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

The ultimate self care hack

Six years ago, I was this twenty year old college graduate who had totally no idea what to do. When I enrolled in UP, I thought looking for a job will be easy because I’ll be a graduate of the top university in the Philippines. There was so much ego in a 16-year old kid. I was totally clueless with how looking for work would be extremely difficult. I didn’t know how to maneuver my life. I felt like a new kid in the block. I froze.

Adulting was so scary. I was afraid of public transportation in Manila but I had to do it because riding a taxi will be too expensive. I thought everyone was a possible snatcher. I was so wary of my surroundings. I was just so afraid of everything new and so hesitant to take the next step because it’s too uncomfortable.

Until I decided to go back to the province and spend time with family since I probably need rest because of the four years of academics. On the first month of my vacation, I became restless. I wasn’t used to staying in the house and I also didn’t like the fact that I was twenty and penniless. So I took the leap of getting a job.

One of my orgmates was a teacher in a university and she asked me if I can teach highschool students. I was so afraid, but I just said yes because I hate not having any money. I became a Chemistry teacher in UST-Legazpi for a year. But even though I had a job, it wasn’t enough for me. It didn’t feel right. My soul was longing for more. I wanted more improvement, more diverse experiences, and a life that feeds my soul. There’s also the pressure of being a breadwinner in the family.

Finances were more tight and I had siblings in college, highschool, elementary, plus a baby brother. I had to help my family so I decided to go abroad and teach. I guess I underestimated the challenges of becoming an overseas worker. I was faced with financial and mental health problems, plus I had a turbulent relationship with my biological mother. I experienced depression, again.

But this time, it was harder to handle it because I was far away from friends and family. I had to deal with my issues alone and learn how to save myself. Giving up is not an option for the poor. That’s when I discovered meditation.

It may sound creepy but in all honesty, it worked. It still works because I’ve been practicing it for four years since then. I am so grateful that I love watching speeches of successful people and almost all of them do meditate. I was able to heal my wounds little by little, and handle life’s stresses with more ease and I learned how to let go of narratives which aren’t serving me.

Meditation may seem easy because you’re just going to be quiet for a few minutes but, brace yourself. You’ll never know how much crap is in your brain unless you meditate.

I can’t even silence my mind for a minute. I was crying in the first few months because all the repressed feelings and pain that I tried to numb with food, work, and studies started to go on the surface. I didn’t feel ready to face all of them. Recognizing these wounded parts is not pretty at all.

I stopped for a while and tried to meditate again. And from then on there’s no turning back. When I acknowledged all parts of me and radically accepted who I am, the rest became history. I made better choices and created soulful connections. I became more in tune with my gut which made me take care of what’s serving me and let go of what’s dragging me down. I became more kind and compassionate. I just became better.

Meditation did not make me perfect. It just made me work on myself on a consistent basis. It made me humble and it allowed me to go back to that sacred place inside me whenever I get out of alignment. Now I understand why successful people meditate. This world has so much noise and if you’re not careful, it might just drag you in its drama. You have to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you are in this world for.

Cancel the noise and tune in with your soul. It does wonders.

I’m back technique

For the past few weeks I’ve been studying for our online male and female reproductive system exam. Yes, in the midst of lockdown, crappy internet, and electricity, we are required to have online exams and just one exam for the entire module. But that needs another blog post to talk about. With the overwhelm sprouting like weeds us medical students with turbulent mental health need to have a system in place in order to achieve our MD goals.

The system that works so far for me is Josh Pais’ “I’m back technique .” It’s catching yourself whenever you get out of alignment. I have been using this for a while and I practice it when I need more clarity. You can totally try this too especially if you are someone who’s got a lot of things on your plate.

