When the pandemic started I plummeted on a spiral of negativity. I got disappointed, more than I usually am, with almost everyone who’s handling this pandemic. I understand that COVID is a monster virus but I also know that this could have been handled better. More than a year after the first lockdown, and yet, here we are, experiencing a pandemic in a third world country, which could possibly be the worst place for a human being to be in. I was depressed and demotivated to study because the system is just too broken, but luckily, I was able to crawl out of that tunnel. How do we make peace with a shitty situation that is mostly out of our control?
I discovered that the more we resist the situation that we are in, the harder it is to take the steps to solve problems. Accept that in this moment, these are the cards which we have been dealt with. You are in the Philippines, a country that has been colonized by three big countries for hundreds of years. This is where we are and we have to make peace with this fact. Maybe in another life I’m from Canada or Australia, but in this one, you are born in the Philippines. Accept that monsters exist, that the culture of corruption is a staple here in our nation. There are so many starving kids and sick people who are dying due to the poor healthcare system. Accept at the moment, that we live in a very flawed government, that not all leaders take their job “public servant” by heart. Recognize that not everyone has the same heart as you and your environment is pathological. Right now, this is your life situation.
Even though these are the realities that we must face on a daily basis, I still believe that we have to acknowledge what we have been given. It is unfair to just focus on the negatives. You are lucky that you are alive, especially since COVID lurks around the corner, and yet, here we are, still surviving. If you are reading this, it means that you have the privilege of being able to access gadgets and the internet. Having food on the table, getting an education, having a safe home to live in, and being with your family in these difficult times, are all things that we have to be thankful for. Being grateful doesn’t disregard the numerous flaws which are still present, but don’t we owe it to the Universe to be happy about what we have? For the past five years, keeping a gratitude journal has kept me aligned with what is important. Even though heavy and difficult things arise, I know that the fact that I am still breathing means that there still is a fighting chance for whatever that we are waking up for.
3. Decide that you can do something.
Maybe you think that I am so naive for even imagining that I can make a difference. But come on, if everyone accepts that mediocrity and injustice is the norm, then aren’t we helping perpetuate these crimes to humanity? I refuse to give up. I refuse to say that this is all there is, that dying people will be the new norm. I know that even if I am just one insignificant human, I can make a difference. Know that you can do that too. We are intelligent species filled with thousands of neurons with connections that has allowed people to fly to the moon and discover the other galaxies in the sky. How come we think that we are so limited? We are not. You are not limited. You can make a difference wherever you are as long as you are brave and aren’t afraid of the legwork that living purposefully entails. Your existence matters. Make a decision that you will stop playing small.
4. Stay in the moment and offer it the best you that you can give.
A lesson that I have learned from Oprah and Eckhart Tolle is to be present. This might seem a little woo-woo to others but, our present moment creates our future. We have to be fully present with the task at hand, the conversations we are in and the relationships in our lives, because when we are, that’s when the magic happens. People feel it when you genuinely care. There are people who will see how authentic you are. So if you are reading a book, give it your full attention. If you are bonding with family, stop using your phone. When you are talking with clients, don’t multitask, focus on them. Even in activities such as doing the laundry or washing dishes, stay present. That’s when you deliver quality work, and when that accumulates, someone will always notice. You owe it to what has been handed to you.
5. Be the role model you wish you had.
Some people are lucky to be born with parents who are conscious enough in raising children, but most of us I guess didn’t have that. I think we have to take in to consideration that our parents didn’t also know better. I kept on looking for role models as I was growing up, but I found it difficult to find one, so I decided that if I can’t find one, then I’ll be one. I am frustrated with our leaders, so I decide that I will start by leading myself. Try it too. Be the mother, father, sister, best friend, mentor, leader, that you wish you had. Work hard on becoming the best version of yourself. Align your actions with the solutions to your frustrations. Stop waiting for things to change and start with you. Make a difference in the space that you are in and try to expand that culture of authenticity and humanity in the biggest scale that you possibly can, at your own pace.
6. Be kind.
We are not perfect. I am guilty of being impatient and cranky especially since I am in the medical field. But I try my best to be as kind as I can be. When I fall off the wagon, I also forgive myself. I learned this lesson the hard way. I used to be the person who cannot forgive slacking off. When there’s a group project in college, I expect all my groupmates to perform at the level that I do, not meeting deadlines is non-negotiable. I get mad at my groupmates who aren’t sending their parts for our lab reports on time, up to the point that I was becoming a very toxic person. I became unkind. It is their responsiblity after all. But when difficult things happened to me, that’s when I realized that, I don’t have an idea about what is happening to another person. I don’t have a clue about their situation at home, their finances, or if they are eating at all. So I can’t be unkind, because as the quote goes, “Be kind. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about.” I’m not yet as kind as I want to be but everyday, I try my best to be as mindful.
7. Live a life of service.
I am not sure when what I want to do has become crystal clear to me. I like leading, managing projects, and learning ever since. I also like seeing that what I do has a contribution to even a single creature. I’m not saying that I am aiming to be Mother Teresa, but seeing others win and do great and humane things for others makes me smile before I sleep. Isn’t that beautiful? When I learned that service and a hunger for learning keeps my soul alive, I knew that I wanted to be or at least try to reach for that MD. Here I am, about to start fourth year, I still have a long way to go but I have come far. Even though there are hard and painful parts, I would still choose this. My service is my offering to the universe. I hope and pray that you reader, are living a life filled with purpose.
8. Create a solution for people’s problems.
One of my dreams is to create a business that will allow people from my hometown to live comfortably without leaving their families to work abroad. Writing in this blog is not just for creative expression. At the back of my mind, I want to offer clarity to my readers and in a way, help them maneuver challenges in their own lives. My efforts may seem futile, but even if only one person reads an entry, and somehow learns something or thinks differently after reading, then I would be most thrilled. That one person has friends, family or colleagues that they can influence. I want to make more good in this world. That is how I make peace with my disappointments. Find your art or an avenue for your activism.
9. Educate, don’t hate.
Since the advent of social media, I noticed that opinions are getting more polarized. Friendships die because of different political beliefs. There are more facebook comments filled with attacks just because of opposing views. Offensive words are like a staple. You just need to look at the comments section and you’ll see so much lack of respect. What if instead of trying to win arguments, we focus on understanding the other party and offer education instead of shaming them? What if we choose respect? We can’t control other people’s thoughts but we can manage how we respond to them. We can engage in a healthy discussion and if the other person attacks, leave. Making a point is never the point. Enlighten instead of winning.
10. Live each day as if it were your last.
When I get caught up in the craziness of this world I try my best to remember that today could be my last day. Will I choose to live with anger and negative thoughts? How do you want your last day to be? Draw a picture of your last day on earth. Live that. Focus on what matters. We only have one shot in this life after all. Live fully.