#SuicideAwarenessDay

That moment when you’re so eager to write about something you feel so strongly about that a million words are begging to burst out and be written but at the same time as the pen hovers over the paper, nothing comes out- not a single word, well I’m having one such moment. I’m just unsure of how to begin this. Do I start with statistics or quotes or pictures or my own experience or someone else’s that has helped shape my own? Something compelling enough to interest you but honest still that it remains as meaningful as it should. Let me start with this:

Suspend your judgments. Suicide isn’t just about statistics, it’s about stories.

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Some of you will judge this entry the same way you judge every person who committed suicide or have tried to, with extreme prejudice and I ask for the sake of this day and this discussion that you open your mind to opinions other than your own. The fault of this bunch, which I don’t find a fault at all but many will, is how we see things. You see them at eye level, for what it is. We see them from overhead, standing on a table and seeing ourselves in comparison to others, in association with things we don’t have or the person we can never be, happy.

I will not generalize the neigh sayers, they come from different backgrounds and varied beliefs, nor will I stereotype those who have had this problem. Trust me they’re not always the guy with the heavy eyeliner make up and a blade pendant secured around his neck. It’s not as plain and black and white as that. Sometimes it’s the town’s golden girl who maintains straight As and is quietly drowning in the pressure of perfection or maybe the quiet kid who sits at the back of the class who is invisible to everyone but the restroom mirror where he spends his lunch dismantling a sharpener.

I'm scared | via Tumblr

To them suicide is a way out, not selfish but reasonable. To stay in a cycle where you’re constantly unhappy and alone, feeling either like a huge disappointment or anonymous is not worth living over every single day. That thought consumes you and dulls every form of happiness most people savor. TELLING US TO GET IT TOGETHER AND DISMISSING OUR WORRIES WON’T HELP BECAUSE REALLY WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU’RE BRUSHING US OFF. Were you even listening or were you too busy judging us and labeling our problem  non existent because it’s not cancer or ebola virus?

I am in no way advocating for suicide, not because it’s cowardly but because YOU’RE WORTH A LIFE. Trust me when I say that no matter how bleak and dark your life is right now, I need you to hang in there. YOU ARE WORTH EVERYDAY YOU FIGHT FOR. YOU WILL FIND HAPPINESS ONE DAY AND IT WILL BE EVEN MORE WORTH IT BECAUSE YOU KNOW HOW HARD YOU FOUGHT FOR IT. I’m sorry you had to in the first place but trust that your strong enough to overcome this and know that wherever you are, no matter how alone you feel, you never are. 

And to those whose made it and are now happier and better, I am so proud of you. You deserve every praise for deciding to stay and choosing to stick with it every single day since. I wish you the happiest of days, you deserve no less for the courage and strength you’ve shown. There may still be rough patches ahead but find comfort in the fact that the enemy you fought already lost a few times before and you have the upper hand because you’re stronger than all you demons.

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My friend mentioned a few days ago how pointless suicide hotlines are because if you really wanna kill yourself, why would you want someone to stop you? She has a good point actually and I’ve considered coming up with alternatives. Although I’d like to think that it’s because most of them, deep down just want a reason to stay. Here’s one:

Everyone is worth saving. YOU ARE WORTH SAVING.

So be it on #SuicideAwarenessDay or any other day of the year, if you ever feel like throwing in the towel, talk to someone. Sometimes we only need reminding of how much we’re worth. There’s no shame in that.

And to everyone else reading this post, I hope you’ll find it in your heart to be nicer, more open-minded and understanding of people whose circumstances may be far from your own. Give that shy guy beside you a chance. Talk to the girl who consciously fiddles with her shorts at gym class. Avoid stereotyping the abrasive jock loitering the hallway. Tweet someone you’ve never talked to words encouragement when she seems down and ask about her day. Get to know to know them and give them more reasons to love the lives the they have and the people that they are. A simple act of care and kindness will go a long way especially to someone who doubts he’ll ever get any.

You matter.

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choices

CHOICE

It’s probably one of the most overused words in the English dictionary. Often we don’t even know the gravity of the word when we make them. We hurry with our lives making one choice after another unaware of many who cannot exercise them or are too afraid to while the other half overuse and manipulate them without fear or caution because they can and we’re too oblivious or apathetic to notice.