I say I’m back when:

• I’m feeling tired
• The trauma resurfaces
• I get distracted by social media
• I feel like quitting studying
• I want to watch useless stuff on the internet instead of study
• I’m tempted to eat unhealthy food
• I want to get another cup of rice
• I start to react to our crappy government
• I don’t see the empathy of people in power
• People are testing my patience
• I get lazy
• I think toxic and negative thoughts
• I start to be overwhelmed and frustrated
• Overthinking and anxiety kicks in
• My fears of abandonment are resurfacing
• I lose patience when someone or something disturbs me
• I get angry to the universe
• I miss my dad
• The results I want don’t come into fruition
• I start comparing
• I feel jealous
• I’m bored
• I fight with my partner
• I get fed up when my younger siblings are having petty fights when I study
• It’s noisy and I can’t concentrate
• Our dogs are fighting
• The summer heat and isolation is killing me
• Project my issues to somebody else
• Things don’t go my way
• Albay Power Electric Corporation fails to provide reliable electrical supply
• Internet providers can’t provide a stable internet connection
• I get irritated with my partner
• Talk to someone with opposing views
• My expectations aren’t met
• The weather is too hot

So that’s just putting it out there to make it more clear when I should say I’m back. How about you, when do you have to say i’m back. Tell me about the specific situations when your patience is being tested. I hope you have a great and productive week.

Permission to be

I have been ambitious for as long as I can remember. Heck, I wanted to be the Mayor of our town when I was like three. I even remembered saying that I want to be the President of the Philippines in gradeschool. I wanted to soar as high as I can and be the best in what I do. That is how full blown ambitious I was.

But of course that was just the little girl in me talking. I just want to emphasize how being ambitious was ingrained in my DNA. I have been its epitome way before I understood what that word means. I just laugh when I remember all those things I’ve said. And then I grew up.

I started to get scared of the world. I began watching the news and became anxious to death about almost everything. I became afraid even in walking alone, being embarassed, and making a mistake. I became fearful even of the good things ever since I got exposed to the dark side. The fire died. It was like someone poured a huge bucket of water to the blazing fire in my heart. Sometimes it still flickered, but most of the time it died.

Thankfully, this world has angels. They gave me the space, the extra nudge, to be who I was meant to be. They pushed and inspired me to be the game changer that I truly believe I am. Now, I can say that it’s back, and although I’m not as fierce as I used to, I am now more stable and calm. The fire knows when to burn so high, when to slow down, and most importantly how to get the fire back up.

Let me just dedicate this blog post to the people who gave me the permission to be unapologetically myself, to grow, heal, survive, and thrive.

1. My second grade teacher: You are smart.

Thank you ma’am, for opening the door to learning. You are beyond amazing. Because of you, I discovered and believed that I am smart. You opened me to the world of short stories, cultural music, public speaking, and dance. You made me feel seen and heard. You were the first one to ask me to host a school event. Because of you I just felt so seen. I believed that I was special because you had your way of making kids feel like that. Until now, I’m still ever curious and inquisitive. I still love music. I still love learning. For the doors you opened, I’ll forever be grateful.

2. My bestfriend C: Be creative and bold.

Oh wow, the road we travelled C. I can’t imagine life without you as my partner in crime. You influenced me to be creative and bold. You were my playmate, the person I told hilarious stories to, the one who influenced me to be so imaginative, my mentor and inspiration. We dreamed of a lot of things together. We’ve been through so much together. Because you are so brave, I felt and still am feeling that I can give birth to the great things that I am dreaming of because you inspire me to be bold and relentless in my passion. Thank you for being my sister from another mother. Thank you for the listening ear, for teaching me Buddhist principles, for treating me as family. I am so excited about what we are going to accomplish in this life.

3. My siblings: Love

Thank you for being the fuel of my engine, the wind beneath my wings, and the reason that I am still living. You are my army and my foundation. You teach me love, patience, and bravery. Because of you, I want to do so much good in this world. I want to be a good example to you my younger siblings. I want to be in a good financial standing so that I can provide your needs. I want to take you to Disneyland. Know that I am forever grateful for you five. I love you so much.

4. Mommy Oprah: Heal and live with a purpose

Ever since I watched your Harvard graduation speech, everything has changed. I was blown out by how amazing you are. You have gone through a traumatic childhood but you never let that experience beat you. Thank you for telling your story. You made us feel that even if there are so many challenges in your life, you can still heal and thrive. Because of your teachings, I managed to find my way to healing and be in alignment with who I am. You are the mother that I never had but thankfully there’s youtube and social media. I now can say that I am living my life on purpose and you played a big role on that.

