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.)

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Of having have left

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Photo grabbed from: Vince D.

A year ago, I wrote “The curious case of leaving”, detailing how I felt during graduation and the LAVOXA send-off. There, I told myself that:

I may not be in a good place right now but I know that I’ll get somewhere someday.

Somewhere, after a year, turned out to be on Sir Jun’s roof top, celebrating his attorney-hood with Lavoxans of different generations. Despite initial hesitations about going, I came to congratulate him for achieving his goal and for just being an awesome human being, really. Also, it was the perfect excuse to meet up with Lavoxans and other friends.

In a mix of familiar and new people, I felt less overwhelmed than I would’ve been a year ago. I wasn’t fretting about silence and having no one to talk to (because, bottom line,  I really just wanted to be a part of this moment). More importantly, despite being a potato, I have learned to give in to urges of wanting to see people whenever I have the chance to do so. Perhaps, I have grown up.

Note to self: Missing them could just mean missing them, not distance or rules of separation.

Other than being a little more carefree, there’s a lot that changed about me – both good and bad. The good include this new sense of self-love and assertiveness that I found inside me. The bad include parts I’ve left stagnant and parts I lost.

I admitted it before, there are parts of myself that I may have unconsciously traded away for learning experiences, but at least, now, these missing pieces are currently being healed and filled with a new kind of magic. So right now, I’m happier and I know more of myself.

Status: Healing and Happy.

After a long while, I finally felt like I’m doing something right again. For so long, I’ve been so down about life, getting through days just because I had to. I’d almost forgotten how it felt to do good, to care about people, to pin your heart on your sleeve without worrying that it’ll be slashed into pieces.

It seems that, even though I’m still not 100% percent sure about where I want my life to go, I’m at a place where I’m meant to be. And this place, is not a safe haven where I can hide until I feel better, instead, it’s a home where I can challenge myself and rediscover the “Pauline Navarro” that’s been slumbering for months. I recognize myself now.

God, I’m just so thankful!

A year ago, I couldn’t even imagine how I would be able to go, survive. Now, I can look back on the experiences I’ve had so far and thank them for the lessons they taught me. It’s just unbelievable how after being so lost back then, I’m here now with direction and heart still full of hope.

Maybe, this piggy really has taken flight.

 

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.)

The cost of swallowing your words

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Photo credits: suwalls.com

You stand before the judgment of whoever it was you believed was above you. You tell yourself to keep you head high, to look out the windows if you must, so that at least you could say a part of you fought for something. But your lips, trembling, gave you away. Though your heart was hammering against your chest, rebelling against the control you’re trying to enforce, you knew you’d say nothing in the end.

You weren’t the type of soldier to keep guns in your back pocket. Instead, you carried a flag and a glass of cold water. More than anyone, you knew that there are injustices worth speaking about and people worth breaking the silence for. You wore your principles like a rosary around your neck, that to tuck it out of your shirt would be as powerful as a prayer.

Maybe, you felt like survival meant being quiet in a jungle, that to travel at night and adhere to the rules of the king would be the only way to get out alive. You’ve scraped your knee a little too early when you sang with your inside voice, and that sort of betrayal felt more painful than having nothing for breakfast. There’s something unspoken that followed after – shortness of breath and constant second-guessing.

Now, your teeth are turning yellow and your name is trying to escape. The thoughts you used to be sure are yours sound like another person. Your mouth is dry; your tongue has reverted to its cave. And you feel, with everything you let be and keep inside, you barter a chunk of your soul for temporary comfort.

You cannot avoid conflict. War travels in the air as a given. If you cannot fight for your heart, fight with it.

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!)

The Doctor’s Dilemma: On Giving Advice

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Ninjas during our ninjanniversary

For several moments in my life, I often find myself listening to other people’s problems, comforting them and giving them advice. I relish in these moments because not only do I feel a sense of strengthened bond, but also, I am able to do what my heart has always been willing to do, help someone I love and care about.

In elementary and high school, I was known as the “love doctor” to some of my friends. Whenever they have emotional highs and lows about their crushes and partners, I’m the one they talk to. I didn’t have any experience back then (and until now) but they trusted my opinion because I can show them both sides of the coin, being an innocent bystander.

In college, I still retained that charm in some way. My friends know that I’m sensible enough to knock them to their senses whenever they go crazy over anything. I listen to them whole-heartedly and give them genuine and reasonable options (plural, because I try not to shove my ideas to them).

(By no means am I an expert in life or in the affairs of the heart. Maybe I just have a level head and a good ear and that’s why people tend to consult me.)

Part of me takes pride in my ability to be objective. I give advice based on the situation, the logic behind it, and most of the time, I try to remove myself from the situation in order to not to be biased. Because of that, I am able to see a wider spectrum of consequences and focus on the person who needs me. It helps me come up with what they need to hear (read as: what I need they think to hear).

The reason why I try to be objective as much as possible is because I care about the people so much that I just want to help the best way I can and I feel like doing so means balancing their emotional chaos with my reasoning. I have to be sensible for them and provide meaningful insight that they can’t see because their clouded by feelings. I’d be the stable one if they aren’t.

But recently, this way of giving advice seemed off to me. It felt, I don’t know, robotic. I found myself saying things that are different from what I want to say (because I felt like what I wanted to say wasn’t what they needed). It also felt dry and somehow repetitive because I found myself saying standard answers for similar situations. It didn’t feel like me.

One night, someone I cared about was asking advice about leaving. To me, I didn’t want that person to leave, but in a rational perspective, it was better if that person goes. How do you ask someone to stay if they have to go?

Another night, someone I cared about was feeling broken and hopeless. To me, I wanted to root for that person and urge that person to keep going, but logically, because of the situation, I thought that it would be better for that person to give the dream up. How could you encourage someone you knew wouldn’t stand a chance?

For more nights, I found myself stuck with the same dilemma. I didn’t know what to say anymore and it’s making me doubt my credibility to give advice.

Writing this post, I realized that I’ve forgotten where it all started and why people were coming to me. It wasn’t because I was good at analyzing. Before anything else, it’s because I’m their friend and they trust me.

Being a friend doesn’t always mean you’d say the right things. It means being with them through everything, listening to them just because and sharing their feelings and being honest with your own.

I want to be a friend again, really. I don’t just want to say the things I know I have to. I want to share a part of my heart too and be as genuine in giving advice as I am when listening to people. They’re worth it anyway (;they always are).