Twenty-four on 24:Part 1

So officially today marks another year given by our wonderful creator, God, to me. Twenty-four years old. Just one year less to be a quarter-of-a-century old in this world. But that doesn’t make me less grateful that I have reached such age. I can say, like any other person in this world, that I’ve been through a lot. Both as an individual and as part of something–home, school, work, barkada among others. So for all the things I’ve done, stories I’ve heard, personalities I’ve encountered, mishaps I’ve corrected, adventures I’ve risked, and perspectives I’ve altered, I dedicate these 24 items that have been true to me that may not necessarily to you.

(Note: Attached photos are my favorites in various locations that I visited and different activities that I did for the past year starting this same exact day, October 19th. This may possibly be but necessarily relevant to the item it has been attached to.)

1. Amour propre is a must.

Bantayan Island, June 2014.
Bantayan Island, June 2014.

People constantly judge us on everything we do. It’s innate. It’s obvious. It’s beyond our control. And that, I’m afraid is part of human nature. People will always try, either subconsciously or deliberately, to test our values, to challenge our beliefs, to question our thoughts, to mock our weaknesses, to outdo our abilities, and to belittle our dreams. Extremely harsh, right? But tolerable with amour propre. This evidently becomes our shield when to defend our rights, our marker when to draw the line, our cane when to stand up, our mic when to speak up, our north star when lost, and our everything when no one else is. Good thing, it’s free. Available to everyone who would want to have it, possess it or improve it. But nothing for free comes easy. Respecting oneself is a lifelong and intrinsic struggle that we inevitably face everyday. It’s hard possibly for not wanting to rock the boat. It’s fearful possibly for not wanting to displease. It’s intimidating possibly for not wanting to oppose status quo. But the moment we succumb to this harsh human nature and forget this one essential attribute, we lose everything. We lose ourselves. We become their vibrant-hued rags. Wait, they said we can choose the color, style and even the fabric. Isn’t that cool? Of course, it is. But sadly, we are still considered as rags.

2. Happiness is choice. Inspiration is ubiquitous.

Mines View Park, Baguio. September 2014.
Mines View Park, Baguio. September 2014.

When you’re watching sunset today, you’d expect sunrise by the morrow. For everything in this world exists in dichotomy. We always have two options: either we go for righteousness or iniquity, we decide to drown in joy or sorrow, or we walk through the right path or the dark path. We always have a choice; no matter what circumstance we have, no matter what hardship we face, no matter what coercion we feel, and no matter what problem we think. This has always been a matter of perspective. Destiny is not something initially written for us. It is the consequence of numerous decisions we created. No one is destined to fail. Nobody is doomed to be alone and unwanted. Nothing is fated to ruin us. Not unless we allow negativity to overstay in our clouds of thought and permitted doubt to shadow our heart’s desires. That I believe makes happiness the choice everyone should deliberately make. It may be easy for some but arduous to many. But once this has been willfully chosen over realms of negativity, I believe that everything seems to be in a better condition. We get inspired from the simplest, smallest, and most unexceptional items, places or even people’s gestures and habits. And that keeps us from stopping worries and melancholy to conquer our perilously sensitive strings of hope.

3. Everything can be done and weakness is just 90% state of mind.

21Km Jog/walk up to TOPS (approx. 900+masl). Busay, Cebu City. September, 2014.
Busay, Cebu City. September, 2014. 21km jog/walk up to Tops (approx 900+masl).

No one said that life is easy. I think no one can utter such words. Sometimes, it gets tougher than we can possibly imagine to the point of making us break down. At times, it gets grievous that giving up is way better option. But most of the times, it gets better once we overcome our inner struggles. The struggles we innately have as part of us. But I strongly believe that with focused mind and determined heart, you can do everything. Such big words, right? But not really. Like what I’ve read in one of Bo Sanchez’s books, our mindset is the real problem. We are usually overwhelmed by the idea of achieving something way great. We are usually afraid of earning zillions because we think it’s too much. We are unconsciously prohibiting ourselves to prove something unique can happen. But once we fully believe in ourselves, seriously, everything is within reach. Meanwhile still admittedly working on this, I highly suggest you stand by these words as well.

