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Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

6 Days in Denver and Los Angeles

Since I’ve began this blog, I’ve always written some sort of monumental post on or around my birthday to reflect on the previous year because I like to see how far I’ve come, how much I’ve changed, and how much I’ve grown. It’s never a dull journey to get to where I am and thankfully, I have these blog posts to serve as a reminder that life doesn’t get any easier with age.

I just turned 25 about 2 weeks ago. A quarter-century old. A quarter-life crisis to come. Again, to no surprise, I have a laundry list of events that have happened in that previous year.

In the span of 1 year, I had 2 different jobs, lived in 2 different apartments in New York City, and broke up, got back together, then broke up (again) with my boyfriend.

When I turned 25, I was job-less, boyfriend-less, and at the border of a mental breakdown. It only seemed appropriate to take a trip to escape the realities of the environment that I was currently in.

On November 20th 2015, the Friday before my birthday, I was let go from my job – A “promising” position at a startup company that I had only recently started working at in September after being at a large Publishing company prior.

Clearly, it wasn’t a great fit for me.

The night that I got let go, after experiencing hours of complete and utter shock, I had decided that I needed to get away. I needed to travel. I needed to escape.

Please note, to fully comprehend what led to my course of action in taking this trip, I must summarize the events that took place prior. The following situations were brewing in the months leading up to my trip:

  • I left a stable job
  • I started a new job
  • I reconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I disconnected from my ex-boyfriend
  • I got into a 2-month long argument with my sister
  • I reconnected (again) with my ex-boyfriend in the wake of the Paris attacks
  • I re-disconnected with my ex-boyfriend
  • I got let go from my job
  • I turned 25

A person can only withstand so much before they reach their tipping point. And for me, I was just about there.

On November 21st, the day after getting let go, I spent 6 hours booking one-way flights from New Jersey, to Denver, to Los Angeles, then back home to New York City.

I left on Friday, November 28th, the day after Thanksgiving and just returned a few days ago, this past Thursday morning.

It wasn’t a long trip, but it was enough. 6 days in Denver and Los Angeles. It was exactly the right amount of time that I needed to process exactly what had happened in the past few months.

When I arrived at Denver International Airport, I hit the ground running, as I typically do when I travel. Whenever I’m in a different place, I always want to do anything and everything in order to take complete advantage of the time that I have wherever I may be. And boy, did I do that. To summarize the events in Colorado, this is what I was able to accomplish in 4 days (And these are only the events that I’m at liberty to disclose):

When I said goodbye to my friends on Monday, I was sad to go, but overwhelmed with excitement for the second part of my trip to Los Angeles. And here is a summary of the events that happened during my 3 days in California:

In the time that it took for me to emotionally breakdown, I was inadvertently able to revive myself through this trip.

Looking back, although this trip was much needed and an extremely pivotal point in my upcoming year(s) of growth, I must say that I am most grateful for the fact that it was such a safe and successful journey. On my last day in Los Angeles, the San Bernardino shooting also happened. I was an hour-distance from San Bernardino, California. I had no idea that was happening at the time, but I am now aware that I could have been and I thank God that I wasn’t.

You never know what’s going to happen in life. In a second, everything can change. Good things happen, bad things happen. You can never fully prepare for the obstacles that are thrown in your way. The best you can do is get through it and hopefully come out stronger.

At 25, I’m still alive. I’m still breathing. I’m still healthy. I still have much more living to do and I know I will come out of this stronger than ever.

The Re-Return

I am no stranger to the on-again-off-again relationship. Up until recently, I’ve been dealing with the same scenario for almost two years. Even now that I’ve “ended it” once again, I still question myself and wonder if I’m going to dig myself into the same hole that I have been attempting to crawl out of for the past two years.

I’m a serial re-returner. Even outside of my aforementioned on-again-off-again relationship, I tend to follow the same pattern of revisiting old memories, summoning ghosts from my past, and resuming old habits. As they say, old habits die hard.
 
