#PrideMonth entry 1: my best friend

Five years ago (in uni), I was blessed with the most amazing debate partner anyone could ask for, and he’s still one of my best friends. Everyday, I’m grateful that he is who he is and that I got to meet him. If there was anyone to discriminate against him – call him names, deprive him of rights, belittle him, I will not sit idly, and watch. I’ll make sure they (whoever they are) understand that no one deserves to be treated that way. As much as I can logically argue for rights, I would admit that LGBT, in particular, is a personal cause for me. When I hear people say that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry or adopt kids, they’re saying that my best friend who, for the past tumultuous six years of my life, has been a rock and a supporter, is not good enough to reaffirm his love for another or build a family just because of his sexual preference. That, I cannot stand. Who you are and who you choose to love is not reason to be treated with any less dignity than any other person. You deserve to be seen as an equal because you are. 

united colors of bullies

It’s been awhile since I last put up an entry and before I start sobbing and saying sorry for leaving you guys hanging, let me just say that I had a tough month writing 15 chapters of a book I’m hoping to publish. So please please put down the pitch forks, I’m not one to make excuses but my brain was fried (figuratively of course).

Today I thought it would be fun to write about a topic that inspired one of my book concepts and that is bullies– in all their colors and varieties. We already know about the obvious ones, which mind you are a scary lot but there are more subtle versions. They hide under the covers labeling themselves something more beautiful and attractive. The magpie in us grovel for the promise that it oh so boldly declares then we realize later on that the shine it has is all that it is, shine.

The inspiration came from a nostalgic evening of coffee with 2 of my best friends- after they convinced me to keep writing on this blog because THEY ACTUALLY READ IT AND LIKE IT. Imagine my surprise when they started talking about entries I wrote, I mean these are my overly critical, highly intellectual and difficult to please best friends we’re talking about. My self loathing subconscious found that difficult to believe and quite frankly, I was speechless for a few moments.

On the same night, we realized a lot about the path we took together in college. We gave up so much to be that image of an over achieving student whose main goal is to get the best grades, manage as many  extra curriculars and maintain as few creative, non logical pursuits as we can. Labels and expectations- the box they made for us- those were our bullies. 

photo from caity-bullying.blogspot.com

I’ve finally learned that bullies don’t just come in different kinds of people, they come in every shape, size or form. I may not have been shoved around or locked in a janitor’s closet by some teen fiction stereotype queen bee but I’ve been confined in a society where there’s a predetermined standard of beauty- one which some may claim I don’t fit. That norm, that belief, that is my own brand of bully. It follows me around, taunting me to cinch around my curves and smoothen my edges to fit this overused mold already made for me.

When I  found enough courage and fought back, told society to shove its size zero, fair-skinned, blonde perfection up their bums, another bully manifested from the shadows- one far stronger and more paralyzing than its predecessor. The firm grip of its manacle, over sized hands smother me with ridicule of how success has and will continue to elude me because the career I chose to love and devote my life to will not earn me millions, buy me a mansion or a jet-setting lifestyle

Your bullies may be far more frightening or life threatening than mine. I can’t be the judge of that and I won’t try to. If there’s one thing I took away from dealing with bully after bully, people and circumstances alike, they’re never as easy to deal with as they they seem on the outside. It’s a bully for a reason. They know your weakness and capitalize on it as much as they can so you’re hurt in the worst possible way. They planned the perfect, most gruesome way to twist and turn the knife they stuck to your heart so you’re left clutching at it, trying to rip it off and stop the bleeding.

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But if you don’t know already, let me be the first to tell you, you’re far stronger than any of your bullies. You have the ability heal and those battle scars will remind you every day of how you fought and how you deserve to be happy- HOW YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE YOU CHOSE TO LIVE and not one chosen by some thug or an unfortunate circumstance for you. 

You get one shot at life my friend, don’t let some bully take that away from you. 

#trending

I read comic books, wear vintage clothes, listen to artsy and more alternative music, prefer indie films to mainstream ones and do not see marriage in my future despite having been brought up in a conservative Catholic family. It’s safe to say I’ve always had and eclectic taste and personality. Never have I felt the need to conform to trends or apologize for who I am all 22 years of my life. It’s not on purpose of course. There are days when I ask myself why I can’t just like what everyone else likes, see things the way most people do. That would definitely make shopping SOOOOOOO MUCH easier (and cheaper)! Like most people in the ‘out’, I do ask every now and then what is so good about being in the bandwagon. 

What are the perks of trend?

photo from bedetrends.tumblr.com

I’d like to think that genuine appreciation is the premise of those who follow trends, that the cool kids who are trend right and are welcome passengers of the bandwagon are truly into those they claim they absolutely LOVE. In some cases though, there are those who only like what they like because it’s all they know. After all, mainstream is called that for a reason. They get the most publicity therefore a bigger fanbase. In other cases, they’re scared to admit that they listen to, read, like something else because they fear the scrutiny of their peers or crave the approval of others.

Spread your wings!

If you’re the former then you need to spread your wings and fly a little further from the nest. Often the view is so much better but even if it isn’t at least you know you made an informed choice to find your way back to what you’re comfortable with. Growing up sheltered, I thought I already know what I want early on but going through life on my own opened my eyes to things I appreciated more than others. The journey towards them have been revealing and they made me the person I am proud to be- crazy eccentricities, quirky clothes and all.

Be original! Be you!

