[REAL TALK]: The Warrior is a Child

“People say that I’m amazing, I’m strong beyond my years but they don’t see inside of me I’m hiding all my tears.” (The Warrior is a Child, Gary Valenciano)

I’ve always been into music ever since I could remember because I find that music resonates deep into my soul. There is a saying, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent” (Victor Hugo). I believe in that because there are so many things that I cannot or do not have the luxury to say or feel.

The song “The Warrior is a Child” by Gary V. is one of those songs that describes my life to a “T”. Ever since I was a child people had high hopes and expectations of me. I was raised to be independent and strong, smart and practical, confident and fearless. Whenever there are times when I feel down people around me always said, “Kaya na nimo. Ikaw pa.” Although such words can be truly encouraging there came a point when those same words, instead of encouraging me, made me feel even more pressured. The words: “Ikaw pa” seem to connote that I cannot break down, that I’ll forever remain strong in adversity and be able to get back up without the help of others around me. Yes, I have maintained that persona for too long now that people seem to believe that someone like me can hurdle any disaster that comes their way and be able to rise again because we’re STRONG PEOPLE. Here’s the deal: “Nakakapagod maging strong.”

People expect you to achieve what you want easily. Always saying that “You have a natural born talent. You are so smart and gifted. You can do this. Ikaw pa.” As if it was that easy. Aside from the external pressure that people’s expectations deal upon us we constantly battle inner demons while at the same time trying to repress them. Most people who are bread winners of the family experience this dilemma. They have to be strong for their families and the people that rely on them. They do not have the time or the opportunity to break down and cry because they are the foundation that the whole household relies on. If the foundation is weak then the whole house crumbles. So they cannot show any ounce of weakness despite the fact that they are plagued by such all the time. This dilemma is the same with prodigies. People seem to think that life is easy for them because they are gifted people. It is not. In fact it is hard because of all the pressure that they face. One small mistake and the whole world who once loved you will turn their backs and ridicule you without a moment’s notice. To constantly please and not to disappoint those people, they pressure themselves to become perfectionists which later on drives them to depression and self-sabotage. What they really want is actually simple, to live like normal people do — happy and content, with no one expecting too much from them. To be allowed to feel weak and vulnerable and be able to cry like normal people could.

Sometimes I envy those who can allow themselves to be vulnerable, those people who get to openly declare their weaknesses and limitations and are accepted for such. People who can cry out for help when they need to and not be judged or worse, not believed in that they really need help. This happened so many times in the past that I’ve decided to stop voicing out my weaknesses, my insecurities and my deepest regrets to others. I feel like the boy who cried wolf during that moment when he really needed help but no one believed him because they thought he was lying. Although there are people who do offer to help it still feels like they do not truly believe that I need it. In the end, I am left to wallow on my problems alone and solve them on my own.

This is also probably one of the reasons why I cannot claim that I have been depressed because I do not have the time to be depressed. I cannot afford to be depressed. I cannot afford a time off. I may take days off from work but that doesn’t mean that the pressure I feel is on a day off as well. It constantly bothers me. Just thinking about the disappointment that my family and those people who believe in me will feel when I fail hurts me to the core. I cannot tell them that I have a lot of doubts and is not sure whether I will pass or not. It may not be the end of the world if I do fail but there are things that will be sacrificed if I do, very important things that I cannot afford to lose. Though my friends and family support me I still hear the same words over and over again. “You’re strong, you can do this. I believe in you.” It feels like they do not see a possibility of me failing which raises the pressure even more. It’s tiring sometimes.

The worst part is when you do fail, they always, ALWAYS expect you to be okay in the end. They do accept that you failed but always expect you to try again the very next day. They do not even think that you need a break or that you need to cry and probably run away. No, they expect you to be strong like always when what you really want to do is run away, cry, get depressed, drink, become irresponsible for a change, and do horrible things to yourself. You can’t because you’re supposed to be one of the strong people. You are expected to never become a failure or never stay as one for a long time. Such belief is exasperating.

There are times when I want to move to another country, change my name and my identity and start life all over again. I want to become a person who no one expects anything from, to be a person that is ordinary and common, to get to enjoy life and feel all the hurts, failures, mistakes and pain that life can bring you. To not get disapproving looks if you fail at something you’re supposed to be good at and to never be bothered by the responsibility of keeping a household and a family together but I can’t. I have responsibilities that are too important and people I need to protect. I need to be strong almost all the time and be able to deal with things so that they do not overwhelm me.

However, I want people to understand that even the strong have their own weaknesses and not everyone who seems alright really are. They may be able to deal with it somehow and it’s good that you believe that they can get through their problems. What I want you to know is that you should not expect too much from those whom you think are strong in character, do not expect them to always be that way nor dismiss their feelings just because you believe they can get over them in the end. These are valid sentiments, temporary as they may seem to you. Lastly, do not expect that they do not need help just because it seems that way to you. Most people who are perceived as strong individuals rarely cry out for help from others, simply because they know their cries will be dismissed as invalid. Instead, ask and observe. They may insist that they do not need help or are okay because they do not want to be a bother. Show them that it doesn’t bother you at all to lend a hand. There may be times when you need to step in forcefully for they will continue to say they’re okay until their bodies or minds give up on them. When this happens, scold them and remind them that they can ask for help and that you do not expect them to be strong all the time because most probably, they think that they are expected to be such always. “Even winners need a quiet place to rest.”


Matters of the Heart are Confusing

I am an INTP. Though as much as I doubt that there are only 16 types of personalities available for billions of people on this Earth, I’d have to concede that somehow the INTP group, unlike the other 15, suits my personality perfectly.

An INTP is nicknamed by 16personalities.com as “The Logician” which is fitting for this type’s description. They are absent-minded introverts who live in their own world and likes to logic their way out on just about anything. Everything for them can be explained by logic, even feelings. If the feeling seems illogical to them then they’ll choose to repress that feeling and maybe forget it completely. This often results to an emotionally immature person in a way that when their emotions do break through, they burst out all at once in an uncontrollable manner. This is especially true when it comes to matters of the heart or simply, love.

