Letter to Self: Be ‘the’ girl…

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You are not just a girl, you are the girl.

Do not allow yourself to be an option; to be spoken and reached out to for convenience. If anything, you deserve to be pursued with valor, grace and with the purest intentions. Know that, that heart of yours is a priceless wonder created by a God who gave a love so genuine. A love that recognizes the flaws and curved little edges  of the other yet accepts without a single fear and hesitation.

You deserve this because you are the girl. Because you are the girl you will not settle for someone who tucks you in on the wait-list of some other choices; who wants the chase but never really reaches out far; who leaves you guessing and questioning and doubting yet still remains like a phone call never answered. You will not place yourself in that position because your worth glows and flickers even in the dark– it rose and grew in every season of life, toughened and made better at every circumstance. And would you let someone in so unsuitable to make a mark that is equally unworthy? No you won’t, because you are the girl. Be the girl who stands up firm even when she’s got a path to walk on her own. Be the girl who knows how to stay and walks away when it is called for. Be the girl who is the one uttered and asked for in silent, humble prayers.

You should have a love as good as you dreamed– only the best of what you deserve and not this.

Thoughts on Turning 25

Look at how time flies– I used to be just a teenage girl but I am now turning a quarter-of-a-century! I am a grown-ass woman now, aren’t I? Nobody’s really getting any younger and I’m no exception to that but I’m both slightly scared and excited for what this age has to offer. As I enter into 25, here are some major thoughts I’ve been reflecting into lately:

  • There’s more to self-care…

I believe in the power of self-care but I realized it’s not all bath bombs and scented candles although that’s just a small part of it, but the most important part of self-care is to be kind enough to yourself. If something isn’t making you happy, it’s okay. If something’s becoming toxic and it’s not doing anything good to you then you always have the choice to stay, leave it be or outgrow from it. If something just doesn’t sit well with you like a person, a feeling or a certain event then do what you think is good for your mental health. I think inner peace is obtained through these things but hey if you want to indulge in a good TV show or comfort food then don’t deprive yourself of it. After all, don’t we deserve something good after an exhausting workday?

  • Love can wait…

I am a firm believer of focusing on myself first before getting into a serious relationship. Love can wait! Last time I checked, there was no legitimate competition for love so I’m all good! Other than that, I have never been more focused on my career. This time, I am comfortable at myself and of being my own person. My independence is a quality of mine I dearly uphold and protect so what is there exactly to worry about? God will prepare my heart for whoever He will lead me to and that promise alone gives me comfort and hope because darlings, we deserve a love that’s handpicked and tailor-made only by the best.

  • Being money-smart matters…

Earning an income comes with major responsibility! I had to learn things the hard way because honestly, I’ve been spending way too much. My parents won’t always be there to save my broke ass so I have been learning and seeing the importance of becoming financially literate. Like I said, we’re not getting any younger and the best way to prepare for that future we’re set on is to be smart with how we handle our finances.

  • Keeping my circle small…

I was never one for large groups but over the years, I am proud that my small circle of friends have grown and nurtured. Now that I’m 25, I’ve come to see that you don’t need a whole stadium to love or admire you but a few good people is enough. Most of my friends are in the same city as mine but some are away for work but even then that distance did not keep us from contacting or checking up on each other. In fact, it even brought us closer. Friendships no matter how small but ultimately real are for keeps forever! So you’ve got to surround yourself with people who support you and will be there for you at even through the roughest points in your life.

  • Being authentic (even in social media!)…

My biggest pet peeve is when people try to fake their lives on social media! Real life isn’t all smooth sailing as there are bumps along the way but it has only pushed me to turn into my advocacy and my art into being an honest and authentic person even in social media. It’s also becoming essential that we take the time to put off screen time for us to be present in everyday moments. Social media will remain to grow toxic if we let it run our lives so it’s better to keep ourselves away from it every now and then instead of becoming a hostage.

They say 25 is an exciting age now I don’t know what’s there for me out there but I am hopeful and looking forward for beautiful things to unfold.

Goodbye, 2019

When I woke up this morning, I sat on my bed and stared aimlessly on the wall, realizing how time moved rather quickly. 2019 really is about to end and here we are hopeful and excited to welcome another one where we make room for changes and new beginnings. My heart is anticipating for the coming year ahead but I’d also like to look back on the year that was.

