This started out as a rant. Now, it’s… not.

This was supposed to be a lengthy tirade about the fight I had with my mom earlier.

I had two whole paragraphs typed out already, complete with our difficult history, the play-by-play of the whole argument (which included direct quotations from the both of us) and a lot of unpleasant adjectives. All I had to do was click on ‘publish’ for the whole Internet world to see.

And then, I don’t know. I hesitated, reread the words I just typed, selected the whole post and pressed the backspace button. And then I started typing this.

It dawned on me that what I was about to do is exactly the kind of thing I’d end up regretting tomorrow. So instead of writing about the whole fight, I’m going to write about this very moment.

It’s amazing to me how just a few minutes ago I was so mad – as I was typing my original post about the fight, I was getting angrier and angrier by each word. Now, though, I’m just… I guess hurt is the word.

And I guess hurt is okay. I would choose hurt over anger. I can still think rationally when I’m hurt, and being able to think rationally keeps me from doing stupid and hurtful things. To my mom. Like posting a nasty argument we had with the intention of making her look like a villain in front of all of you. I was so good at that before. But I don’t want to go down that road again.

I realize now that no matter how mad and frustrated I am at my mother, I still want to be on her side the same way she’s still on mine no matter how many times I disappoint her.

So even if I’m not really feeling her right now, even if I may be avoiding any direct contact with her, the last thing I want to do – the first thing I’m not supposed to do – is to pit myself against my mom, and to encourage you to side with me.

A NEEDTOBREATHE song comes to mind right now. It goes, “Be more heart and less attack.”

This is me being more heart and less attack, I guess.

A post dedicated to September

So it’s September – the month of all months, I like to think.

It’s my favorite month of the year. Christmas songs are about to get some airtime on the radio and I just absolutely love Christmas songs. My love for Christmas songs borders on addiction to be honest, especially when you consider the fact that I don’t really celebrate Christmas.

It’s also my birth month. I’ll be turning 24 in exactly two weeks. I’m actually excited about it. There’s something about the number that seems so appealing and interesting to me. So I can’t wait to be it and find out exactly what it is.

And it’s the month when I come out of hibernation/seclusion to meet up with friends I haven’t seen in months. I spend the rest of the year being focused on work and personal interests that I rarely have the time nor, admittedly, the energy to hang out with friends as often as they hang out with each other. So I’m excited to see them. We always have the best conversations.

Most importantly, you know how we sometimes take a moment off our busy schedule to look back and reflect and to look forward and hope? The whole month of September is like that for me. Maybe it’s because of the birthday, or because it triggers the countdown to the new year, or because of reasons I have yet to discover. Either way, September has always been a month devoted to my soul and spirit.So September, darling, I welcome you with open arms and an open heart.

Dream big. Do bigger.

I have big dreams.

I dream of traveling, seeing and experiencing the world. I dream of becoming a catalyst for change. I dream of making a mark on other people’s lives through the words I write and the things I do. I have a bunch of others that I won’t bore you with. 

Most of the time, my big dreams keep me going. In my moments of idleness, when my life begins to feel more and more like a dull and overdone routine, I think of my dreams and it snaps me out of my lifeless trance. They give me the spark I need whenever I feel like I’m running out of fuel and pixie dust.

But then there are times when my big dreams feel anything but inspiring. Sometimes, they feel like an enormous weight on my shoulders because they’re too big for me to carry. Other times, they feel like a dark cloud hanging above me, taunting me from a distance that I just can’t seem to reach.

I realize now that it’s not enough to dream big. It might be enough to get us through a day, but it won’t be enough to get us through life. Dreaming big is just the beginning, it’s the tip of the iceberg. Actually doing something to achieve our dreams is the 90% of the iceberg that’s underwater. The bigger the dream, the bigger the iceberg. That means I have at least half a dozen gigantic icebergs to dig my way through.

So from this day forward, I’m doing bigger. 

It’s been years since I last wrote a story. I’ve decided to write some again – three stories to be specific. I’ve started on one, and I’ve already done the necessary research for the other two. I’ve also decided to apply in teaching English programs – both paid and volunteer work – in South America for next year.

I admit, these aren’t big steps. But they’re a lot bigger than the steps I’ve been making these past couple of months, and I’m glad. 

There isn’t just a spark in me anymore, there’s a fire. 

Snapshots of my days of bliss

The photos below are from a recent trip I had with my siblings and cousins. We went to the island of Coron in the Philippines, and spent four days swimming and snorkeling in the clearest waters, lounging on hammocks by the most gorgeous beaches, eating the best food and singing karaoke at a local bar.

A line from a song by Green River Ordinance kept coming to mind while I was sitting on the bangka in the middle of the sea. It goes, “Meet me down on Cannery River. Set your heart free for awhile.”

And I did. And it was the best feeling ever.

