Sunday, August 2, 2015

Split Second Choices and Lasting Consequences

Have you ever had one of those moments where you lost all common sense for the smallest fraction of a second only to be bombarded by a magnitude of guilt the next second? To the point that you regret the moment you were even born?

I heard the alarm bells in my head even as I made that fatal decision. But even then, it was already too late. It was one of those moments where panic and fear seizes your heart so strongly that you abandon your morality and sense of responsibility. It was the kind of decision that leads to sleepless nights and hopeless mornings.

I panicked. But that in itself is an excuse. Even now, a small part of my heart whispers to me, chiding me for being a coward. I was afraid. I feared the consequences of my mistake and in my fear I had inevitably committed a graver sin. How's that for stupidity?

But in cases like these, where you do something to cover up a mistake, what are you supposed to do? It was a sin committed against God, an offense against my superior, and an insult to my integrity. Was I supposed to ignore the prickling of my consciense and swallow my principles just so I could escape this circumstance unscathed? Wouldn't that be cowardice? I didn't want to be a coward. Ironic, isn't it? Wasn't it my cowardice that got me in this situation in the first place?

If I confessed to my sin, there was a chance that I would lose all the work I've put into the last three years of my life. If I didn't, they probably wouldn't even notice it and everything will go on smoothly. In the end, it became a war between my worldly self and my morally upright self. How wonderful would it have had been if I could have had been able to put a mute on the warring voices in my head and pretend that nothing happened? The thing is, I heard them.

As an answer to my desperate prayers for guidance, I ended up watching a Korean drama(Who Are You, School Series 2015) that featured a similar circumstance. The teacher reminded his student that when you make a mistake and you choose not to put it to right, you might not suffer any immediate consequences but you might lose the ability to tell right from wrong. The words were nothing but simple facts but they resounded in my heart, reminding me of what I already knew. To seal the deal, the friend who recommended the series to me gave a solid advice.

"If you're stuck between two difficult choices, always choose to do the right thing."

I admitted my mistake to my superior. I had to wait over a week to hear the verdict. But I was able to rest relatively well, bar my discomfort over my superiors knowing about my blunder. I was not dismissed but was dealt a greater deal of consequence than I would have had been given had I not panicked in the first place.

Still, I learned what it truly means to take responsibility. I've proven that despite my half-heartedness in my course, I respect it enough that I could not allow myself to finish it by cheating myself and my superiors. I was reminded that there are things more important than a clean record, than pride, than reputation.

My words may be vague and confusing but let me be clear about my message. It's okay to make mistakes. It's okay to be tempted to do wrong. It's okay to succumb to temptation. We are human. But let us not allow ourselves to lose our humanity by choosing to ignore our conscience.

Is your moral compass still functional?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What are friends for?

It's a simple question. And, I have a simple answer to it that might offend most- if not all- of you.  So, before I go off defending myself, let's start with a simpler question. What are friends? That should be easy enough to answer. Or, at least it should be, considering that we've been going around making friends since we were in diapers. But, then, everything was simpler when we were younger. Now? Not so much.

Friend. A textbook definition would be a person who is in good terms with another. That seems straight-forward enough, right? But then we got older and we began to realize that there are people we were in good terms with but hold at a distance. The simple motion of saying 'Hi' and agreeing on your favorite TV show is no longer enough to consider this stranger a friend. We began to be more picky about the people we hand that title to. We began to distinguish between acquaintances, friends, close friends and all those fun circles. And, with this complication in judging our relationships with other people, we began to build up greater expectations from friends. We began to demand more while not necessarily giving more. We began to throw around suffocating chains without considering whether the level of attachment is mutual.

