April 20, 2017 / 00:13 AM
When I tell people I’m an introvert, they either laugh or shake their heads in disbelief – ako rin, actually.
I won’t even try to sugarcoat it, I can be loud and talkative…with people I’m comfortable with. I’m pretty sociable, and I find myself *awkwardly* pursuing conversations with strangers or acquaintances before the other party does. But, let me tell you something, I love my alone – a lot. I don’t mind being a wallflower in a crowded place. Riding the train at night is almost cinematic. Praying in tranquil streets is my daily communion with God. Tall bookstores and well-lit coffee shops – devoid of pilit conversations – are my haven.
So, why do I even bother?
Because, we are urgently called to live outside of the familiar. Growth is even more beautiful where we least expect it. We all have our own personal voices that need to be heard. And, nobody else can do that for us. I pray this for you: may you have the courage to dream and move big enough that you embrace the need of others, too.
- Know your strengths (and weaknesses).
Through the years, I’ve managed to make my blog into a ministry – praise God! It started with familiarizing myself with my strengths: writing and visual storytelling. Knowing my audience – mostly female high schoolers to young adults – helped me filter the content I continue to create up to this day. I also tried understanding how people responded to my brand, and I fully used it to my advantage. More than the effectivity of the work I produce, I’ve discovered that people stay with me because of my ability to empathize with them. Being relational is deeply essential to any passion.
- Choose a platform you’re comfortable with.
Speaking in front of an audience makes me anxious. I tend to lose my train of thought because I’m too focused on the possibility of messing up that…I actually do. Even speaking with my peers makes me insecure, at times. This is why I write. A blog allows me to lay out my scattered thoughts, edit, and proofread it until I’m content. As a perfectionist, this also means that there are less opportunities for me to make mistakes, since I can always hit the delete key. Writing also, strangely, gives me the comforts of anonymity. I can imagine people reading my words and not see me but, I hope, they see a part of themselves in it.
A great advantage of being introverted is the patience to listen. Listening is an act of humility. Seeking out people and their stories instead of rushing to speak and be heard is honorable and rare. By being intentional and being present, we gain the trust of others. By digesting what another party says – without prejudice and expectations – we make way for better understanding and genuine empathy. Paraphrasing C.S. Lewis, it isn’t thinking less of ourselves, it’s thinking of ourselves less.
Read: Six Lessons in Good Listening via Desiring God
Start with a peer or a colleague you have similar interests with, and bond over that commonality. Begin a newsletter, and ask your close friends if they can be part of it. Once you’ve got the hang of it, maybe start a public blog. Create a podcast if you find that you’re more confident as a speaker. Put your illustrations inside books, and let people find you through that. Make short videos about your every day using your phone, tether these familiar moments, and post a vlog on YouTube. There are countless of ways to interact with other people indirectly – if that makes you anxious or uncomfortable. Just don’t rush it because it’s so easy to spot authenticity. More than aiming for influence, invest in your why. Let purpose be your foundation.
For a culture that tells us influence is limited to public platforms, sponsored posts, TED talks, etc. – no shade thrown – be that individual who chooses to focus on a single person, whose quiet impact does not scream for attention. If there’s one thing I continue to learn from this entire blogging shebang, it’s how any act of kindness is never wasted – here or in Eternity. It may not merit attention or praise but at the end of the day, a humble act of love and service – which refuses to douse itself in self-serving glory – will never be forgotten.
“If you’re feeling burdened and overwhelmed by the needs of the people around you today, begin changing the world by investing in one woman. Your one woman might actually be the little girl who sits at your feet while you wash the dishes. She may be the woman in the cubicle next to yours or the woman who lives down the street. She may be in your small group or a woman who doesn’t own a Bible.
It’s impossible to meet all the needs surrounding us, but by making a difference in one person’s life, our story becomes part of God’s story. By investing in another person what we’ve learned from Him, our story expands beyond our lifetime into eternity.” (Amy Carroll, The Quiet Impact of One Woman via Proverbs 31 Ministries)
April 03, 2017 / 02:36 AM
I’m turning 25 in a couple of months, and I don’t have life figured out – will I ever?