4. Contentment is and will always be a lifetime struggle.

Camotes Island, May 2014
Camotes Island, May 2014

Do you know Santiago? The young Andalusian boy in The Alchemist who has ventured for the treasure in Egypt because he dreamt about it. Traveled miles, experienced life threats, continued searching that eventually concluded treasure to be found in his place. Forgive me for such hasty and incomplete summary but I think this has vividly shown one’s contentment issue. The issue we all have, at more points than one. We all want ourselves to be in better conditions. We all love to sail our boats to obscure and unknown oceans. We all hope to see what is beyond the horizon. We all wish to venture possible farthest places. Ever noticed emphasis on the word “we”? Yes, because we all flounder on this. You and me. Him and her. Everyone.

5. Femininity is strength while conviction is duty.

Taguig. October 19, 2013.
Taguig. October 19, 2013.

Gone are those days that females are mandated to be homemakers only. Gone are those days that women are perceived to be inferior to men. Gone are those days that ladies are expected to unquestioningly conform to society’s norms. How I wish this is all truth. But it is inevitably not. There are still critics on women’s achievements, doubters on women’s capabilities, and skeptics on women’s worth. That I believe is nonsensical and outright disgusting. Good for me who lives in a country where laws have been established to protect women from abuse and discrimination. But for those countries which equal opportunities are nonexistent as of yet, I believe that their law enforcers should realize that femininity has always been a strength. It has always been more beneficial than unfavorable. But as a female talking to another female, I believe that it is our duty to protect and fight for our rights individually. We cannot be complacent on the laws that protect us. We need to be vigilant for our own sake. We need know when to draw the line. We need to distinguish what is tolerable from the not. A no is a no. And we need to do it with strong conviction. Generally, people take advantage of us when we allow them to, disrespect us when we encourage them to, and discriminate us when we motivate them to.

6. Opinions are, well, opinions only.

Skating. September 2014.

For seemingly infinite times I’ve heard this adage “Thou can never please everyone.”, I couldn’t understand why some people still always mind someone’s perspectives on them. I know it would be hypocrite of me to say that I don’t mind entirely. But I think there is a need to stop obsessing on someone’s approval. People will always have a say on us from the moment they saw us to the moment they’ve conversed with us to times they’ve shared with us. It’s uncontrollable. It’s inevitable. It’s again part of human nature. But what we can control is how to act after hearing such judgment. So it is imperative not to lose that esteem just because someone thinks you’re unattractive or weird. Say, you like wearing loose pants because you are comfortable wearing such. Then when someone says it’s baduy, of course, you’d naturally feel ashamed. Mind you, I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments when people would laugh at how I looked, how I acted and even how I talked. So yes, I know the feeling and that is why I am highly recommending to continue what you’re doing as long as you’re enjoying it. Their opinions, be it positive or negative, are irrelevant on how should you perceive yourself, your worth and your whole being. Curious what I have learned all throughout these years? Simple powerful three words: I DON’T CARE. Very powerful, indeed.

7. Embracing change like breathing air is a need.

Lapu-lapu City. May 2014.
Lapu-lapu City. May 2014.

We resist change. That’s a fact. Possibly because we are afraid rocking our sense of security and destroying our comfort zone. But the more we do, the more it gets tedious. It’s pretty simple actually. All we need to remember is that nothing’s constant in this world. People change. Perspectives change. Priorities change. We may not like all of it but trust me, it’s for the betterment. Sometimes, though painful, you need to let go of people who don’t value you as much. Sometimes, though terrifying, you need to stop what you’ve been doing for years. Sometimes, though difficult, you need to accept not all things are meant to be. And sometimes the only option we have is to learn from the past, move forward and embrace the whole difference.

8. Do something for others.

Camotes Island, May 2014.
Camotes Island, May 2014.

It’s natural to have problems that come with the blessings we receive everyday. But sometimes we overrate it’s more than what we should have been handling. Sometimes we assume it’s more important than what others have been facing. Sometimes we think it’s more crucial than what others have been solving. Even if we all face different severity levels of trials everyday that shouldn’t really should make us impervious to others. Their concerns, worries and problems may not necessarily be your priority. It’s a given. It’s apparent. But caring and helping someone on your own volition makes this world seem to be a better place to live in. Contrary to accustomed notion, doing something doesn’t necessitate nor equate to providing monetarily. There are a lot of ways to help. Smiling genuinely is one.

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