Personally choices scare me, not that ‘what should I order’ or ‘is this pink enough’ kind but the ‘do I know where my life is going’ kind. That fear that wakes you up at 3 AM and leaves you sleepless until the light seeps through your shades. I lay there, staring at the ceiling asking myself if all the choices I made up to this point are those that I can live with, much more be happy with. I play different scenarios in my head. What if I went to a different uni? What if I majored in something else? What if I never met my best friends? What if I followed my heart more times that I followed my logic? Where would I be? Would I happier?

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Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverge in a yellow road. I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.” Doesn’t it get lonely though? Looking at the path few took, seeing only your track marks. Knowing full well that each time you look back or to your side, you won’t see anyone. You took the road less traveled by.

You know in your heart you SHOULD be happy because you made the good choice but there are days and more nights when you think there was a BETTER choice. Maybe you didn’t have to give up so much to get to where you are or where you wanna be.

I guess we all doubt our choices sometimes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a 5 year old deliberating on another cookie before dinner or a dad setting aside money for his daughter’s college fund instead of spending in on booze in the pub with his work friends. There are days when you’ll wallow in the ‘what ifs’. There’s no shame in that. Find comfort in the fact that it’s human nature to wonder especially when we’re given reasons to.

I’ve made a lot of screwed up decisions in my life and I’m sure I’ll make a few more. To be honest, there are times when I want a do over, a reboot, another shot at the opportunities I missed or trade for those I took but then I look at those people I’ve met, things I accomplished and who I’ve become, I feel a bit better. That’s not to say my demons are always silent, they still claw at me some days and make me feel like an utter failure.

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I guess I want tell you that if you ever feel stupid or annoyed or defeated about the bad choices you’ve made, don’t beat yourself up further. You’re allowed to make them and you can feel bad for them. You can hang around under a dark cloud for a bit and think about why it didn’t work out. You don’t have to move on in an instant as people expect you too. YOU CAN FEEL, YOU’RE ALLOWED THAT MUCH.

Of the hundreds of choices we make in a day, at least one is bound to be wrong. That’s okay. Just remind yourself that there’s always a takeaway in every choice, bad or good. Savor the good and learn from the bad and hope that you’ll make not just better choices but CHOICES THAT ARE BETTER FOR YOU.

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. 

why fortune cookies make so much sense

Who here loves Chinese food? *raises hand eagerly and flings it back and forth* Well, I live for them. I find them very comforting, probably because my parents have this favorite Chinese place we’d always go to when I was growing up. Their food is mouth-watering good and they’re not even that expensive.

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Like in most Chinese restos, you get a fortune cookie after the meal (in this resto’s a case, a fortune cupcake- you might remember an entry I wrote about it awhile back) and they’re filled with some Chinese wisdom that, according to the waiters, is especially suited for you. Somehow the kitchen gods guide their chefs to put just the right message for the right person- they say.

Is it the cookie or me?

It got me to thinking. Do we really get the perfect fortunes for us or do we make it fit perfectly? Like when we ask for signs, do we really wait religiously for something to manifest proving that the universe wills us to make a decision or do we interpret random, uncoordinated events as more than they are- just events that happen from time a to time b?

I think that when we want our fortunes to make sense, it does and often when we want to act all skeptical, it doesn’t. We can blame the fates for most of it but partly we too play a role in those fortunes. We interpret them, weave them into our lives so it makes sense or it doesn’t. Maybe that’s why a lot of people believe in fortunes because secretly and maybe subconsciously, they actually know what they want that note to read. A note that says, ‘stay strong’ may mean a million different things to a million different people, probably so far from what it means to you but it doesn’t make it any less true.

Fortune cookies make sense because we allow them to.

There is a reason why fortune-telling, mediums and the like is a million dollar industry. We love filling in the blanks. We almost can’t help but respond to random thoughts and make it our own. Does this mean that fortune cookies are of no sense? Does it mean we have to believe messages sent to us by the universe are all a figment of our creative minds? Depends, on you that is. I know I’ll still be very happy to get my free fortune cookies at any resto and I’ll probably still frequent temples to get my palms read

but…

I’m also reminded that in the end I have the power to interpret those fortunes. I can make them into anything I want them to mean. It’s true for everything else that happens in life. You can blame it on fate but how you weave it to your life, that’s on you.

coffee all day, everyday

I’m a coffee person, that much I’ve made clear.

