17 Lessons of 2017

BeFunky Collage

As I scrolled down my newsfeed, looking at all the 2017 memes, I thought to myself: “So this is what it’s like to not relate to new year posts. I like it.”

Photo credits: Sarah Andersen

Around this time last 2016, when I was doing the same thing, I was one with the general sentiment of the public – we had been beaten down to a pulp, surprised by plot twist after plot twist, taunted by everyday existential crisis and we just couldn’t wait for the year to be over.

I’m glad that now, I actually feel different about the year that was. By the grace of God, it has been amazing and life-changing for me. Rather than relieved, I’m ending the year feeling extremely grateful for all the chances I was given and for all the love I’ve received.

2017 was a year of growth and learning what it was to dream again. It’s about winging it and discovering that I could fly. And most importantly, it was about people, rooting my heart in them and understanding how it was to build and belong in communities.

(One important milestone: I started teaching this year. Though I originally planned to teach later in my career, God called me to teach this year and I decided to give it a shot. Best decision ever!)

With all that said, I’d just like to share a few lessons I learned from this past year:

  1. Leave toxic relationships. – When the year started, I was still in a state I didn’t want to be in. I was slowly losing myself – I could feel it – but at the same time, I was scared to do anything to regain myself because I felt like I was merely walking away instead of moving forward. Eventually, I realized that that was the thing about toxic relationships – they will make you feel like you need them, like you have no choice to be with them, like you would be a coward if you leave them. But those are all untrue. You can learn from them and go on with your life. You don’t have to be stuck in a situation where you are unable to grow and be yourself.
  2. Climb your mountain. – This applied to me both literally and figuratively. (Shout out to Team Tagaktak!) Though I’ve only climbed a mountain once this year, it was enough to wake me up and get me going. Physically exhausted, I thought that I’ve reached my limits. But, with good company and motivation I never thought I had, I reached the summit. With this experience, I learned to believe in myself, to believe that I am capable of taking charge of my fate. (It was this climb that pushed me to leave and take a step into a new direction.)
  3. Start your dreams now. – Maybe it was the climb or the desperation. I don’t know. But this year, I learned that you make your perfect timing, so if you have a dream, pursue it.
  4. You are your best self. – I actually reached a state of being this 2017 where I loved everything about myself and my routines. I was super caring about the welfare of those I loved. I took care of myself too. And I was doing everything to the best of my abilities. I called it my best self. Unfortunately, my best self was only good for two to three months, and when it wore off, I was so frustrated at myself. It took a while for me to understand that I am my best self. It’s all within me. I just really have good days and bad days but that doesn’t negate the fact that I have become this person that I can now love and forgive.
  5. Anchor yourself in people (no matter how scary that might be). – One of my biggest struggles this year is in the attachment department. When you’re someone who’s learned to live alone and depend only on yourself, you tend to detach from people or be more cautious in forming new relationships. So when God sent me a ton of good people this year, it was hard to accept immediately. I didn’t know what to do and how to open up (especially since I learned that people can be lost and relationships can be broken). But let me tell you this: anchoring myself in those people was the best thing I did this year. Whatever happens in the after, by welcoming them in my life, I have been blessed with beautiful moments.
  6. When you open yourself up to the world, it will open itself up to you. – Trust me, for an introvert to learn this is a BIG feat. I prefer my world to be small, focused on a certain group of people. But, as it turns out, when you give the world the benefit of the doubt and the opportunity to be good to you, it will respond with kindness.
  7. Sadness, anxiety and doubt, even during sunny days, are valid. – For most of the year, I’ve been showered with blessings. But, believe it or not, even on those good days, I still sometimes feel bad. Initially, I thought that feeling the way I felt was wrong, that people have it worse than me so I shouldn’t mope around. I was blessed, for crying out loud! But it does happen and it’s alright.
  8. Relearn what it means to be a part of a community. – Going back home meant rewiring my brain from strong independent woman living alone to strong independent woman living with her family. Since I already had a taste of independence and freedom, I had to relearn consideration – how to consider other people and include them in my routine. And because of that, I was able to take down the walls I put up when I had to “grow up” and “go away”.
  9. Your happiness can depend on you.  – I’m not saying that only you can make yourself happy. I’m saying that you are capable of making yourself happy. When you go out into the world where your path isn’t as predetermined as you thought it was, you realize that you have to actively participate in your life and to make decisions in order to be happy.
  10. Not shouting back doesn’t always mean that you’ve shut yourself up.  – This applies to arguments. When I was younger, I always just kept quiet whenever I’m at the receiving end of a conflict. Over time, I learned to speak up and I detested keeping quiet. However, maturity helped me realized that the quiet is needed and valid.
  11. Kindness, true kindness, has no concept of self. – Refer to Christmas 2017 or even all the small things. I realized that during the most spontaneous moments of kindness, it’s all about choosing them over you.
  12. Pursing your dream won’t be exciting all the time.  – Hello Haber (my book in the making)! You’d think that when your finally writing it, you’d be so inspired and motivated all the time. You’d think it will finally feel like your doing something right and the whole world is proud of you. Wrong! That’s the idealized version of a dream my friends. Dreams will drag you down in the gutter even when you have nothing to give. But you go through that journey anyway because its your dream.
  13. Every person deserves a massage, at least once. – You’ll understand when you experience it.
  14. Keep track of yourself to better understand yourself. – Thanks to a close friend (henlo, Gims), I was inspired to journal. For the first time in forever, I consistently journaled for roughly four months. Throughout this experience, I was able to escape, pace myself and most importantly, reflect. Because of that, I was able actually detect if I have issues that I’m merely trying to repress.
  15. Allow yourself the comfort of comfort things. – This year it was pizza and donuts. You really need to have something to hang onto.
  16. You will always get tired and stressed. But you can choose what to get stressed and tired over. – I don’t know if this goes with the saying “Choose your battles” or something but what I’m pertaining to here is about career. All jobs will tend to demand from you but you can choose one where doing so wouldn’t be so bad.
  17. Get up, even if your back hurts, even if you had a bad dream, even if you’ve barely slept. – The day gets better. You’ll never know what’s in store if you don’t get up.

If you want to read the 16 lessons I learned from 2016, click this link.

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how do souls brush against each other?

 

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Photo credits: Pinterest (Mishal Benson)

 

to remember that it was a kind of brown,

one that looked like a Monday, like coffee overflowing with sugar,

tucked away inside the eyes of someone who had a lot to say.

there was music and it sounded like pieces of piano keys falling, one by one, like

childhood and the last second before falling asleep. the room knew what was happening,

letting itself be occupied by vacancies and paint splattered on the walls. the paper knew

what it felt to be remembered, so it offered itself to idle strokes and the silence thereafter. in

that instance, there was a universe created, a silent agreement of

allowing the breaking of defenses and taking a step closer. there were secrets

unexplored still but it was then that looking into someone’s eyes meant

seeing them. (finally.)

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.)

Of having have left

lvx

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.

 

A Happy Poem

Mt. Manabu peak

​I’d like to write about happy things

again. Sometimes, I look at the sky

and come up with words like ‘soggy,

brow-beaten cheeks’ instead of 

‘tomorrow’. My best work is defaulted

that way – to be of uneaten

breakfast and bottled coffee left

under the bed. Sunlight, if ever

it comes, barges in between cracks

on the roof while I wish to stay

asleep, and my pen reaches for it,

merely to immortalize the pain

of waking up. My handwriting sounds

like birds, drilling the concrete, because

it tells the story of a little girl 

crying. There is no air to breathe 

in my poems, should I write 

one. If there were better things,

happier things, maybe I could.