If you’re the latter, then I suggest you take one long look in the mirror while you tell yourself that what you want is worth showing and exploring. You are more important than the bandwagon some PR specialist probably concocted to raise the sales of an All American pop star and all his merchandise. SNAP OUT OF IT! Trust me, I’ve been in your shoes. Pretending to fangirl on some poor celebrity who I don’t even like sucked the life right out me. I am not going back. Don’t wait for it to happen to you, if it hasn’t already.

The danger of falling into trends even if you don’t like them or solely because you don’t know there are other choices out there is that IT PROGRESSES. It starts with singers you like, movies you watch or clothes you wear. Then it slowly begins to affect your self-image, your goals, your relationships and other aspects of your life that you used to love. When you agree compromising on the small things that make you happy in favor of those that make 90% of the twitter population happy, soon enough that will be your instinctive response to other decisions you make- even the crucial ones.

At least not if you’d rather take your own car 🙂 photo from donutwisdom.tumblr.com

THERE’S ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG WITH LIKING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE LIKES if that is what’s truly natural to you. For those who aren’t in that group, have the courage to admit it. DON’T LET THE CHOICES OF THE MAJORITY DICTATE WHO YOU ARE because they are happy being who they are; you should be too.

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doing the right thing

A fellow blogger, who also happens to be a really good friend of mine, shared this on Facebook a few minutes ago. I thought it was a story worth telling so here I am on my blog, writing about it.

Photo from Brent Tzu’s facebook account

Meet 98 year old Dobri Dobrev, a man who lost his hearing in the second world war. Every day he walks 10 kilometers from his village in his homemade clothes and leather shoes to the city of Sofia, where he spends the day begging for money.

Though a well known fixture around several of the city’s churches, known for his prostrations of thanks to all donors, it was only recently discovered that he has donated every penny he has collected — over 40,000 euros — towards the restoration of decaying Bulgarian monasteries and the utility bills of orphanages, living instead off his monthly state pension of 80 euros.

Sometimes you just know you’re doing the right thing even when no one else affirms it.

Because we live in a world where meritocracy is the rule of thumb, we forget the greatest contributions that we make to society, to people we hardly know are the things we do out of selflessness and utter disregard for social image. Here is a man who may have little financially and in material possessions but he chose to live a life that still cares about others. I’m not encouraging the rest of the world to crowd the streets and beg for money they can donate rather I’m hoping I can convince you to care. 

Our gestures don’t have to be big. They don’t have to change the world. We at least have to care enough to move towards a gesture, an action, a vision that involves making other people’s lives easier than they are now. This has a very special place in my heart because I’ve done humanitarian work since I was 13 and I’ve loved every minute of it. Because I love it so much, I thought it would be fun to celebrate my birthday, the 18th of this month, with my dad on a gift giving mission. It will be my little contribution to world.

I hope one day helping others out will be a part of everyone’s habit, something they do not as a burden but a vocation even when there are no cameras snapping, no cover stories and no obvious reciprocity other than fulfillment.

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here’s to the 100th

I’m notorious for pushing myself to do the things I fear the most like

walking on a thin wire 50 feet off the ground,

public debates,

jumping off high places,

standing firm during confrontations

and

starting a blog.

I haven’t been writing for while before I started this blog. There was just too much happening to find time to sit down and just write so I seldom did. I can’t even begin to describe how scared I was right before I hit that first publish button. After that, I realized I needed this. I needed to write again because there’s just too much noise suppressed, unexpressed on my mind.

This blog became my outlet, one which constantly reminds me that good things come to those who aren’t crippled by fear. Had I not started this blog, I would still be imagining the day when I could be brave enough to write again and to actually have people read it. Now here I am, already on post number 100 (YEY ME! *insert applause here*) happy and proud I had the guts to sign up for this.

My advice to those who are at a crossroads, deciding which road to take, don’t shy away from the road that challenges you to be better no matter how frightening it seems. The pay off is always worth it. 

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HERE’S TO POST NUMBER 100, CHEERS!

100th

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deleting comments

Posting online takes a lot of bravery.

Granted we are protected by a veil of anonymity and very few if not none will be able to tell who we really are when we decide to hide behind the masks of our online names but it doesn’t make us any less vulnerable to judgements  made by our fellow netizens. The pang of anger and hurt we feel when we read derogatory comments about our posts, what we stand for or, much worse, who we are as people is not diminished by the fact that they don’t personally know who we are and that they’re not saying it to our face. It’s equally painful.

Yesterday I was posing a question towards a stance a blogger had on gun control. It wasn’t anything personal nor argumentative. It was a simple query regarding the logic of his parallelism. He then responded with a full on tirade about how I must be black or an immigrant of some sort who wishes to reek hell on US. At first I thought he was joking. It really did not make much sense how he attacked my character and how he stereotyped non-white races as pro destruction or violence. Although I found it extremely offensive, I wasn’t going to let him turn me into some conflict crazy monster who argues with everyone who has a different view so I simply told him that there was no need to feel attacked but he just wouldn’t stop. He then deleted all my comments and the comments of those who also had a different view.

It’s a blogger’s right to moderate the comments on his page especially if it hampers the image or the goal of his site. However, I hope that we’re all responsible enough to understand that presenting our readers with a skewed version of the truth lessens our credibility as bloggers. Just because you quoted a Harvard Study out of context, it doesn’t mean you’re handed the authority bastardize the dignity of discourse. Disrespecting those who have different views or are of a different race or culture under the guise of a pen name or an online profile is barbaric. Let’s not make the web an avenue for bullying, promoting irrationality and creating racial divide.

And by the way dear Sir, erasing my comments and the comments of all those other people on your page only proves that you think they have merit and you’re a little scared your readers will think the same. Let’s be dignified netizens and respect the influence we’ve been awarded.