone willingly does this for us, we just appreciate it. When she sees that you are with her in every step and that you would go out of your way to give any kind of support, she will definitely love you.

9. Respect her timeline.

She graduated college, will finish meds school in 5 years, probably do residency, then fellowship and the list goes on. She may or may not choose to have a family because of these demands. If you really love her, you will have to respect her timeline and not take this against her. This is the life she chose, and so you are either onboard or if you’re just gonna cause pain, get out of her life while it’s still early.

10. She will work hard. 

She is a hard worker, not just in her career but also in her relationships with family, friends, and significant other. She understands that anything worth having needs work day in and day out. If you choose to be with a woman like her, you are in it for a ride with a team player, a doer, and a believer.

Unlock your fullest potential

There are epiphanies that we suddenly realize as we grow old. If we are to compare ourselves from who we were a year ago, five years ago, and ten years ago, we’d notice that we changed a lot because of our experiences. I find this constant process of discovery as an interesting journey. You have these expectations about who you are and who you will be and yet you surprise yourself that you have turned out different. As we tread these changes, I think the consistent theme in these different phases of our lives is, we can be at peace with where we are when we are making sure that we fully unlock every version of ourselves, and hopefully before our last breath, we can say that “I have exhausted everything, I did everything that I possibly could.” There will be no regrets nor what ifs.

The next question is, “How do you unlock your fullest potential?” I can only speak based on how I approach life and what I have learned overall, and that is by breaking it in to tiny, actionable steps. 

1. Make an irrevocable decision about the life that you want.
       When you know where you are going, there will be less mental burden about the decisions you’ll be making. Decide what kind of life you want, without any sort of guilt. Do you want to be a millionaire? Do you want to travel all over the world? Do you want to live a simple life on a hill or in the middle of a forest? Ask yourself this question everyday, “What do I really want?” and listen to your gut’s honest answer. Write it down. To be honest, I feel sad whenever I meet someone who is just wasting precious Earth time wandering aimlessly. We all have moments of uncertainties, but at some point, you have to choose your path. Ten years from now, what does a beautiful life look like to you. Make it as detailed as possible and then that’s it, that’s the life you want.


2. Schedule it. 
      If it’s not scheduled, it’s not getting done. This is just honest advice. If you keep on saying that I want to be financially successful, or have a family, or a car, and you’re just sitting there on the couch and praying to be abundant, I hate to break it to you, but it’s not happening. You have to put it in your calendar and make time for each step that will take you closer to the kind of life that you truly want. Start small. Take those baby steps which might seem insignificant at the moment. You’ll see that those tiny actions will accumulate and result to something great, something that only sheer hard work could ever do.


3. Eliminate anything that brings you down. 
      Are you spending so much time on social media? Do you have thought patterns or belief systems that aren’t helping you rise? Well then it’s time to let go of them. Turn your phone off when you have to focus and just concentrate on whatever task is at hand. Stay in the moment you are in. If it’s not making you a happier and better person, then let go of it. It could be a bad habit, or a dragging relationship, or even people who disguise themselves as friends. Choose your energy. Make sure that even if you plummet in to negativity a few times, you still take steps to keep yourself on a higher energy vibe.


4. Ask for help. 
      You are not an island. You belong to a species of organisms who need socializing. The news, COVID, financial setbacks, illnesses, they all are heavy to carry alone. The thing is, you don’t have to face every single one of them on your own. Ask for help. Be brave to humbly seek assistance whenever you need it. I can’t tell you how this simple step changed everything for me. I used to be the person who wants to prove that she doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s pathological. This attitude has allowed me to be strong, independent, brave and extremely self-reliant, but it also made me a loner and somehow it closed my doors to opportunities and relationships that could have been good for me. Be self-reliant, but when you need help, please ask for it. 


5. Surround yourself with people who want to see you win. 
      Be careful who you spend most of your time with. If you just gossip, drink, or watch TV with your friends, I hate to break it to you, but you are not with the right people. If you want to become successful, you have to make sure that you are in an environment that will allow you to grow at the level that you want to. Talk about goals and how you are achieving them. Discuss ideas, passion, and creativity. Generate that energy of relentlessness. Assess if the people you are with want to see you win. Filipino culture taught us to value family, but sometimes extended family members can cause too much toxicity. You will get opinions you didn’t ask for or unwanted visits and demands. If that’s the case, stop complaining, save up, and move out. If they are not helping you, just get out of that negative space. You can’t possibly grow in a soil that isn’t capable of providing the nutrients that you need to achieve your highest potential.


6. Expect setbacks. 
      This is not a world of unicorns and rainbows. But I guess you already know that. Following your passion or chasing a dream can be equated to going through loopholes with fire on its outlines. It’s like running on a track with lanes with shards of glass or burning coal. It’s kind of morbid but there will be times when you will want to give up because it’s hard and painful. Circumstances will get out of control just when you think everything is okay. Expect setbacks, my love. There will be highs and lows but just hold on to hope. Keep the faith and know that nothing is permanent, even trials.


