Better Days

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For the past months, I’ve been feeling better. No very low moments, procrastination, and anxiety. I can sleep better though there are still days that my brain keeps me awake at night (or sometimes makes me feel tired and dizzy after sleep which I theorize to be my brain working while I’m asleep). My mood has been improving and my anger is diminishing little by little.

So what made the difference?

Since the pandemic is nearing its end, the world is opening up again which means I can see and talk to more people constantly and face-to-face. And I think that made the difference.

My badminton playmates could probably be a huge huge factor in this progress. They are the total opposite of me. They are loud, fun, happy, and true to themselves. It’s a constant positive vibe whenever I play with them. Awkward silence is not in their vocabulary. They always have something to say for the entire duration we are together (roughly 4-5 hours) and whatever comes out from their mouth are so damn funny that I would often complain about too-exhausted jaws. LOL.

I feel alive when I am with them and while away from the person I am at home who is serious, hardworking, and focused. It’s a break that I need on a weekly basis in order to reset not only my mind but also my mood and be reminded that the other side of me must have his time. So far, it’s working. The balance is doing me good. In fact, I felt more productive and generally in the mood every day. The balance of sleep, physical activity/exercise, and happy pills from friends equates to tremendous improvement in my productivity, critical thinking, and mood.

Society has proven this already. In fact, Adventist Health of Hawaii recommends the same activities I mentioned above such as doing physical activities, getting a good laugh, breaking out from the routine, striking up a conversation, etc. I know these recommendations sound obvious but it’s really different when you battle this kind of mental health challenge. Cliche as it may sound, it’s truly easier said than done.

I am an introvert (and probably on the extreme end of the spectrum). So making relationships with strangers is something that needs a lot of warming up (and stages LOL). In a lot of badminton groups that I joined (just for the purpose of playing and not making friends), this specific group of people I mentioned is by far am most comfortable to be with.

Badminton has helped me help myself. Aside from hoping to get better at playing, it pushed me to somehow unguard myself from the thoughts that negatively impact my mood and personality. It doesn’t only allow me to be physically fit and healthy but also allows my mind to be mentally tough and my emotion to be positively controlled. It’s a part of my self-discovery that I find by playing Badminton. And with the help of these crazy people (despite them not knowing how helpful they are to me), it made the process so much easier that resulted in a huge meaningful impact.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you guys. I appreciate your presence and I am learning from all of you.

It’s scarier than I thought

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Last Saturday I celebrated my 30th birthday. Celebrate, as in just being thankful for another year of my life without fancy parties or dinners. Just had a simple dinner with some close friends and lunch at home with my family (which by the way, is the first after 9 years since I now live in Davao). Basically, I let it pass as just another normal day. Perhaps, that’s the adult way of celebrating birthdays nowadays. It’s just getting normal as we grow older.

For the past few years, it has always been just myself in Davao. Maybe that is the reason why I am no longer comfortable being in the spotlight for my birthday. I just don’t like it. I don’t even share publicly my birth date on Facebook and other social media so that people will not be notified about it. I also told my mom not to prepare anything so that our neighbors will not know. (PS: She attempted to play a birthday song on a loudspeaker and I stopped her hahaha)

I sound like an anti-social but I’m not. Just to be clear. LOL. But that personality actually saves me money for not having a lot of friends. As they say, it’s expensive to have different circles, especially at times like this. LOL.

When I was younger, I have a perception that 30 is too old already. I don’t even want to reach 30 (if you know what I mean). But here I am, 30 with knee and back pain, shorter breath and low stamina, insecurity, low self-confidence, anxiety, and depression.

I feel like my peak has passed me already. You know when reality singing contests on tv showcase young talents and judges are amazed by their youth and talent or when teams in the Olympics line up athletes who are in their teenage years and early 20s, that comparison kind of hunts me because I am in my 3rd decade but I wasn’t able to capitalize my youth to make a mark or just even jumpstart a career that I will be proud of when I reach retiring age. I reached 30, and yet I still feel lost and discontented.

There are times in my life when I question the decisions I took because it felt wrong to be where I am now. The domino effect of what went wrong in my formative years as an adolescent still triggers a lot of what-ifs in my career, my personality and character, and the values I believe in.

