Sunday, May 26, 2013

How to be strong

I am a twenty-something woman. I’ve had my share of heartbreaks, disappointments and terrible monsters inside my head. Yet, if there really is such a thing as pain quota, I don’t think I’ve used up my fair share at this point. Not even close to half of it. Although that can be seen as a blessing, sometimes it makes me shy away from other people’s troubles. I feel unqualified to dig into their misery when I, in fact, haven’t had enough of my own.

This troubles me the most when the heartbreak staring at my face is that of the person most important to me.
You see, the love of my life had gone through one of the most, if not the most, painful thing anyone can go through in this lifetime. His spirit was broken; the pain was similar to his chest being ripped open, or so I imagined. That’s the thing. I can only imagine. This happened years ago. And although the pain of such loss is no longer the center of his being, it is still there, tucked at the corners of his heart. Whenever that feeling resurfaces, I listen to him with all my heart. But sometimes, I want to do more than just listen. I want to make this alright.

I want to have enough strength to face my fears and drive away those of the people I love. But how do I do that? How can I be strong when the very person I want to be strong for also happens to be the only soul my heart dares bare its weakness? How do I make him feel he can lean on me when, time and again, he has seen me broken, fed up and expressing intentions to just give up, although not meaning to but just needing to say it out loud?

I am far from getting answers. What I know is that everyday, every single day, I will try my hardest to stand still at the face of his agony, to not cringe despite feeling insufficient and undeserving. I will try. And perhaps someday I’ll figure out that being strong isn’t an endpoint. That strength is not something you catch and forever hold in your palms. Strength lies in the undertaking; strength is in the attempt.

I can only pray so. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

My favorite 'P' word

I once told a friend that we belong to the Passion generation. I don’t know how true that is for everyone else but I want to believe that it is true for me. As what Celine shared during her The Better Story Project workshop (read story here), it is exceptionally amazing how you can be anyone you wish to be in this era. Compared to our parents whose choices were probably limited to what constitutes the word “professional”, we can now make a living out of being a hair stylist, a fashion stylist, a blogger, a fitness instructor, just about any other job that doesn’t directly stem out of a formal degree. We are no longer confined to the choices we made when we filled out College application forms at 16.

Celine’s journey, of turning her back at the corporate world, taking a risk and putting all her faith into her passion, truly made me think of what it is I am passionate about. After Celine’s talk, we were asked to make a sort of vision board of what represents our passion. This is what I came up with:

I am an accountant, people, please be very forgiving if my work doesn’t mirror any kind of vision to you. Anyway, I’ll just explain it briefly. I understand how hard it must be to interpret my work correctly. Basically, the words “on the job” and the stiletto-wearing foot with the never-ending leg represent my passion for my profession. I know it may be difficult to believe, but I like what I do. I like the challenge and the structure it brings in my life. But, as signified by the black and white picture of a woman with colourful eye make-up, I will never be content with a life solely about that. (See? May lalim ang vision board ko. Hindi lang obvious!) I need space to accommodate all the other things I like that add color and spice to my life.

That night I learned that I do not hate my job. Actually, I like it. Geek alert!!! I like crunching numbers, as long as you don’t mix them up with letters in one equation or what I know to be the ultimate enemy of my existence, Algebra; let’s not even go to Calculus. I like providing solutions to day-to-day operation chaos. I like being ambushed with questions and be forced to think on my toes. I hate long meetings, except when they include really experienced people because that is when I learn the most. I like taking charge and, as much as it breaks my heart, being held accountable for the consequences. I realized that I do not drag myself out of bed on most mornings. At least, not anymore. But is this what I am passionate about? Is this what I want my life to be aimed at?

Not entirely.

For the longest time, I am sure about two loves in my life (people excluded): reading and writing. Reading helps me make sense of this fascinating Universe, while writing is my validation that I truly get it. The Passion workshop made me recognize one more thing: learning.

I am passionate about learning.