When my ex-boyfriend and I broke up for the umpteenth time back this past June, I did what any typical broken-hearted girl would do. I went into an extremely deep and depressing period of Netflix binge-watching. You may be wondering what was my choice poison – Well, it was Grey’s Anatomy. Classic, I know.
 
I’ve never actually gotten through a majority of the seasons. I usually stop myself at some point halfway through once I’ve realized that I’ve had enough of suffering in silence. However, there was one quote in a particular episode that struck me, when Meredith Grey was narrating. She asks the question, 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 

This question really resonated with me and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time as I was wallowing what may be my 8th or 9th cycle of post break-up depression. Right then and there, I noticed, I was doing it again. I was re-returning. I was re-returning by going back to a show that I typically use as my routine pick-me-up whenever I’m sad. I was re-returning by thinking of my ex-boyfriend again. And it always follows the same pattern.

I’m a slave to the familiar. A clinger. I tend to hold onto things and people as tightly as possible, dismissing the reality of hindsight bias, which is when you look back at a particular situation and say to yourself, “It wasn’t all that bad” (even though it really was at the time).
 
So, I had to ask myself Meredith Grey’s question of 
“What’s worse? New wounds, which are so horribly painful or old wounds that should have healed years ago, but never did?” 
To be quite frank, I honestly don’t know because apparently I always lean towards feeling the pain of old wounds that I never allow to fully heal.
 
Albert Einstein once said, 
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
Even as I am quoting this universal genius, I am already aware that I’ve quoted him in past writing which proves that I am, in fact, an insane person for continuously repeating my own history by going back to old habits.
 
I wonder, what makes us so afraid of creating new wounds? Old wounds aren’t any less painful than new ones. If anything, old wounds are actually more painful in the sense that re-opening them continues to make the scar worse until you are so far damaged that you’re actually incapable of creating new wounds. 
 
Re-opening old wounds, re-returning to those things and people who have hurt us, increases our risk for paralysis and that just terrifies me to my core.
 
If you ever observe children as they are running or playing, they don’t have that fear of getting hurt. They just do what they please and risk the pain because they are resilient and they can heal quicker than us adults can.
 
I’m afraid that I have re-opened too many old wounds to the point where I really am afraid of creating new ones. I’m afraid that I’m becoming that broken, cynical, scarred person that I once dreaded becoming.
 
Adulthood is nothing like I had expected it to be. I never imagined that the plans I had set out for myself wouldn’t go as I anticipated. I never imagined that the people I cared so deeply about would hurt me so much. I never imagined that I would even allow people to hurt me so badly.
 
But, I did. And I still am.
 
They say that time heals all wounds. Well, I’ve learned that time alone doesn’t do that phrase justice. You, as an individual, also have to make a conscious effort to protect yourself by leaving old wounds alone and allowing time to take its course.

Tracks

One of my best friends got married to her boyfriend of five years this past weekend. It was a profound milestone in her and her husband’s lives. Moreover, it was a huge milestone in my life as well because I have been there throughout the entirety of their relationship, from the very first time they met to this very day. To witness their relationship grow into what it is now is truly a remarkable thing.

As more and more of my friends are moving further along with their lives and taking those next steps of life-changing decisions such as getting engaged, getting married, and relocating, it really puts things into perspective for my life. As happy as I am for my friends, it also brings me great sadness to know that things will never be the same again.

Last night, I was looking through old photos, reminiscing on memories, and replaying those moments in my head. I tried hard to soak up as much of what I remember as I could, but I know that living in the past is no way to live.

I’ve never been one to settle for less than I want or deserve and I’ve always wanted more in my life. I’m not sure if that makes me greedy or ambitious, but as I look back at my life decisions, I’m starting to question whether or not I should have just stopped on one of those tracks and taken my life in another direction; a more stable direction.