As years go by, we realize just how huge this world is. We meet more and more people. We are exposed to more and more types of personalities. And, at the same time, we grow, develop and change. Our perspective of life shifts. Our priorities are rearranged. Our beliefs are challenged. Yet, somehow, our friends are still the same -in the sense that they are the same existence but not necessarily the same people. After all, time has changed them, too. This is the thing we have a hard time understanding. We become so caught up with ourselves that we forget that the things that have changed us may have changed them, too. But experiences, even if they're the same, does not mold any two persons the same way. So we are stuck in a group of people we once held close to our hearts but no longer relate to. The sad thing is, we begin to demand that they remain compatible to who we have become. We expect them to compromise themselves to fit our needs and wants. But, of course, that wouldn't work. Not in the long run, at least. And, within the wreckage, we realize one thing: that friendship never stood a chance, not with the way we handled it.

Time changes us. We grow. And, sometimes, we just grow apart. It's nobody's fault. It just happens. But, even in these cases, I see no reason to feel sad. All things come to an end. All you can do is wish for that friend to find happiness among new companions and for you to have the same. There is no need to mourn for the loss of a friendship, after all, those good memories of better times will remain untainted. And, when things settle down and when you're in a clearer state of mind, you can revisit those moments with your friend. And, you'll have fun but you'll know deep inside that parting ways- no matter the manner it was done- was the right decision.

Friendship is a relationship founded on common ground but strengthened by accepting your differences. But there are times when those differences create a gap so wide that it can't be bridged over by any compromise. It's just a matter of acknowledging this and learning when to let go.

Okay, so yeah. Maybe that wasn't as easy a question to answer as I thought it was. And, I'm pretty sure there are a lot of people who disagree with my perspective but since I'm on a roll, let's keep going. What are friends for? Hearing the echoes of my words, it seems as though I'm saying that friends are nothing but companions you keep around until they're no longer useful to you. In a way, that's true. Now if only I can figure out a more eloquent way of saying that.

Friendship is a give and take relationship. And, when you can no longer give what the other needs or when that other person can no longer give what you need, then it's only logical to call it quits. That just sounds so clinical, so detached, that I'm starting to wonder how I even still have friends. But it is the reality we live in. Or, for your sake, I hope it is the reality you live in. Because when a relationship has long passed its due date but you continue to maintain it, you will realize sooner or later that it is doing you more harm than good.

Friends are there to support you, to encourage you, to empathize with you, and, when necessary, to push you to action. They are those great beings who can help you go beyond what you assumed to be your limits. And, in return, you do these things for them, too. The thing is, we don't always want to share all our moments to all our friends. It's disgusting to admit it but there are some friendships we enjoy in moments of triumph and some friendships we nurture in moments of despair. We are all constantly changing. We're going through life in different ways. And, that doesn't always allow us the ability to accommodate our friends' needs at all times nor are they always able to accommodate us. But, sometimes, it's just the difference in personalities that limits us from being able to live through all phases of life together with them. So, we choose what moments we want to share with whom. This may build distance between us and our friends but it's better than losing them altogether. Unless, of course, we happen to be lucky enough to find the Cristina to our Meredith, then all this is moot. Because that friendship was a match made in heaven.

Some will consider my words as downright rude and insulting but I believe it holds merit. And, I'm pretty sure that some people think that I'm a user. I don't think I am. But if believing in all of these makes me one, then I guess that's what I am.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Sheldon Cooper

I hope the creators of the Big Bang Theory will forgive me for using one of their characters in this rant of mine. If you haven’t watched the show, I recommend that you try doing so. It has that unique ability to make you feel dumb and smart at the same time. People who watch the show will understand. ;)

It’s kind of funny, watching these geniuses deal with everyday life as it is upturned by the presence of “average”-minded friends. To be honest, I think the most “normal” out of them is Leonard. But, it’s Sheldon Cooper whom I find myself relating to the most. And, before someone bashes me for claiming to be a genius, I’d like to clarify that it is his quirkiness that I relate to. And, just like Seth Alary, I think there’s a bit of Sheldon Cooper in each of us, no matter how small or big that bit might be.

So, let me tell you a bit about my interpretation of Sheldon Cooper. I ask the avid fans of the show to forgive me if I had somehow misinterpreted his character, considering that I'm a few seasons behind. Anyway, the thing that I keep remembering about Sheldon is how picky he is with his seat. In their apartment, there's only one spot he is comfortable sitting at and he insists on sitting there despite the changing circumstances. And, it's always fun to watch him struggle to find a similarly comfortable seat whenever he finds himself in a new setting.