INTPs do feel love and do fall in love. However, their kind of love is unique. It is not showy, not possessive, not passionate and definitely not a roller coaster of emotions. There are people who claim that INTPs are unemotional or robotic sometimes. That is not true. It may seem that way externally but internally INTPs struggle so much about handling their emotions. When love does come, INTPs struggle to understand why they even like the person. They may find some reasons but everything would seem shallow for them, such as looks, humor, intelligence, etc. INTPs are inherently deep people so they want to find a deep meaning for everything including the feeling of love. So when an INTP likes someone they pull back in order to observe things and understand their emotions better. They contemplate and experiment on different scenarios until they are sure that they absolutely like the person and sees a future with them. This can be a confusing period for an INTP and can make him or her lose focus on more important things. As introvert thinkers, INTPs will struggle to find a solution and explanation on anything and everything but when they are focused on understanding a certain thing, all others fade into the background. That is why an INTP who is in this stage of discovering his or her true feelings is in danger of putting more focus on the feelings of love instead of other things that hold more priority. I am in such a situation right now.

I have decided to pull further away from the person I like so that I can focus more on more important things for now. Yes, this may feel off-putting to the other person but if I do not do that I’d risk blaming the feelings for the failure that I may encounter if I lose focus. An INTP just isn’t built for multi-tasking especially when it’s about their emotions. In order to think an INTP needs space, time and a period where he or she is able to focus on only that. It doesn’t mean that the INTP has stopped caring or loving the other person. It just means that for now the INTP is still confused and does not know what to do yet. He or she still has to think it through. The beauty of this however is when the INTP finally reaches an answer and has decided since when an INTP makes up his or her mind it will take a very persuasive and logical argument to change their minds.

So when an INTP finally confesses and tells you exactly how he or she feels it only means that he or she has settled on the decision of being with you for the rest of their lives. When an INTP commits, he or she commits for life therefore it will be insulting for an INTP if their feelings are dismissed as fleeting or temporary especially since they’ve put a good amount of time and effort into coming to that conclusion. Matters of the heart may be confusing at first to an INTP but once all the data are in and all the thinking is over, an INTP will come out of it without any remaining doubt. He or she knows exactly what he or she wants and that is either forgetting about you and moving on OR choosing to be with you and supporting you for the rest of his or her life.

As an INTP I can attest to that. It took me a long time to decide on what to do with the person I first loved especially since I was still a child when I first fell for him but when I did come to the decision there was no backing out. My mind was decided on what to do and that is to forget him and move on. It just wasn’t worth it, I realized and also I realized that he was just a security cushion that I have been holding onto for so long just because I was still skeptical about love. I didn’t want to truly fall for someone yet and I chose someone so unattainable to make sure that there will be no attempt at falling truly in love wih someone. Having realized that now and having matured enough to accept the fact that I can and am allowed to fall in love I want to fall in love with someone I really want to spend the rest of my life with. It wasn’t him.

I recently met someone new and I am in that period of liking him but am still unsure whether I want to be with him for the rest of my life. I can somehow see a future for us but it’s still not a hundred percent sure. I also do not want to force my feelings to him only to back out in the end. I need time to think this through and when I do come to a decision, I promise I’ll stick to it like glue but for now I need time away from thinking about him and our prospect together since Bar exams are coming up. I have to channel all my focus on such an important event. After which I can think about my feelings again. It is confusing. I’m sorry I’m emotionally immature but I’ll understand this somehow. When I do I know I’ll make the decision that will make me happiest in the end.

Why Put a Ring on It?

“Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code.” (The Family Code, Title 1, Chapter 1, Article 1)

A lot of my high school classmates are now married, are getting married or are planning to get married. I guess we’re at that age. Alas! I’ve always been the black sheep of the batch.

Aside from the fact that I still don’t have a boyfriend there are many other reasons why I cannot see myself marrying someone or anyone before I turn…. maybe 35? Getting married before 30 has never been part of my bucket list. Come to think of it, I don’t recall getting married at all as ever being part of my “Things to do before I die,” “Life Goals,” or “Dream List.” Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with getting married. I, personally, would prefer a long and committed relationship with someone I love rather than go on several dates and have several flings. I am not that fling-kind of person. What irks me most about getting married is not the fact of it but the institution itself and all the presumptions that come with it. Getting married in the Philippines, especially for women, has become so ingrained in our culture that people like me who think twice before doing it are deemed abnormal or worse, insane. That fact alone makes me not want to get married just so I can break that social construct but, who knows? Maybe one day I’ll meet that man who’ll change my mind.

Anyway, back to my qualms about marriage. Even before studying law I’ve had my own apprehensions about getting married. Mainly because I felt like it will curtail my freedom as an individual. I also felt like it will force me to put on an apron and be the good old housewife that I know I will suck at. I guess watching too much teleseryes that time got me thinking that once a woman marries she loses her individuality and even her own identity. Now that I have grown up I know better but then society always says otherwise.

As I studied the law I realized more questionable facts about marriage that I have issues with aside from those that are not related to law at all. Let me list a few of them here, some legal, some personal:
1. The default property relations.

Under the Family Code those who get married after its effectivity (August 3, 1988) will have property relations governed by the Absolute Community of Property (ACP) if they do not execute a marriage settlement before getting married. Basically ACP means that all of your individual properties, including those you owned before marriage, are deemed part of the conjugal properties. Meaning, all of your properties (past, present and future) belong to you both. I mean, why? I personally think it was better before the Family Code because conjugal properties are only those that are acquired during marriage but now we have this. Does the law really think that having all properties co-owned by both the spouses can make the marriage stronger? I think it further leads to quarrels.

Statistics show that most domestic problems stem from financial hardships. Having joined properties allow one party to squander the other’s creating resentment because they do not have separate properties to offer them financial security in case the other person decides to risk it all. For me, it would be best if some of the properties are co-owned while some, especially those acquired before marriage or by inheritance, are left for the individual to serve as security. In that way quarrels about money are lessened.

Now there is a way to do this and that is by creating a marriage settlement before getting married or a prenup in colloquial terms. However, in the Philippines, prenups are not seen as practical. In fact it is widely frowned upon since it is seen as one person not completely trusting his or her soon-to-be spouse. I mean, what? It’s worse if the prenup comes from the female side. Unless you’re Kris Aquino, your future in-laws will definitely question your commitment to your partner with a prenup proposal. That is the kind of backward thinking that I hate the most.
2. The use of the husband’s family name.