7. Have a go-to person. 
      To say that we have that one best friend is false in my opinion. I have a friend that I confide in depending on what I am going through. I hope you have these people. They will give you honest advice and a listening and non-judgmental ear. Having real friends is very comforting. They get you back to your senses when you are getting off track. They will patiently hold your hand when you are still healing. How do you have these people? Be a friend. Be a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on for others, and when it’s your turn to be punched by the world, someone will always be there for you.


8. Come back stronger. 
      When setbacks happen and you feel like you can’t take another blow anymore, rest. Allow your body and your mind the time and space for recovery. Stop pushing when you know within yourself that you are mentally and physically exhausted. This time frame varies for every person. When you are already rested, roll up your sleeves and with courage, start again. You have learned the lessons, and now it’s time to use that wisdom in getting back up. Know that you are strong because you have gotten through the unthinkable. Nothing is impossible for someone who doesn’t have the phrase “give up” in their vocabulary. 


9. Give. 
      Having a generous heart will allow abundance to flow in your life. I have proven this repeatedly. Whenever I feel like there isn’t enough money or when I am scared, I give. It may be my time, or any form of help that I could give. Surprisingly, abundance follows when your heart is not guarded by the scarcity wall. Volunteer for an advocacy you believe in. Serve. Just give not because you want something in return but do it because it feels good to make others feel better.


10. Surrender. 

For me, life is 50% what happens to you and 50% of it will come from your actions. We can do so much with our precious 50%. When I wake up every morning, I do my best to keep things in order and accomplish the tasks that I need to do so that my dreams will come into fruition. But I also know that there will be circumstances and forces which are out of my control, and so when I pray I surrender that 50%. “No matter how this day goes, I will do my best and the Universe will do the rest for me.” It was hard for a control freak like me to utter the word “surrender.” However, I sleep better ever since I accepted that things will get out of control, schedules will get ruined, annoying people will pop up, but how I perceive these circumstances and my legwork is all that matters. Surrender your dream and each moment and eventually you’ll get there. 

Finally free

Too often we dream about doing great things, reaching for the stars, going as far as we can go. Maybe that’s why we are consistently exhausted. Keeping up with the speed of the world can be really taxing. I am having this existential crisis of wanting to shine, to be something, or someone. It has lessened in intensity, but I’lll be honest, I want all this to go away sometimes. I just want to be happy and contented with where I am.

I used to like being able to do it all, to be the person who can do this and that. I am the quiz bee girl, the dancer, the singer, writer, public speaker, top employee, class president, a good teacher, a soul who revels in adventure, and all those other things. I am happy that I can do all this, but I admit, I did so many things and trained myself to be good at a lot of things, until the light burned out.

What is left of me, if the light has burned out?

What I saw was who I really am. I am this simple person who looks forward to quiet mornings while sipping ginger tea. I like reading books that keep my heart at peace. I love talking to God and conversing with my Dad in heaven. I like cuddling our dogs. I love lazy afternoons with my boyfriend. I love playing with my baby brother at five in the afternoon. I love endless talking with my sisters. I enjoy so many things other than being at the spotlight and performing all those skills that I could do.

Maybe this is me getting old. Or maybe, I am just unveiling who I really am in the first place. I am not a competitive person anymore, but instead I aspire to be really competent in the line of work that I chose. I love listening to my body and giving it what it needs, to the best of my abilities. I am not as neurotic whenever things don’t go according to plan. I give grace, when people come short of their responsibilities, because, the world is toxic on its own, why should I add up to the mess.

I honor my lazy days, but I do my best to be as productive. I forgive myself more often. I choose love, as often as I could. I am happy, just by honoring who I am at the present.

Comparison Island

You wake up and start your day. You scroll on your newsfeed and saw an endless gallery of milestones. You started out the day good, but ended up feeling inadequate because you have been trapped in the dark tunnel of comparison. We know that being stuck there is an absolute poison, but preventing ourselves from feeling envy can be a herculean task since browsing at other people’s profiles is just at our fingertips.

I admit, I have been trapped in the ‘not good enough’ vortex, far longer than I should. There are just times when I feel that if only I have this or that, I would’ve achieved more or become more. However, thinking that way won’t do you any good. You will just feel bad about yourself, and feel bad about feeling bad.

The question now is, how do we get out of this funk? Here are few of my practices which have saved me so many times. I hope that these may help you as well.

1. Sleep.
Sometimes you just don’t have enough sleep that’s why you feel snappy. Sleep allows your body to recalibrate and recharge. Biologically speaking, your cells regenerate and toxic metabolites in the brain get cleaned out when you sleep. If you have a good night’s rest you’ll be a more loving person, you’ll be fun to be around with. Sleep makes your skin glow better, and it amps up your focus. Maybe you’re not envious, you just need sleep after all.