10513344_10152620296216894_5899369513303336387_n  IMG_3955  10405320_10152620296586894_6871662345917611849_n  997050_10152620296701894_6674111133700061320_n    IMG_3961  10626498_10152620296901894_1317048413990495859_n

Genie isn’t “free”

Let me start out by saying that I love Robin Williams. Always have, always will. I was only a couple of years old when I first saw Hook and since then, he was a constant source of color in my life – from his funny films like Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji  and Flubber, to the bittersweet and melancholic ones like Patch Adams, Jakob the Liar and World’s Greatest Dad.

The news of his untimely death hit me the same way it hit everyone else  – like a huge avalanche swallowing me up. Then I found out that his death was the result of a suicide, and then it felt like the avalanche turned into this gigantic boulder that had just fallen on top of me.

And then someone I follow on Twitter retweeted this:

IMG_4081This tweet was retweeted over 320,000 times and was liked by over 220,000 users. What’s even more striking is that various websites and blogs have described the tweet as “beautiful” and “perfect”.

I debated with myself for a long time on whether or not I should share my own thoughts. I didn’t want to speak up at the wrong time and come out as tactless and insensitive. But ultimately, I realized that I’d rather come out as tactless and insensitive than choose to keep my mouth shut on this one.

So here it goes…

To me, that tweet is neither beautiful nor perfect. It wasn’t touching or sentimental, and it did not make me feel all warm inside. You know what it made me feel? Anger. You know why? Because to me, that tweet is dangerous. And careless. And stupid.

I’m not condemning Robin Williams for committing suicide. I’m not here to say he should have known better. I’m not here to say he shouldn’t have done what he did. Who am I to judge him when I know absolutely nothing about what he was going through?

No, I’m condemning the idea of suicide “freeing” you.

For those of you who’ve been following my blog for some time now, you’d know about my best friend who tried to commit suicide more than a year ago. When I read that tweet, I immediately imagined my best friend in the state she was in at that time reading the very same thing, and it terrifies me to my very core. And I swear I could just punch the person who posted that tweet for all the world to see.

It’s just… it makes me so mad, knowing that if that tweet existed 17 months ago and my best friend saw it, there’s a possibility that she might not be here anymore. Because that’s just what that careless tweet might have resulted in. It tempts us. It tickles a bone in our body that’s a sucker for the grand and beautiful downfall.

I admit I’ve never been depressed so I may be talking about something I don’t fully understand. But honestly, when it comes to people I love, I don’t feel the need to understand things first as much as I feel the need to say what needs to be said and, more importantly, what needs to be heard. I need them to know there is hope, that life is worth it no matter how shitty it gets, that giving up is the easiest thing to do but that we are made for so much more than just the easiest things.

One thing I’m damn well certain of is that the last thing people who are battling with depression need to hear is that suicide frees them, like they’re birds that have been given a chance to escape. That’s bullshit.

Life isn’t a cage we should be freed from. Life is the sky.

I just feel that the tweet was done more for the sake of artistry and its ‘special effects’ than as a means to honor Robin Williams. If you’re going to honor the passing of a beloved, celebrate their life. Don’t romanticize their death. Because this isn’t a Disney film anymore. This is real life.

Because if we’re being completely honest here, Genie isn’t free. Genie is dead. And there is no freedom in that kind of death, there is only an end to a life that could’ve had a thousand beginnings.

Dear Twin,

I remember, not too long ago, you asked me if I missed you. At the time, we haven’t seen each other in months and we haven’t talked in long while. Some time during our conversation, you asked me jokingly if I missed you.

I answered no. Because we like to insult one another and make fun of each other. Because we don’t get sentimental about things like that.

And because, honestly, I really didn’t miss you.

We’ve always had a peculiar relationship, you and I. We’re twins but we were never really twins, not the usual kind anyway. Aside from the fact that we look nothing like each other, we also couldn’t have been any more different in terms of personality and interests.

We grew up in the same house, but we never grew up together. Our late-night conversations, secret whispers and knowing glances have always been about other people. We rarely talked about our fears, our dreams and our feelings. You have your own friends, and I have mine. We share most of our fun moments, not because we experienced them together, but because we told each other about them afterward. We’ve always led separate lives. The only difference you moving to California made is that I’d see you even less than I already did.

But I want to tell you that I miss you now. You’ll be coming home tomorrow. And now more than ever, I miss you.

Though we rarely shared the same experiences or even the same wavelength, we’ve always found comfort in knowing that we will always be connected to one another. And I’ve always found comfort in my firm belief that I’m the one person who knows you better than anyone else.

You wear your heart on your sleeve, my dear sister. You’re not afraid to show what you feel, to say what you think, to be the first one to laugh out loud. You’re hot-tempered and impatient. You cry when you’re furious and you can’t understand sarcasm. You love making chocolate souffle for us, and then you hover around us every time we eat it, and expect us to say it’s the best chocolate souffle ever. But most of all – and I have envied you for this – you’ve always known what it is you want in life and you’ve always gone after it.

