Notes to my ever-changing self

happy jack
Photo taken in Isdaan, Laguna

I hear many voices in my head as I move forward from quarter life crisis.  These voices come from social pressure, unachievable ideals, and  unsolicited advice. To keep myself calm, I come up notes on how I should improve myself.

  1. If you’re not ready, then don’t
  2. Buy happiness if you can
  3. Gain survival skills
  4. Follow your heart (Yes, it works!)
  5. Forget others’ and your expectations
  6. Focus on improving yourself which means find fulfillment
  7. Include others in your journey
  8. Be useful
  9. Lend a hand
  10. Give your time to others
  11. Learn from others
  12. Build connections
  13. Share your dreams
  14. Avoid negative vibes
  15. Watch cartoons
  16. Listen to good music
  17. Focus on your strengths
  18. Count your blessings
  19. Instill faith and hope in others
  20. Never deny feelings
  21. Be vulnerable
  22. Be flexible
  23. Be open
  24. Never limit
  25. Never regret
  26. Keep values
  27. Enjoy liberty
  28. Pray
  29. Satisfy your inner being

Stop

This is my rant to many rants. How ironic!

There is so much wickedness, bitterness in this world. Do your part to save the world by  not adding another problem. We do not need a  lot of rants, bad words, or trivial complaints. Of course, we need  to practice critical thought and discernment but there is a proper place and time for everything.

I hate ‘hate.’  Being pessimistic over a lot of things is not making the world a better place to live. Before you rant and before you critique, ask yourself: What will I gain and what will people gain out of it? Am I making the world  a better place to live?

I’m still pessimistic especially when my bratty self wants to come out.  We are a work in progress.

Here are some of my bad habits I want to unlearn.

Stop questioning people’s kindness
We always read news on corruption and crime. We have our personal stories of betrayal and trust issues.  It is hard to identify who are genuinely good. Sometimes, I ask: Is this person good to me because s/he wants something from me? Is this person nice only on the surface? Is this person building a charity to help or to improve his/her image? But who are we to judge a person’s intentions or motives? We can’t surely say what they want to get in return.  If we haven’t proved such judgement or claim is right, it is wise to give people an opportunity to do good before we shut our doors.

maleficent

Stop stealing people’s happiness
In other words, don’t be such a killjoy.  If someone is so happy over a chocolate bar, comics, soap opera, TV series, Justin Bieber, One Direction, chick flick, zombie movies, let that person be. People have different tastes and interests. We don’t have to like what others like to live peacefully. In fact, we can like one another without sharing the same interests or backgrounds . Let and let live.

Stop finding answers
You don’t have to know everything. It’s human nature that we want to make sense of the world but you do not need to have an answer for every life question. It is physically and emotionally draining to answer why does this have to happen to me? No explanation will ever be enough for life’s uncertainties. On what life does not entitle you to know, you let it go.

what happened

Stop glorifying busy
I’ve posted this twice but I think  this should be a constant reminder. We define productivity by the number of tasks we have in a day or by the number of roles we play but we should always put premium on quality or quantity. Being busy is not worth bragging and a lame excuse for not having time for yourself, and loved ones and time to rest. If you put your heart and soul into one activity in a day, consider yourself productive. And if you can’t comply all your to-do list, forgive yourself.

busy

Stop looking for things you don’t have
While ambitions and aspiration give motivation and meaning in life, too much thinking of what you do not have is a mental torture.

Stop looking at other people’s flaws
People have good and bad side. We always have a choice to magnify which side we want to see in people. I try not to judge someone’s value based on their shortcomings or their mistakes. It does not mean he is not a good student, he is not a good son. It does not mean he does not have a good temper, he is not generous. Ideally, we want people to be consistently good but reality tells us that people have different shades of goodness.

Stop talking negatively about yourself
Venting out your frustration about yourself is cathartic. It’s true that sometimes we just want to fish compliments. Every human being according to Maslow has this need for acceptance and affirmation. And sometimes we want a cheerleader or someone who can empathize. But too much negative talk about yourself can be damaging. I realize the more I talk negatively about myself, the more I remember the negative feelings I have for myself.  Hence, it prolongs agony and self-loathing. We can be very self-absorbed that we fail to notice that some people have more needs and failures but they choose not to see themselves as worthless.

Stop using What-if phrases
The what-if phrases are poisoning our minds. But then again, let go of what you cannot change.