Now, I may not be as picky as him but I think I almost am. I've walked out of several restaurants and cafes just because my usual spot was taken or because I couldn't decide on a seat that I'd be comfortable in. Finding that perfect spot is just so difficult! I mean, you have to consider things like the distance to the emergency exit. Or the vantage point- because a huge part of being a writer is people watching and so I like to be in corners where I can see everything. Yup, I'm the creepy girl you sometimes notice in the corner booth who blankly stares at you while you eat. Anyway, there's also sunlight, wind, access to CR and all those stuff I'm sure "normal" people don't really bother with. If it wouldn't be so weird, I'd test out all the seats in the cafe before settling on one, but it is weird so I end up letting my companions decide where we sit.

In relation to this annoying trait is his inability to or difficulty in adapting to situations. He has those moments when things don't go according to his plan and his eye twitches, like when someone unexpected joins them for dinner or when his usual order in the restaurant isn't available. The thing about this is, I can't decide whether it's a matter of being obsessive-compulsive or if it's all about the need to feel in control. The two has always felt connected to me. I have a tendency to be OC. I mean, if you see my room you wouldn't think so but there is an order to things and it annoys me when it isn't followed. But, I think this OC tendency stems from a need to feel a semblance of control over things in life. Because, as most of you would understand, so many things in life just feel so volatile, so out of reach, so out of our control. And, more often than not, I feel like I'm just being driven through life by external forces. And, I don't like that feeling. I don't think anybody would.

Most people probably find better ways of handling this need for control but the need is there. In everyone. I think. People just find other ways of dealing with it instead of going ballistic every time things get out of hand.

Like BDSM. Heh.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

K-12: A Step Forward or a Step Back?

K to 12 Program

It’s nothing new. It was an issue I had been aware of back when I was in high school. And, if I remember correctly, I had written an editorial that was generally against it. Whether it was the side I was advised to take, or if I chose to be against it just to be unique, I’m not sure anymore. But, I’m certain it wasn’t because I had some great stand against it. To be honest, I think I had and continue to have a neutral stand in the matter. But unlike before where my neutrality was largely based on my uncaring disposition toward everything that didn’t directly and immediately affect me, my stand now is largely because of the lack of information. Though, to be honest, I hadn’t really done much digging to begin with. But to have a strong stand on an issue of this nature, do you not need to be fully informed first? Like, what is the scope of the K-12 program? What are the pros? What are the cons?

There is a persistent group that has started rallying about the cons of the program with regards to the economy of the Philippines. And, I was tempted to join them, for the mere reason that it is headed by two instructors I have come to respect. Are you starting to see how ridiculous my decision-making process is? Well, people who know how I chose my course understand the depth of this dysfunction. It had something to do with my aversion to wearing skirts, but I’ll get to that some other time. Going back to my point, I decided against my rather irrational choice when I realized that I didn’t know enough to get behind a banner or a microphone and abide by phrases that seek to devalue the president of this country.

What is K-12 all about anyway? The platform of this group I mentioned seems to be swaying or attempting to sway the public’s opinion by appealing to their patriotism. Stop K-12 because the only people who will benefit are the foreigners. Stop imitating the ways of the foreigners. Have some Filipino pride, will you? I’m sure this isn’t how they phrased it exactly but that’s part of what they’re saying. I think.

Money. That’s always one of the problems. So, let’s talk money. How much does it take to put a kid through basic schooling with the implemented K-12 program as compared to the previous curriculum? One of the primary reasons fed to us for the country’s state of poverty is the lack of education, and why are our people uneducated? Because of poverty, of course. It’s a circular argument but it’s true. They have no money to send their children to school with. While there exist public schools, many families still can’t afford to send their children because of the lack of supplies or for the simple matter that they would rather have their children help in earning some income than “waste” time in a classroom. That’s the problem, isn’t it? We are such short-sighted people! Assuming that we all accept that an educated individual has a higher possibility of being able to provide for his family, then, it would be more advantageous in the long run if an impoverished family takes on the burden of sending their children to school now for a better life in the future.

