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

How To Capture Your Target Audience

In a day and age where authenticity is becoming less and less distinguishable, myself and many other consumers are much more cautious with where we put our loyalty and trust in a brand. I recently read an article that was published on Entrepeneur.com called, “Think Like a Journalist to Create Compelling Content That Gets Noticed” by Pratik Dholakiya who is the founder of Growfusely. The overarching message of this article urges copywriters to put themselves behind the minds of their consumers and think about what really resonates with them. In the article, Dholakiya writes, “You need compelling content to engage the audience and persuade them to take intended action(s).” Naturally, this is always the driving force behind any sales pitch. But times are changing in the realm of marketing and advertising. It’s not just about straight-selling or making cold calls anymore. The key to obtaining and retaining successful business is through meaningful relationships.

I remember when I was in college, my Introduction to Marketing professor had always emphasized the difference between B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Consumer). It wasn’t until I officially entered the profession of sales and advertising that I was finally able to comprehend the true meaning of this. Before, when I was a mindless young consumer with disposable income, I never thought about the hard work and effort that was put into marketing a campaign or product. I just bought things that were popular and well known and never thought twice about it. After being heavily immersed in the field of advertising sales, I can now see the larger picture. For those of you who are not involved in this area of expertise, it’s just like the science of any trade; long periods of strategic planning to ensure ROI (Return on Investment) with business. And when a brand giant meets a creative agency giant, products will be sold, money will be made, and consumers will grow an affinity for that brand.

If you are like my sister, you may immediately shed a tear when you see that heart-warming commercial that reminds you of the first time you ever rode a bike or the day that you first left for college. Creative agencies that touch upon significant memories and draw out these emotions create experiences with their audience. As humans, we seek relatability. We want to know that we are not alone in a certain cause. After all, we all experience the same emotions.

The NBA’s new creative agency recently released a promotional video, honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech by showcasing significant milestones in NBA history in regards to breaking down racial barriers. They simultaneously align an audio track of Martin Luther King Jr. reciting his speech in the background while showing clips from specific events. Again, this is a perfect example of marketing that resonates with an audience when a brand giant meets a creative agency giant.

Copywriters, marketers, and advertisers have to dig deeper into the inner-workings of their audience. They have to find that soft spot that immortalizes a commercial through powerful messages.

To capture the attention of your audience, you just need the one key trait that a lot more of us need to work on…and that would be empathy. This is how you win people over. When you understand your audience, you will succeed; Not only in work, but in your personal relationships as well.

(*Versions of this article can also be found on LinkedIn, Medium, and AchorandLeap.com)

When the Miracles Happen

There are moments when you should throw in the towel. Those moments when you just need to call it quits like if you’re terribly miserable at your job or if a relationship just isn’t working. At times like these, it’s okay and perfectly reasonable to give up; those times when you’re compromising your happiness.

But then, there are times when you need to hang in there. There are times when you can’t give up even if life is throwing its worst at you.

2014 is over and a new year has begun. Close your eyes and just reflect on how far you’ve come and how much has changed.

And here we are.

We made it through another year. Of course, it was not effortless.

Looking back on this past year, there were many defining moments that tested my strength, patience, and tolerance for struggle. I can’t say that it was easy, but I can say that it was all worth it.

This past year, I came across a quote which I would call my definition of 2014 and I greatly appreciate it now more than ever. The quote is:

“The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up”

It may sound like this quote contradicts the opening to this blog entry, however, I’m using it in a different context.

Every challenge that I faced this year made me feel completely defeated. I wanted to crawl into a corner, stop trying, and claim myself ‘a failure’. Yes, this is a little melodramatic for my age, but I know people would feel the same way.

I’m thankful that I didn’t crawl into that corner because if I had, I may not have accomplished the things that came later on in the year.

The beginning of 2014 wasn’t pretty. It was a reality check.

Even now, I still don’t have it all figured out. It will take years upon years. But with each year and each defining moment, I’m getting a little closer.

Miracles happen. They don’t necessarily happen at the same time for all people, but eventually they do. Sometimes you have to give up the good to go for the great. You have to leave something behind to go after something more. You have to rediscover yourself.

This past year, I got a little closer to doing just that.

I fell in love, I explored a new country, I became part of a band, I got a new job, I got a new apartment, I got a boyfriend, I ran the New York City Marathon, and this past Tuesday, I finally got published in Elite Daily for the first time.

