23 HARD LESSONS I’VE LEARNED IN THE PAST YEAR:

I. It’s okay to make bad decisions. I always blame myself for making poor decisions that will constantly haunt me down. But then I realized that life doesn’t stop there. We make bad decisions, we regret it, but we move on and we turn into a much better person after. Don’t let every single mistake consume your emotions.

II. I’ve learned to stay hopeful despite the confusion. I’ve been on a slump for so long I almost forgot how it feels like to be on top of my game. But I never lose that string of hope that someday, I’ll get to see the end of the rainbow. I believe that whatever happens, you have to show up every chance you can get. You can rest for as long as you want but never stop. You have to get up every morning no matter how complicated life gets.

III. Normally when we face rejections, our initial response is to doubt ourselves and the progress we made. But the recent events of my life taught me how to gracefully handle rejections. If there is one thing I want to point out is the importance of not giving up. No matter how uncomfortable it gets or how impossible it seems, just keep going. You have to see it through the end or you’ll never find out what’s meant for you.

IV. I’ve learned to remain calm despite the chaos. I’ve been misunderstood by the way I talk, the way I keep silent when I’m upset, the way I resolve my issues and the way I fight for the things that I strongly believe in. It’s normal to be criticized for something that you are not especially by those people who never endured half of your life. But you don’t play into their narratives. You do you. It’s not your obligation to explain every bit of your story to please other people. Live your life on your own terms.

V. I realized that no one can use my flaws against me if I know how to appreciate my quirks and imperfections. I lack many things in life but I still have so much to offer, so instead of feeling down, I’ve learned to use all my energy to improve the things I already have. Our thoughts are so powerful it resonates our spirit. So I’ve learned to be careful about what I feed my mind all the time.

VI. Never stop learning with purpose. It’s been my habit to find all the resources I need to educate myself whenever I’m curious. I always find new information by reading, watching, observing, or asking other people. It’s not a shame to ask for help for the purpose of learning.

VII. We often expect things to happen right away. You’ll pray. You’ll keep on waiting. Then you’ll get tired. You’ll feel hopeless. And when you least expect it, it happens. Let things flow naturally in your life. Don’t stress out on things that you can’t control.

VIII. There is so much beauty everywhere. As for me, I find it in raw and simple things. I pay attention to small details. Happiness is not always found in big success, it’s actually the accumulation of little things that makes us happy— like drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning, sunsets, the smell of old books, scented candles, homemade food, seeing your family happy, helping a stranger out, the list goes on.

IX. I’m not always right. There are many versions of the truth that are also valid. I’ve learned to be open to all sorts of ideas. I believe it’s another way of learning. And I don’t think it’s fair to condemn someone just because their belief is different from us. Educate people, don’t belittle.

X. There is always a breakthrough in every breakdown. I’ve realized that all my worries, pain, and doubts are only temporary. It will all pass. The thing that’s been bothering me for a while now, I’m pretty sure it will only be a passing memory in the future.

XI. I’ve found power in silence. I’ve learned to be still when my voice isn’t necessary or when I run out of words to say. In silence, I found comfort, peace, and strength. I like that being quiet always calms my anxiety amongst all unnecessary noises everywhere. I prefer to be silent most of the time to listen carefully, to hear more and to observe quietly around me.

XII. Don’t be afraid to voice out your beliefs. Speak up when it is necessarily needed. OUR EARTH IS DYING AND WE NEED THE GOVERNMENT TO ACT ON IT, speak up about it. SOCIETY IS ALL AGAINST THE MARGINALIZED SECTOR, speak up about it. THE LOCAL FARMERS ARE STRUGGLING AND STARVING, speak something about it and help. Let’s raise our voices and use the platform well.

XIII. Love yourself first and the rest of the world can wait. I can’t emphasize enough how important self-love is. It all starts with your conscious decision to choose yourself every day without second thoughts. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a never-ending practice of discipline, respect, and compassion for yourself. When you love yourself very kindly, you teach others to honor your heart properly.

XIV. Moreover, when you respect yourself enough to know what you can and cannot tolerate, it will also attract the right people in your life and you don’t have to force it. If you have to force things, then perhaps it’s not yours to begin with.

XV. Stop wasting your precious time on things and people that have nothing to offer you but a headache. I’ve learned to be deliberate in choosing who to spend my time with and how.

XVI. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes when you fail, you get distracted, you lose sight of what’s important. But always listen to that little voice in your head and ask yourself, “Is this what I really wanted?” Then do something about it.

XVII. I’ve learned the value of making peace with my old self. I’m not the same way I was a year ago but I love myself just the same. I’m continuously learning and growing and transforming to be the person I should be.