According to the statistics given by the group, senior high school, which is the additional two years of schooling required under the program, would cost a student P19000 to P35000 with some private schools even reaching rates of P70000. I know some of you must be thinking that the less privileged families could opt to go to public schools. But as explained in the flyer I received, most students would have to enroll in public school universities and private schools for SHS since not all public schools have been able to upgrade their facilities to accommodate SHS students. I actually went to a high school where my yearly fees were less than P2000 and to me, P70000 seems too much to ask for mere high school education. That doesn’t come with a bachelor's degree, does it? Because that’s thrice what I pay for my semestral fees in a well-respected and well-known university. Right now, I suppose the question is whether there are more pocket-friendly solutions. Since the government has decided to enforce a prolonged period of education, what actions have they taken to share in carrying the burden of such mandate? Because if you ask me, before approving this, they should have had anticipated the need for upgrade in facilities for public schools. And, if so, they should have had taken measures to address these problems as soon as the bill was passed. Have they? Or, rather, have they done enough? We can’t ask the citizens of this country to simply grit their teeth through back-breaking work just to get their children through proper schooling without providing the necessary support.

Let’s talk about the teachers, the educators, or, as I so fondly call them, the martyrs of the society. One of the primary reason I find myself so invested in this issue is because I was made aware of the massive retrenchments of teachers that will happen in 2016 for the full implementation of the K-12 program. I felt overwhelming indignation for these people who have chosen the path of such self-sacrificing work. It was my sister, of course, who reminded me that K-12 has been in the works for years now. The teachers must have had been anticipating this for a while. Which begs the question, why are these rallies taking place now when the program has been finalized? And, looking at the time table, after a couple of years, the program would demand for just as many teachers to be reinstated, right? We need to look further beyond than just a year ahead of us.

As I see it, we could all just be good soldiers. What does this mean? Well, good soldiers are people who speak up to authority and argue their stance, fighting for their principles. But, when the time to take action comes, they stand behind their officer-in-charge and give all they’ve got. Because let’s face it, while K-12 may not be as good as the government tries to sell it to be, going against it throughout the entire process wouldn’t help either. It’s a done deal, so why not just get behind it and help make the transition as smooth as possible. That or we could keep with the rallies and pep talks and maybe the program’s implementation will be postponed. But what does that do? We’re the only country in Asia and only one of the last three (Angola and Djibouti) in the world without 12 years of basic education. Sooner or later, another president of the country will attempt to bring it into this country. And, yes, maybe the economy will be more stable to handle the program then, but why not just keep pushing it now. They’ve already started disrupting the educational system, anyway, so why not get to the finish line?

I know I didn't really get into the itty gritty details of K-12. To be honest, I couldn't bring myself to read over the materials. I'm on vacation mode! But for those who do want to educate themselves on the issue at hand, here's a good place to start.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Ups and Downs of Being a Filipino: On Respect

One of my greatest complaints about being a Filipino is the rule of the society dictating that age begets respect. Ridiculous! Don't get me wrong. Having been raised in the Philippines by Filipino citizens (though, I should make it clear that I'm not a pure Filipino) resulted in that "lesson" being ingrained into my mind whether I agreed with it or not. And, I understand the sentiment. The Philippines is a country that believes that with age comes wisdom. It is a country that revers the elderly for their wisdom. But more than that, it supposedly puts the elderly on a higher pedestal in recognition of where they had come from. After all, how could one person come onto the Earth without his/her parents? I understand all these things. And, I do respect people who are older than me. I just happen to have different kinds of respect.