Many women do not know this but it is not legally required for a woman to change her maiden family name and adopt that of her husband’s when they get married. A woman, under the law, MAY use her husband’s surname or append it with a hyphen. The word “may” connotes that it is not mandatory. A woman is allowed to not change her name even after marriage. So it’s not legally correct to say that the woman is already Mrs. [so and so] right after the wedding ceremony ends. It doesn’t work like that. If I get married I won’t be changing my name even if I know the repercussions to it are great. That is primarily the reason why I want to do that.

People are so used to believing such “fake news” about married women’s names that if they find out that you retained your maiden name they will not only be shocked but will probably look at you with disgust and disdain. Like, “Why? Don’t you love your husband?” As if true love can be measured just like that! Anyway, if I do get married that will be my primary advocacy — to educate women that there is another way of doing things, that you have a choice and to never let society dictate what you want to do since you won’t be breaking any laws anyway.
3. Weddings, and the amount of money wasted just by having them.

A friend of mine recently went to a wedding and she found out that the couple spent over half a million pesos just for the ceremony itself. My cousin recently got married and he spent all of his savings to give his future wife what she always dreamed of, a lavish wedding. Whenever I hear about such things, I cringe. Half a million? How many investments can you have with that money? How many trust funds for your future children’s education can you open? All of your savings? WHHHYYYYYY?????? Maybe I am just practical or stingy when it comes to money but spending half a million pesos or all of your savings on a one day event is so over the top for me.

They say that the expenditures go into many traditional stuff like having a pre-wedding photo shoot, a really lavish wedding gown, gowns of the bridesmaids, flower girls, suits for the groomsmen, etc. Do we really need all that stuff? Why do we need a pre-wedding photo shoot? For invitations? Why not just print actual words on the invites and don’t include photos? Having a lot of bridesmaids and groomsmen, even flower girls, can we do away with them too? The only ones important are the maid of honor and the best man anyway. A lot of the expenditures for weddings that are supposed to be traditional are for me unnecessary. Also, why invite over a hundred people?

If I do get married it’ll be small, simple and certainly not worth all of my life’s savings or half a million pesos, maybe just ten percent of that amount. All the money saved will probably go to a trust fund or a frozen account for our children and maybe for emergencies because you never know what will happen in the future. So, really, weddings? Even a civil one is fine with me. The most important thing is not the ceremony anyway. It is the promise that both of you make to commit to each other, to love, respect and care for one another until death do you part. Extravagant weddings are so superficial.
4. Do I really need to have my own children?

By the time I get married, if I do, it might be too late to have children. I also do not want to get pregnant that late in the game because it may cause physical hardships with my condition but I might change my mind if the time comes that I really want children of my own but for now I am looking for other options. Let’s just adopt!

There are many children out there that are abandoned and need a family. There are even thousands of refugee children who need a home. Instead of contributing to the rapid population growth of the country why can’t we help those already alive to live a more fulfilling life. Ever since high school I have always wanted to adopt a child and help him or her become a good citizen and the person he or she was meant to be. If I happen to become affluent enough I might adopt several children aside from having children of my own or just simply adopt! Having your own children is an outdated concept when what the world needs are not more children but more happy and well-cared for children who will make the future better.
5. The “you must stay with your children!” mentality.

I mean I get it, children need maternal love but do I really need to be around all the time? I have worked so hard and so long on my career just to give it up because I already have a family. Uh-uh, no way! Can’t I just have both?

I am not housewife material. I may be a home-buddy and an introvert but I am an absent-minded and an unorganized one. I cannot maintain a home without someone’s help. Just look at my room! I’ve always seen myself as working and taking care of my children only after I work. During that time, the nannies will take care of the children. Many find this apprehensive. Does being a mother really mean that we have to give up our careers? I just can’t.

I’m fine with having children of my own but I also want to be a career woman. To do that I cannot stay and take care of the children all the time. If I do I’ll just get frustrated and maybe resent my life. I would probably end up regretting getting married and having children and we don’t want that. I will never follow that path of abandoning my personal aspirations to start a family. I’m just not that kind of woman.
6. Same sex marriage is still not allowed.

I believe in free love. Although I am not part of the LGBTQ+ community I would love to see their love be recognized in our otherwise backwards country. I believe that they must enjoy the same rights and privileges that married men and women have because their love is the same, it is universal. It is time to amend that Article and make it more inclusive.

I will not prolong my discussion on this subject because I am not an expert nor do I have the adequate knowledge to talk about the plight of the LGBTQ+ community. I will just end by saying that once marriage in the Philippines truly celebrates all forms of love then I’d probably believe in it more.
7. There is still no divorce in the Philippines.

Many would probably think that this counteracts with me wanting stronger and more committed relationships that are not founded upon superficial things. In my opinion, it’s not. Let’s face it, in the Philippines many people get married just because they have to. Without the benefit of divorce people who get married without thinking about it much are stuck in that marriage. It’s very hard to get annulled in the Philippines unless you’re public figures and have a ton of dough. The reality is there are marriages that won’t work out. Having the option to get out of it (that is not as hard as annulment or declaring the marriage null and void, OR as inadequate as legal separation) should be available. I accept the fact that some people are not rational when it comes to feelings of euphoria and love. They act irrationally. Studies actually show that people who are in love experience delirious moments due to the changes in their brain structures so I won’t fault them for that. It is natural and sometimes uncontrollable. There are some people who can minimize the effects and be able to think rationally despite being deeply and madly in love but that is such a rarity. Let’s not bank on that.

Aside from unwise marriages, there are those that are stuck in abusive relationships which developed over time. It may be that their spouses (women can be violent too) were loving and kind when they first got married but situations change and so do people. There may be times that the once loving relationship turns into a really violent one. In such cases, legally you can apply for Legal Separation but legal separation only allows you to live separately. The marital ties continue and you cannot re-marry if one day you meet someone whom you think will treat you better. Annulment nor declaring it null and void is not an option in such situations because the cause did not exist before or at the time of the marriage but subsequently after. That’s the difference between Annulment, Declaration of Nullity and Legal Separation which most people mistake often especially in many Filipino dramas and movies. They even incorrectly mix up the three. For such situations, getting divorced is so much better.

To be clear, I want a divorce system that is not as easy as that in America. I want one that still has some exceptions just to avoid paper divorces. For now, I’m not really sure what those exceptions are but I’ll continue to think about it and perhaps come up with a divorce system that helps people in tough relationships but at the same time protects the sanctity of the marital union. I hope that such a system is possible.
8. Women need to get married.

