I’m back from my two weeks holiday in South-East Asia. Not sure what it is but an aurora of serenity and tranquility unravels my inner self when I re-gather and rest on my birth home soil of The Philippines. I’ve been back and forth for five years now, marvelled by many beautiful and unique places cultures within Asia. Each event had challenged every piece of my being. This year was no different.
2011 involved a lot of risk, a lot of struggles and a lot of letting go. I originally wasn’t going to join my brothers on this trip but I’m glad he convinced me to go. It was the life break and breather I needed.
Last year, I found myself resigning from my first ever job after a very challenging 4.5 years. I was scared Sh*tless with searching for a new job after the struggles (and luck) I endured landing that one. I always I had it in my head that my experiences there wasn’t good enough to move up on the corporate ladder. Fortunately, I was wrong. Now, I’m at a really good workplace. Not to mention a big and well-known company. My first job will always be a place of significance: they helped me grow professionally, personally and socially; a fair share of good and dark times. I wouldn’t go back though.
Financially, I used to have savings. Not anymore. Not for a couple of years now. I had never been so broke in my life. I struggled to keep my credit card under the limit let alone actually paying the monthly minimum balance on time. I struggled to make payments because I’d binge-spend on drinks at clubs and pubs, dined out almost every weekend, shouted mates, and loved regularly scooping up a bargain during my lunch break (live wild and free while your young right? ‘No!’ … Although I may have misinterpreted this saying). I had back to back trips (brother’s wedding and an escape from everything cruise with girlfriends) and shopping sprees (overseas bargains) unpaid on the card. Pride and fear didn’t want my brother bailing me out so I learnt the art of sacrifice. I’d cut back on leisure expenses for a solid 6 months but it caused more grieve than a helping relief. Defeated, I told my brother. I was ashamed. I was capable but failed. I could no longer help repay the mortgage. I persistently continued to pay my allocated house bills (council rates, house insurance and family car expenses). They weren’t significant amounts but it helped. Sacrificing controlled my spending habits permanently. I paid the final credit balance off in early December 2011. I even cleared my credit card before going on my holiday. That holiday will be paid off before my birthday in April this year (I’m being realistic … it wasn’t a cheap holiday).
Emotionally, I am currently recovering from depression. I had a lot of confidence issues. Gaining loving approval from my traditional-values-raised mother with academic achievement awards was mission impossible but it seemed to be the only way. My older brother is extremely book smart so she had high expectations of me. In her eyes I was also the rebellious black sheep. I wanted a “carefree-western lifestyle” but it wasn’t going to happen under the roof of my stubborn, over-protective, strict Filipino mother who finally agreed to let me out when I turned 18 (they just made ends meet … she meant well and I love her). Conflicts of contemporary beliefs versus traditional family and social values skewed my thinking, leaving me feeling unloved, worthless, confused and misunderstood. When I started university at 19, I was like a kid at a candy store. I was curious about the world; from everything my friends had tried as a kid to now, as well as the simple things I’ve wanted to do like learn how to swim. I felt I had to catch up. All I wanted to do was be free, party and enjoy my carefree life. So I explored life as an independent single woman for a good few years.
Trying to sort myself out while working, studying and enjoying life at the same time distracted me from being too phased by love. I wasn’t allowed to have a boyfriend till I finished high school (it wouldn’t have been much considering I wasn’t allowed out of the house period). I think my fear of being rejected overruled and I developed a nonchalant attitude towards love. Although, I was curious about it all. I knew nothing about relationships; about conversations and rules. I knew of but knew nothing about the signs and games people used and played. I knew very little about having sex.
I got obsessively attached to this man I met in 2010. He was the first man who managed to stick around for more than a month.Running down my rookie-checklist, this man pretty much had most of what I was looking for. He had the looks (tall, dark, handsome), he dressed well, he could dance, he loved classic R&B soul, played and loved sport especially basketball, he was laid back and simple, gentle but had the cocky-smart-ass attitude that I like, and he was easy to talk to. The downside – he wasn’t interested in me the way I was in him. It hurt more because he didn’t know how to say no, nor was he gutsy and honest enough to tell me how he felt or what he was thinking (shows how blind and stupid I was). Given his circumstance, and my lack of relationship experience, communication between us obviously didn’t last longer than a few months. The upside – at least I know I’m not the ‘friends with benefits’ type of girl. Also, I’d like a man who shows that he respects me as a woman. The dramas of getting over the first …
Letting go is difficult … because I hate losing … but having reflective moments while I was away, helped.
Before I left, I watched Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts. It’s great book written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I recommend you read it. I’m on a very similar journey, hence why I love the book. I’ve spent the last five years opening up to God, to myself, my family and friends. In the beginning I was scared shitless. Learning and getting past the fear, as Merlin Mann best words it in his workshop Scared Shitless: How I Learned to Love Being Afraid of Pretty Much Everything, it’s been worth every moment. On my trip this year, I ate local dishes of the Philippines and Singapore which were all full of flavour, you were tasting national history. I conversed with God through prayers, thanksgiving and requests. I’m growing to love and respect myself more each day. Every moment has made my trip memorable.
When I was on this trip, I was looking for my word. I came up with a string of three words Life-God-Free meaning: live life in God and be free. Thinking about it, it’s more of a motto. but I think I found it. My word: Self-Expression.