All these thoughts (the happy, the jokes, and the deep ones) fought in my head on my birthday.

I do not know how will I handle these scary thoughts I have in the next few days and years given the fact that these thoughts are getting a lot more serious as I get older. There’s nothing I can do than keep going. Yet, it’s also scary to just let things go. (LOL. My crazy brain is here again trying to weigh both sides but likes taking both sides too.)

Anyway, I’m still trying to be positive here and look at things like there’s hope. Maybe, I’ll get the break I deserve. Or maybe, I’ll give up by then.

But who knows?

Blood will always be thicker than the water

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It’s a common Filipino trait to be able to help our family financially. Most financially unstable families will always bank on someone from their own family to improve their lives. Normally, parents would say ‘Yan ang mag-aahon samin sa hirap’. And as a child, we take it as a personal promise to our dear parents to give them the life they deserve after years of struggles to make ends meet.

While this situation usually grows our love for our family and makes it our motivation to succeed in life, once we start earning a living and finally become an adult ourselves, we would sometimes feel like a prisoner of that promise. As much as we would like to be as selfless as we can, there are needs (and wants) that we hope to satisfy for ourselves from our hard-earned money. In fact, we can satisfy those needs and actually live a so much better life. But then, family responsibilities still exist and it feels unfair to live a better life while our family still struggles on their own.

I am not speaking here about my parents because I will support them no matter what. No questions asked! I am referring to my siblings (and their own families).

Here’s one instance that happened lately.

Two weeks ago, my sister dropped shocking news on me. She spent my mom’s money (it’s a considerable amount) without her knowledge. So she asked for help to transfer money to my mom’s bank so she wouldn’t know what she did. How convenient, right? But the funny thing is, that money is actually money that I send to my mom as her allowance (she’s saving it). So it’s like resending (and doubling) the money I sent to my mom religiously, this time in full.

I said no.

Instead, I told her to tell my mom about it, be sincerely sorry, and tell her how she will pay. I told her to take accountability and face it like how adults face difficulties.

But then, a lot has been going on in my head. How will she pay that amount? She has no work, her husband is earning so little they can’t even pay bills, she has 1 growing son, and she’s currently pregnant with her second child.

It’s a problem that I, for sure, should not be involved in. But then, it bugs me how can they survive a life like that. For several days, I was so emotionally affected by it. I kept thinking about it. At some point, I blame myself. Since I started my business, this same sister has helped me with the business (with pay, of course). When it grew, I also raised her pay so she can pay the bills and can save some for her family. I always dream about her managing this business because she has the skills and I know it will help her a lot.

However, things were not doing well in the past months. I still pay her even though sales are declining which affects the business’ profitability — until I decided to stop for a while because all the efforts I did to save it are not working. It was hard for me because that meant she will not get her share.

And so I thought, what happened to my business really affected her finances which lead to what she did with my mom’s money. For several days, I kept on thinking about how I can help her despite the other side of me telling myself to let them figure it out and help themselves and their own family.

As humans, it’s difficult to see other people struggle even though we also face our own struggles and battles. So what more if it’s your family. The thought of living a life so different from theirs guilts me even though I am fully aware that I shouldn’t be. I take family responsibilities I shouldn’t because if I don’t, nobody will, and that only hurts the young ones in the family.

I commit to breaking the chain of unacceptable values in our family. I believe it has been passed from generation to generation that even up to the present we still experience the same battles our predecessors fought. I don’t want my nephews to just live in the cycle of poverty, make their own families, and struggle financially and the cycle will just keep going.

I volunteered to support my nephew’s university expenses because I want him to see the world outside our neighborhood that’s sadly hopeless and poor. I want him to dream and reach for it. I want him to know that there’s an endless possibility and opportunity only if he dares to see it. And I will do this for the rest of them. That’s how I know I can break the chain.

I also continued with my business only because I want to help my sister with her finances until she can do it on her own.

So even though it’s hard for me to be involved in family problems I shouldn’t be involved in, I still care for their welfare, especially if that means helping the future generations to be the better versions of our family.