2. Get off of social media.

I’ll be honest with you. I feel extremely lucky that I grew up in a pre-digital era. Internet wasn’t that accessible and not a necessity back then. Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram wasn’t there to pressure me to have a feed worthy life. I don’t have easy access to nose around other people’s lives. These times are more challenging because, we can just scroll and then end up feeling bad about not having those highlights. Most of us aren’t conscious enough to realize that social media is an illusion. Practice being aware of your feelings. If you tend to compare yourself to these people who have seemingly perfect lives online, just pause and uninstall. Dedicate healthy boundaries with the internet. I have deactivated my twitter account for almost two years, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I also uninstalled facebook on my phone, so that I won’t have easy access to it. Check how you feel when using a platform. If it makes you feel like your life is so bad, get off it.

3. Prioritize happiness.

As an extremely busy person who needs to schedule everything, I often forget to do things that make me happy. I made a pact with the universe that I will choose happiness and make space for more of it to manifest. I rest when I need to, or even just carve 15 minutes of pleasure reading. When I schedule happy time, I become a better person. I don’t tend to compare myself with anyone, because I am busy having fun. So I go for a walk or listen to music. I make sure that I still write on my blog and journal. I watch even just one episode of Modern Family. I eat meals with family no matter how busy I am. My boyfriend and I would still go on dates. I still play wih our dogs or catch up with my best friends. At the end of the day, I feel like I am living my most authentic self, and not sacrificing my happiness for my ambition. I don’t feel the need to compare when my offline life is just awesome.


4. Go back to gratiude.

I will repeatedly tell you readers to always list everything you’re thankful for. A gratitude journal will keep you in perspective and help you not lose sight of your own path. When we compare, it is a sign that we are not using our gratitude muscles or fully appreciating what we have. The mere fact that you are alive, is a blessing by itself. If you are eating and have a decent home, then express that. Write it down first thing in the morning. That attitude of gratitude will elevate your energy and set you up for a more positive day and help you avoid negative thoughts.

5. Write.

When you write, you’re giving yourself a chance to process your feelings. If you are jealous of somebody else’s success, write it down. When you do, you are eliminating the mental clutter that is poisoning your mind. Do not judge yourself for feeling envious, but rather take steps that will move you forward instead of keeping you stuck in the negativity. My personal practice includes writing on my journal about what happened yesterday. Then I write on my blog about ideas that I am passionate to share. You don’t have to be a good writer, because you are doing this for yourself. You can also come back to your entries and actually find it fun to reflect on how you think and perceive in the past. You’ll also recognize that eveything that you used to worry about actually has a way of working out.

6. Use jealousy as a compass.

Jealousy isn’t bad overall. It points you to the aspects of your life that you need to work on. If you get envious with a friend who has a brand new car or who’s getting married, maybe the universe is just showing you the things that you desire or maybe the universe wants to teach you patience and humility. Transform that emotion and energy to your productivity. Maybe it’s time to double your effort or restrategize on your financial and personal goals. Maybe you have to work on your personal growth. Maybe you need to work on having more meaningful and fulfilling relationships. Be unapologetically honest with yourself. Do not be guilty about your ambitions and be relentless in chasing your dreams. Be you and let your surroundings guide you.

7. Do yoga.

I am serious when I say that yoga is magic. A human being has several aspects that make up their existence. You have to take care of your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and professional health so that you will have a centered life. I have always struggled with my physical health and found it hard to make peace and have a loving relationship with my body. Yoga has helped me respect and take care of my body in ways that I have never imagined. The focus that it requires elevates your level of awareness about yourself. I absolutely became a better person. I make better decisions and I have learned how to listen to my body and choose my thoughts. When a jealous thought arises, I can choose to see things in a different way. I can also easily walk away from activities that cultivate my jealousy and insecurities.


8. Reframe your thoughts.

When I was still working in customer service, I remember one thing that our trainer taught us, it’s perspective management. To quote also one of the greatest mentors Dr. Wayne Dyer, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” You have the power to level up your self-awareness and catch yourself before you fall in the wormhole of comparison. Always reframe. When a jealous thought arises, choose to see it differently. When someone does better than me even though I worked extra hard for it, I tell myself that it’s just not my time and that I am meant for something far better than I could have imagined. This practice absolutely works and it prevents me from feeling shitty. Repeat this mantra “I choose how I feel.” This statement gives you back your power.

9. Practice self-forgiveness.

As a Type A kid, I blame myself when things don’t go according to plan. This habit became pathologic, up to a point that I feel like I cannot live with myself anymore. I tend to beat myself up even for circumstances that I couldn’t have predicted or that were out of my control. I read somewhere that we should talk to ourselves the way that we talk to our little sister. Mind you, I will never talk to my younger sisters in the harsh way that I talk to myself. I only reconciled with the inner child in me when I finally practiced consistent self-forgiveness. When you do this, you feel as if you are enough, just by simply existing. You love yourself even if you know that you are imperfect. You will accept that even if someone will always be better than you, it’s okay because no one can ever be like your own weird you.