Right now, hours before seeing you again, I’m beginning to realize just how much I miss being around you and having that twin connection tangible by your presence. Above all, I find myself genuinely excited to get to know the person you’ve become in the past year or so.

I hope you’re still awesome. Otherwise, it’s going to be a long two weeks ahead.

Seriously though, I can’t wait for you to come home.

29680_427816296893_4552358_n

Twin and I, 1995

A list of truths we ought to learn in our twenties: Part 2

Part 1 here.

#4: That age doesn’t grant me entitlement to anything I haven’t worked for

I must admit, it took months for me to get this. For the longest time, I thought that after graduating college, I can just sit comfortably in my room while all the opportunities in the world come knocking on my door. I’m young and so full of potential; surely an adventure is just right around the corner, heading straight toward me.

I couldn’t have been any more mistaken. I used to see nothing but my target goal – to travel the world. I failed to see the many zigzags I have to go through in order to actually get there because, contrary to what most travel bloggers say, it sometimes isn’t as easy as simply packing your stuff and booking a flight. You work… and you work hard. You plan and you have to take risks in order to execute that plan. You can’t just expect things to fall into place.

And it isn’t just feeling entitled to fulfillment of personal goals and aspirations. I noticed how a lot of my peers have become more impatient and unconsciously rude as they get older. Some of us demand respect before we’re even willing to give it. I see this in little things like refusing to give way in traffic or complaining to the waiter about the food being cold after spending ten minutes trying to take an Instagram-worthy photo of it. Some of us demand attention before even paying attention, or we demand true love but reject compromise.

We want to receive great things more than we want to actually do great things. The truth is, when our main objective in life is to have great things happen to us, we completely miss out on all the great things that can happen through us.

#5: That Thought Catalog is not a textbook for life

I have nothing against Though Catalog or any similar blogs and websites. I enjoy reading their articles from time to time because they give me a variety of interesting perspectives. And because the people behind these blogs are usually our age, I totally understand why we find encouragement, inspiration and a sense of connection to those who read and write their posts.

I used to visit these sites every day without fail for a couple of weeks. But then gradually, I began to notice how every single post I clicked – even the ones that had nothing to do with me – affected me deeply without me really being conscious of it. I remember reading a post about a list of things I supposedly should have done before reaching my twenties and then feeling substandard afterward because I couldn’t cross out most of the things that were on there.

Maybe it’s because it’s in our nature to find comfort in the similarities we share with others, or maybe it’s because it’s also in our nature to anticipate conflict in our differences, but I found that the posts I read usually made me feel either of two extremes – extremely satisfied or extremely discouraged.

Sometimes, without even meaning to, we fall in love with ideas, thoughts, beliefs and experiences of people who, no matter how much they assert to be true, could never really know what it’s like to be in our shoes – the same way I could never know what it’s like to be you. We all write from our own personal reality; the authors of Thought Catalog and BuzzFeed are no different. Going into it, I’m pretty sure we know that. But still, when we come across a list of ten things that would supposedly prove we’ve found our true love, it’s hard to look at our current love and give a small, depressed sigh when we discover that we only have six things in common with the list.

Often, we take our own ideas and experiences for granted when we come across someone else’s that seems to outshine ours. We judge our life unfairly by setting other people’s lives – or rather, what they portray to be their lives – as the standard.

But the truth is this: there is no freaking formula for life. The best that we can do for ourselves is to do the things that are right for us, believe in the things that we can actually have complete faith in, and love ourselves regardless of how much social media tells us how uncool we are. If we’re going to read Thought Catalog, let’s read it for what it is – a fun read, not something we can use to pressure ourselves into becoming someone we’ve read about in the Internet.

#6: That our twenties is more about discovering what we really want and less about doing everything we want the moment we want it

People say that our twenties is the perfect time to do everything and anything we want, and I guess it’s true. We’re old enough to do the things we were too young to do before, but we’re also young enough to not be judged when we choose to do what we want to do instead of doing what we’re supposed to do.

What is it that people always say? That it’s better to just go ahead and do something crazy or bold instead of forever regretting not doing it and wondering what if. But regret doesn’t just come from not doing something. Regret also comes when we become so fixated on doing everything we think we want instead of finding out what is it we really truly want. I learned that a lot of times doing everything we want the moment we want it can lead to regretting it later.

I don’t know about you but I have a very long list of things I thought I wanted to do and goals I thought I wanted to achieve that have since been discarded in a trash bin labeled as “just a phase” – tattoos, a flashy career, marriage at 25, the list goes on and on. I also have quite the list of things I thought I wanted to do, ended up doing, and later regretted – things that until now I still wish I could change. And I’m only 23! I’m pretty sure these lists will get longer as the years go by.

I guess my point is: why spend our twenties being preoccupied with doing every single thing that gives us, at best, temporary gratification, when we can spend it seeking that which can ultimately give us a lifetime of happiness?