Stop spreading the idea that men are polygamous by nature
We’ve heard a lot of real life stories of men having many women. It is happening but I will never buy the idea that it’s natural for men to have two women or more. It is not a call of nature. It is deviance. And spreading this idea that it’s so normal for men encourages more men to be like one. I simply don’t like it because it’s gender biased.

polygamy

Stop complaining
I am very guilty of this. I love to complain. When I’m bored, I want to argue. We like to complain because it’s also cathartic. Ranting may help us unload our stress and anxiety but you’ll never know you might be passing stress to your listeners. Be sensitive to others. As painful as this may sound but not everybody likes to listen to your problems or even world problems.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe 16 as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.

Philippians 2:14-16

 

I know complete abstinence from these bad habits is easier said than done but we can change our mindset gradually. Maybe we can have a quota for bad words, negative words, criticisms, gossips in a day or make sure pleasant words outnumber negative vibes.

Self-Advice on Quarter Life Crisis

While your peers are making life changes in career, relationships, business, tax, status, and location, you are contemplating on what else life has to offer. Some have changed. Some people have the same things since the beginning, but they are practically satisfied. You cannot simply understand why you can’t feel ‘settled.’

It’s always tempting to think that the grass is greener on the other side when all you see is news feeds. But you don’t know people on deeper levels (even your friends). We only know people by what they want us to know. Who are we to say that we don’t deserve the life we have? Who are we to say that they have a better life? We don’t know what they go through at night? As what I said, “The greatest battles in the world do not happen in the streets. They happen in our heads.Hence, evaluate your life, not others.’

On the other hand, the fear of mediocrity is a product of OCD (Obsessive Comparison Disorder). Do not be complacent but remember, brilliance is seasonal. Let go and let God decide when.

Stop using phrases “My life could have been better if, “ “If only I have, “If I were”. There are no specific traits or steps that are key to success or happiness. Life is not tailored for you. You learn to fit in what God has given you. You have to figure out life on your own. As you go along, you learn what works for you and what does not. Do not dwell on weaknesses but concentrate on the things you have control.

happiest moments

The most popular advice on quarter life crisis is to travel the world but traveling alone does not solve anything. It only gives you room for thinking but it does not fill in whatever insufficiency you have in life. It does not heal wounded souls nor it does not help you find the answers. But travel still. It might work.

travel

While it’s true that we should find our purpose in life, take note that not everybody can be Steve Jobs, Mahatma Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela. Not everybody will win a Nobel prize, Grammy, or Magsaysay Award.

Our favorite book character, August Waters, shared the same sentiments. He feared oblivion. He wanted to be heroic. But his life was cut short for him to do something monumental. Even if all he achieved was a teenage life of cancer, did we not fall in love with him? For those who know the story of Augustus Waters and Hazel Grace Lancaster, can we not say he lived a well-lived life?

Source: http://www.hypable.com/2014/01/29/fault-in-our-stars-book-vs-film-trailer-comparisons/
Source: http://www.hypable.com/2014/01/29/fault-in-our-stars-book-vs-film-trailer-comparisons/

My friend once dreamed that she died and she panicked in her dream not because she had not taken MA yet or became a doctor. She said: “I want to be loved.” Isn’t that all we need on our deathbed?

While reading an article in Huffington Post, there was one comment from the reader that struck me most: “It’s funny that people will work so hard in business to keep their clients, their business, their money, but don’t do the same in their personal lives…”

Your fancy titles, impressive resume, and attractive Facebook profile only matter to you. It is quite meaningless to be obsessed of what people think about you when in truth, they don’t care about you. They are not interested to know what you do in life, what are your activities, what are your hobbies, what is your passion. Casual conversations made me realize this. Hence, prioritize your interests and your dreams. Make yourself interesting for your own sake.

Life can be simplified. If you have a quiet life, find noise. If you have a busy life, pause. There should be balance of things for life to be appreciated. If you are bored, find other things to do. If you are still bored, find more things to do. Never rest. If you are burned-out, take a break. If you are still burned-out, take a longer break. Continue to vandalize your calendar with vacation and bucket list until negative feelings like these subside.

I think the best way to overcome quarter life crisis is to learn life like a dance lesson. (got this thought from Lourde de Veyra’s graduation speech.) A quote from Kurt Vonnegut: “Unannounced changes in life’s itinerary are like dancing lessons from God.” The only way to learn how to dance is to follow your instructor. We don’t go against the current but we go with the flow. We don’t fight against unexpected and unwanted life events but we join with the tides of life. If someone leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along (Sarah Kay). We do not question the absence of some things in our life but we focus on what we already have.

It’s depressing to not know what you want to happen in your life but while the opportunity is not there, live life to the fullest and make the most of what you have.

You’re not missing anything in life. You are just processing but for an optimist, you are just enjoying. It’s like having a special meal on a restaurant. You are savoring every ingredient just to know how good it is. You are like a food critic but take your sister’s advice: “Do not over analyze life.”

You are made of pieces forming and falling. Compose yourself.

belo titanic