10. Let go.

Expectations are just futile. Do the work and keep on striving for your goals and let go of the outcome. Stop the comparison and just stay on your lane. As long as it’s your best then that will always be good enough.

(Photo shows my family, what I’m immensely grateful for.)

Lessons From Papa

Mentors are essential in our lives. Indeed, you can be considered lucky if you have one who is just filled with wisdom and knowledge that took them years to learn but then they just give it out like fairy dust. Let me share few of the wisdom that my first and best mentor, my father, Coach Neon, has taught me. Hopefully, you’ll find them helpful and maybe guide you in your pursuits in life.


1. Work Hard
Papa didn’t graduate college. He got married young and had four children. Now that I’m an adult, I can’t help but wonder how he did it. At my age, he already had three children, and yet I remember him as a happy and funny person. They say that kids won’t do what you tell them to do, but they would imitate what their parents do. I guess my dad was able to raise us beautifully because he works hard not just at work or when he’s coaching, but even in being a father. When he has to make a bahay kubo (nipa hut), I see him work hard to finish it even when he’s tired from his job. When we have issues within the family, he works hard to patch things up. When he had to ask forgiveness for a mistake he has made, he worked hard to earn our trust. He shows up not just in the happiest but most importantly, in the most difficult times in our lives. I guess I really got my work ethic from him, although he’s way better at it than I’ll ever be, but whenever I don’t feel like reading more pages of Harrison’s, I see him, and I remember how hard he worked up to the very end of his life, and I feel guilty, because who am I to complain when my dad doesn’t even have the word ‘tired’ in his vocabulary? I have the stamina to strive for my dreams because I grew up with such a hardworking, epic person, whom I admire a lot. I fully understand that in whatever aspect in life, there are no shortcuts.

2. You’re not special. Do the chores.
My father trained us to wash the dishes starting at the age of five. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we may be his princesses, but that doesn’t mean that we are exempted from household chores. I had a self-entitlement issue back when I was a kid. I thought that since I work extra hard to be the best in class, I am excused from chores. Papa wouldn’t take any of it. He let all of us wash dishes, clean our room, sweep the yard, and do our laundry. This is actually a very profound lesson for me. It taught me that the basics are important. I didn’t have issues with cleanliness or hygiene when I was in college because Papa didn’t allow laziness in the house up to a point that I think I have borderline OCD because I just want stuff to always be clean and organized. I knew that no one is going to take care of my stuff other than myself, and that I have to take personal responsibility for everything that I have and the space that I occupy. I’m just grateful that laziness is not an issue now that I am an adult.


3. You are not above or below anyone.
I’m allergic to people with superiority complex. Whenever I see or hear someone degrading another person because of their economic status, or just plainly treating them bad, I get really upset. Why? Because we are all human beings and whether you are the president of the Philippines or a billionaire, if you get hit by a car, chances are, you’ll die. We are all the same. This level of humility has grounded me to treat people equally. This would include being nice to waiters, to say thank you and good morning to security guards, and to give people the benefit of the doubt when they are underperforming. I am not less or more important than anyone.

4. Stand up for what you believe in.
I have very strong beliefs about politics, religion, and society overall. I may not talk about it that much here in my blog, but my dad made me stubborn and taught me to not just accept everything as it is, but rather ask questions. And when I see that something is clearly wrong, I need to speak up. He raised us to be interactive with life rather than just be passive and be okay about everything. Being brave and rational at the same time has brought me places and connected me to people whom I never thought I would have been friends with if I was too shy speak up. Sticking to my principles has allowed me to create healthy boundaries which has made my mind a better place to live in. I had to learn all of this the hard way, and sometimes I ask myself, are my principles too strong? But at the end of the day, I have peace of mind, and I can sleep soundly at night knowing that I lived life on my terms. I chose the people who are around me, and I am surrounded by family, friends, pets, and a significant other that I can fully trust with my life, because of that one big decision of setting boundaries. Thank you Papa, for teaching me to stand up for myself and for the people I love.


5. Love your siblings.
My siblings are the three pillars of my life. They are the source of my courage and will to be successful in this path that I chose. To be honest, I have survived medschool plus Papa’s death because of my sibs. Papa instilled in us that we must always love, support, and understand each other. I have found my bestfriends in my sisters, and our relationship is the major component of my core. Papa just emphasized this repeatedly to us, and when we were put to the test, we have managed to get through every hurdle because we have each other.