When I decided to take a job in New York City, pack up, and leave, I imagined an endless amount of opportunities and adventures. To no surprise, I received exactly that. I’ve had amazing times in this city throughout the past three years. I have encountered many unbelievable experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I just stayed in New Jersey. And for that, I am grateful. But at the same time, it’s hard not to picture what my life could have been like if I had made different choices. It makes me wonder what would have happened if I had stayed put and grew with certain people instead of left them behind.

Of course, I’ll never know now. Even if I try to go back and re-live certain situations, it will never work out the way it would have if I had just ran with it during that time. I have already grown and I can’t unlearn the things I have learned. I can only hope for new doors to open and to finally find the person that stops me on my tracks in order to create a new one together.

It’s a special bond you create when you grow with certain people, not only romantic relationships, but in friendships. As I realize and greatly appreciate the people who have stayed by my side throughout all my years of ups and downs, I am thankful to have never left them behind even during those times where I was straying too far.

As you get older, life seems to be moving quicker. It’s important to make sure you don’t let go of the people who have helped you get you to where you are now.

The Motivation of Love

Nothing motivates a person more than love.

When I look at the great men and women in literature, art, music, etc., I notice one defining commonality between all of them – And that is the inspiration of a lost or found love. When I think back to my personal experiences, I recall all of the profound moments in my life; the milestones; the life-changing moves that I have made to become who I am today. And similarly, these moments happened in the midst of the beginning or the end of a romantic relationship.

Although it may work in different ways for some people, love significantly changes you. It leaves a mark on your soul to the point where you will be forever different from that moment on. Something happens inside; something that can make or break you.

When I look at my friends’ relationships and how it has changed them, I’m taken back by how much of an impact one person can make on your entire life.

Then, when I look at myself and I realize how much of an impression the relationships from my past have made on me.

As I am experiencing yet another failed relationship, I am able to see the things that I have done in reaction to this heartbreak. Though there were many times of weakness, I also notice the strength I have found to take that pain and turn it into something else, something great like writing, running, friendships, work, etc.

It’s amazing how much one person can influence your life. In the same light, it’s terrifying how strong of a hold that love can have on you; to make you do things that you never thought you were capable of.

I feel the changes happening once again in my life and I look forward to seeing how this shapes my future self.

Seeing how far I have come now, I can only hope that I become a better version of myself. Maybe (hopefully) one day, I’ll end up with the person that completes me after I have already completed myself. Maybe that’s what all this heart break is for; to prepare us for the big one – that big love.

And so, I’d like to thank my lost loves for shaping the person I am today. Without them, I wouldn’t have accomplished the things I have accomplished. I wouldn’t have been able to grow.

Return from the Philippines

I arrived home from my trip to the Philippines late Thursday night. To say that this trip was amazing is the understatement of the year. This trip was necessary. It was emotional, joyous, and difficult. It was worth every penny spent. I couldn’t even say that you could truly put a price on experiences like these. I want to begin my recap, but I honestly don’t even know where to start. I haven’t even fully re-adjusted to my life back home to be able to discuss how much this trip meant to me. But, since I’ve caught a bit of the writing bug on this late Sunday night, I can’t let it pass, so here I go:

On the first day of our arrival in the Philippines, my parents, sister and I were greeted by a mass of our relatives. I had never met my Dad’s side of the family in-person before, but it felt like I’ve known them my entire life. We had lunch together that day and there was no denying that this family was my blood. Everyone was happy, with large smiles on their face to be able to share this first meal with us. That day, I still couldn’t believe that I was physically there.

Throughout the duration of our trip, we traveled to several places; Tagaytay, Batangas, Taytay Rizal, Zambales. We saw many different parts of the Philippines, ate an extraordinary amount of food, did a lot of shopping, and bonded as a family. I find it impossible to fully explain every detail of my trip in this short blog post, but I can say that in the mere two weeks that I was there, I was able to discover a whole new part of my family and myself.