5. My partner: Kindness, patience and unconditional love

Hi boyfriend. Although we see each other almost everyday I just want to flex you in this blog. You were a big part of my healing. Your presence consistently taught me that being kind and loving is not just something you feel and say, it’s something you work on every single day. I learned to be more kind and gentle even in really challenging situations. I also am learning about this partnership thing that we have. With you, I realIzed that love is a choice, and that we are teammates even if sometimes we are so pissed with each other. Thank you for reminding me that having patience is a must, and that it takes time for good things to come into fruition. I truly believe that you are God’s gift for every good that I did in my life.

6. Beyonce, Ashley Graham and all the curvy girls out there: Beauty

If I could have dime for every instance that I said, “You are fat and ugly,” to myself, I’d probably be a millionaire. Like, seriously, I hated looking at myself in the mirror because of society’s flawed beauty standards. I grew up thinking that I need to be skinny to be loved and called beautiful. You can even check my 2015 blog posts about that. But when I saw Beyonce and Ashley Graham slaying, I knew that my body is just not being represented a lot more in media. Thank you queens for representing us curvy girls. Now, I feel more free and confident to wear what I want to. I am proud of every curves and edges and I am now being kind to my body. I take care of it and speak kind words to it. We are all beautiful. We don’t have to be tall, skinny, and white to radiate that beauty. It starts with our heart.

7. Papa: Passion and Bravery

Hi Papa. You and basketball are two peas in a pod. I knew what passion looks like through seeing you play and teach basketball. I knew what genuine love looks like because you consistently showed that to us when you were alive. I know that every step needs bravery, even when you have to make unpopular choices. I understood being passionate and brave at a young age, so thanks for that Papa. I am who I am because you were such a good example to us. Now, I am so dedicated to my goal because it’s very clear to me that service is my passion.

I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am without these people who gave me permission. How about you? Who are your heroes and how did they influence you?

The one question that you must ask yourself everyday

Enough said.

I’m at a point in my life wherein I won’t allow anything or anyone to dim my sparkle. It’s been almost two months and we are still on lockdown here in my province.

Hi reader, I hope you are doing better and hopefully found a healthy coping mechanism from all the changes, good or bad, that you are seeing in this world.

So last week, as I was lying in bed, disappointed as usual with how this pandemic is being handled by our leaders, I had a lightning bulb realization. This epiphany struck me so hard and shifted my perspective. I asked myself one question and it’s so big that it changed how I maneuver each day. This is the question:

“If I am going to die tomorrow, would this be how I want to spend my last day?”

I answered with a resounding, heart pounding, “DEFINITELY NOT.” I don’t want to die as a depressed, heartbroken, and eternally frustrated entity. Would I spend it debating about politics, who’s right or wrong, which side is telling the truth blablabla. Nope. I definitely won’t.

If I have the power to choose, my last day would be a really peaceful one. I would spend it eating meals with my family. I would teach my little brother about science and reading. I would watch korean dramas with my youngest sister. I would call my sisters who are living in Manila, listen to them and hopefully ease their stress and worries during this pandemic. I will listen to really good music. I will take care of my body, the vessel that was entrusted to me by the universe. I would study my calling, medicine, because this day is the closest I’ll ever be to becoming a medical doctor.

I will write. I will sing. I will dance. I will read. I will eat yummy food. I will take care of my siblings. I will tell my partner how much I love and appreciate his presence in my life. I will cuddle our dogs. I will say what I want to say and be the most authentic person that I can be.

I will spew positivity. I will keep on expressing to the universe how grateful I am that I was allowed to live this life, amidst its imperfections and complexities. I will thank God that I was raised by a man who put others above himself, someone who loves selflessly and lived with so much passion.

I will do what I love. I will keep on spreading motivation, humor, and inspiration. I will show respect and refrain from speaking negatively. I will help in whatever way that I can as long as it is in line with who I am as a person.

So far, if it’s my last day, I can say that I am proud of how I chose to live my life. That includes being able to battle the demons, and recover from abuse. If this was my last day I hope that I made my father proud, and I hope that he will smile and say he’s proud of who I became when we meet each other again.

Death is a taboo concept for many people, and having experienced witnessing the sudden death of the person that I love most, changed me. It changed the way I see things, I realized the impermanence of it all. So if it is my last, if people would remember me, I want them to tell people how freakishly real I am, how I chose kindness, how I showed my vulnerability, how I fought the monsters, how I forgave but maintained boundaries, how I rose, and how I lived in line with the mission that was planted in my soul.