6. Choose a partner who will stay through thick and thin.
Unlike my other siblings, I am the daughter who never introduced a boyfriend to my Dad. I took his advice seriously. Study first, and when you have graduated college, you are allowed to have a boyfriend. Sadly, I was never able to introduce Mr. Right because I was single when my father was still alive. However, I asked him a lot of questions on how to choose a man. He often jokes that since I’m the most expensive one, because I’m studying medicine, I am only allowed to date rich guys. Then I asked him on a more serious tone, “Papa, to be honest, do you want me to choose a rich partner?” Then the most amazing words came from my father’s mouth, “You know, it’s not about the money. Of course I want you to live a comfortable life, but, what’s important in choosing a life partner is, you choose someone who will stay through thick and thin. Building a family and raising kids is challenging and life will give you many problems, so you need someone who stays and someone who’s willing to understand, someone hardworking, and someone who will truly love you for exactly who you are.” Since then, I was able to create a standard for the man that I will choose. I know that Mr. Perfect is not there, but so far, I think I chose someone that my father has described.

7. Live your passion.
It was quite hard for me to understand why my father loves basketball. He would train several teams after work and during weekends. His players were like a part of his life. He treats him like his kids and he mentors them. I couldn’t grasp the idea of doing something that makes you so exhausted, and not that financially rewarding, but then you do it anyway. As I got old, I somehow was able to digest it. In fact, I am living my passion. It wasn’t hard for me to quit my job and go back to school because I had a role model when it comes to following your bliss, and it was my dad. Even though he couldn’t play basketball anymore because he had kids, he still mentored kids. His passion for the game overflowed to hundreds of basketball players in our town. I saw it during his funeral. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw hundreds of previous and present basketball players went to the church. The church was congested, you would think that it was a VIP’s funeral. It all sank in that when you give so much of yourself, and live with fire and passion, people feel it. Any form of love that you put out in the universe comes back. His love for basketball inspired me to love the path that I chose in a spiritual level.

8. Forgive.
We are all humans after all. No matter how much we try to be the best versions of ourselves, chances are, we will make mistakes. I admit that until now, I am struggling to forgive several people in my life, but I look forward to the day that I can genuinely say that I have forgiven them. Forgiveness is not about waiting for the other person to say sorry. It’s actually a courageous act that you do for your own sake. It frees you and elevates your consciousness. I saw him forgive people who have clearly wronged him, and even apologized for mistakes that weren’t even his. I still wonder when I’ll ever reach that level of courage and love. But, in situations when I can, I try to forgive, because who are we to not do so? We are but a speck in this universe after all.

9. Whatever it is, face it.
I am a good runner, not in the physical sense, but when it comes to conflicts, I am the champion of bolting when a turbulent situation presents itself. But this is not a good practice. I can’t run from every problem or walk on eggshells just to keep the peace. I have to learn how to solve problems, and talk to people, no matter how difficult they are. He always told me to, “Face your problem. Approach the person concerned rather than complain.” Well Papa it’s much easily said than done. Adult problems are way bigger than my issues back when I was young. However, when you grow up with such a brave person, it’s somehow easier to emulate. Until now, I am a work in progress and I could still do better, but I try to be as self-aware as possible.

10. When you don’t feel safe, walk away.
How will you know if you are with the right people? It’s actually vague to answer but, allow me to describe this in the best way that I can. When you feel safe around a person, that’s when you know that this person is good for you. But when someone’s presence acivates your fear response, makes you second guess, and walk on thin ice, that’s your clue to investigate. He taught us to walk away from things that scares the shit out of us. I noticed that I know that feeling because I have felt it whenever I’m around him, that feeling that you are being taken care of, that he has your back, and that security that even if I make mistakes, this person will still love and accept me. Having experienced that kind of love and safety made it quite easy for me to sift through people, and know when they really mean well. It also gave me an internal compass and has directed me to the most genuine humans. It also allowed me to let go of jobs, people, and relationships that has gone its course.


Even though our father-daughter relationship has been cut short, I can honestly say that all those wonderful twenty five years taught me enough lessons to last me for the next decades that I still have. It is indescribably painful to lose the person that you loved the most, but even though the pain doesn’t go away, I breathe every day knowing that the lessons he taught will forever be etched in my heart and will transcend in the work that I do. The life of the person we lost doesn’t stop on that last breath. In a way, they live through us, and through the life of every person they have touched.

A letter to my journal

I guess you really are my bestfriend. Whoever created words are people that I am deeply indebted too. Imagine a world without poems and songs. I just couldn’t. 

Somehow, words feel as if it’s art. It is a dialect that I’m comfortable in, my safe place, my cocoon. When things are exciting, it’s you, my journal, that I tell these stories too. And when I feel suffocated, it’s you that I turn to.

I am beyond grateful that I have you as my bestfriend, as my crying shoulder and my emotional sponge. I have you to thank for helping me cope with a world that moves too fast for a person with a fragile heart. I have you to thank for being my playground and avenue of creative expression. I thank you, my journal, for being the witness to all the highs and lows of being a human.