You see, we never leave behind a year unscathed. I believe we’re all a little bent and bruised from life’s never-ending twists and turns. In my case, 2019 was a year I fought my personal battles in the quietest way possible. In the quiet I became strong but ultimately not alone. I learned very well I am not as strong as I thought but the presence of the people who were there to listen and selflessly helped me carry my burdens even when I was frightened and ashamed to put some more in their shoulders. In the previous months were a surge of anxiety and worry so much so that I had allowed myself to let all of those take over me but here I am coming out braver than I was. In 2019, I learned to think things through and not make decisions so swiftly I would regret in the end. I took careful, baby steps in the path towards setting a clear vision for myself and my career. This year, I’ve moved so slowly yet surely to walk in the direction where it’s not entirely unsafe but to where I could grow and bloom.

It really wasn’t the easiest most comfortable year but honestly, it did me good. The best part of a year coming to a close are the lessons learned no matter how painfully they are taught but these are the best things to bring forth in the next year as an endless flow of possibilities welcome us.

Happy New Year!

I Don’t Want To Be Beautiful

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I couldn’t remember a time when I didn’t want to become conventionally pretty. Let’s be honest, the world’s crazy for anything pretty. After all, pretty people get the advantage. They would get an endless amount of compliments, earn respect, valiant declarations of admiration and even gain recognition for even doing nothing at all. The promise of a pretty face has appeared to have guaranteed us constant validation from other people– a need that many of us seemingly want.

When you’re young and the pressure fits you in on a box, all you could ever wish for is to become someone pretty flawless and pretty skinny.  Sadly, growing up, I was neither of those things. They said none of my acne and extra weight as a plus-sized girl were considered beautiful so I became somehow cautious of how others would treat me. As a result, I felt insecure with no other person but myself. I wanted to be somebody else other than me. Ridiculing myself countless of times in the mirror, I saw that as the years went on, the most difficult battle to win was trying my hardest to be conventional. Because wasn’t being conventionally pretty earned us instant acceptance? To be wanted and aspired? To be looked at and gazed upon? I mean, who wouldn’t want any of that?

But I realized, is wanting to be ordinary such as becoming just pretty, all we could ever aim for when we could become more than that?

I am slowly coming into terms that I can be extraordinarily beautiful by allowing myself not to be simply restricted by the standards of others. Those standards? They’re created by people who had let themselves be devoured by their own huge insecurities. To criticize the adage “inner beauty” as a pathetic excuse for the absence of conventional beauty as they would say is invalid as the beauty that continuously grows and doesn’t just linger for a second will always remain unforgettable.

Maybe I don’t want to be just that you know– just pretty? Maybe I don’t ever just want to be considered beautiful physically. I want to be known for embodying gentleness and kindness. I want to be known for my tenacity and wit; my resilience; my laugh and humor; my little unique quirks; my fearless and brave soul; my ability to love and make the best out of the worst times; my quiet personal moments.

I want to be beautiful because I am no one else but myself and not just an object, a face and a body but I am beautiful because I desire everyday to be more.

Why I’m okay with being single… forever?

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A friend once told me that I was really good at “being alone”. It may have sounded quite strange but when I think about it now, I just realize that it came off as a compliment. To be observed and considered as someone who basked in her aloneness was really quite true of me after all. Yes, I always found spending time on my own as peaceful and reassuring, like warm back rubs and soft bed sheets. When I’m alone, I’m the one who calls the shots—I could go anywhere, anytime, without anyone trying to push their decisions on me. Loneliness isn’t the feeling I would describe it but rather the sense of security that goes with being exactly on my own. It’s also not that I don’t want to be around people—I love being with closest friends and family—it’s just that giving time for my own personal space is a necessity for me because like all relationships, the one we have with ourselves require nurturing too.

Being in my mid-twenties has now solidified my belief that being on my own and getting comfortable around the idea of it, is not at all bad. In fact, I found it so great that it lead me into considering living a life on my own terms as a single woman in the near future. As a romantic, I daydream of love—a subject that most of my writings felt most at home to, and in turn have I desired a domestic life committed to my future husband and children because isn’t that what we’re always taught our lives should be headed? But these days, the odds of actually finding my person, just aren’t in my favour as a guy is either too good or not at all, unavailable or just simply intimidated with a girl who is driven by her ambitions. In other words, when they tell me to go get a boyfriend, I just couldn’t find one decent enough and that, my friends, has been excruciatingly tiresome. Not only that, the pressure society imposes upon women like me to have relationships despite having achieved successes in our own respective fields just annoys me. I mean, it isn’t easy for all of us; sometimes all I could ever just resort to is some petty crush like I did back when I was a school girl.