If all of us would ask ourselves this question everyday, maybe we will hurt less, and we will not keep on chasing things which are unhealthy for us. I hope that you, my sweet and beautiful reader would ask yourself this question, and be brave enough to honestly answer it, and live each day as if it’s your last. Why? Because it will guide you to do only those which are important and that which resonates to your soul.

Dear Food,

I haven’t had the best relationship with you. I can’t exactly pinpoint when our love-hate relationship started but bottomline is, I don’t know when I should or shouldn’t eat you.

I want to thank you first and foremost, for giving me the energy to do my tasks as a medical student, my role as a sister, a friend, and a leader .You became my bestfriend aside from writing. When my parents fought, I ate. When I get low scores, I eat. When traumatic stuff happens, I eat.

I want to really apologize to you because I used you as a drug. You numb me from reality and gratify my need for life’s simple pleasures faster than a lightning bolt.

I know that it’s not healthy to use you in order to shove off these turbulent feelings. You were not meant to be a coping mechanism with life’s unpredictable twists and turns. That one cup of rice, one more serving of chicken, just one last bite. You are worth more than what I used you for.

I created an illusion that things will be okay as long as I have good food. But here me out please, I have to make peace with you and use you for your real purpose, which is to nourish my body. I have to take care of this body because this is the vessel by which all the ideas and creativity that come from the ultimate source will fluorish.

I have to consume you moderately in order for this body to function optimally.

It has been my belief that all of us have been put in this earth to fulfill our life’s purpose. Therefore, we owe it to the universe to be kind and loving to our body. That would involve feeding it with what it needs, not too much nor too little.

Again, this is not about looking good so that others would approve of me, or that guys will like me. This is about making the best out of the body that has been entrusted to me. So let’s start this journey.

Should I study or should I rest?

This pandemic has put a lot of medical students on a limbo. Suddenly we have all these free time to study, which is amazing but on the other side we are in this endless cycle of worrying.

I am in grief because of so many healthworkers dying. I am worried of any of my family members getting sick. I am thinking about my friends who are all alone for almost two months. I get panic attacks. I am sick to my bones because of worry.

I don’t know if you are feeling this too, but typical me would be spewing these thoughts, and sometimes I do believe them. So far, I can’t stay as productive and efficient as I used to. But, I try. I try so damn hard to break out of this toxic tendency to overthink.

On a typical pandemic day I would read medicine books for two to four hours. I have also set a practice that would give me a boost and make studying a religious and spiritual practice:

1. Read a non medicine-relate book for thirty minutes while drinking coffee.
2. Write on my journal about yesterday’s events.
3. Take a bath. (because it’s summer)
4. Watch my favorite life coach on Youtube for some pep talk. (Marie Forleo).
5. Write creatively for thirty minutes.
6. Study or make reports for two hours.
7. Study another subject for one hour.
8. Eat lunch.
9. Study for 2 hours which turns into an afternoon
10. Laze around the entire day: Watch kdrama, talk to family, play with my brother, phonecall with my partner, or watch TV.

Based on your judgement, is it productive? By the way I probably do this four out five days in a week. So yeah, maybe I am productive. But I also had three breakdowns already. My point is, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t be productive. Just take care of yourself. It’s okay to be scared, to be productive, to be lazy, as long as you are safe, okay?

How about you? Tell me how you are holding up. Let’s support each other.

Read this before you apply for medschool!

So you want to be a doctor? I mean, are you sure? It pays well, but if it’s your best plan to get rich, let me be honest with you, shift gears now. I’m not going to sugar coat anything here. It is not just a job. It is a calling.

It will require sacrifices, huge ones for that matter. And as you might have seen in the news in the coronavirus pandemic, it is a profession that can even take your life. I do not want to scare you, I am just telling the truth. Not everyone is wired to be a doctor, but if you think you are read on.