Being forced by societal laws and institutional rules, I had been forced to differentiate respect. Respect comes in many forms but for the purpose of this post, I'll be referring to only two- respect that has been required of you and respect that has been earned. I have a certain degree of respect toward people older than me because their age calls for it. I respect my instructors, my boss, people higher up the food chain because their authority over me calls for it. But there is respect that is earned. And this is the respect that I hold for people who have, through their integrity, their intelligence, and their character, convinced me that they are deserving of it. I know it might reflect badly on me to say this, but very few people have earned my respect. Or, at least, they are very few compared to the hundreds who have made the mistake of demanding respect from me.

I don't get it. I had learned at a very young age that respect is one of the things that can never be bought by money nor taken by force. So, why is it that so many people still don't understand this concept? And, more frustrating is the fact that people can't differentiate between respect that has been grudgingly been given due to societal demand and respect that has been earned. There's also the consideration you have to give when in a work place. Do you still defer to societal laws when within an institution which recognizes a different hierarchy of authority? How does a younger boss deal with insubordination from an older employee(But at this point, I should probably ask if it's actually possible for this scenario to happen when I suspect that government institutions usually base promotions on the age of the employee)? How does a younger subordinate deal with an older authority who is in the wrong? Does the younger one defer to the older person and, in the process, compromise not just his principles but also the quality of their work? What happens when the younger person decide to value quality of work over the chain of command? And in the indignation that follows such insubordination what marks the difference between outrage due to disrespect and wrath due to wounded pride?

Okay, yeah. This is me ranting about a personal problem again. The thing is, I have a constant frustration with people who act like their position and their age transform them into perfect beings who can't possibly be wrong about anything. At this point, I don't even know if I should be complaining about undue respect or about man's pride. But I suppose the issue at hand can be explained by my loss of respect for people who put pride before the quality of work, especially for those who use age as an excuse to belittle and disregard people like me.

So, I was thinking of starting a series on what it's like to be a Filipino. Since the first post for this series is about the Downs, I guess I'll have to make up for it with a lot more Ups. After all, being a Filipino is also kinda awesome.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Secret Recipe to High Grades

What is success? Success comes in a lot of forms, I suppose. In worldly views, it can be achieving financial security, being the top in your field, winning the lotto, even. But I believe it's really all about finding happiness. But what is happiness? I say it's a choice. I know that comes with some explaining and there's a lot I want to say about that but that's not the point of this post. The point is that, people view many different things as success. One of these, I've come to learn, is having high grades (A completely ridiculous notion since the grading system and exams are such ineffective ways to measure intelligence or mastery of skill, but that's something I'll get into some other time, too).

The thing is, I apparently have a knack for scoring relatively high in exams. I apologize if that sounded arrogant. The thing is, I've had many people come up to me and ask me how I do it. How do I do it? Doesn't that sound weird, like it's some kind of magic trick I pull every time we have to sit for an exam. Though, I suppose my non-committal shrug and close-mouthed smiles don't really help clarify the situation. This is also something that's been weighing on my mind. In my quest to diffuse any unnecessary attention toward me, it seems that I've become quite the ungrateful beneficiary. So, how do I do it? Well, I'm finally prepared to answer that question.

Let's start with the most basic, shall we? Review. And, when I say review, I mean re-view. There's a huge difference between reviewing and re-learning. It's a fairly basic thing but it's something many people seem to miss. Imagine this, exams are just a few days away and you're stressing yourself up trying to cram in every single line on a 600-page book. Would you really be so surprised that after all that you fail your exam? I'm not a neurologist but I don't really need to be one to tell you that putting that much stress on your brain doesn't really help with memory retention. But, I still see people crunching through books and stacks of hand outs like it's their first time seeing those notes and encountering those topics. The week before exams isn't the time for you to be learning everything in your syllabus. That's what you have the rest of the term for. What else have you been doing in the many hours of lecture that you haven't learned anything? Listen in class. That way, when exam week is nearing, all you have to do is re-view. As in, refresh your memory. But there won't be much to refresh if you have no memory because you were too busy texting your boyfriend or chatting away with your seatmate.