Growing old alone, especially when you’re a woman, is a major no-no in Philippine culture. It is seen as unfortunate and lonely hence the race of many Filipino women to get married before “mawala sila sa kalendaryo” (literally before they turn 30, owing to the fact that most months have only 30-31 days).

This has never been my problem. I have even prepared for a future where I’ll be single for all of my life and I think it’ll only be lonely if you believe that it’ll be. Sure, I still want to have a special someone to spend my life with but that’s because I WANT it, not because I NEED it. When I do decide to commit myself to someone it’ll be because I chose to be with that person, because I love to be with him and spend my life with him. I think that’s how marriages are supposed to be. You should get married because you want to not because you need to. I am someone who when I dive, will dive right in and swim, maybe become a mermaid and live in the water for all of my life. When I love someone, it’s because I really want to love him for the rest of my life.

If it doesn’t happen to me then it’s fine. That only means that I did not find that person that I would want to spend my life with. I will not just chose a random person or anyone that could be suitable and livable with. It should be someone I really want to be with. It would also be fine if we never get married but continue to stay in a long and fully committed relationship. What is important for me is the commitment, never the title.

For all the reasons stated above, I know that I do not see myself as getting married any time soon. First, I need to be stable enough to start a family — financially, mentally and emotionally. I am not at that point as of the moment. Maybe my friends who got married are but I am not there yet. I have a lot more to experience and to achieve. I do not want to get married and resent it later because it will prevent me from doing the things I really want to do in my life. One of my friends always ask me when I’ll get married and every time she does that I always find myself wanting to slap her in the face just to get my point across. I have other bigger plans that are more important right now. It will come once it comes but for now, I want to focus on becoming the better version of myself for each day that passes. For now, it’s the SINGLE LIFE for me.

How to Live with a Broken Heart

This is not a story about love as most of my posts are. This is also not a story about depression. This is just a story of living. In my last post I hinted that I should not get depressed. Someone actually asked for the reason why. Most of the time I am hesitant to tell anyone about my condition because I don’t want anyone’s pity. Besides, it’s not that much of an issue for me. Also, I don’t want anyone to treat me differently. I want to be treated in the same way everyone else is treated in a group. I also do not want to be looked after a lot. It happens once my condition gets revealed especially to people who do not fully understand it but to my friends who do then it’s no big deal.

Anyway, let us go back to the beginning. My high school days were the times when emo music was at its peak. Teenagers back then started to rebel by their looks and started to think that the whole world was against them. I particularly felt that way especially towards my parents. Those were turbulent times. I was under a lot of pressure to excel and was taught that forms of love and kindness towards others were weaknesses that I should avoid if I want to excel in life. My upbringing was unlike what normal kids have, I guess it’s just how our family is. I was reading the Art of War when I was ten. I was told to choose my friends well and to know my enemy. I was taught not to trust anyone completely. All these left me detached, cold and untrusting. I was unwilling to give love let alone receive it from others. I saw that as a weakness. Any weak moment I had I kept to myself. All those bottled emotions would soon become my worst nightmare. I finished high school with those principles intact which made my first years in College really hard to get through.

I first arrived in College with that attitude of wanting to best everyone that I could. I was unwilling to fully commit myself to friendships and most of my early acquaintances that time were shallow. I was still the person I was in high school, cold, detached and up to some point manipulative but this wasn’t high school anymore. This time I was surrounded by people who were genuine and intelligent. It did not take long for them to see through my facade. In time I got into trouble with a lot of people — my roommates, my classmates, my teachers. They all called me out. Particularly, my roommates talked to me about my attitude and made me realize that all I believed in was wrong. For the first time I felt like I could trust someone (some people) completely without holding back. With that barrier broken, all the bottled emotions surfaced. I became really sad and lonely. I started abusing my body. I drank a lot, went on sleepless nights even going on without sleep for three days straight. I skipped meals and ate rarely. It was a good thing that I did not resort to drugs at that time. But despite that I was brought back every time by my friends with the assurance that they had my back all the time. Even while I was wallowing in grief over those unrealized emotions I was happier than I have ever been because I found a second family. Little by little I was regaining normalcy in my life and became happier and happier as each day passed. I was able to talk with my parents and they accepted my decisions to change. All they wanted was to make me ready for the world and make be strong and independent. Maybe they were wrong in their methods, maybe they were right. All I know is that they did all that out of love and I am grateful for that. For the first time too, I felt genuine and unfiltered love from my parents. All was well until the abuse I did to my body finally took its toll.

I have been a sickly child since I was about 5 years old. I was a regular in hospitals due to different reasons. Pneumonia, High fevers, UTI, etc. Everyone just thought I was born with a sickly body. They were right. It wasn’t until third year College that the truth was revealed. At the start of third year I became more sickly than I ever was before. I started to get chest pains and had trouble breathing. The worst moment was when I had to take this very hard exam and all the anxiety built up inside me. Coupled with sleepless nights and stress drinking, I felt the worst pain in my chest like my heart was going to burst out literally. It was pumping so fast that people thought I was having an anxiety attack. In a way they were right. I thought I could soldier through it until finally I broke down and fainted before class started. I was rushed to the clinic where I was given some medicine to calm my nerves. I was released after a while but then that night I started vomiting and my chest pains worsened. My roommates decided to take me to the hospital. It was there that I was finally diagnosed with gastritis and Mitral Valve Prolapse (MVP).

For those who haven’t encountered MVP before it is not that uncommon. It is a genetic condition that affects a wide range of people. There are those who have it but are not that affected by it because they are asymptomatic, meaning they couldn’t feel any of the symptoms for this condition. Usually those are the people who have mild cases of MVP. You can read more about it here. The problem lies when you happen to be one of the symptomatic types. I happened to be one of the latter. The abuse I did to my body actually exacerbated my condition and made it more severe. The other conditions I had, palpitations, anxiety, extreme stress and even the gastritis can all be connected to this underlying condition. I was admitted in the hospital for three months to recuperate. They had to make sure that my heart was fine. The doctor told me that I needed to be rechecked every three years to monitor my condition and was given a list of what not to eat, not to drink and ultimately not to do. The doctor even jokingly said that I should avoid falling in love because my heart may not be able to handle it. It was that worse.