As medical students, we live and breathe medicine. Learning is not even a joke. This is not like math wherein if you have the formula, you can derive the solution. This is about learning tons of information that you will most likely forget but still you must read because every decision you have to make must be based on pure facts. But here are just some that you will learn:

1. You will learn how to power read.

At first, you will be overwhelmed with how much you have to read. After a year, you’ll get better at it and then it will not be an issue anymore. Reading very technical material will be a part of your life. Tip: if you hate reading, don’t go to medschool because it will be a nightmare. But if you keep in mind that those difficult to digest material will someday save someone’s life, it will feel like an honor, to be given the opportunity, calling and resources to learn this overwhelming but noble discipline. It doesn’t get easier, but every day, you get more equipped for that task.

2. You’ll have your own learning style.

That’s it. If you’re like me, I’m one of those people who can absorb information at five in the morning so even if I slept late, I wake up extra early to catch my brain’s most receptive hour. And besides you can do self care early in the morning, that’s why I LOVE IT. I feel so productive even before classes. To be honest, there are days when I feel like I can’t do this shit anymore, that I can go back to my travel days, but at the end of the day I get proud of every single improvement. You will learn how to be the most efficient you.

3. You’ll know what kind of person you are.

You’ll be surprised with how much you can change. I used to be an extroverted and loud person. But I noticed that I like staying in my own universe. I discovered that I am not a life of a party person. I go straight home after class or do my errands during free time. I hate small talk and I get overwhelmed by spending too much time with a lot of people. I love my classmates and friends dearly, but it turns out that recharging my social batteries is good for my soul. Your personality will reveal itself to you and it’s fucking awesome. You will change, and it’s okay. Change is necessary for growth.

4. You may know what you want in a partner.

Gone were the days when you have the time to date and get to know potential partners. The bulk of work in medschool will make you think about what type of person will fit your life, or if you want to have one. Getting in, I was okay with being single, because I want to focus on the work and not be side tracked by love and feelings. But I guess the universe played its tricks, I now have a partner who fits my opinionated personality and understands that medicine comes first. You will need a partner who will understand and be okay with cancelled plans and a hectic schedule. You will need someone who supports you and believes in you so much more than yourself. But if you are happy as a single, badass, independent woman, you go girl.

5. You will find your tribe.

Don’t worry about not having friends because you will find weirdos who are kind of like you and will be there for you. Trust me. In medschool having authentic friends are essential. You will need them and they will need you. You can’t survive medical school by just thinking about yourself. Saving lives is a team effort. You will need to learn how to work with people, and you will have angels that will back you up especially when the workload is too overwhelming.

6. You will learn to schedule your joy.

Fun time is a must. Since you will climb this rocky mountain, rest and unwinding is necessary. Do not fall into the trap of constant hustle. You must pause! Without breaks, your brain will tire and you might burn out. I make studying a priority, but I also schedule birthdays, girls night out, date nights and self care day. Do not be a slave of medicine. It is a part of you but it’s not all of you.

7. You will learn that every moment is precious, that life itself, is a miracle.

Learning every possible thing that could go wrong in the human body is not good for our anxiety. However, if you try to reframe this thought, you might realize that, life is something to be grateful for. There are diseases that can kill you in a blink of an eye, but there you are, still kicking life’s ass. Every second is a blessing. Every moment counts.

8. You will be an expert in failing and getting back up.

I am not a genius. I don’t learn material quickly. I am just a hardworker. I have failed exams countless times, but I still manage to get back up. You will learn that failure just points you to the right direction. In medical school, there is less grieving time for failures. You need to have a fast move on rate. You will learn how to keep going despite low scores and failures. You will learn how to focus on getting back up, rather than dwelling on what you can’t change. That is where the real magic happens.

9. You will learn humility and acceptance.

In medical school, there is always someone who’s better than you. You can’t know everything and it is scary to assume that you already know everything. You will learn to accept that you are still in training. The amount of skills and knowledge that I do not know humbles me and it makes me realize that no matter how much I read, I can’t know everything, and it is okay. I accept that I am human and I do have limitations but I can still try to be a better student than yesterday. And maybe, that is enough.

10. You will be extra brave.

Medicine is just a part of life. There will be birthdays, celebrations, and other milestones. But there will be heartaches outside school. It might be a break up with a significant other, a health issue, a sickness in the family, or worse, the death of someone you loved so dear. Medschool is hard by itself, but life, might just play its worst trick on you. Therefore, you must learn how to proceed, despite anything, amidst the chaos and shards of your shattered heart. You will be brave. You might think you couldn’t keep on doing this exhausting medical training, but you will. Whatever heartache you experience while studying hopefully, makes you a more compassionate and competent doctor.