My morning ritual includes a 10 minute stare down with my poster-infested ceiling, a loooooonggggg shower and a big cup of black coffee. But that’s not the only time of the day when I drink coffee. Sometimes I drink a cold Macchiato for lunch with my sandwich or a quick shot right before I sleep. It’s my go-to drink. There’s just something about coffee that draws me in; maybe it’s the aroma or the comforting bitter taste or maybe even how it reminds me of being back home with my grandparents. Whatever it is, it helps me get through a really tough day.

Then I thought, I know SOMEONE (well a few) who does that for me as well. My go-to people. You know, those people who, during a really BAD (as in all caps B-A-D) day, will wallow with you in your bitterness then lift you up and make you feel soooooo much better. You feel they really love you because you can go to them at anytime of the day (at 3 AM when only the roosters are up or at 10 PM when everyone else would rather party) and they’d be there, listening, comforting, hugging and encouraging.

photo from slowbuddy.com

If you have those friends, you’re lucky. Not everyone does

Cherish them. Tell them how amazing they are and how grateful you are to have them. They deserve at least that if not a free cup of coffee (*coughs*). So to my friends who have been there through all my craziness, here’s to us. Here’s to you AND THE CUP OF COFFEE I OWE YOU.

 

life happens

Lately I’ve been thinking about cosmic events and connections. Oh you know what I mean, those seemingly random things that happen to you that later on in life you realize are are actually turning points. They’re more important than you first thought they’d be.

5 years ago, I was sitting on my own right outside our classroom when one of my blockmates (that means we’re taking the same major) sat beside me and told me one of those WTH-were-you-thinking jokes. You have to understand we’ve met only a week or so before and we’ve never actually had one decent conversation. He sat beside me, told me his joke (a little to eagerly), said thanks then left. I mean, ‘WHAT?!’ Random right? Later on I found out that his brother suggested that cracking a joke is good way to gain a friend and so he did.  I didn’t really think much of that night until later, very later on, when he became one of my best friends.

And I laughed, not at the joke but how he came up to me just to say it. photo from coadygallantphoto.tumblr.com

So I’m thinking, would we have been friends had I gone home early that evening? Would we still have been friends if I walked out on him and his utterly strange way of making friends? Would I have been comfortable opening up to him about my problems  later on that week had he not made a silly move first? If the answer is YES to all those, then are there truly any significant moments that turn the wheel for everything else? Or if not, then would we have remained awkward acquaintances all throughout college? I’d like to think that the answer is the latter, partly because it’s more interesting that way but mostly because I’ve always believed in the Law of Interaction (yes Newton’s for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction).  When he decided to break the ice and when I decided to go with the flow that night, we set into motion a friendship that’s built on comfort and acceptance of each others quirks.

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I really really hope I’m right about this one (fingers crossed and all) because just the other day I think one of those might have happened again as I decided to walk under the heat of the sun rather than hail a cab. An old friend, one I haven’t seen in years came up to me and offered to share his umbrella. Talk about random!

right before I sleep

I read somewhere before that the best time to reflect and go over the activities of the day is at that moment when you’re lying in bed, right before you drift to sleep. At that time, you’re relaxed and comfy enough to recall all the BS and stresses of the day without feeling the need to strangle somebody. You can also giggle about that macho man who said hi or take in how sumptuous your lunch was.

photo from biebercrown.tumblr.com

photo from biebercrown.tumblr.com

It says in the article that it’s important to give yourself time to process the things that happened to you during that day. It didn’t say why but here’s MY theory. Often our day to day life is commanded by either reflex, instinctive reactions that we gravitate towards because it’s part of our daily routine or by feelings, sudden bursts of emotions that push us to act a certain way (like how I react when the line at my favorite deli is too long and my lunch break is too short). We need time at the end of our day to think about why we felt certain way, why our response is like that or why we’re attracted to something- or someone. *wink* It helps us makes sense of things we don’t usually think about because we’re  busy doing it, feeling it or being in the moment.

Even before I read the article, I’ve already been doing it. I guess I’m always drawn to introspection and those kind of things. On the upside, I always allot time for myself and I allow myself to revisit events, think about the ones I like and ones I would change if I could. On the downside, well, I usually lay awake for almost an hour before I finally fall asleep.

So hey, even if before-bedtime reflection isn’t for you, try to reflect about life and all those moments every once in a awhile. The experiences that stick might surprise and reveal an interesting side to you that you haven’t yet explored.