For years now I have learned to live with this condition. So to answer the question as to why I should not get depressed, it’s because if I do there is a possibility that I will worsen my condition and may possibly die. Many of my friends who knew of my condition even asked me why I went to law school knowing that it will be a stressful environment. I had the same talk with my parents and I assured them that I will take care of myself and not let stress get to me. That is probably why I have been so laid back even while I was in law school. Every time there is a stressful situation I always think back to the times when I was in College and of course to the fact that I might get hospitalized again which would be costly for my parents. It’s a constant struggle everyday. Anyone who has an illness especially a genetic one would somehow relate to this. It is a struggle for life because you have realized that the time you have in this world is borrowed and it can be taken away any time. I still feel some of the symptoms once in a while but I am proud to say that I haven’t had any serious attacks since then. When before I get hospitalized once or twice a year, I am pleased that I am nearing my seventh year of not having been admitted to any hospital at all. I still haven’t done that mandated three-year check up since and I know my doctor will scold me if she knew but I am confident that I have kept my condition controlled. I have also stopped taking my medications. If it has worsened, which is very possible since this type of condition worsens every year no matter what, then it’ll probably be just in the minimum. I will eventually get that check up soon after all this is over. For now, I am happier. I am okay now because I have learned to live with my condition and have genuine understanding and control over my body. If you know me and are reading this, do not treat me as differently as you did before. I promise you I can handle it because I have for my whole life. I have found a new way of living. My condition actually helped me realize that all the sadness and stress that the world can give me is something that I should not be worried about. I should be thankful to be just alive.

Rainy Days and This Song

When it rains, it pours. This saying is certainly true for the past few days. The storm has confined me to my room for hours and has caused me to be unproductive and downright lazy. Can you blame me?

I personally like rainy days because of the comfort they bring but along with such comfort comes an idle mind and a nostalgic heart. Coupled with songs that darn Spotify has been choosing for me, you can be sure that distant happy and also very sad memories will creep up and do their worst.

During days like these I am reminded of things I could have had and lost, my biggest and deepest regrets, and my unfulfilled dreams and passions. The song from the movie ‘The Greatest Showman‘ entitled Never Enough makes me nostalgic about all these things. I mean it is both a love song and an inspirational song as well. In raw, simple words it tells of how achieving ones dreams will never be enough anymore once you find real happiness. In the song it’s the person who set off a new dream in her heart. As I currently am right now I haven’t found that real happiness, in any form. May it be fulfilling a lifelong dream or finding a person to love. The rain reminds me that the journey is not yet over. I have more storms to weather before I even get to that path to true happiness. It’s kind of sad to think that at 27 I still am not content nor truly happy with how my life has been but I will continue to struggle through.

To clarify, I am not depressed. I have never considered myself as “truly” depressed. I may claim it sometimes on a whim but what I really mean is that I am sad or lonely, or both. I haven’t really been to a situation of depression that would make me unable to function or live for that matter. Depression is real. I know. I haven’t experienced it myself but I have seen it ruin and take lives of people even those who are close to me so who am I to belittle it by claiming to be depressed when I’m truly not? What I am is sad, that’s all. I may need an occassional hug, a pat on the shoulder, and probably motivating words sometimes but overall I am okay because I haven’t given up. Also, if you know what I have you’ll know that I should not get depressed. If I do then it will not just be a mental health issue but a physical one as well which is, for me, more painful.

I cannot claim to be depressed just because of the rain and a good song. I’d only tarnish the truth and experiences of those who truly are. Maybe as I write now another person out there is experiencing depression and needs our help. So I remember the line from a movie I once watched: “I wish someone who has no reason to live finds this. I wish there is nobody like that.” (Anjaana, Anjaani)

Age Doesn’t Teach You Things

When I was young I was so sure about my world views. Every human is created equal. Everything has a reason. Everthing has a price. Karma is real. Now that I am older the solid foundations I once had slowly start to crumble as doubts perpetuated by different world views and beliefs cloud my judgments.

I am a wide reader, ask anyone who knows me. I will read anything from signs and little notes vandalized on bathroom stalls to big bulky encyclopedias (if they still exist). This is because I value knowledge the most and am open minded about anything and everything. I try to take in whatever I can, ponder on things and create new ideas, all in the search of the world’s truth. For Stephen Hawking, his was the theory of everything. Mine is simpler. I just want to learn about the truth and yet, as I read and learn more everyday the truth becomes more and more complicated. Age doesn’t teach you things, it gives you more questions that you have to answer and answers you now have to question.

I envy my peers whose beliefs are rock solid, even if they are against some of the things I believe in because at least they don’t waver in their convictions. I, on the other hand, have found general rules and exceptions. Most of the time even exceptions to the exceptions. I now see life and people as a matter of “it depends.”

I know that’s not what you’re supposed to say in the Bar exams but that’s a different thing. Real life is, for me, a series of half-truths and a myriad of half-lies. There may be simple truths out there but always there will be that outlier. Like gravity, for example. What goes up must come down at a definite time and speed depending on the mass of an object UNLESS you’re in a vacuum.

Now that I’m nearing three whole decades of my life almost everything seems to be conditional, even the purest of things. It maybe because my brain is wired differently or my upbringing was unlike what normal children have but this much is clear for me, what I know now is not exactly what it is. What I currently believe in may change. Who I currently am will not be who I am tomorrow. So maybe there really is nothing permanent but change, or maybe not. I don’t know. For now, I’ll take things in stride and maybe when I get much older I will discover my truths, or become content to settle on the truths I want to be true, or sadly but possibly never know truth at all.

Best Revenge

It did not go well today. I could feel it. Unlike before, there was excitement and enthusiasm in his eyes. Now, it was blank and unimpressed. I tried but the issue at hand was beyond my control. It was something that I can no longer change and would have to live with for the rest of my life. Yes, it was a bit my fault that I didn’t mind that much but I didn’t think it’d affect their perception of my capability that much. Nevertheless, at least I tried.

I needed to clear my head after that so I walked G.J. Puyat Avenue aimlessly. I didn’t even mind the fact that my high heels were slowly digging into my toes and causing blisters. I had a lot in my mind that time and those thoughts were blocking out the pain. I was saddened but not too sad. Disappointed at myself would be the accurate description. If only I wasn’t too lax. When I was near Ayala Ave. a tarpaulin caught my attention.