Understand the literature, don't simply memorize it. I know going down to the itty, gritty details and understanding the mechanism behind what your learning might mean that you'll be needing more time to cover your scope but it's a lot more effective than memorizing. Good professors know how to ask questions that measure how you understood the concepts they've been teaching you. There are, however, some who like to randomly point at their book and ask questions about whatever their finger lands on. And, yeah, maybe memorizing everything will make answering those kinds of questions easier but there's a different quality that you attain when you understand what you're studying instead of just having memorized a string of words or numbers in your head.

Take it easy on yourself. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to tell you to get lazy. I don't want to be mobbed for giving advice that might end up with y'all getting lower grades than before. The thing is, I believe that the mind works better when it is well rested. So, forget about burning the midnight oil (or something like that, I never understood the phrase). Review your lessons and have a restful sleep. And, stop panicking that sleeping on whatever you've reviewed would mean you'd forget them. You have better memory than that. Pressuring yourself and stressing over what score you'll have doesn't help either. I say this for before and after taking your exam. I don't understand the people who can't stop talking about the exam they just took. When you're done, you're done. There's nothing more you can do about it. Except, of course, build a time machine. But I doubt that'll help. Time machines are still a ways from us and if ever successful it will only possibly be able to jump through time in the forward motion. Getting off topic here, sorry. Anyway, the bottom line is to relax. I actually take naps after every few globs of studying. You know when you feel like your head is about to explode after a few pages? Yeah. I call that information overload and I take a few minutes to nap it off. It helps with memory retention, too. There are scientific articles that will back me up. Google it.

Now, at this point, I feel like many of you will be rolling your eyes at me and telling me that you already knew all of this. Well, my bad. But that was only about half of what it takes to ace an exam. Or at least I think so. The thing is, taking exams is half knowing the content and half knowing how to take exams. People get so stressed up when they come across questions they don't know the answer to. But here's the thing, you can pass (well, barely pass) an exam covering topics you have no knowledge of by simply understanding how the questions work. Very few professors know how to write questions that don't inevitably clue you in on the answer to other questions. You just need to know how to work the system.

Matching type questions are the easiest. I know they say that some choices may be used once, twice or not at all, and that's probably true in some cases but it usually isn't. When you run out of answers, just see to it that all answers, except for those that are so obviously wrong, are used. Multiple choice questions. Well, go through all of the questions first. Answer those that you're confident about. For the questions you're not so sure about, just mark off the choices you're sure can't be the answer then go to the next questions. Chances are, after a few more numbers, you'll find a question that somehow alludes to your mystery answer. Or maybe you'll find a statement that will eliminate another one of your choices. Either way it works for you. Modified true or false. Just look through other sections of your exam and I'm sure you'll find something in the multiple choice question or maybe in the matching type. I think you get my point now. This may seem very elementary for some of you, but it surprises me how few the people are who know how to do this.

I know I said that it's 50% content and 50% working the system, but here's the one thing that you need to remember/do to make that 100% count. Pray. Yeah, yeah. I know there are many people who aren't so keen to the idea but it's something I honestly do. And, I'm not here to preach about religion. I'm here to appeal to your faith. So, pray. And, I don't mean that you should go and pray for you to pass the exam or get high grades after taking your exam. I don't even mean that you do it before your exam (but you should do that, too). As I said, a huge part of your exam is knowing the content and those percentages won't magically move up when you decide to ask for help a minute before you're handed your exam booklet after you decided to forego studying entirely. Pray. Pray before, while and after you review. Pray for concentration. Pray for a better handle on your attention span. Pray for understanding. Pray for better memory retention. And, just for the heck of it, pray for the will to resist the temptation to cheat. I know it's easier and many people get away with it, but why not take the higher road when you can? In the end, cheaters only cheat themselves. And, there's that greater peace and satisfaction that comes with not having to go that low for something as insignificant as a number on a sheet of paper. There are many more things in life that are more important. So, pray.