There are days when my bank account is close to empty, when I only go to a doctor’s appointment…when I have my parents with me, when I get anxious going to the airport and the bank, plus many other things I’m embarrassed to even put into words. I’m clumsily chasing possibilities, praying my soul’s intentions remain victorious over the work I produce. It’s taken a lot of mess and molding to get me to where I am now. Admittedly, growth is uncomfortable but it’s endlessly humbling to recognize and embrace a teachable heart.
I could actually throw in cliché but uber essential tips for young adults like allocate 20% of your monthly salary to your savings (which I *try* to do) or make a 5-year plan, but that’s for another entry – when I’ve become more disciplined…in due time. But this, I do give you: reminders you can tuck in your heart when you have idle days, when you’re struggling, and when you’re allowing someone else’s standard of worth and purpose be your own.
There is enough time for me. There is enough time for you. With everybody’s activities and, yes, progress sprawled out on platforms for you to digest, it’s easy to forget how your timeline is uniquely yours. This is not a competition; you can actually be happy for your friend’s successes – just saying. Maybe you don’t like who you are right now because you’re too busy looking at other people’s social media highlight reel than your heart.
“You are allowed to admire the voices of other people but be weary of when you begin clinging to those voices to give you your own. The people you’re watching on the internet won’t show up to live your life for you. You’ve got to move. You still have things to say. Don’t kill the stories before they’re even told.” (Hannah Brencher)
We will, eventually, get to a point in our lives when we can be proud of the work we’ve managed to produce through the years. If the time is not now, good, it means we need to make peace with the glory that has yet to arrive. Maybe, we aren’t ready. Maybe, there are things corrupting our hearts that we have to let go of. Maybe this is, always and in all ways, His sovereign protection. Our finiteness – limited by reason and result – cannot comprehend it now but some day, may it be soon, we will. God, in His limitless mercy and compassion, will not leave us this way.
- It’s okay to not be busy.
The past few weeks have been an incessant blur. I’ve been covering one event after the other, finishing my Saturday classes, and meeting self-made deadlines for the blog. It took a toll on me when I found myself bedridden Monday morning due to a fever. Believe it or not, I was praising the Heavens for my unexpected sickness – eventually cured by Judy’s vlogs, sleep, and Earl Grey Tea.
In a world where sleepless nights and ungodly work hours are badges of honor, give yourself the luxury to rest. Your health and sanity are more important than your deadlines. Sometimes, you can be preoccupied but not actually be productive. It’s okay not to be busy. Take an hour or 2 to catch up on Riverdale, get a crazy 10-Step Skin Care Routine, go on a day trip, just rest. Okay? Okay.
- It’s never too late to learn something new.
It took a few years for me to educate myself with everything beauty. After much time binge-watching YouTube videos and reading blogs, I finally learned, not only to do it, but photograph and write about products. In the beginning, I thought very little about it. Ah, maarte lang ako – inherently, ha-ha. But, it eventually became my (very expensive) passion. I’m always on the look out for new beauty releases – as in, every day ako pumupuntang Watsons – and trends I can share with you, guys. Eventually, I realized that I can actually apply my newfound obsession with my shoots. Sometimes, I even do the make-up on my models! A beauty channel next, perhaps?
Remain teachable. Do something outside of your every day. Have a passion project. There are no expiration dates when it comes to dreams. You will always have time for the things you love. When nothing is certain, everything is possible.
“Making art is extremely difficult, requiring tremendous courage, enormous sacrifice, great risk. You leap into the abyss, into the arms of uncertainty. Open and alert, you respond to the world around you, and it causes you a great deal of pain and tremendous trepidation. But, of course, these are the natural byproducts of a closely examined life.” (Carrie Mae Weems via Brain Pickings)
Read: Big Magic: Lessons on Creativity
We have got to stop cancelling on plans at the last minute (unless our boss requires us to do the occasional overtime). Make an effort to reach out, reply to a message ASAP, plan a get-together. We’re all busy making things and living out our best days, but may we not forget what really matters. Even if this causes us discomfort – because our alone can be so beautiful – move, and we’ll be surprised at how much He can bless us when we take the time to seek out other people.
A note, do not be so obsessed with your social media presence that you forget to take care of the relationships which occur in real life.
