I’ve always envisioned my blog to be an adventure-slash-foodie lifestyle blog. One filled with beautiful, idyllic images, enough for middle class yuppies to envy. But then again, that wouldn’t be being authentic- which I had mandated early on. Authenticity trumps beauty, I said. So, in between my wanderings and food splurging, I write about the biggest chunk of my years – real life.
It’s not very pretty or ideal. I work in an office, I file paperwork. I’m a secretary of sorts without a proper job description, one day i’ll be answering calls, filing paperwork, making reservations and the next i’ll be doing a coffee run or washing the dishes. My other job involves folding clothes in neat piles, running for size checks, and giving my honest opinion on how a sweater fits.
While I long to be on the road snapping away at beautiful places or in the kitchen cooking up delicious dishes I have found a certain beauty in the mundane and traces of magic in the ordinary. Sometimes it’s just the way the sun illuminates the dried leaves, or the way my officemate tells me i’m a “good girl” in her british accent. It’s the friendships I’ve formed while pulling overnight shifts.
Today, as much as I would want to write about a beautiful bike ride around the city, I am writing about something that has consumed me for weeks – AUTHENTICITY.
Somehow authenticity has also become a brand, an image, and I’m afraid that by trying too hard to “live authentic” I would become a part of the population that espouses an almost elitist, unreachable lifestyle.
But I do want to be authentic and I don’t mean it just as a lifestyle but with how I navigate my life as a whole- my relationships, goals, my self.
As my life has become a stretched out coin toss, I’ve been feeling all sorts of emotions, one of which is constant fear. Fear that I would lose myself again, forget my dreams, and get lost in the waves of other people’s goals. I felt that I just had to write down some basic rules that I want to live by.
1) LIVE SIMPLY– I try to remind myself every now and then that I have everything I need. That I should be recycling, reusing, thrifting but I am also acknowledging my constant battle with my consumerist tendencies. For a start, I’m going to have to balance out my shopping sprees. And if I were to buy something new, I make sure that it’s something that will last me for years. I’ve noticed that when I spend more time with nature and other learning experiences, I don’t feel the need to accumulate more material things.
2) FOCUS ON PATH/HAVE A VISION
- BE TRUE TO MY VISION- I sometimes find myself being envious of people my age who have growing careers. But then I couldn’t see myself as a web developer working in a cool loft office. I realized that the success of others didn’t necessarily reflect my own failure. I had a different path I wanted to follow. Each person’s path will look a little different.Right now, my pace is slow and I may look like I’m lost but I know where I’m going. Whenever feelings of envy rise to the surface I try to remind myself what and who I want to become. I become more grounded and I find myself happy and excited for other people’s success.
- HAVE A CAUSE OUTSIDE MYSELF- While I am keen on self-fulfillment I’m trying to balance it out lest I become too self-absorbed. Self-motivation is a great starter but self-absorption can also lead to despair. As sappy as this can get, I want to write stories because even if I don’t reach great success, I could at least touch a nerve, provoke a subtle change even in one human being’s life, maybe make them feel less isolated. When I discovered Lino Brocka, his name didn’t ring a bell but his social realist film still changed my whole life’s trajectory (I went from wanting to be a lawyer to a filmmaker). I also want to create businesses that are socially responsible, pro-labor, and humanizing. Shared success creates an environment of fulfillment and joy – a reminder to not become a greedy businessman.
Whew, I know this is all a long way off but I’ve seen how vision works, and it works.
3) JOURNAL/WRITE/DRAW – take notes of the details, the little things. This is what makes life richer. Don’t trust your mind to remember because it has a tendency to forget the good stuff. It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or fact. Don’t worry about how others will view you because you write about things they don’t expect from you. I also want to continue sharing about the things that I love, inspirations from here and there even if they may not be my own content. Maybe you’ll see more of zines, graphic novels, illustrations and recommended films in the coming months! (long story short, don’t censor yourself to please other people’s sensibilities!)
4) BE PRESENT- I’ve so often just been dreaming of running away, planning the next escape. Today is where I am and I want to be fully present with the people I am with. While I do have places I want to visit I don’t mind not being able to travel to so many overseas destinations. I want to travel the roads in the country where I live. I want to appreciate and explore what’s nearest me. Henry Thoreau said that we were so keen on travelling from one grand destination to the next but we often forget the regions of ourselves we haven’t discovered yet. I’m all for finding a balance between both. No matter where we are, there’s always something to learn about ourselves when we choose to examine our lives.
5) BE MYSELF- If you’re familiar with Gone Girl’s “cool girl”, then I must tell you that I am guilty of having tried too many times to be that and a variation of all sorts of cool. Those were hard times, times when I felt like choking. I came to hate myself because I couldn’t be a certain way. The process of becoming whole again can get a little daunting. I’ve spent a lot of time doing and exploring things on my own. I do feel a little apprehensive when meeting new people. Being myself is allowing myself to be vulnerable and it’s scary. So I just tell myself that the more I’m me, the more I’ll attract the right people.
My mother would often tell me that defining my values at this age will dictate what i’ll be later in life. This phrase from Maria Ressa best encapsulates that thought: “Draw the line when you’re young, when the lines between good and evil are clear. It only gets blurrier as you get older.” Maybe this is why I’ve un/consciously cut off people from my life. This is going farther from my original post but I truly want to be successful without stepping on anyone’s toes.
So maybe we all need something like this, a little list of mantras to live by, something to keep us centered when we’re feeling lost. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep true to my values!