The thing that I love the most about travel is being able to see a side of yourself in a place that you’ve never been before; being faced with unfamiliar situations is a significant part of life. It helps you realize things you never knew before. It helps you learn. It helps you grow.

Now that I’m back home, I’m honestly heartbroken, sad, and missing the time spent with my family. I’m the opposite of homesick. I want to be there instead of here. I’ve realized many things upon returning back from my trip and the main thing is that my family is the most important thing in my life.

Now that I’m back home, I’m realizing that I’m not okay with my life here. I’m not fulfilled, not even content. The only thing that has seemed to bring me true happiness recently is being with my family and enjoying their company. To feel love that powerful scares me. It makes me wonder if I can ever find that kind of love anywhere else in life.

I went home by myself because I have to go back to work on Monday. My parents and sister stayed in the Philippines for an extra week. Being apart from my family while they are still there makes me feel like a piece of me is missing. I don’t even want to dare think of how my life would be without them, but I do and just being separated from them hurts.

I think that throughout my entire life, I’d been looking for a kind of love like this; unconditional love. Aside from family and God, I’m scared that I will never find someone else to love me the way my family does. I don’t think I could even love myself the way my family does. Being back home just reminds me of that.

The trip has enlightened me a great deal. I know they say you can’t find someone to love you until you truly love yourself and I think that was the problem all along for me.

I’m thankful for this trip. I hope to go back to the Philippines soon. But until then, I’m going to keep working on myself.

Two Weeks Until the Philippines

Recently, I’ve been very silent with using this personal blog to disclose my recent experiences and emotions. Instead, I’ve tried expanding my horizons to other Publishing platforms such as Medium, LinkedIn and EliteDaily. However, I can’t fully neglect the base for which I started my writing journey.

So, here I am providing one very large update. Although much has happened in the time since my last real entry, the largest piece of news that I have to offer is this:

I am leaving for my second-ever International trip to my parent’s home country of the Philippines in two weeks.

If you are familiar with my most recent travels, I went to Australia (my very first International trip) last August and it had opened my eyes to the wonders of traveling to a foreign country and being introduced to a different culture.

Personally, this trip to the Philippines is going to mean so much more than just being introduced to a different culture. In fact, it’s not quite different for me at all.

Being raised in a dual-culture environment was a crucial factor towards the person that I’ve become. As a child, it’s difficult to fully commit to one culture or the other, especially if you are a minority. You cannot hide your physical features no matter how hard you try. I’m a Filipino-American, and I was raised in a predominantly Filipino household. However, I more strongly identify myself with being American.

My parents would speak to me in their native language, however, I’d foolishly refuse to learn how to speak. I understood the language, but I chose English instead. It wasn’t until I grew older did I realize how important that part of me is.

I don’t want to say that I regret the choices I’ve made in the past, but I will say that I wish I had made a greater effort to learn my parent’s native tongue and be more immersed in my heritage.

Millions of people came to the United States to pursue the “American dream” Many of whom made this decision for their children; to provide them with opportunities that they could not have had in their home country.

I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to my parents for coming here. I know that they made this decision for my sister and I. I also know that I will never be able to repay them for the sacrifices that they’ve made for us. However, I do realize all of the things that they left behind for us and I cannot say that it was in vain.

My family isn’t wealthy. We aren’t even on par with the majority of the Middle Class. However, we are happy with what we do have and what we have is something that most people strive for; a loving and supportive family.

Going to the Philippines will be an eye-opener for me. It will show me the bigger picture of where my parents came from, who and what they left behind, and why they are the way they are. I have a feeling that this trip will impact me in many ways and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just something about going to your place of lineage and discovering your roots.

For many years, I was beginning to doubt if it would ever happen due to financial circumstance, but miracles can and do happen. Things only seem impossible until they are done.

Again, this trip wouldn’t be possible without the help of my parents. They came to America from the Philippines and now they are taking me and my sister back with them.

It’s going to be an amazing journey and I can’t wait to soak up as much as I can -Stay tuned for more