Relationships cascading around social media seems fleeting and inauthentic too. Isn’t what’s lasting what we’re all yearning for? And if that would ever occur to me in this lifetime, then I’m one of the lucky ones out there. You’d think by now I’m one stone cold fox because of this but many failed attempts at love caused me heartache, rejection and disappointment—feelings I could keep at bay and protect myself from having learned and grown into a woman I am now. When you’ve gone through a series of heartbreaks, your outlook about love and relationships altogether just change over time eventually. There’s this song by indie pop artist Sigrid called Dynamite, and there are lyrics there that could have never been more true as it says, “I’m the same but I’m bolder”. I guess I’m just turning out wiser and braver from every experiences I’ve had.

Though I’m not closing any of my doors on possibilities that come my way, I just found that being the cool badass aunt someday is very promising. You see, the future is standing close by and I’m not getting any younger, this is why I am constantly working on my career goals and personal dreams so they could turn out to be tangibly real in the next years or so. And when I’m single and ultimately not committed to a man, I think I can go on living my best life doing what I am always set out to do—becoming a Psychologist and a writer. Just think about it, I could use up my savings for travel, invest in my dream start-up, give back to my parents and who knows, I could build a shelter for cats or better yet, save the world. The opportunities and freedom before me are endless when I’m the one in control, you know?

Over coffee a few days ago, I remember my father telling me that at this age, I could be capable of having found somebody to marry and raise a child instead of watching Friends reruns all night after work. I nearly choked and snorted coffee out of my nose because I felt then and there that somehow, this modern world isn’t entirely welcoming of the concept where marriage and children are a woman’s least priority. Although that isn’t completely true for all women, marriage and children aren’t exactly a done deal for me now. I am starting to believe that those two things are clearly not my end-goal as a woman. Don’t you think so too? So I just went on and on about how different our generations are and explained how watching Friends again could very well decrease my likelihood of turning into a crazy, stressed out burrito. But the point is, we always have our own choices and true enough our choices we’d like to act upon are relatively different from one another.

I’ve got a long, long way to go and I am still treading, drawing my own path ahead of me. I don’t want to be cynical and sounding all hopeless right now but you know, love could happen to me or not—someday soon, I really won’t know unless it’s right in front of my very eyes— but until I find someone unafraid of my solitude and independence, and as long as I am confidently alright being exactly my own person, even without another one by my side, then I think, yes, I’m good.

~weareSOFT~

/sôft/ 7 : marked by a gentleness, kindness, or tenderness

I have so many things to be thankful for recently in my life and one of those whom I should be utterly grateful for are the people I am with behind SOFT. If you’re exactly in the same city that I live in, SOFT has made a buzz since last year, standing out as a movement by Chingkeetea to promote local art and the artists who make them. Ever since we got around together in early 2017 through Chingkee, for a special zine project known now as INDIGO, genuine friendship and creativity blossomed in an instant.

I have been inspired by them in so many aspects of my life especially in the part where pursuing and practicing my passion is concerned. I used to be so self-conscious and insecure about my craft that I never really have the courage to make use of it and unleash its full potential. Because of them, I was able to come out of my shell a little bit, think outside the box, learn the power of branding, and take in every possible opportunity that would come my way. Opportunities that not only allow me to meet different kinds of people but to also know myself better. Thanks to them, I am learning a lot and experiencing a world a whole lot different from my usual routine.

Whenever we would sit down together sharing a good, hearty laugh, I would just look at them and see how amazing they are for being simply themselves- the quirky, talented, fresh, young individuals who have never fallen short to be authentic. And I am ultimately, one of the lucky people who get to witness that.

 

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

all of a sudden
my eyes have been opened
and saw
that the ones
who could break you,
are those you never
thought would ever do.
funny how the truth
always finds its way to show
for you to realize
that their darkest parts
love to hide behind
a hushed voice
saying words that sound like nothing
but comfort.
and you’ve been feeling like a fool
for believing every
uttered lie
oh darling you’ve learned
a lesson
after all of the days and nights you’ve cried.
every wound
that have turned into scars
is an armor
that you now have
built for a war that is only
waiting to start.

Life, now

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I’d like to be honest about my current situation. Although it is something that I should talk about with someone, I don’t think it’s exactly the kind where another person would truly understand. Just imagine how lucky someone would be if they had a person who would go out of their way to truly listen to their every word no matter how good or bad those things are, but I think I’m just not so fortunate enough in that department. I’m the one who reaches out so much so, that I would detach myself from my own miseries so I could make other people feel alright.

So, I’ll write instead, because it is the only way that liberates me. Even for a little while I know that my pen and paper won’t budge, squirm, or even judge my seemingly inconsequential messes.