“Congratulations to all Bar passers. You are welcome to join [a government institution].”

Of course, even if I was rejected by the firm I really want to be in, it’s not the end of the world. I still had a lot of opportunities ahead of me. Maybe law firm life wasn’t the one for me or maybe that just wasn’t the firm for me. I sit here now contemplating my next moves. It’s time to expand my options and think about what it is that I really want and what I’m really good at. Maybe I’ll find that firm where I will excel in doing what I really love. Maybe government would be my best option. Anyway, it’s not the end of my world. I still had the Bar to worry about. But, do you know what would be the best revenge? TOPPING THE BAR! That’s right. I never thought of it before. Passing was enough for me. That was before I knew that I did not have that marvelous job waiting for me when I finish. But now, it’s different. What would be more satisfying than actually topping the bar exams?

When that happens they’ll probably regret their decision. They’ll regret letting go of a woman who is not defined by the grades she got when she was in school but by the work and effort she puts into making her dreams come true. I’ve always believed that grades never define a person. I am reminded of that again. This rejection that forced me to somehow feel unworthy for a while has now lit a fire in my heart. I will try my absolute best not only to pass but to top this Bar exam. It might be a long shot but that’s alright. As they say, better to dream big because you can! If ever that goal doesn’t happen then passing the Bar alone wouldn’t be too bad either. I will not forget what happened today because I know one day I’ll look back to it and realize that it all happened for a good reason. It’s because sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you what you need.

Stereotypes, Traditional Rules and Strong, Independent Women

It’s Christmas time and aside from Valentine’s Day, Christmas is the time when people “desperately” want to get involved in a romantic experience. When I was young, my only thought of a happy Christmas was one I could spend with my family but somehow it changed when I hit puberty and has continued on until adulthood. The want for romance became a staple especially during such seasons. Maybe it’s because of the cold weather or maybe because it is a season of love after all, whatever the reason there is always that connotation that people would be happier if they have a significant other to share the holidays with.

When you’re single like me (for my whole life) you get curious about why you’re still single. There is that inner feeling of wanting to know how it would be like to have a significant other. There is also that wonder whether there is a secret to getting into and keeping a relationship. And if you’re also a geek like me that curiosity will get the better of you and you’ll start researching. So I did what most single geeks would do — I researched, looked for good materials and read up. I couldn’t count the number of references I’ve looked into but almost all of them had this one similar factor, the concept of a “Hero Complex.”

I won’t be able to completely explain it here since I found no singular explanation of the phenomenon. However, it is basically something related to men. According to one reference the “hero complex” is the basic instinct of a guy to become someone’s hero. It is termed as a need for a man to feel like he is needed and trusted by someone. It is an inner complex that makes a man want to save and protect someone who needs them. Translating it to the world of relationships, a man basically wants a woman whom he can save and protect, a woman who needs him to be her hero and for girls to get a man’s attention, they’d have to play to a man’s hero complex by being the damsel that needs one. There is this one book that teaches how to get a stranger’s (a man’s) attention. It says that a girl should try to drop something in front of the guy (maybe a handkerchief) and let him pick it up and give it back. This plays to the guy’s hero complex because he feels that he did a small heroic thing by helping the girl. This will also make him feel like he made the first move whereas in reality it was the girl that picked him. I have a lot of comments with this example alone. One, the girl is expressly being told to become manipulative. There are times that manipulation to get what you want is fine as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone but when you want to start a life-long relationship with someone, starting it with a manipulative move will not end well since you’d have to keep it up until the secret comes out and both of you realize it wasn’t worth it in the end. Two, it somehow made the guy look dumb. The handkerchief move has been there for generations and a guy who will obviously fall for that trick is well, a little out of it, don’t you think? Also, it presupposes that guys have the obligation to pick the handkerchief up for the girl. He doesn’t. It is courtesy, yes but it something that should not only be done by men. If a girl sees the fallen handkerchief first, as courtesy, she can pick it up and return it to the owner. In the first place, why can’t she? As you can see, all this talk about girls playing to a man’s Hero complex strikes too many issues with me but still the curious cat in me wanted to give it a try.

In my previous post I related about the time when I found it hard to write because it felt like I was lying to myself even when I wrote. One of the reasons for that was because during the time I tried to woo a certain guy I tried to play to his hero complex by letting him carry things for me that I can carry on my own, letting him walk me home when we basically live near each other and I can go home on my own, letting him take the lead when there are times I thought I can do things faster and more efficient, not calling him out even though I knew he was doing something wrong. Now, you’ll probably say that I’m full of myself thinking that I am better than this guy at everything. That’s not it. These were only moments and not an everyday thing. There were times when I really needed help carrying stuff and I appreciated his help and there were more times that I find his methods efficient and let him lead because it was the better way of doing things. The issue is, when I can do it on my own, I still let him do it because he wanted to and I wanted him to think that he’s helping me and make him feel like, well, my hero. Wrong move. Every time I did that during such moments I could feel a tingle in my heart. It kind of hurts whenever I try to restrain myself from even saying anything for the fear that he might look at me differently. There was a fear of coming off too strong and making him feel insecure. It honestly hurt every time because I knew I wasn’t being myself. I was close to losing myself and that was when I decided that all this hero complex, playing the damsel, etc. are nothing but stereotypes and traditions that undermine who I really am — a strong and independent woman. Luckily, I got out of that mess.

Fast forward, I met another guy just a few days ago who interested me. Due to a similar interest in a movie we decided to go and watch it. This was the first time I’d be going out alone with, basically, a stranger. There was no mention of it being a romantic date and honestly, I did not get my hopes up. Still, I wanted to see how it goes and if ever there was a chance that it might turn out to be something else. At first, it was a bit awkward. We just met and there were a lot of things we still didn’t know about each other. Some dead air was for me, just normal. There were times we held conversations about random stuff but the conversation that really stuck with me was one about why he thinks I’m still single.