Read: Being Intentional in A “Busy” Culture
You are not entitled to overnight success just because of your education and social status. It takes a lifetime of devotion, zeal, and faith to make one’s dreams into a reality. Also, you are not your résumé. So, you can take all that pressure you’ve put on yourself, and be kind to your progress. You’re doing a great job, friend. I applaud you!
In God’s economy, nothing is ever wasted. He does not waste a day, and He will not waste you. Everything, even the most unremarkable parts of your life, happen to further grow you. Personally, I just love being old, you unabashedly become yourself. There’s something so beautiful about accepting the person you once apologized for.
November 06, 2016 / 12:00 PM
I used to take so much pride in being busy.
Man, I was doing a whole lot. I was juggling university, an internship, freelance work, and my blog. I actually lost so much weight because I didn’t even have the time to eat. I may have distanced myself from so much people who needed me. I hardly had time to be with my friends. When I would arrive home, I would get into unnecessary fights with my parents about the silliest of things because I was terribly exhausted; I took it out on them. I couldn’t reply to letters from readers who just needed my words to get through the day. Most importantly, I had no time for Jesus.
Why? I was verily afraid of being alone with my thoughts. I could not separate the idea of success and being, staying “relevant” without constantly doing so much work (and broadcasting my activities on every social media platform I had). These may not have been my intentions then but now that I’m a bit older and hopefully wiser, I know that was the desire of my heart.
Things have changed, thank God.
Lately, I have been living my life quietly yet well. Some days, I am so frustrated because I am so used to a life that calls for so much attention – my life revolved around it for years. Now, I can truthfully say that I am incredibly content and happy with where I am.
When I take the time to actually respond to messages, to reach out, show up, and just simply be present, I realize how people really need me. When I make that extra effort – that really isn’t difficult at all – I sustain the relationships I have with the people I love. This is how people stay. If I have the time to post videos of fat babies on Facebook, why can’t I take the time to reply to a text message from a friend? Really, how can we have all the means to communicate in this day and age and still intentionally disconnect from one another?
“It’s easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. Get some rest.” (Bob Goff)
I used to make my being an introvert (surprise, I am one) as an excuse to keep canceling plans, bail out on people, and move dates until it never, ever pushes through but I realize that I’m just ridiculously lazy. Well, the people I love are more important than my comfort. I have pretty amazing, life-changing conversations with myself, yes. My alone is beautiful yet community is as important. People who intentionally ask you about your day, who encourage you with the little things, who remember your conversations…I cherish them so much.
One’s presence, one’s availability is the heart of every relationship. You sustain it by initiating, by reaching out, by exerting effort, by being present. Nowadays, I like the peace, I like the life of repetition because this seemingly unremarkable yet praiseworthy life allows me to be available. There may be a bigger promise out there for me but now, this is where I am, and this is what I am called to do. I am slowly, clumsily learning what it means to live life well, which is greater than success I am capable of achieving in this lifetime.
“Sometimes you pray, and sometimes you are the prayer.”
This post entitled ‘I’ll hold you in the light’ by the incredible Hannah Brencher encapsulates the heart of this entry too.
October 03, 2016 / 11:30 AM
On my first year of full-fledged employment, I hardly did anything creative.
I was – I still am – a photographer for a television network working a 9-hour job. I did not bother to stray, explore, and create (more). I was exhausted. I resisted the tug of Divinity to bring me to higher places. More than that, I felt entitled to a greater life than I had. I was, for a lack of a better term, a brat.
I was completely paralyzed. I talked about it. I wrote about it. I cried about it. I prayed about it. But, I was too crippled by my fear, my insecurity, and my pride to move. I thought my best work was behind me. I thought I no longer had within me jewels, which brought forth good, sincere work I could be proud of. I thought, I thought, I thought yet I did not do. I had my entire life ahead of me, and I thought the best, most crucial parts of it were already finished. I was wrong, thank God.
“And you have treasures hidden within you – extraordinary treasures – and so do I, and so does everyone around us. And bringing those treasures to light takes work and faith and focus and courage and hours of devotion, and the clock is ticking, and the world is spinning, and we simply do not have time anymore to think so small.”