I still have so many years of training ahead, but so far, I am proud.

Staying Healthy in Medschool

Since I went back to the student life, staying fit has been and still is a struggle. I was able to maintain my weight in first year, however second year has been really challenging in terms of being healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally. I lost my Dad in a blink of an eye and I lost my grandmother five months after. It was basically a year of focusing on sanity and on not dying.

Despite all of these I still try my best to survive medschool and be healthy, although it’s more like gravity keeps on pulling you down whenever you just reached a momentum. However, I keep in mind that health is actually subjective. There are standards set by the World Health Organization about the ideal body weight, body mass index etcetera. In an ideal world we would have all the money, food, and time to focus on our health but when shit happens, do what you have to do to keep you sane.

If you are like me, who has a tumultous relationship with food, and a genetic predisposition to getting fat, losing weight is a source of stress. Staying fit has been a struggle for me and it has affected my mental health for years. I have tried running, going to the gym, and dancing, but still, I gain weight.

Not everyone can afford a trainer, a nutritionist, or a metabolic disease doctor, especially here in my country. I feel like there is something wrong with my abrupt weight gain, but since there’s a lockdown because of COVID19, I can’t follow up with my Obstetrician Gynecologist. I have also just went through a series of treatments on my right ear, a minor surgery on my right hand, a dermatological issue and my allergies are getting worse. It is financially draining to tackle these issues on top of med school, the overwhelm just keeps on piling up.

The good news is, I am still sane. There still are times when my mental health just takes a toll, and it seems like all the hardwork toward wellness goes to waste, but we are still kicking. What I remind myself is, it’s okay to be a mess, to gain weight during the most stressful to date, year of my life. And also, I try my best to be grateful despite anything that I am going through, and luckily I also have a supportive partner who reminds me of the good stuff out there, and how not to lose hope.

I stay kind to myself and tackle things one by one. I just make sure that I am surrounded by people who support me all the time. Meditation helps evey single day. It just creates this white space to start off the day with less worries and more calm approach to everything. I have a gratitude journal as well. I pray for three minutes and then plan my day. I also do a three to five minute exercise before making a cup of coffee and watching videos on youtube.

Afterwards, I will study and then prepare for class. My solid morning routine keeps me grounded and healthy.

Since the food choices are limited for a dormer, I do my best to have a fruit or vegetable, protein, and carbs in my meals. I avoid junk food, and soft drinks. But when I am so stressed these really are my comfort food and, for now, I have to give in, because I will get crazy.

I also talk to my family and my boyfriend regularly, just to make sure that I am emotionally healthy despite the lack of sleep and daily mental exhaustion.

So am I healthy? Naaah. I AM NOT HEALTHY AT ALL. However, I do my best to be healthy everyday. When my energy is off I know that the balance is not there, so I make it a point to check if I am still doing okay physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I check myself on a consistent basis because at the end of the day, being a doctor wouldn’t matter if you are sick. That’s it.

Even if I keep on failing, I still think I am taking good care of myself. I don’t let the scale pull me on the dark tunnel of depression, or even my test scores. I can do better but I will love myself first, and love my dreams second.

How about you? Make sure that you are prioritizing your well being. Take good care of yourself so that you can effectively take care of others and be the amazing human that you are. It will get better.


woman looking at sea while sitting on beach
Photo by Pixabay on

I honestly thought that I couldn’t get through this year. I had to pull my shit together and survive.

I used to want to thrive. But this year knocked me off up to a point when I just couldn’t take anything anymore. I can’t. I just can’t. So what did I learn in the past year?

1. There are traitors.

You can be a genuinely good person to someone. You can be really kind to them, but still they will betray you. Kindness doesn’t guarantee kindness. If people see any sort of weakness in you, some of them will use that to stab you while you aren’t looking. Sometimes I ask, why did this happen to us? How can someone that you’ve trusted and treated as family betray you? With everything that has happened, I decided that I will be a good person inspite of everything. Even if people did things that made me lose my faith in humanity, I will still be the person that my dad raised me to be. I will be kind. I will establish boundaries. I will still trust, but only to people who deserve it.