My mind cannot fathom how 23 characters can make intangible ideas and thoughts feel so real. It is beyond my understanding how typing on a keyboard or grabbing a pen and paper can give such a cathartic feeling. Writing to you my journal, is one of the most magical things that I am grateful that I can do in this era.

Thank you, my journal, for listening to my rants, for accepting my rage, and for acknowledging that I can have all these thoughts and be rough around the edges, and still be accepted. Thank you for giving me the space to write about the nightmares and for immortalizing the good stuff. You have gotten me through a lot and helped me survive when I was walking in the darkest tunnel. With you, I know that I am safe.

I wish more people would write. I wish more would get to see the beauty that pouring yourself on a page could bring. I wish more would be more reflective of their thoughts. I do believe that if more people write on you, journal, there will be a better generation of humans.

Of big dreams and the boxes they put us in

You have every right to soar as high as you want, so don’t let anyone take away that fire because that has a reason for existing.

Have you ever been criticized because of how crazy big your dreams are? To be honest, us dreamers are often called insane. For a little bit of back story, I grew up as a small town girl surrounded by poverty. I often heard comments from older people, often relatives, saying “Masyadong mataas pangarap nyan (her dreams are too high).” I didn’t understand what was wrong with dreaming of a more comfortable life, one wherein you don’t have to worry whether there will be enough money to buy dinner or whether you will have allowance for the next few weeks. I just simply wanted a better life for me and my family. I clearly saw how opportunities are more available for those who have the resources.

I also wanted to help people so bad. I’d get really sad when I see kids who are begging for money on the streets and I don’t have even a penny to give them. I see farmers who work so hard but still it’s not enough to provide for their children. I even had insomnia as early as fourth grade because I couldn’t fathom how hard life is for us, and worse, for the people who don’t have jobs and education and money to afford food. I am often heartbroken when I think of how to help when I don’t even have enough for myself.

I figured out that the only way to end the cycle of poverty is to break free from the boxes that I was put in from the moment I was born, if I were to elevate the lives of others who are in need. Here are the ten boxes that I was put in and how I constantly worked and still am working to break free from them. If you can resonate, feel free to comment below.

1. I will end up like my parents who married early and so they became poor.
First off, I do not judge my parents for marrying early. If not for their eloping, I wouldn’t even exist (lol). Do I support those decisions? No. But, change it? I can’t because it’s in the past. Even as a young kid, since all of my siblings are girls, we have always been given the golden advice, “Do not be like your parents who married early.” “Do not get pregnant early.” Okay, that’s fine, I appreciate the concern, but when you’ve been told these unsolicited advice from the same people ever since you started thinking, it gets really old. It gets too repetitive and it annoys you. My parents tried their best. They made a mistake, but then went on with their lives, and so people should move on from that. Just because their marriage failed, it doesn’t mean that those things will happen to us. So if you’re kids of teenage parents, who have been constantly bombarded with this kind of advice, just keep studying and learning and don’t mind them. You have the power to live the way you want to and actively chase a future that you desire. And besides, even if you make mistakes, you’re the one who will deal with it, not them. Just because these stories are repeatedly said to you, that doesn’t mean that the same thing will happen to you.

2. Girls aren’t supposed to be too smart.
It’s good when you are smart, but when you are too smart, you will be bashed. I have an uncle who consistently smart-shamed me and my siblings. For instance, he told me that just because my siblings and I studied in a top university that doesn’t mean that we are good people. It’s so toxic, right? I was even surprised that this patriarchal uncle of ours would even bring that up just because I was defending myself when he was about to physically hurt me. He gets so annoyed whenever any of us kids speak up because children, especially girls, are not supposed to say anything when the oldies are talking. I never heard them be proud of our achievements. Actually, I never even cared, but of course when they do things that would harm us, we have to speak up, and tell them a resounding, “No, you don’t get to treat us this way.” When girls start speaking up when they’re uncomfortable in any situation, or when they achieve a lot and have a mind of their own, why do they get smart-shamed? Why don’t we honor the hardwork and persistence of girls? Why do some men get threatened when a woman slays? You can be smart, badass, confident, compassionate, and kind at the same time. You can be relentless in your passion. You can and must speak up when someone threatens your peace or shames you for being a smart and hardworking human being. You have every right to soar as high as you want, so don’t let anyone take away that fire because that has a reason for existing, okay?


3. I should wear conservative clothes if I don’t want to be raped.
There’s a reason why we evolved as humans. We have the power to control our carnal desires. Sadly, I haven’t met a woman who hasn’t been harrassed ever in her life. We start getting objectified the moment we were born. I couldn’t wear what I want because someone would always say I’m too fat, or my clothes are too fit or too sexy. I’m constantly told that I will be harassed if I wear clothes that flatter my plus size curvy body. Why is it our fault that some humans are just pure evil? I will not stop wearing clothes that express myself and makes me feel powerful and confident whether it’s a sweater or sexy shorts. We tell the world that we are stopping this whole story of women adjusting to the preferences of men. We get to choose our clothes. We dress for ourselves and not for men. Fashion is our creative expression.