I wouldn’t have experienced these miracles if I hadn’t kept it together.

My advice to you is to hold out for your miracles and know that they will happen. It may take time, but the time will be worth it.

“Word is Bond”

I often think a lot about words versus actions. I go back and forth, debating which is more important. Lately, my loved ones have been enlightening me on the importance of actions and I know that they’re right.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The more you say, the less”? Well, in my interpretation, it means that talking too much is useless. Words mean nothing if you don’t put them into actions. Take this from someone who does a lot of talking. I often have a lot to say and when I don’t say, I write (Thank God for this blog).

Another phrase that you may or may not be familiar with is, “Word is bond”. This is a phrase that I often hold true. Unfortunately, not many people have this same mindset.

Living in New York City yields a lot of opportunity for disappointment. There are always distractions and no one can ever really commit to one plan because frankly, there are just too many options. A Saturday night can start off as a regular dinner at a Thai Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen and end up as drunken karaoke and disco dancing in Williamsburg. You just never know where the night could go. People in the city are always running around, partially committing to several things, and attempting to cross off every item on their agenda.

Yet, when it comes down to meaningful promises, you have to be more careful.

The promises you make to the people you love and the promises you make to yourself are the ones that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

With the New Year just around the corner, I’ve begun brainstorming the list of goals I want to achieve as some of you may also have done. I know that if I write this, I am more inclined to fulfilling it because as they say, word is bond. I’ll never make a promise to myself that I cannot keep and I try desperately to do the same with the people I care about as well.

So my goal for 2015 is to try to say less and do more for the sake of my loved ones and for myself.

After all, in the end, “It’s what you do to the people you say you love. That’s what matters. That’s the only thing that matters”The Last Kiss

A Quick Guide to Celebrating the New Year

As we are reaching the home stretch of another year, our eyes begin to widen and twinkle with hopes for a New Year. Out with the old and in with the new, many of us might say. But what makes New Year’s so special? Why do we celebrate and drink the night away long after the hour of midnight just to wake up with the same familiar headache as the previous year?

Many of us, including myself, get very nostalgic during this time of year. We reflect on the events that have happened in the months past. We hold onto the good memories as we attempt to forget the bad ones. We remember the friends who have come and gone. We carefully evaluate the seasons of change.  We think back on the defining moments. Then, we try to construct a plan for how to make the next year even better than the last. We write resolutions and make promises to ourselves and to each other that we often know we cannot keep. Why do we do this?

We do this because New Year’s is our opportunity at a clean slate, a fresh start. So here are a few tips for mentally preparing for that flip of the calendar:

Celebrate with the people that you truly care about

Getting sh*t-faced in a beat-bumping, crowded club with a thousand strangers is fun…once in a while. Try to spend your time with the people who are truly worth your time. If you’re somewhere that you don’t want to be, you’ll always look back and think about the people who weren’t with you rather than those who were. These are the moments you can’t get back. Celebrate with your real friends and the loved ones that matter.

Don’t set unrealistic expectations for the night (or the year)

Just remember that you can’t control everything. Things don’t always go as planned. You might not be able to meet up with your friends across town. You might lose your credit card. You might not get that magical midnight kiss. Go with the flow, enjoy the night as it comes, and be understanding that your “perfect night” doesn’t always look like a scene from the movies. The best moments are the ones that are unplanned. Setting unrealistic expectations just sets us up for failure. Have fun and embrace spontaneity.

 Don’t dwell on the past

The past is there for you to remember, not to dwell on. The past is the past. As cliché as it may sound, a New Year means a new you. Take what you have learned from the past and apply it to the present. Don’t get hurt all over again by the same person. Don’t let ghosts from the past haunt you. Sure, there were tough times, heartbreaks, and moments when you felt defeated, but you have the opportunity to move forward. Don’t dwell.

We celebrate New Year’s because we are celebrating life. We celebrate the unpredictable moments. We celebrate making it past all of the struggles, the sad moments, and the disappointments. We celebrate new relationships, new jobs, new places to travel, and more. We can never know exactly how far we can go until we’ve gone there. In light of a New Year, we look back at how far we have come and we celebrate the opportunity to go even further.

As we scramble to make plans with our friends and anxiously await that momentous countdown to midnight, we prepare ourselves for the unknown. Put on your party hats, search for that fabulous sequin dress, and get your bottle of champagne ready, 2015 here we come!