I guess that's it. I have to admit, there are some things here that I don't always follow and there are things that will seem unnecessary for you. Just try it out and see what works for you. We were all made differently and, therefore, have different ways of dealing with things. I must emphasize on that last point, though. Pray. It's not something that you do only when you need something. It's something you do everyday, happy or sad, in need or in gratitude. I suppose that's what pushed me to write this. I realize that while I have been thanking God in the comfort of my private chambers, I should have had used all those opportunities to bring others closer to Him. Pray. Because while family and friends may sometimes fail you, He'll be there to pull you through, whether it be in the good times or bad.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Auction Open for Bidding, Item: Me

How much are you? Or to put it more tactfully, what's your worth?

This is actually a rather tricky question. How do you decide on a specific amount? Should we have been born with a bar code on our wrists? That would have had been horrendous. In the end, it's not a simple matter of deciding how much you are but of how you even begin to measure your worth. I mean, to most of the people in the world, a person probably wouldn't be worth much. He probably wouldn't even be worth anything. But to the precious few who know him and care for him, possibly even love him, he would be worth a lot- priceless, even. In this sense, worth is subjective.

But, I dare say that worth should be intrinsic. It's something that you should decide on your own. It should depend on how valuable you believe yourself to be. It is about self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem. And, so worth should be decided through our perspective of ourselves. It goes in the same manner as how we decide how much respect our colleagues should show us, how expensive we allow ourselves to splurge on ourselves, how much love we allow ourselves to accept. We decide our own worth. Or, at least, I believe that we should.

It is sad to say that, for many people, this isn't the case. Often times, it's actually the opposite. We allow others to dictate how much respect we deserve. We allow their opinions of us to influence how we see ourselves. And, I have to admit that I have fallen victim to this scheme many times in the past. It is actually quite embarrassing to remember how many times I've allowed myself to wallow in a pit of self-pity and shame because I had allowed other people to convince me that I was undeserving, that I was beneath them, and essentially that I was worthless.

It's ridiculous how easy it had been for them to make me to believe that I hadn't deserved as much as they had, that I hadn't been worth as much as they were, that I was a being of a lower class. It is worse, even, to think how easy I had made it for them to do these. After all, what kind of an idiot accepts judgment from monsters who know nothing but to feed on others? Who would allows snarky comment from others to shape what he thinks of himself? Who would allow meaningless words of others to get into his mind until he is eaten inside out? An unfortunate person who has yet to realize that his worth is something that is decided by his own love, respect and confidence in his self.

This is a rather difficult concept for me to wrap my head around. And, I have a feeling I haven't quite worded it in a way that would allow universal understanding, partly because this is an issue I was just recently having internal battles with. Nevertheless, it is something I needed to share not just because I needed to reassure myself of my worth but because I want others to start feeling more confident of their own worth.

And, be sure of this. In the moments when you start to doubt your worth, when family and friends have treated you like dirt, may you remember that there will always be someone who will see you as nothing less precious than the most valuable treasure.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Despite the many comforts of human friends and chocolates, it is in His arms that we find warmth, comfort and reassurance that reaches the soul.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Mutant and Proud

"Mutant and proud."

Some may recognize this phrase from a movie adaptation of X-Men and if you know this movie then you know that it's from some time ago. I honestly don't remember when the movie was released but seeing as I have the tendency to watch films only when the public's interest in them have died down, its probably a bit dated. But that's besides the point. It's been a few months since I watched the movie yet those three seemingly insignificant words continue to resound within me. Is it so weird that I so easily relate to the idea of being a mutant?

What do we mean by mutant? Not surprisingly, when people hear the word mutant, their first go to image is probably some gory monster followed by an image of wolverine or any of the other members of X-Men. I blame Hollywood. But that's a rant for another day. I was trying to point out that mutant can easily be taken to mean being different. And, that's the thing. Aren't we all different? We're all unique. We have our own little, weird quirks with our own take on things. In a way, we're all mutants. And, I really wish we'd all learn to be proud of that.

