Write about happy things, Pollen.

 

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My attempt at trying to look cute (sorry)

 

Maybe it’s because, for a really long time now, I’ve used writing for the bad stuff by default, that I feel somewhat awkward using it to document something good. Like for instance, an intense argument would prompt me to write a poem, immediately taking me out of my heaven-knows-how-long writing slump while the small miracles happening in my day to day life wouldn’t even deserve a short diary entry.

Maybe, because it’s so easy for me to come up with sad words, I’ve forgotten how to write about being happy, or at least how happy felt like, that now that the emotion’s overwhelming me, I don’t know how to describe the feeling.

I’ve had so many reasons to be happy over the past couple of months but I haven’t really been keeping the stories about them, even in my private journals. At the time, I figured, I wanted to feel them in the moment and keep them alive only then because I’ll remember the feeling anyway.

However, now that I’m looking through the things I’ve written during this time of happiness and bliss, I realized that there weren’t many memories to look back on. Yes, I remember feeling happy and I still am happy, but I couldn’t find the little stories that built my big moments.

Hence the questions: “Have I forgotten how to write about the happy things?”; “Do I still know how to write about the happy things?”; “Why am I not writing about the happy things?”

Not wanting to miss out any further, I decided to write this post, just so I could remind myself later of the reasons why I have been and am happy.

“Senpau”

At the time I’m writing this, I’m preparing for my fourth week as a teacher.

I always knew I was going to teach someday but I didn’t expect to be teaching this early. Despite my initial worries, I’m so glad I took the risk anyway because I’ve found a place where I can do purposeful and meaningful work every day.

Though the workload can be overwhelming at times, at the end of the day, my job makes me feel like I’m serving God’s purpose and I’m making a difference.

(Sometimes, I wonder if I’m normal because I didn’t think it was even possible to love something you do so much that the stress feels like a minuscule part of the job package. Is it still normal to want to do this so much?)

Good people

Now that I’m back home, I’m constantly around the people I love the most – family, best friends, orgmates… etc. In a way, that has healed me and brought me back to a healthy state of mind.

I’ve also met a lot of new and nurturing people who make me so so so happy. All of them are very supportive during tough times and are good company when in need of a good laugh and deep conversations. I’d like to think we were brought into each other’s lives not to just cross paths and make a difference for a short amount of time, but to keep each other as wonderful friends from now on until who knows when.

My best self is myself

The past few weeks has helped me constantly meet my best self, and Pollen, when she is her best self, could be absolutely wonderful. Pollen is at her best when she is unafraid, when she trusts herself, and in those moments, she can do anything.

To know that my best self actually exists within me can be absolutely life-changing. There’s a part of myself that I like and I can trust and that means everything.

The things I can do, the purpose I can serve will be limitless if I kept being my best.

(I like this writing exercise. I’ll try to write more of these happy reminders.)

In Between States

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Photo source: ours80s.com

In school, we were taught that there are three states of matter – solid, liquid and gas. The most prominent characteristic that differentiates each state is the compactness of their molecules, solid being the most compact.

(If you’re going to be really particular, yes, there’s another state of matter – plasma – but for the purposes of this post, let’s just stick to the first three for the metaphors.)

We were also taught that a material can change from one state to another. The most classic example is ice (solid) that turns to water (liquid) and then water vapor (gas).

I was reminiscing these lessons as I waited for a jeepney at a police outpost near my alma mater. At the time, I had just finished requesting for some documents I needed for something I was planning to do in the near future. Something that would dictate my life for the next few years.

You could say that I was worried. That day was a day of setting things in motion. I was actively trying to get a move on with my life and disrupt the routine I had learned to live with for almost eight months. Everything beneath my feet was shaking with the idea that from there on out, anything was possible and I was in-charge.

As cars continued to pass me by, I found myself dwelling on the changes that happened to me in a span of a year and how I got to where I am. More often than not, each change brought some sort of discomfort that I had to overcome. And at the time, when I was slowly being overcome by changes and worries, I needed to have a metaphor to anchor my sanity to.