XVIII. I’ve learned to stop seeking constant validation from others. I believe that in order to achieve that, it is important to speak kindly of yourself. Start giving little compliments about the way you put your heart on your sleeves, about the way you look in the mirror, about the way you survive each day. Not all opinions should matter. In my case, as long as I have my family and friends who believe in me, I’m all good.

XIX. I’ve learned to accept failures and setbacks as part of learning opportunities. When I fail, I tend to step back and look at the bigger picture. It’s either I change my plan or adjust my approach.

XX. You can’t always get what you want and that’s okay. I’ve learned to be patient in every season I’m in. You can’t force things to happen in your favor all the time. If you can’t attain those things, it’s either you didn’t want it or need it enough or God didn’t allow it.

XXI. I’ve learned the art of decluttering my personal space to give more time and energy to people and things that sparks my purpose. I value quality over quantity.

XXII. Being angry is a waste of time. It’s easy to be hated especially when you only allow a little portion of your life accessible to people. Let them hate you for something they don’t understand. Just don’t hurt them back.

XXIII. I’ll say it again and again, don’t go back to the same place that destroyed you. For the past year, my greatest mistake is to give people the power to destroy me. I keep going back to the same routine over and over again. They can vilify my reputation all they want but no one can be further from the truth. No one is responsible for all the damage I’ve suffered, I put this on myself. If I never let them seethe into my skin, if I never trusted them in the first place, if I acknowledged the red flags before, I wouldn’t be crying myself to sleep trying to question my worth. I loathed myself for so long. They gave me names, they judged me for who I am not, they throw me insults. But I stay silent. I confronted my struggles alone. There are times I was tempted to look back but I constantly reminded myself that I have to move forward to grow. I have so much time to listen and reflect, to heal and overcome. And then one day, I realized that I’m done compromising my happiness for other people. So I decided to forgive myself for all the pain I inflicted on me and unto others. A year ago, I was in a different spot mentally and emotionally, but this is my living testimony that time heals. I no longer resent these people, I no longer hate myself, I decided to focus on my unhealthy behaviors instead and be a better person. I have so many things to be grateful for, that includes my strength to endure them all and my heart for not giving up.

Happy 23rd birthday to you, my brave self. I am so proud of you ✨

FANTASTIC DREAMS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

I came across a book written by Héctor García and Francesc Miralles, “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life”, which explains the deep sense of purpose connected to our being. One of his naked thoughts found in the book says, “What is the meaning of my life? Is the point just to live longer, or should I seek a higher purpose? Why do some people know what they want and have a passion for life, while others languish in confusion?” This statement is so raw and honest that I felt all the emotions hiding beneath the words translating into sadness and worry and fear.

Many things have happened lately which I admit are quite overwhelming. I have a lot of time to step back and listen to my heartbeat. Now that I finally have time for myself, I decided to take in charge of my life regardless of my poor decisions in the past and whether or not the results are favorable. Success, after all, is purely subjective. Its meaning relies on your portrayal of how well you live your life.

What’s happening to my life lately?

It’s been three good months since I’ve left my job and decided to take a wee bit of rest for the meantime. My parents are nothing but are supportive of my dreams and I couldn’t thank them enough for the endless patience they put up with me. For a while, it seems to be ideal. But as days go by, I felt a crippling fear growing inside my chest and I’m starting to be terrified of the future. What if I’m wasting my life waiting for the impossible to happen? What if I’m running out of time? Am I falling behind? How long should I wait? Is this gonna be worth it?

The recent turn of events makes me wonder if everything could’ve been better if I chose to stay with my previous job. But then I remembered how working there exhaust me for years yet I didn’t do anything about it. I secretly despised myself for not being strong enough to walk away from things that no longer serve me. I felt like I am wasting all my energy on something that I don’t care about. Imagine that I had to sacrifice my mental health for a good paycheck and ignore the toxic environment just to get through my life. I tried so hard to search for anything that will stir me up but I realized, maybe I’m looking in the wrong place, and there’s nothing worse than being stuck. That’s why I had to go and find out what’s missing.

Once I found the courage to start creating the life I wonder, I decided to be done with it and quit everything that hinders me to grow. Screw everyone and what they think but for the longest time, I tucked away all my dreams and happiness for other people and still ended up unappreciated. That’s when it hit me, I wanted to be anything but a coward. So I shift my attention to what’s more significant and I try to focus putting all my energy in the right place. If there is one thing I wanted to pursue in this lifetime, it is my quest of finding my own thing— the thing that‘s keeping my soul burning with passion and the thing that motivates me to jump out of bed every morning.

