how to be strong

Am I even strong?

There’s a lot I have to learn about strength, and I won’t pretend to have the worst experiences to back up whatever I have to say because I, most likely, don’t.

The last few weeks has been rough for me, and the only time I ever felt like this was 3 years ago. I remember shutting everyone and everything out when I crumbled because I was terrified of being judged, of being deemed as weak then taken advantage of, and I know a part of me didn’t wanna trust anyone anymore. I guess that’s why I ran; it wasn’t just figurative either.

When things started coming at me again about a month ago, I wanted to do the same thing. The feeling reminded me of my worst nightmares, not that I wanna wake from them, but that I wanna stay in them. Surely, they were all better than how I felt right now, but even that’s not an option because I’m stuck — again not just figuratively. This is where I grow a deeper fondness for John Green’s Papertowns. I wish I was Margaux Roth Spiegelman; I’d grab a backpack and a map and just go.

Leave.

It’s not always as easy or simple as uprooting your whole life and physically running from what you think is the problem. Sometimes the problem runs with you, not after you. You’re the key to the problem.

How you handle it lies in your understanding of yourself and what you’re facing. Trust that, and if it’s not too much to ask, trust the people who genuinely care about you too. I made the mistake of walking away when I could have had the support of those who didn’t leave when I was breaking. Not only did I make the the journey unnecessarily difficult for myself, I also punished them immensely.

I’m not suggesting to cling onto someone because I know, in times like this, you’d want to be alone and think, but don’t cut your connections because they may be your lifeline when you’re done facing your beast. Remind yourself that they want to be a part of your life, hardship or not, because they want you to be okay. Their means won’t always be what you need or want, but that doesn’t dilute the concern they have for you.

I won’t act like I have the answers because, if you’re going through a rough patch, we’re in the same boat, sailing similar traitorous waters. All I have to leave you with is the advice that I never got: strength comes in different forms. It won’t always mean facing the problem head on or running away from it completely. Whatever it means to you, remember that you have the power here, even when it feels like a free fall. 

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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.

my little secret

For some time I’ve been deliberating whether I should show my sketches and graffiti to other people, my friends especially. It was never a big secret that I love being creative– that when words fail me, I fall to drawings, doodles and caricature art. Back in primary school, everyone knew I drew but it was not exactly a big deal because most my friends are as artistic if not more artistic than I am.

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As I grew older and labels started to get thrown around, most people forgot or never got to know that my creative side is an important part of me- that I love drawing (not saying I’m amazing though) as much as I love writing or speaking for causes. If they ask, I’d probably mention it in passing but often they don’t really wanna go into those things. It wasn’t in the usual run of our conversations.

True to my overly critical self, I became less and less confident about my works so it wasn’t now just an issue of no one asking. It became more of a constant need to hide it, suppress or deny it. I stopped drawing for awhile but I find myself going back to it when confronted with extreme emotions. Sometimes it will be as simple as doodles on my journal. Other times it will be as elaborate as painting my shirts or posters on my wall. If I could have gotten away with painting my room, I probably would.

I realized that my subconscious is telling me something very important. Drawing, painting, doodling, they’re not just an escape; they’re a part of who I am. Suppressing them because I think my abilities are inadequate won’t make me feel better about  them nor would it improve my ability to actually perform them. If I feel insecure about something as important to me as they are then I must work harder at them until I feel confident enough to share them or at least talk about them.

So here I am, trying to push myself to talk about it and share it to people who care enough to read my entries because I think it’s an important part of me and maybe also to inspire others that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about loving something so much even if you’re not exponentially good at it.

I’m not at a point where I can go around saying that I’m good at drawing or painting because I don’t think I am (YET). This girl is still hard at work improving herself. When I feel I’m ready, I’ll show it some more but at this moment I don’t feel embarrassed saying that I draw. I don’t have to downplay what it truly means to me and how much it has helped me. Plus, I thought you should know that I found that courage to ask a really good friend if he wanted to see some of my works. It was scary (and will probably sting a little if he hates them) but that’s all just part of it. I’m glad I did it because I know I eventually should trust the people that matter to me to love every part of me- no matter how imperfect, quirky or strange it is.