I was in a state of confusion. I only had a general idea of where I wanted my life to go, but who was I kidding? I felt like I had no direction and that I was just making up plans for the sake of having plans. The best way I could describe it was being in between states, like being whatever it is that’s no longer water but not yet vapor.

Solid to Liquid

I graduated college feeling like life finally proved me wrong about not being good enough.

You see, though I excelled in school during elementary and high school, I never really believed like I could do great things. I was surrounded by people who were better than me and I always felt like I had to catch up or else I’ll fall off the roster.

But in college, I ended up fulfilling a wish of mine, which was to deliver the valedictory speech at the end of four years. Though my aim was only to inspire my batch mates with a speech (just like how our HS valedictorian inspired me), I found that after the four years in college, I became a solid person that can be proud of herself and can dream of better things.

I wasn’t complete as a person yet, but I felt concrete. I felt like I existed and I knew who I was.

But, when I was thrown into the corporate world, I found myself blending in to try to adopt. I wanted to do my best, and being blinded by the need to adjust, I mindlessly gave too much of myself.

Here’s a hard truth: I was too obsessed about finding a job and doing what was expected of me that I forgot how to define my life, that I lost parts of myself I didn’t need to lose.

For a short while, I was proud of myself for being able to survive in Manila all by myself, for accomplishing tasks I thought were impossible, for putting myself out there and for enduring challenges alone.

But I lived in the now. I just wore myself down as I tried to get by. Because I allowed the system to swallow me, I wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful.

Liquid to Gas

Just because I realized that something was going wrong doesn’t mean that I was able to do something about it immediately. I was stuck in a situation and the next steps were vague, if not invisible.

I endured. That meant I was aware of how toxic my routine had become but I was unable to take action. Everything proceeded as it did before but I got unhappier as the days passed.

Those were dark days. What got me through was the thought of going home to Lipa. I counted the hours and I had to actively find motivation to do anything.

It was like being in Limbo while yearning for what it would feel like to be in a better place.

Slowly, I was feeling stagnant and, I don’t know, I was just really down.

Gas to Solid

In the state of being lost, I found a flicker of hope. It started out as a crazy idea at first but at least it was something. I used that fantasy to build myself up, to be busy about something for myself. It wasn’t much, but it was a plan that made me smile.

It was only in desperation that I accepted that idea, to be honest. But it gave me myself back and even if it doesn’t go through, I’ll feel really thankful for it. (It was also thanks to thing thing that I was able to confirm what I feel like is my mission in life.)

It wasn’t easy to force my life to change, to take charge of my life. From being confused about who I’ve become to trying to become someone better, I had to silence my worries and trust my gut about most things. I had to exhaust all options and keep an open mind to where certain opportunities would lead.

It took everything in me to become someone I recognized once again.

I’m currently at this state now. I’m still trying to be a solid person again. I’ve made choices. I’ve committed to purposeful things. I’m moving forward.

As the days pass, I’m getting closer and closer to the person I want to be. I’m regaining confidence in myself. (The funny thing is, things aren’t going according to plan but they’re becoming better.)

Nothing’s set in stone yet but for the first time in a long while, I’m feeling excited about something meaningful again.

(Hello Pollen. It’s been a while.)

Plan ABC

Photo taken at Worldbex2017

I’m at the point of my life where I’m trying to shift gears and maneuver to the next destination. But, instead of having a set course, I only have a vague idea of where I want to go. I just have a general picture of the change I want to happen and the feel of what I want my life to be like in the near future.

(If you’ve lived alone for a while, you realize that you are in charge of your life and you do not have to put up with things not meaningful to you. You can make things/dreams happen now.)

At this point, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to the next step. I’ve just been thinking about it months before but now, it’s actually going to happen. And though I’m mostly excited, part of my brain is doubting if I really can pull things off and if I really want to stir my life towards this course. 

(Sometimes I feel like I might have commitment issues because whenever things start to get real, I panic!)

But this sense of doubt must be natural, right? I mean, for the first time in my life, I actually didn’t overthink the decisions I made to start this whole moving on process. Though I was reasonable and logical as I did the steps I needed to do, I trusted my gut when it came to deciding whether to do it or not. So naturally, my brain will second-guess. 