4. I should downplay my achievements.
As women we work extra hard because we already have to prove ourselves based on the biological sex we were born with. I didn’t understand why when I was dating, everything would be magical until they learned about my achievements and deep passion for tons of things. I have been ghosted and cheated on just because I was “too much.” And for a while, I believed these men. I thought I should be shy and quiet because I’m a woman. Somehow, having achieved a couple of things worked against my romantic relationships. It took a while for me to understand that there was nothing wrong with me, it was just that society has set a standard that men should be dominant over women. Wives must submit to their husbands and so women aren’t allowed to achieve more than their partners, because their ego will be crushed. We were told to please men and adjust to their desires even if it goes against our values. It stops now. Honor your hardwork and be proud of your accomplishments. The right partner will be proud of you and won’t shame you for your intellect and power. The right partner will support you to reach for the stars. Never play small, my love. Take space.

5. I am not allowed to have opinions because I am young.
Wisdom doesn’t always come with age. Just watch the news and look at the political circus. These are old people who clearly are allergic to wisdom or feedback. You will see five-year olds throwing tantrums and worse, these people are leading countries. So the moment that I realized that there are amazing adults and there are just terrible ones, I knew that age does not equate to wisdom. So even if I was young in my workplace, I suggested ideas, and expressed my opinions with utmost respect. It was not up to me if they will listen or not, but I have to share my perspective, because who knows who might need it? Practice your freedom of speech, but in a kind and respectful way. You are allowed to think and have opinions and express them. Just note that whatever you say would have consequences and you have to deal with them. Be extra brave. The world needs more of that.

6. I should tolerate being abused.
This box has haunted me for so many years and until now, I am still healing from the wounds of childhood trauma. When people, especially kids, experience abuse, it distorts their soul. For a long time, I didn’t know that I was abused until I stepped back and totally disconnected myself from this person. Always remember that love is supposed to make you feel free and safe. No one deserves to be shouted at, thrown objects at, and get physically abused. If you are in such environment, please be brave and have courage to ask for help because there are people who will help you. If you find yourself walking on thin ice, and rationalizing abusive acts, that is your sign to walk away and do everything to make your heart feel at ease. There are safe places for you.

7. I should dream small.
Success means different things for everyone. To some, it would mean, tons of money or a thriving career. Others would define success as having peace and being with the people they love. Bottomline is, we have different definitions of success. However, one message that I heard as I was growing up was not to dream too much because you’ll end up disappointed when you don’t get them. I totally understand these sentiments. But please hear me out before you decide on not pursuing your dreams. You only have one life. Who knows what will happen to our consciousness once we’re gone. So, isn’t it exciting to spend that short life, chasing and living your passion? Would you be happy on your deathbed with a long list of what-ifs? So no matter how big or small your dreams are, that’s not the point. The question that we must ask ourselves is are we willing to be brave enough to work hard for that thing that makes you come alive? Always remember that you don’t need to have it all figured out to move forward, you just have to take one step and then another and then another. It’s also not about the end goal my love, it’s about the journey, and how you are evolving along the process. Spend your short life, wisely.

8. Medschool is expensive, a poor girl can’t do that.
This is a story that I have repeatedly told myself. If you have been following my blog, you would know that I gave up way before I knew what God’s plans for me were. Everybody said that it will cost a lot, and I realized that it’s true because our family’s drowning in debt, and I couldn’t just let them starve so that I can pursue my passion. I lived in a lack mentality back then. However, the moment that I surrendered control and just let things flow, blessings just kept on coming. I wrote a pact with the universe and it goes like this, “Hey universe, I have these big dreams deeply planted in my heart and for some unknown voodoo reason, I just can’t shake it off. But the thing is, there are bills to pay and siblings who are in highschool and college. I did my best already and I will keep on trying, so please, if you can’t stop this inner voice that wants me to be a doctor, then I’ll just trust that wherever you are taking me, is where I’m supposed to be. I’m okay with whatever the outcome is.” I prioritized our needs and just surrendered everything to a power that is way bigger than my circumstances. And just like that, the right people came. A person approached and volunteered to pay for my tuition fee and my siblings got in good jobs which is enough for our famiily’s basic needs. When people learned about my story, help just kept on coming, and that started more than two years ago. Again, I used to be a cynical person who didn’t believe in genuine kindness, and who grew up in a situation of lack. But my inner child just kept on whispering, and I now can finally say, “I do believe in magic.” There are stars which are seemingly to high to reach, they burn so bright and it will scare you. But good people exist, even in this unfair and confusing world, kindness and humanity exists. Medschool is expensive but a poor girl can do that as long as she keeps on working hard and trusting the process.