2. Blood doesn’t equate to family.

Family surpasses blood relations. I choose my family. I choose who makes me feel safe. I choose who I will listen to. I am estranged from my mom. I come from a family who values power and prestige. Honestly, I don’t even know why they are like that. They made a scene on my dad’s funeral and I just can’t bear being in the same room as them. Again, even if it’s difficult to cut toxic family ties, I have to and I am taking a stand. Your family should make you feel safe, loved, and protected. If they are not, then they aren’t your family. Choose your family. Whoever values you deserves you.

3. Love sets you free.

Despite everything that I have gone through, I still choose love. For those people who hurt me, I do not wish for ill things to happen to them. I just don’t want them anywhere near me. But for those who stood by me in the hardest year of my life, I love them fiercely. We became more close as a family. My siblings, step mom, and I have a tightly knit bond, that just can’t be destroyed that easily. I also saw who my real friends and family are, and now I value them so much. I also met the love of my life. It’s a win win. You lose some, but you win big time.

4. Gratitude will help you survive.

I still am in awe of how the Universe took care of things. We survived as a family, and we are very much blessed. We are financially secure, and we have the opportunity to reach for the stars. We are lucky. I guess if you keep on planting seeds of love, it comes back in ways that you couldn’t even imagine. I still write at my gratitude journal, and honestly, there’s a lot to be thankful for. Again, thank you universe.

5. Courage will get you through.

This year, I had to be at my bravest. I had to roll up my sleeves and take a stand for my family. I thank the Universe for giving me the courage to be very firm in my principles. If you know that you are right, you should never ever concede, especially to people who do not have your best interests at heart. I now understand why I have to be feisty and bossy as a kid. I had to build my strength because there will be people who will test my courage. A lot of older people tried to tone me down because it’s weird for a girl to be really brave and tell bullies that enough is enough. But thank God, I was like that.

6. Family is your shield.

Having a non-traditional family is still frowned upon in my country. Some of my aunts and uncles do not understand why I love my stepmom so much. As a physically abused kid, I needed a mother who made me feel safe, and sadly my biological mom isn’t that person. And surprise, she’s not even the least bit apologetic about it. All those mental and physical abuse stole my childhood. So when my stepmom has shown up, I felt the genuine love of a mom, that I never felt from my real mother. She became our pillar of strength when Papa died. Should I choose my mom, even if I don’t feel safe with her? Should I choose to love my blood relatives, even if they have done and said so many hurtful things. I choose my stepmother. She never left us. She has always chosen us. Family is supposed to be your shield.

7. Being neutral in the midst of adversity means that you are on the side of the oppressor.

There are so many neutral people. They make me want to barf. I know that kindness is imporant but if you see someone getting hurt, are you supposed to do nothing? No. Just no.

8. Having a creative outlet heals you.

Writing has been my best friend for the past seven months. What could I have done without this safe place to pour my heart out? Somehow, being able to articulate my feelings takes the weight off my exhausted chest. When I read what I wrote it makes me understand myself a little bit more. It makes me more self-aware and humble. It makes me reevaluate my decisions, responses, and perspectives.

It unloads the heavy baggage. It frees me bit by bit. I will never understand the reason behind everything that happened this year, but I have writing. I can express my pain and healing in this space.

9. Let your dream pull you.

Med school became my distraction. It has allowed me to focus on something else. I was forced to think about exams instead of my dad. My dream is still here. Even if everyday I am still in pain because the person that I am dedicating this dream to is gone, I still try to take one step at a time. Maybe if I don’t have an MD degree to look forward to, I would have been a complete pile of mess. Thank you MD dream, you saved me.

10. Strength is a muscle.

Just when I thought I was strong enough, I was tested even more. Grief is a whole new level of experience. It’s been seven months but I still feel the pain. I needed to learn how to be mentally and emotionally strong this year. Strength is a muscle you build through time. I wish I can say I am happier, but I am not. However, I can truly and honestly tell you that I am stronger. In losing a lot of people, my dad, my grandmother, and my toxic family members, I discovered how resilient a human being can be. I am amazed by how a hurting person can choose kindness and courage every single day.
Pain and loss transforms you. It makes you better, if you choose to.