Initially, not having a concrete plan was refreshing. It made me feel like I could really do anything and I should be bold when dreaming. It’s like pushing forward and worrying later. Like looking straight ahead at a certain unwavering goal and running forward.

I did plan for a goal, I’ll give myself that. But I didn’t worry about it’s implications and the consequences I’d have to deal with if I went through with it. 

Also, I gave myself safety cushions. I prepared backup plans (even if, now that I look at it, they don’t make much sense unless I could make them work.) 

But other than those two, I mostly just winged it. (There’s no manual for life anyway.)

Now that things are getting nearer, I can see how loose things have become. It’s like I’m taking the next step but I’m landing on gelatin. 

Yes, I have a fixed goal but I have mindlessly worked on ensuring that I have several options to get there. Because of that, I have unconsciously made things flexible so that I can pick an option at the last minute and save the day.

(Is this me being scared? Have I been playing safe all this time?)

Right now, though nothing’s set in stone, I have a feeling that in the end, I might be torn between two things that I’ve entangled myself with. And I won’t be sure what to do with that. 

Part of my brain is telling me to start being logical again. But honestly, I still have breathing room to do so. At the end of the day, I’m just really doing my best, because if there’s anything I’m sure of, it’s that I’m meant to be where I am right now and I’ll be where I’m meant to go because someone up there is going to guide me.

16 Lessons of 2016

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2016 Highlights

Living through 2016 felt like riding Anchors Away. I was always on the edge of my seat, stomach churning, head spinning, half-regretting why I rode the ride in the first place but then remembering that I don’t have much choice but to wait until it stops.

I’ve been through what I thought was unthinkable this year. A lot has changed for me, the way I live and who I am as a person, and adjusting  hadn’t been as easy as a flick of the remote. (Do you know how hard it was to change mindsets?)

There were a lot of firsts, goodbyes and what ifs. And honestly, I felt like majority of the year I’ve just been wandering mindlessly, bumping into poles once in a while.

That being said, ending the year felt like a relief more than anything. I learned a lot, I’ll give it that, but I’m just thankful that I’m still standing after it all.

Here are the 16 lessons of 2016 that I earned through all the challenges of the year that was:

  1. Allow yourself to have glory days. – I find it difficult to give myself credit for the good things I do because I often do not know how to accept compliments. But this year, I’ve learned to appreciate the feats I’ve accomplished and the obstacles I’ve overcome. (I can be an awesome potato, if I try to be one.) Once I knew how to do that, it became easier to appreciate myself and forgive myself of the misses and fails I did.
  2. You can make/find multiple sanctuaries in this world. – It takes a lot before I feel comfortable and before 2016, I used to believe that I could only be truly comfortable at home or with the people I consider as home. But once I was left to fend for myself (lol exaggerated), I was forced to make places my home. Though it started as something I had to do, it ended up as a mindset that helped me a lot in Manila. I learned that wherever I go, I should have a space to breathe, to laugh and to be weird.
  3. Always go home to people. – I loved Lipa more this year, not because it’s familiar and safe, but because most of the people I truly care for are here. 2016 helped me appreciate that.
  4. At the end of the day, the day always ends. – This was a statement my dad told me and it’s gotten me through really tough days. // I’m a worrier and I obsessively worry about stuff to the point that my body can feel the negative impact of my worries. But gosh, if I did that for every little obstacle, I believe I wouldn’t stay sane. I just have to let go sometimes and focus on one thing at a time so that I can power through it. It will end too.
  5. Family is important. – Damn. This is the main thing this year. 2016 showed me that family will always be there no matter what. I admit, I haven’t been really open to them before and I used to turn to friends first before them, but this year allowed me to anchor my everything in them.
  6. There’s no use dwelling in the past. – There are moments I can relive in my head but not in real life, I know that. Rather than wishing I was where I was, I learned to use the feelings they gave me to move forward. (I still cringe occasionally at my regrets tho.)
  7. Don’t make money decisions using feelings (at least not all the time). – Refer to Christmas 2016. Haha. For real though, I know I decide using feelings most of the time but when it comes to money, I learned to get my head in the game.
  8. Find a way to let go of your negativity. – An outlet is helpful, but having even just one person to depend on to listen to your shit is amazing. 2016 showed me that apparently, I have a ton of those. I just need to open up.
  9. The fear of not knowing can be conquered by admitting ignorance and asking. – This is my ultimate fear. I just have to keep learning.
  10. Getting lost is an experience. – Direction-wise, this is self-explanatory. 🙂 But in life, getting lost can be taxing. It’s up to me though to change my mindset and enjoy the journey (which is harder than I’m making it sound).
  11. Never let people tell you who you are. – It took a lot before I grew into the Pauline I am now. It took forever getting to know me and deciding who I wanted to be and what are the values I can’t be without. So excuse me if I won’t let people define me and belittle the woman I’ve become. (I’m not going down without a fight. Not anymore.)
  12. Find/keep people you can be weird with. – Amidst all the pretentiousness of this world, you have to stay true once in a while. Haha. Do that with people. // Also, potate-ing isn’t shameful. There are people out there who’d be more willing to potate with you.
  13. Work on relationships.– I’m lazy with staying touch but 2016 challenged me. It taught me that if I wanted to keep people, I have to communicate. (And hey, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.) I sort of forgot how it felt to live off stories of other people’s days and how kilig it is to have inside jokes, because I was busy denying that I needed anyone. But yeah, now that I’m adulting, I learned to put extra effort on this.
  14. Love yourself to be your own person. – Be a potato or a solider if you want to. Once you forget who you are, that’s when your world will crumble. Hold on to your person. // This also goes with not having to force yourself into a relationship just so you could feel wanted. Want yourself. You don’t need anyone to make you feel special. You are special. Independence is empowering. (Ayyy. This is for you, Pollen.)
  15. Anchor everything on the Lord. He’s listening. – Wow, it’s humbling to realize that God does take the time of the day to pay attention to your prayers. Maybe it’s because I’m finally paying attention but it’s 2016 when I truly saw His hands working in my life. God’s just been so present and been so forgiving of me this year.
  16. Hang onto your dreams and work on them. – I’m a writer, not because I professionally practice the craft but because it’s a part of who I am. That means, no matter what life throws at me, I will continue to write. 2016 tested me, teased me for not writing enough, but if there’s one thing it made me sure of, it’s that my soul will not rest if it’s not finished my story. Come what may, I’ll get it done and the world will know of it. // Dreams are not lists you make or stuff you stick on boards for display. Dreams are things you accomplish. (Go 2017 Pollen!)

(Me, overthinking out loud)

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Photo credit: quotespics.net

It’s been difficult for me to say things, even if I knew that saying them would prevent a massive problem in the future. If it makes me uncomfortable, I’d fold. I’d just keep the thoughts in my head and drag them on until they finally explode in my face.

Now, I’ve already recognized that this is not a good practice, at least during critical times, and I know that I should do something about this. The first step, of course, would be trying to figure out why I’m like this.

I’m not entirely sure if it’s because of my MBTI because I’m no expert on that and I’ve tried my best not to research too much about it. (I mean, it also creeps me out to discover so much about myself on the internet.) But, I just had this Eureka moment earlier today that being an ISFJ might be related to it since, in one article I read, it said that not saying what they want to say is an ISFJ’s biggest regret.

Okay. I’m going out on a limb here but this is my analysis of the situation.

As a Sensor (I’m making up terms now), I am grounded in the present. I take everything in and everything makes such an impact to me. I’m sensitive to the now, the moments because I can concretize and capture them. This is often why I’m easily overwhelmed by whatever is happening around me and I feel lopsided when things are just too much.

As a Feeler, I am in touch with my emotions. I am easily affected by events and I can easily recognize how the people around me will be affected too.

As a Judger, I have preconceived notions about things which means I’m quick to evaluate people or things around me even before I really get to know them.