The world is so scary. There are too many critics. But most of the time, it is you who keeps doubting yourself and your progress. I, for one, passed up all the opportunities that came because I’m scared I might screw it up. Little did I know, those chances already slipped in and I’m stuck. I don’t want to be portrayed as someone who is afraid of everything and accomplished nothing. I want to achieve my dreams one by one even if it means letting go of what’s convenient and getting out of my own element. Growth is supposed to be uncomfortable. You have to grow painfully, otherwise, you’ll be trap in a loophole of illusions you don’t wish to be stuck forever.

Do you know what’s the best part about going through the hard times? It’s the breakthroughs after the breakdowns. I grow to love my thoughts and everything I touch with my eyes and oh, how beautiful it is to love something so purely without a hint of judgment. I guess I am always that kind of person and I didn’t realize it until I spend more time knowing myself better. In between awkward phases and growth, I met the better version of myself, the one I am most passionate about, the woman who rises above all the pain and confusion. This time though, I am certain that I will choose myself no matter what it takes and I have to see it through the end.

Here’s what you can do to get to know you better: make a lot of mistakes. Write about your experiences, your fears, your passion, what keeps you up at night, what makes you going. Go to slam poetry and share your craft. Catch up with your friends and maybe book a flight to your dream destination. Take beautiful photos, put out all your work publicly, inspire them to view the world with fresh eyes. Find a business partner, who wants to see you better, who will help you grow; for whom you will do the same thing. Hike the highest mountain you can manage and scream your frustrations at the top of your lungs. Talk to strangers and tell them what you love most about the stars. Read a book and discuss it with a partner. Go to clubs, meet different kinds of people, support local artists, join the pottery. Go shopping and dress like a doll, who cares? Do anything that scares you. Go where you feel most alive and look forward to your heart thumping whimsically in your chest. For the sake of finding the fragments of your dreams and becoming the better lover of yourself, please do it. Do it afraid.

And if one day you tried to look and still unable to find it, walk slowly and steadily, spend more time talking with yourself, respect your boundaries; if you can’t find it anywhere maybe it’s hidden in the deepest part of yourself you keep trying to conceal from everyone else. If that happens, be patient. Maybe all it takes is to leave everything behind and start again. Don’t be afraid to start all over again. Remember that your setbacks doesn’t define you. For what it’s worth, your mistakes are hard proof that all humans are tainted but still have the power to rise above the pain. There are noises everywhere you go, telling you terrible things about yourself; it might keep you from living your life to the fullest, but always listen to that little voice inside your head and believe it, most of the time it’s your intuition talking. You create your own life, I hope it’s something you would be proud of.

IN PURSUIT OF FINDING JOY ON GOD’S PROMISES

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” before He died thousands of years ago, believe Him. You see, everything He has done for you so far put you in a place where you can serve your purpose. That is why whenever you’re in a bad spot and you can’t control the results of your reckless decisions, He will place doubt on you so you can witness how He will bring you out of it. HE IS AMAZING THAT WAY.

The things that have been troubling you and keeping you awake at night— your college degree, your career, your health, your finances, and even the person you’re going to marry— remember that God already paves the way so you can receive the joy of His love while waiting. There’s always a perfect season for everything. What’s destined to be yours is now finding its way to you. No rush. Just pure faith that everything will fall into its proper places when the right time comes.

Faith is patience with mystery. When He says ‘not yet’, it doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of much greater accomplishments. ‘Not yet’ doesn’t mean ‘no’ and ‘no’ doesn’t mean that you have to stop going. He will destroy your plans just to protect you from your worldly desires— greediness, selfishness, envy, jealousy, resentment before it can totally destroy what’s meant for you. He will build your character and prepare your heart for something bigger than you could ever imagine so when He finally answers your prayers with a ‘yes’ and receive the fruition of your sacrifices, your heart is right before God. There might be distractions & reroutes along the way but it doesn’t mean that you won’t end up in the same destination. You will end up exactly where you should be. That’s the ultimate promise.

The bible says do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; each day has enough trouble of its own (see reference on Matthew 6:34). Therefore, DO NOT WORRY. You are not being left behind, you are exactly on time. Even in times of confusion, be reminded that everything is already written and Jesus already proved it when He died for you on the cross to carry all your sins.

So when an enemy attacks you and tells you things to make you feel anxious about your future, never for a second believe that you won’t get there. The enemy lies, but Jesus gives comfort with His words. Learn to trust Him even in your pain. Your resources, your knowledge, and your understanding are limited, but His power is sovereign. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6.