I am tired of making excuses to delay creativity. I no longer have the patience to wait for joy, even inspiration, to knock in my heart and surprise me when I know it is within reach. No amount of complaining and (self) hatred can ever bring me to greater heights. Devotion, time, gratitude…now those things will carry me through sleepless nights and innumerable hours perfecting, molding, honing my lifelong passion.
Every night, after performing my day job, I write. I write about my faith. I write about the books that make my heart ache. I write about my love for beauty. I write about so many things, and I can hardly keep track. On weekends, I take photographs. I take portraits of my friends. I plan, go to places, explore, and take photographs of anything that captures my interest (which are a lot of things). The result?
My life is filled with utter and inexplicable Big Magic.
I still keep my day job. I still think I have a long way to go before I can declare myself capable of (full-fledged) freelance work. I still don’t think I am brilliant at what I do, but those things don’t matter as much anymore. Why? Because I get to create things. I get to see smiles on people’s faces when I show them an image I took of them. I get to read letters from strangers, from friends telling me that I have (unintentionally) brought light upon their lives because of something I wrote.
“I did not ask for any external rewards for my devotion; I just wanted to spend my life as near to writing as possible – forever close to that source of all my curiosity and contentment – and so I was willing to make whatever arrangements needed to be made in order to get by.”
Do I get impatient? Do I get fearful? Yes, but nowadays, hardly. I battle the paralyzing fear with space for intentional creativity, a grateful heart, and good faith.
I chose this creative life. I chose photography, I chose writing, I chose to document my life in this public platform. And, with everything, I choose the long hours of waiting, I choose the ache in my body after sleepless nights moving and creating, I choose the fleeting moments of discontent and insecurity, I choose the constant criticism, I choose my personal demons, and I choose the paralyzing fear of financial instability. I choose it all because there is nothing else in this earthly world that can bring as much joy to my life as the very act of creating.
So, dear friend, I plead you to take a moment out of your chaos, your mess, and read this. I think you are, you can be spectacular. You heard it right. I think you have everything it takes to live a life devoid of fear and a life of boundless, inexorable creativity.
“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust – and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean that creative living is always easy; it merely means that creative living is always possible.”
Let your fear of being wrong go. Let your fear of criticism go. Let your fear of being relevant go. Let your fear of being better go. Create recklessly, imperfectly, and joyfully. Create with all your heart, and you will find that your life is an instrument of and for Love and Light. As long as you are breathing, you have time – more time than you need – to bring forth this inexplicable Big Magic within you. Never, ever forget that.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is a life-changing book on creativity by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert.
If you are hopelessly treading though creative dryness, if you simply need encouragement, validation to keep pursuing your dreams, if you want to discover these transcendent treasures hidden well within you, get this book, now.
March 16, 2016 / 10:35 AM
I like 23. Wait, I actually love 23.
I wish I could stay 23 because this time, I actually (try to) make good choices.
23 is an age of perfectly balanced careless abandon and adventure, righteous selfishness and responsibility, forgivable youth and self-limitation. It is all sorts of (crazy) wonderful and exhilarating. Do not be deceived. I still am much weak, fragile, and detestable things I wish I weren’t, yet I am comforted by the fact that I have my entire life to become a person I could be proud of.
The past year has led me to truly grow spiritually and emotionally. I have had so much breakthroughs that has caused a quiet, all-encompassing revolution in my heart. I can only pray that these things I have learned through the Lord’s constant wisdom and guidance – an emptying of myself, an overflow of Him – can be a source of light to you, friend.
1. Try not to plead for a future you have not yet earned.
My idleness and my need for greatness allows me to evaluate my life again and again. I panic and predict a future I have yet to live and arrive at. It wasn’t really as bad as before. There were familiar, somber days when I would find myself spontaneously breaking down – I actually thought I was clinically depressed. I was consumed by fear; there were too much choices, and the uncertainty led me to places I promised I would not stay. Thankfully, through time, and with grace in my heart, I have arrived at a place in my life where I am more certain about things – one being Christ.