When we first met I already mentioned things about not conforming to sexist notions. I think that was when he said he’ll be okay going home alone even when it’s already late since he was a guy. I directly told him that it was a sexist notion and told him honestly that he was in the same danger of getting robbed or killed even as a guy since he wasn’t that big or muscled or intimidating. I admit that was too frank but I think that was the alcohol talking at that time. 😀 Therefore when we met again there was no use pretending I was a damsel in distress. Frankly, I had no intention to. It started with doors. Whenever I arrive at a door first I open it and do not wait for him. There was even a time I let him pass first and opened the door for him. Another incident was when he opened the door for me but instead of passing first and thanking him my inner instinct made me want to hold the door after him so that he can pass through first and I’ll just follow. At first he jokingly remarked that I should at least give in and just pass through the door that was opened for me. I told him I do not need to. I forgot how we got to this point but we started conversing about men leading during dates. I think it was when he wanted to assist me with my stuff and I told him I could manage. He made a comment which I forgot what it was. All I remember was that I asked him if guys get offended by such move and he bluntly told me YES, especially when a guy has intentions towards a girl and they were on a romantic date. He abruptly added that what we were doing was not a romantic date but a friendly one. That was when I knew I’d been friendzoned, again. Having been friendzoned, all the more reason for me to be who I really was, right? He kept calling me a “strong, independent woman.” I didn’t mind because I believed I was but I knew that the undertone to that was the fact that he did not see me as a potential significant other because of that fact. If I had brought that up we may have ended up in an argument rather than a healthy conversation.

There was also a part in our conversation wherein I told him about the hero complex and said that girls nowadays no longer need heroes and guys to save and protect them. He countered by saying that the fact that she was with a guy says otherwise. I think I told him that it doesn’t matter because what is important is the company and he said that “kailangan talaga lalaki?” That honestly did not make sense to me because why not? If your friend is a guy should you not be hanging out with him alone for the mere fact that you enjoy his company just because he is a guy? That does not make sense. I’ve hung out alone with many of my guy friends and it didn’t matter. There was no difference between hanging out with them and hanging out with my girl friends because I enjoy their company nonetheless. Gender does not play a role in enjoying one’s company. I do not remember how this conversation ended but at least we did not end up arguing. When we parted he thanked me for “the company” through a text message. I think it was aimed to jab at what we just talked about. Despite all this, he was still supportive. He said that someday someone who will be the best pair for me will eventually come and I should not give up or be bitter that I don’t have a boyfriend at this time. In the end, it was a good conversation and we parted as better friends, as it should be. I will not attempt to make him change his views on dating because I respect him and his views but I will definitely not hold back on saying what’s mine. At least he’ll know that there is another side of the story.

To end, I think people, and not just men, should realize that the traditional rules of having the guy lead are slowly going extinct because the truth is, all relationships, especially romantic ones, should be a shared experience. Personally, I do not need someone to come save or protect me. I think I can do that on my own as I have been for 26 plus years. There may be times when I do need some saving or protecting but not all the time and certainly not for the rest of my life. I do not need a hero, I need a partner who would stand by me and I by him whenever we need each other. I want a companion who, even without saying anything, makes my day brighter by just being there and I hope he thinks the same way about me. So, I’m sorry if I will break tradition and say that girls playing to a guy’s “hero complex” in order to become attractive to the opposite sex is outdated and a complete bull. I refuse to conform to such nonsense and if this means that I might never (or have a very slim chance to) find someone who will be attracted to me then fine. It’ll be a little sad to realize that there isn’t someone out there who thinks the way I do or at least accepts the way I see and believe things but that’s the price I’m willing to pay just so I can hopefully change the way people see things. If I conform and give in to the temptation just because I want someone to share the rest of my life with then I won’t be changing anything. I’ll just be proving that the tradition is right. Still, I do believe it’s time to change so I will step up and continue on this path hoping that someday viewpoints will change and we are finally ushered into a world where stereotypes and traditional rules do not matter and that strong and independent women will not be forced to compromise who they really are for the sake of a chance in love.

Lost and Found

It’s been a while. The reason why I haven’t written for several months now will become evident in this post but before anything else I would like to say that I am finally back in the game. I think. 😀

Here’s the deal ladies and gents, I wasn’t able to write because I wasn’t able to write, period. There were times when I started to compose articles, verses, etc for this blog but just ended up deleting everything and starting from scratch. Main reason: what came out of me felt like it didn’t come from me at all. It felt like it came from another version of me living in an alternate reality. In short, what I wrote didn’t reflect who I was and what I was actually thinking at the time. It all felt fake and forced so I had to delete them.

For a while I was wondering why this happened and when it happened. Thankfully with the help of a close friend who is more in tune with people’s emotions than I am, I was able to somehow pinpoint the cause and maybe the solution. As much as I do not want to be boxed in a certain stigma especially when it comes to Zodiacs, personality tests and other stuff that most people find describes them best, I cannot deny that what some of my personality tests say are true especially the one wherein they describe someone like me as aloof and not in tune with emotions. I do have a problem with understanding not only other people’s emotions but also myself’s. I tend to rely more on solving things logically than to be emotional about stuff. This is good when you are dealing with other people because you are able to help them solve their problems without getting attached but this is problematic when your problem is your own emotions. Most of the time I don’t understand what I am feeling or why. So, as for the reason why I wasn’t able to write anything from articles, to poems, to songs escaped me but now I probably have an idea, somehow. I hope.

I will not deny that when it comes to falling in love, I fear it more than I fear the apocalypse. That is because I am somehow ready for the latter and have devised plans of action once it comes but for the former that is new territory for me. Not only that it is uncharted, unpredictable and illogical, so to speak. Every love story is different and matters of the heart do not have a manual or a what-to-do list that you can follow to a T. Perhaps this fear can be traced to my childhood, how I was raised, what I experienced, what I was led to believe but what matters is that it carried over until my adulthood. I knew I was afraid of the feeling. Maybe that’s why I do not deem that romance or romantic feelings in general are necessary in my life. I have prepared myself to live out a single life in the future because it was better than having my fear realized. But what was it that I truly feared about falling in love, I still do not know for sure. What I do know is that I feared the feeling so much that I even used a certain person in my life as an excuse not to fall in love. I masqueraded that in a fake feeling all the while knowing that either the feeling wasn’t real or that it was never going to come true. I think the latter’s more accurate though. I focused on a person so unattainable he became a cage I could protect myself in as I lie to myself that I cannot fall in love with another because I already had him in my heart. The truth is, I knew all along he was never in my heart. I just wanted to pretend in order to protect myself. Having realized this I decided to forget about that person and it was easy this time around because I knew why I held on for too long. It was my fault and I genuinely want to say sorry to that person for all the inconvenience that my own insecurities had caused him. Unfortunately, we might never talk to each other again in this lifetime.