I love asking questions. I love listening to what people have to say. I love school; I sincerely look forward to my graduate class every Saturday. I don’t mind recognizing that someone knows better, so much better, than I do. I like that, actually. I love that you can never run out of things to try in this lifetime, as long as you make a move. And you can never, ever run out of things to learn about, as long as you are humble enough to recognize that there are so many things you do not know yet.  

I realized I do not have to turn my back on my day job to pursue my passion. Being an accountant is part of who I am. Letting it go is chipping a piece of me away. My personal challenge is to maintain balance: to constantly have an empty space in my life for new things to learn, to experience, to read and write about, despite everything else that goes on. For someone handling a corporate job and under Finance, at that, this definitely requires effort and constant priority check.

Regardless of when I’m 30 or married with 5 kids (Oh, Lord) or 65, regardless if it’s diving or baking or crocheting, I need to unreasonably allow myself to learn. Always.

The Better Story Project: 4/29/13
'Til next time, girlies!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Predictably (and amusingly so) Irrational

I swear I read Freakonomics. But ask me now what chapter I found most interesting and the only response I can give you is a guilty smirk. It was amusing- the relationships, the variables, the way factors are interconnected- but it was simply not my cup of tea.

However, I haven’t given up on Economics just yet.

Predictably Irrational is a compilation of research experiments that tackle Economics. The difference between this and Freakonomics? Predictably Irrational explores the world of Behavioral Economics.

“Behavioral Economics is a relatively new field, one that draws aspects of both psychology and economics. It’s not just the behavior that I aim to understand, but the decision-making process behind such behavior”. –Dan Ariely, Author

Using my own words, this book helped me understand why we all want to be honest, happy and content individuals but find it challenging to be so. Is it the environment? Is it pressure from other people? Through simple yet structured experiments, this book somehow managed to dig into the bottom of things: we are the very people who sabotage our own happiness, and we do it not only by being irrational, but by being predictably so.

If there is a substantial amount of curiosity you’ve developed by now that may urge you to get a copy of this book, stop right here. I don’t want to spoil it for you. If not, read on and appreciate a handful of my favorite insights:

And lastly, even though I get to appreciate Economics more through this book, I’m still a hopeless romantic. Isn’t this one of the simplest, yet sweetest dedications, ever??? J

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A better story from a better you

The Better Story Project is a non-profit organization whose advocacy focuses on facilitating activities that would help empower young women. I stumbled upon their website late last year and became interested in their movement since then. Fortunately, last week, I was finally able to join their workshop.

For the month of April, their watchword is Passion. The group invited Celine Encarnacion, a fitness instructor, yoga enthusiast, and plana forma teacher, as the speaker. I was really excited to listen to her passion journey because, obviously, there is no definite path to a life of a fitness enthusiast. No child ever said, “I want to teach yoga!”, when asked what she wants to be when she grows up. So I was looking forward to hearing how she maneuvered her way into the life she is living now.

Before the talk started, I was able to meet a couple of girls. I went there alone so it was such a relief that other participants were very open to meeting new friends. After a few minutes of chitchat, I figured out that most of them either work in advertising or are teachers (as in preschool and high school teachers). I received blank stares when I shared that I am an accountant.

I know what could have been going on in their minds. Like, hello? We’re talking about passion here! No place for serious, all about cold hard logic, number-crunching accountants! Luckily, that was just my paranoid brain talking. Even though they didn’t get what I do exactly, in the same way I couldn’t imagine how a day is spent in advertising/marketing, I felt warm and welcomed around them. In fact, I feel like attending their workshops regularly, despite being quite beyond the “young women” category. 

The Better Story Project is a such a noble move. I can only hope more organizations will be dedicated to the empowerment of youth, especially girls, in the future. There are so many factors that influence us to focus on the wrong things, to look for ugly spots in the mirror, to chip away parts of us here and there to fit into society’s cookie-cutter definition of a woman, as if we need any defining.

Awwww. ;)

I wish the people behind this project the time, resources, inspiration and all the love they need to keep it going. :)

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