There is much I desire to do. There is a spirited vision so alive in me; 24 hours is simply not enough to course me through this path. The journey is long, intimidating, tedious yet (sometimes) dull, but it is my noble duty to discover and keep. My timeline will always be my own; I claim my detours, my mistakes, and my breakthroughs. Progress is progress no matter how small it may be.
Patience is my ally, it will constantly keep me grounded when I choose to stray, when I am too apathetic to try again, and when I can no longer see purpose. The things I love may bring me to dark, strange places; may I have enough courage to follow. I know for certain that there is light in the end.
Ultimately, the tug of what I (choose to) love and offer myself to, brings me closer to Christ. I may go towards different directions – I still know nothing about – but His faithfulness promises for all roads to always lead to Him.
2. Stop romanticizing things that hurt.
For years, my blog has been fueled by my reckless, ephemeral emotions – it is alive because of it. I selfishly embraced the havoc, the hurt, the mess and created tender, sad things to make the past tangible, to make my hurt mine, and to not be forgotten. Well, through time, I discovered that the more I dwelt in the comfortable ache, the more I resisted the option of possible, saving joy.
On my 23rd year, I made the (unconscious) choice to stop writing about the ‘beauty’ of my sadness. I think it is one of the bravest things I have done for myself. I realize that art need not be tragic. I do not make my, nor anyone else’s pain invaild; do honor your memories, but don’t stay there for too long. I still am a shamelessly emotional writer but I am learning that I can actually draw so much from my joy, my strength, and my peace.
Moreover, I always have the choice to dwell on my pain or I can redirect my thoughts towards praiseworthy things. When I take a moment to step away from my sadness, I see how much people really need me. Indeed, the sea is my sadness, and He taught me how to swim.
3. Intentionally make space (and time) for what you love.
I almost gave up on blogging a year ago. I was tired, lusterless, and uninspired. My exhaustion led me to believe that I had to give up some things in my life because they did not seem to produce any results.
I constantly questioned my ability to create. I could no longer churn out organic content. I found myself losing interest in the things I love. For a year or so, my perception of my present made me lose sight of the treasures the Creator faultlessly put inside of me. Things then changed.
I learned so late that I can actually have a full-time job and still be passionate about other things…and intentionally make time for it. Work will always tire me but it is work – it is never easy. Make time for the things you love, and you will find that the weight of every day becomes lighter.
During the start of this year, I read a life-changing book, entitled Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert. It thoroughly discusses the essence of creating; for as long as we are alive, our human selves will need and aspire to create – with the presence or absence of results.
4. Your (pursuit of) happiness is closer than you think.
I lost more than ten pounds during my first few months of active physical training. I went to the gym every single weekday after work. Every (real, legitimate, and physical) ache in my body was worth it because my faith in myself was slowly transforming. I could lift heavy baggage, I could climb flights of stairs without stopping, I confidently started wearing sleeveless tops, I even bought my first two-piece swimsuit.
I also started writing on my journal again. I jot down Bible verses from my devotional time, I record quotes from books and my social media platforms, I write letters to Jesus (and even to my future husband), and I document my day to day on paper. I even purchased a grateful journal to constantly remind me of His inexorable faithfulness.
I took small, significant steps towards my happiness, and it was through discipline that I gained a greater sense of self and wholeness.
5. I deserve delay.
Unanswered prayers do not always mean a redirection. I finally understand that if there are good, selfless desires in my heart that remain unanswered, it means that there are other things that still need my full attention. My human desires need to be purified again and again before my hands are prepared to receive them. I deserve delay, no matter how long the wait, because I need to prepare myself for the best, not only the good.
My relationships would flourish more if I constantly teach myself to apologize. Humbly and respectfully submitting myself to those around me – family, friends, superiors, colleagues – means thinking less of myself and living beyond the individual self. I do not always have to be right. I do not always have to win. My relationships are more important than my pride.
7. Grow comfortable in the grace you have been given.
There is grace for my unbelieving heart. There is grace for the echoing shame. There is grace for forgotten convictions. There is grace for faithlessness. There is grace for misplaced affections. There is grace for unforgiveness.
Grace is inexorable. With grace permeating through my veins, I course through every little (dark, painful, sad) thing, and I know I will be rewarded with something infinitely greater than myself.