Combining all three factors, I realized that my functions make it easy for me to collect so much information about the world and to have opinions about them. I’m a sponge, absorbing everything, letting it overcome me and forming ideas out of them.

But I’m a fairly quiet sponge. I’d like to keep to myself. I will not openly blurt my thoughts. I’m conscious about the discomfort opening up will bring me. (Introvert potato is me. Introvert potato is life.)

Do you see the struggle here? So much input but little output!

(Hence, I write. Writing is my creative outlet.)

Again, I’m not entirely sure about how MBTI-accurate this is. It’s just all subjective, really. (I’m not even considering the SiFe and other functions thingymajeebeez yet.) But it kinda makes sense to me.

Well, that’s all for step one. If you’ve read this, thank you. I have no idea why you did. (In case it isn’t obvious, I just wrote this to overthink. So I really don’t care if I’m listened to. Okayyyyy. Bye.)

I’ll miss you at a distance.

(Written last July 11, 2016)

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Photo credit: favim.com

I miss you and distance is the only thing that allows me to do so.

You see, even if I believe in fighting to stay in your life, I couldn’t find the willpower to fight against my worries. I don’t have the strength to reach out to you, to ask you how you’ve been or to just simply break the barrier between your green dot and mine, and start a short conversation. Maybe, it’s because I wish, deep in my heart, that we connected so deeply that not talking wouldn’t matter. And maybe, secretly, I also don’t want to seem so desperate, clinging onto you.

In my head, I’ve drafted the rules of closure and goodbye, and rule number two is to stay away long enough to miss and be missed. That’s what I’ve been doing all these months, I guess, with every unreplied message and missed call. It works in my head, trust me, and this rule allows me to keep to my thoughts and keep what we had alive in my mind.

I believe that once a farewell has been said, whether it just happened or it had to happen, it must be respected. It’s a both a restriction and comfort. For one, I would no longer worry about messing up the things I say and I would no longer panic about the relationship that was bound to get rocky somewhere. In turn, I won’t hear from you and I would have to stop the urges to tell you how my day went.

You’ve become my far away star. I wish on you every night and miss you when I remember how warm you were by my side. But then again, nowadays, I am more familiar at gazing at you, scrolling through my newsfeed and seeing your photos, and hearing about you from common friends. I am strangely relaxed by this sad comfort.

Still, some days, I don’t know why I do this or why this is worth doing in the first place. The sidelines can get lonely and staying by the walls can feel cold and suffocating at times. But, I also don’t know exactly how to break the silence and this is the only way I’ve come to learn how to think of you.

And so, concealed in messages I don’t send and in attempts to contact you after dreaming about seeing you again, I miss you at a distance.

In my heart, I know that not talking could seem like I’m brushing you off or that I don’t care anymore. I am fully aware that losing touch could mean losing you. But, I just couldn’t wire myself to suddenly open my soul to you, because, trust me, if you see inside me and discover how much I miss you and how sad missing you makes me, you’d be scared. You’d be overwhelmed with the sea that is my emotions and I’d never want that.

I miss you in silence and I’ll miss you like this. This is cowardly but this is my kind of safe.

In which we attach meaning

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When you look at it this way, it’s easy to say that power is all in our head. After all, it is in our head that we give someone or something the power to mean everything.

Say for example, you find yourself walking home under unlit streetlights at an unholy hour. Your knuckles are turning white and your legs, jelly, and the only thing you feel is keeping you safe is holding your breath until you reach the gray gate you can hide behind. Of course, once someone jumps out to drag you and stuff you inside a rice sack, you’d have no choice. But in desperation, you cling onto beliefs, actions – that gush of air you aren’t willing to release – that you think would illogically save your life.

On a lighter note this time. Say, you were a baby and say, you were sad. There’s that one thing, be it a pillow, a blanket or a stuffed toy, that smelled like Mom, and it fought the monsters away. It made you braver, stronger and at one point of your life, it was impossible to let go. Until it’s gone, because, older now, it didn’t matter to you anymore.