Now, they say that an empty heart is dangerous as much as a broken heart is. That it clings to the next person that shows it mercy and affection. I tripped that wire and fell into that trap as much as I would like to deny that it ever happened, it did and this time it was again due to the fact that I needed an escape. I got confused. Do I want to fall in love or do I not want to? Do I still fear it or do I not anymore? Here is the thing, I still fear it but not as much as before. I know now that I want to at least know what the feeling is and what it looks like in my life but there are still doubts in my mind whether romance is really for me. However, I do know that more than before I am open now to the idea of the experience but that doesn’t mean that I’m supposed to fall for just any person that easily. I still needed to find someone who I’d be comfortable with, my partner in crime and someone who can understand me. My confusion with what I truly wanted, however, got the best of me and as I said before, I fell into that trap. I met a person whom I thought would show me how falling in love really means and would in turn love me for who I truly am. I think I was also a little curious so I dived right in. I was open to the experience that I, despite my logical side, choose to abandon all logic and go with the flow. I probably thought that time that it was worth the risk. The problem was not in the fact that I made myself vulnerable. The problem was that I didn’t let go even after realizing that we are complete opposites and that he had needs that aloof me may never be able to meet. I continued to delude myself into thinking that maybe things will work out in the end. I know now that it will not. To connect all of this now to why I stopped writing, it was because I was trying to become someone I wasn’t. I was trying to impress the wrong person by holding off from who I really am, what I wanted to do, what I wanted to say that I became a tamer, faker version of me. It didn’t feel right and that translated to my writing. It just didn’t feel right anymore. I became someone I always feared to be when it came to love. I changed who I was just to get a glimpse of that feeling I once shunned myself from all these years. Maybe I got too excited, I don’t know. However, this was something I would never have done in the past and surely something I definitely will never do again in the future.

In the end, I still do want to fall in love but I fear it still at the same time but I think that fear is enough to at least remind me that I still have to wait for the right moment. I do believe that soon I will meet someone who will minimize that fear and make me take that leap of faith and that someone should be a person for whom I do not need to change or compromise who I am just to be loved by him, unlike what just happened to me. Now, I can write because I found myself again. One would think that after 26+ years I’d realize such things sooner (also because I preach it everyday, only to do it myself — #idiot. But hey, mistakes are made so we could learn. <– that’s just me making an excuse so I won’t look like a fool. :p). There will definitely come a time that I will finally be truly open to the idea of falling in love with someone but until then I’ll continue to always and forever love the one person who will always be there for me — ME, without compromising anything in return. 😀 ❤

Looking Back

It’s almost ten years since I graduated from High School. Although I haven’t heard anything about my Alma Mater or the people I once shared it with (except that they’ve moved to a new campus) I still remember the times I spent there, all the highs and the lows. I would be a hypocrite if I say that I did not miss High School life. The innocence we had, the minor problems that we had to face everyday, and the abundance of our dreams of the future — these are things that I look back to BUT I would never wish to relive those moments again.

Truth be told, I hated my High School self. I just don’t dislike her, I hate her. *From now on I’ll refer to my High School persona in the third person*

Although she was bestowed with several gifts: a wide array of talents, the image of being the smartest in the school, popularity (both good and bad), finances, praise from people of all ages and the privilege of being “maldita”, “suplada” or just plain evil without suffering consequences — she was just a really disturbed and dark “emo” teen with no purpose in life.

I remember that since then I’ve always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. I can see myself in a court room arguing for my client. I was in debates, in public speaking clubs and leadership conventions because I believed in my being the best — I was so assuming. I was never humble and I thought the world revolved around me because back then it felt like it did.

Come College I was enrolled in the country’s premier University which I thought I could ace easily. I experienced the hardest slap on the face then. That was when I realized that I had been a frog living in a small well where I am the best frog because I could climb out of it not knowing that outside, there are several (tons) other frogs that are bigger and better than me because they’ve been in the world and I remained too long in that small, dark well. I was a helpless frog. High School wasn’t the time to find myself. It was in College that I realized the limits of my strengths and the darkness in my soul. From Extrovert I became an Introvert as I began to see the world in 360 and people more of friends than minions. However, this transformation cost me a great price. I lost my dream of becoming a lawyer. Somehow, it feels like it wasn’t my calling anymore. Maybe I lost the confidence I had built up when I was in High School when I suffered a blow to my ego or maybe I just realized it wasn’t what I really wanted.

I look back to the past and I remember that even before I began thinking about being a lawyer I have always been writing. As a child I was so happy just being in a corner reading story books and writing stories of my own. The happiest moment I could remember was when my story was published in our school (we had Elementary and High School) paper when I was just in Grade 1. I had rejected our principal’s suggestion that I should take up Journalism or Creative Writing because I was invested in being a lawyer all too much only to realize that it wasn’t what I really wanted, nor was it the profession that made me truly happy.

Although here I am finishing a law degree, my heart still yearns to convey the many unfinished stories that I have in my head. I still keep all the drafts of my plots and unfinished write-ups. The 500 poem collection that I started from High School and finished while in College is still there in my cabinet. My precious notebooks where I jotted down ideas of stories and even of songs as I combined my love for music and writing are still with me in my room. I could never let go.

The reason I hate my High School self is because she made me forget the joy that a simple story could make me. I was too focused on being the best academically and I thought an “Atty.” in front of my name would prove to everyone that I am indeed the best. I cannot remember how it started but I forgot the child-like wonder that I had when it was just me, my books, my stories and the world. I am slowly regaining it now though it’s so hard to start anew.

What I do want to thank my High School self for is the fact that I experienced darkness and depression because of her — things that I need to help me see the bigger picture and create better stories that play right into a person’s deep emotions. It was in High School that I first started composing songs and in High School when I won many times for my poetry because I had to vent my rage somewhere. So maybe I really did not forget my passion back then, I just turned it into a hobby instead.

For now, I will finish what I have started (this law degree and the Bar) before I go back to practicing my forgotten craft. I really miss the times I look at people and places and form a story about them. I miss just being me but I am grateful because now I know who I want to be.