9. When dating, choose men with money.
Again, this belief is an effect of being in a patriarchal society. Money is a tool. It can buy you a house, some nice shoes, and a beautiful car. I was a big fan of working hard in order to get rich. Again, please, don’t get me wrong, I love money. However, I guess many of us women, have been taught that we should look at a man’s wallet when entertaining a potential partner. I think this is such a messed up belief. I think we should be a financially thriving woman on our own and if a man pursues you, look at his values. Does he respect you? Does he have goals? Is he lazy? Is he kind? Does he believe and support you not just in words but in action? Does he add more fulfillment in your life? Is he open-minded? Does he inspire you to be the best that you can be? And the one big question, “If I run into an accident and I become quadriplegic, will this guy take care of me?” Look at the end game. Choose someone that can weather the storms with you, someone who will not be disgusted to change your diapers when you’re old. Choose a person with a genuine soul because you can earn money through hardwork but you don’t just bump into good men. Treat men as icing on a cake. You are the cake, you’re sweet and yummy on its own, the icing and cherry on top just makes it better.


10. I am not enough.
Have you ever been to a family gathering and suddenly you hear an aunt say, “Hey, you got fat.” Maybe someone commented on your physical appearance, or how you dress. I know some women who are pressured to look good even though they are tired because of academics or child care. Maybe you’ve even counted calories to the point of insanity or tried fad diets that ended up making you sick. Why do we even do that? It seems like there’s a looming voice that tells us that we are not enough, that we need to buy this to look pretty or take this pill to lose weight. Where is this even coming from? It’s high time that we break free from the impossible standards of being a woman with a thriving career, a perfect body, a beautiful family, and all that bullshit of balance. We are enough just by being who we are and we are allowed to be a work in progress. We are allowed to look unpretty. We can admit that we aren’t the perfect daughters or mothers, or that we have it all together all the time. We are enough. You are enough. I try my best to be more self-aware in instances wherein I start retelling the story that I should be good at this by now, I should have done this. I should be prettier, smarter, or more balanced. I try my best to unlearn the stories that I have absorbed from the environment that I was born in. So, it’s okay. Being flawed is okay. You are amazing, exacly as you are.

Let’s break free from the boxes that we initially had no control over. Let’s trust that our heart is leading us to the right place because maybe when we are free,  that’s when we can move from a place of authenticity. I know that you probably have different boxes. But together, we can break free from them, or even better, forget that they exist in the first place.

Musings of abused kids

I didn’t know genuine happiness until I lived a life without you.

We know that our abusers have at least, tried. We know that that they probably have legitimate mental health issues and a terrible past. But that doesn’t give them license to hurt the people that God entrusted them to take care of, repeatedly.

We don’t understand why sometimes you were so good and loving, but whenever there’s a minor setback, you flinch and resort to hurting the people that you were supposed to love. We grew up constantly asking if we are good enough. Did our feelings even matter? Did we do something wrong again? All this time, we learned the art of perfectly walking on eggshells because if we didn’t, we were doomed.

We would get a beating or receive verbal abuse from you the moment that you get upset. Does it feel good to throw broken glass to an already shattered heart? Did hitting us serve you well? Do you know that sleeping still doesn’t feel safe, because nightmares of you still linger?

As trautamized children we have so many questions for you abuser, but we are okay with not knowing the answer. We even second-guess if the choice that we made was right. Now that we’re grown-ups, finally away from the terrors of you, we feel warmth.

When we grew up, that’s when we realized that cutting you off was the most difficult and yet the best decision we have ever made. We didn’t know genuine happiness until we lived a life away from you. You don’t get to take credit for anything anymore because we are where we are not because of you but inspite of you. You don’t get to manipulate us anymore. We will never give you that power, ever again.

It feels good to not to live on thin ice. It feels warm to be with people who truly love and support you. This is the last letter that abused kids will ever write to you. We don’t expect any apologies, or even remorse. We are still on the process of healing, and for every brave step we take, we are proud.

This is us, children of traumatized past, finally letting go.

Ukelele

With gentle tunes
And every pluck of each string
I summon happiness
I live with glee.
Whoever made you
Has indeed a heart of gold
For the joy you bring me
One that even by words can’t ever be told.

You had me at hi
I pulled you close
Sad songs you transformed
A pretentious melody sounded true.
Lying in the hammock
In front of the sea
I strum with passion
I dream of thee.

Tell me about the first time
Our skins have touched
I never knew that love would feel this much
Every dull moment you made serene
Every song I played you with
Had love within.

I never knew this kind of happiness
Till I chose to play you
I’ve tried the guitar and drums
But nothing ever sounded like you.
How you made the sun shine
Everywhere you go
How you made me smile
Even when I thought I’ll never do.

You are mine and I am yours
Let’s compose and sing
Let’s dance to unsung melodies
Let’s make everybody plug in
I promise to take care of us
This gift of music, of love
That seemingly came from the stars
Maybe from the deepest seas or high above