You see, I’m not in a really good shape right now. I can’t tell you exactly the reason why but life for now is making me exhausted and uninspired.  It doesn’t show, but what’s inside is an entirely different chaotic story. Beyond all these, at the end of the day, I feel like I am carrying the weight of the world. I used to have so much fire in me but that light seems to be slowly losing its flame knowing that my head and my heart are wrestling between telling myself that everything will be okay and living under the ubiquitous presence of endless worry and anxiety.

Once, my mother told me that I was a strong girl- that before I was anything else I was strong. And I liked that word. I liked knowing that I had the ability to stand up after a setback or the strength to swim through the current. But I don’t think I’m the best person to be known for being strong now. Maybe I’m just as vulnerable and weak as I thought of myself to be.

I am uncertain of what the future holds but I do hope good things would come around in all of our tomorrows.

5 reasons why ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ has been the best thing that happened to Netflix thus far

By now, you’re probably obsessed as I am with To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, a film adaptation of Jenny Han’s popular young-adult novel on a girl named Lara Jean whose letters to all the boys she had crushes on got sent out by her sneaky little sister. I’ve read all three books before and if the movie has gotten you smitten, trust that the book would ultimately bring out the love-struck teenager in all of us.

Though there were slight changes in the film, I still think we can all agree that our expectations have been met. Here are 5 reasons why To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has been the best thing that happened to Netflix thus far.

 

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  • An Asian lead character..

Female Asian characters in Asian-themed films centered on racism and war are now ancient history, thanks to this light-hearted, romantic comedy  where we get to witness a normal Asian teenager go through high school and fall so hard in love the way we see white female leads do. I mean, it’s so rare to see a woman of color star in films with the same genre as this. The fact that’s hard to swallow is that Asian female characters are almost always playing the sidekick and the geek but with Lara Jean (Lana Condor), I guess she broke that glass ceiling right above her head. I’m glad the filmmakers stayed true to the book and did not, in any way, whitewash the characters in it. Atta girl!

 

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  • Well, Lara Jean of course… 

In the most subtle moments in the film, we hear the gentle voice inside Lara Jean’s head. We simply see an introverted girl who is confused, imaginative, and young, and more than that, none of it felt forced nor exaggerated. Right before the film started where I had only carried the imagination with me from the book, I had already identified so much of my teenage self to Lara. Like her, I am introverted and would tend to keep to herself. I was so in love with the idea of love that when I am confronted by it, I end up feeling frightened. I wrote so much but as opposed to letters, I had journals filled with poetry.

Lara Jean just really gets me, you know? This role for Lana Condor was probably already written in the stars. I couldn’t imagine any other actress who would play as Lara Jean than her.

 

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  • Noah Centineo as Peter Kavinsky…

If you’re a Disney child like me then you’ve probably seen Noah in Austin & Ally and How To Build A Better Boy, but it’s his portrayal as Peter Kavinsky now that instantly skyrocketed his name to fame. True enough, he is this year’s rising star. He had the right touch of everything a loveable jock could be. He could be funny yet serious, sexy yet act like such a dork, manly yet a big softie. I admit, Noah truly did Peter justice. I mean, after seeing the film I was in love with him! Yup, I, a strong, independent, adult woman, still hopes for my own Peter Kavinsky to show up at my doorstep. But if the universe would extract him right out of the pages then I’d be glad to welcome him with open arms. I can’t believe that the movie made me wish for a parallel life where I was Lara Jean so I could be Peter’s human pillow.

 

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  • Watching it felt good…

 Unlike many other teenage films filled with the chaos of cliques and bullies, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before had a certain softness to it. I couldn’t describe it concretely but the thing is, we see young people in a different light in this fictional world of love letters and Korean yogurt drinks. It didn’t make me roll my eyes at the cheesiness but it was pure escapism in the midst of this already very cynic world. Watching the film made me feel like I was a giddy sixteen year-old again. Watching it just felt good and nice and warm, don’t you think? If John Hughes had been alive right up to this day, I guess this is one of those films he’d make in a heartbeat.

 

To All Of The Boys I've Loved Before

  • The Covey family…

Nothing is as heartwarming as the Covey family. Even when the Coveys had a single dad to raise all of them three girls, the film lets us in on a family that’s  close-knit and still pays respect to the culture they were born into. And let’s not forget about sweet, sassy Kitty. It’s because of this feisty little kid that brought Lara Jean and Peter’s world together.

If you have not read nor seen To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, then you should start by now. A little protip? Guard your hearts coz you’ll fall in love right into it.