Tall, thin and adequately tanned body with a face arranged according to the golden ratio. People keep saying that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. It is supposedly a subjective attribute. Or at least, it was until some idiots came up with their idea of beautiful. And, then more idiots decided that there was no other kind of beautiful aside from this one idea. Now, everyone's hurting themselves trying to get themselves to fit a mold that, if we're being honest, is ill-fitting for most people. People have traded their unique bodies for a set of generic and unnatural parts. They have placed their self-esteem in the hands of hypocrites who know nothing but to spit out venomous words laced with envy and insecurity.

This kind of stupidity isn't limited to looks. Some have even gone so far as to attempt to change their attitudes, their likes and dislikes based on what is "acceptable" to society. It is pitiful. It is sad. It is true.

We were all created so beautifully unique yet, by our own choice, we attempt to become nothing more than a second-rate copy of an impossible model. We deserve more than pity hand outs from people. We deserve better. And, we are better. We just need to start embracing our true selves. We need to stop seeing the things that makes us different as ugly and recognize them for what they are. They are the very things that make us beautiful. So, I say, Mutant and proud.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ambitions and the System

What do you want to do? What do you aim for? What are your plans in life?

These are the seemingly innocent questions that often put me on the spot. They're supposed to be easy to answer- and I guess that's the way they are to other people- but these are the questions that have become increasingly hard to answer over the years. When you're five years old and you answer by claiming that you'll be the president of the country who will solve the problems of poverty, people will chuckle and encourage you. Try saying that at the age of 20 and they'll smile reluctantly before gently coaxing you into taking a more "reasonable" path.

It's ridiculous, isn't it? It's the same dream but their reactions change depending on your age. Apparently, it's okay to dream big while your young. I suppose the adults chuck it up to naivety. They'll even think of you as noble and selfless. But as you grow older, you're supposed to scale down your dreams. Be realistic, they'll say. Sometimes, they don't even have to say it because you yourself will feel the world's pressure to think smaller.

It makes me sad to see this happen. Even more so to see myself do this very thing. I've lost the ability to answer people when they ask me about my aspirations. Usually, it's because I feel so beaten down by the harsh realities of life that it seems as though all the things I want to do can't be done. But, there are those times when I feel hopeful- invincible, even. Those are the times when I allow myself to dream big, to admit to myself that I want to do great things for myself, for my family, for my country, and for the world.

It's hard to be optimistic about these things, though. Because even the schools which supposedly provide us with the education we need to be successful in life teach us to be "realistic". They ask us to think of our finances, our IQ, our skills, the opportunities available to us. They keep pointing at the negative things. It's funny because I remember in pre-school how the teachers so insistently told us that we could be anything we wanted to be when we grow up. But as we go through the educational system, they start telling us that it's okay to fail, that not everyone can be the best. After all, how could there be a winner without losers, right?

It's silly. I know this. But even I have to admit that no matter how much I rebel against the educational system that attempts to change our very unique selves into uniform, mindless robots, I've fallen victim to their ploy. My dreams have grown smaller and smaller until they disappeared entirely. There are times when I've become complacent to the system. I took things as they were given to me and I was satisfied with the knowledge of meeting their low expectations.

Am I being arrogant right now? To some I might appear so. But, I don't have time to appease everyone's sensitivities. The fact remains that we are all truly capable of doing great things. We all have what it takes to influence the system. We just need to bring that potential out. I believe that we were all born with raw talent that needs to be honed. If the system we rely on to do that, if the society we believe should be responsible for making that happen become incapable of doing it, shouldn't we just decide to do it ourselves?

I probably sound like a naive, little girl to many adults out there and maybe I am one. I admit that I hold certain ideologies that die down in most people as they age, but I refuse to let go of them. What's so wrong with aiming for an ideal world? For a different world? All I'm really saying is that we should recognize our own potentials. Everyone can be great, we just need to set higher expectations for ourselves. If the people around us aren't going to challenge us, we should challenge ourselves.

I just want to live in a world where it's okay to dream of setting up an orphanage without having people think you're crazy. I want to live in a world where I can say that I want to be both a skilled surgeon and an exceptional writer without being called naive. I want to live in a world where it's okay to be ambitious.