There’s that piece of candy you’ve hidden away in one of your wallets and an old coin in one of your socks. Stuck between your favorite book is an old convenience store receipt and under your bed is a Grade 4 art project. At the bottom of your inbox is a message with a smiley at the end dated five years ago. You have a slightly worn-out shoe losing its pair and a woolly red shirt you aren’t ever going to throw. Unable to keep what they represent, you hold on to the physical; it’s all you are capable of.

In truth, we just want to get pieces of what we cannot have – our life, a smile, a moment and the beyond.

So comes the attachment. Other than naming, this is another that denotes value and finality. It means to distinguish that something ordinary is special without any special reason. Just because you said so. Doing so, also gives a false sense of permanence that the value stays and it does, as long as you’d like it to linger.

In the middle of the night, you look for a star and even if facts say it is different, you insist on the sameness and ask it to grant you a wish. We see what we see. And we love who we love.

Right now, I have a rosary bracelet around my left arm. It’s loose, barely breathing and I could almost hear it warn me to brace myself. Something is coming, I don’t know what, but the thought of my shield wearing down scares me. (I am excited to discover where finding a new one would lead me though).

The things that have power over us, those that mean the most, are valuable the way we are because we say so. To be attached is a choice and so is to escalate meaning.

It makes the world more complex in a way other than just a dumpsite of possessions. It explains why people are greedy and stubborn and materialistic. It keeps superstitions alive. It facilitates the transfer of emotions and the rest of the intangible. And, interestingly, it can even give value to what we can achieve as ourselves with a simple change in mindset.

(It’s a lovely thing, these brains of ours).

The Rules of Happy Crushing

Hearing my sister say it, I immediately believed that it was possible – happy crushing, the concept of liking someone without the emotional baggage of being rejected or expecting something to happen. She used it to describe her feelings towards a senior org-mate whom she admired for being adorably awkward. They don’t see each other often but that doesn’t matter, because when she does see him, it makes her day and when he’s gone, he’s gone.

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But, of course, anything lifting such great burden must have a catch. For happy crushing it’s this – you’d only be able to achieve the full effect when you follow its rules.

 

1) Keep the label at bay.

Remember, he’s only a happy crush in your head. It doesn’t have to mean anything. It doesn’t necessarily connect the two of you. It doesn’t even have to be used when referring to him. The label wasn’t made to give you any ideas.

2) Don’t tell anyone. Don’t even say it out loud.

When you declare that you like someone verbally, you’re more likely to grow fond of the person and of the feeling he invokes. Saying it makes it real. Sharing the knowledge makes it worse. It means that you’re asking for support about the matter and you’re getting way too attached for your own good.

3) Activate the feelings only when he is there.

What makes happy crushing work is its convenient feature that allows you to feel butterflies only in moments when your object of affection’s there. This lessens stress that can be induced by PEOt or post-experience overthinking. That’s if you get this rule right.

4) Don’t allow anything to linger.

When he’s gone, let him be. Don’t replay the moment over and over in your head. Don’t imagine any other scenarios that could happen when you meet again. And control your heart to stop liking him when he isn’t around.

5) Don’t ask about object of affection’s current relationship status.

For one, whether he’s single or taken, it shouldn’t matter. You aren’t looking for anything long term anyway. He’s an inspiration that cheers you up when you see him and that’s that. Knowing whether he has someone could hurt you and if it does hurt you, well honey, he might not just be a happy crush after all and that’s too complicated to discuss here.

6) Don’t stalk, and even check object of affection’s SNS profiles.

Close his Facebook profile because you don’t need any more reasons to like him. Superficial information is good; you don’t have to get too close. And don’t try to be at the same places he goes to, because there shouldn’t be a need to see him all the time.

7) Don’t invest on anything.

Scrap keepsakes. You don’t have to remember how it goes, how it feels like. Don’t do anything to make it permanent. Don’t think too much. Just let things happen; you don’t have to give anything up for him, to change your routine for him.

8) And if you’re a writer, don’t write about him.

No, he doesn’t have to be immortalized.

 

Get those right and the road to happy crushing will be a smooth sail. No worries indeed. 🙂