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The Day I Stopped Believing What I Believed In

Note: This blog post has no images and videos. This post is also way too long, all jumbled up, has no sense of direction, but full of heartfelt musings. Do read at your own risk.

I hate being too personal, but you might have already noticed that I have written personal stories lately. I just feel like doing it and I told myself earlier this year that I am going to be more crazy. Letting people see through a portion of your mind- a place where you usually do not show, is straight up crazy.

So today, I am going to talk about things that are a hundred times more personal, because I realized that I should use my voice often to encourage more people. Because that is what I do. This is what we are all supposed to do. I like to encourage people because doing so is like encouraging myself too. I cringe at the thought of calling myself a social media influencer, but whether I like it or not, bloggers do influence their respective readers. Even if there’s only a few.

Today, I am going to deviate from writing about my usual travel stories. I am going to talk about my life because just like I said in my About page, whether we travel or not, in life, we are always in transit. I am going to talk about five things, specifically.

Love. Education. Dream Job. ReligionFriendships.

These are the five things that I get to talk about with my friends for hours and never get tired of. In fact, based on my observation, these are things my age usually talks about over a cup of coffee, other than cars, and politics, and money. I’m not sure. Haha!

These are the things that most people may consider trivial. Nevertheless, I would like to try just in case one person out there take this to heart.

“We sometimes underestimate the influence of little things.” Charles W. Chestnutt

So, let me start by talking about the day I stopped believing what I used to believe about…

Love

“We were perpendicular lines who met at the right angle, but continued to move further away from each other…”

For years, I have stopped writing about love for the same reason why David Levithan said in his book, The Lover’s Dictionary“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”

I simply cannot take the hypocrisy of attempting to write something about it. Love is something so mysterious and unimaginable; I don’t think anyone in this world could ever fathom it. So I kept myself from writing about love for a long time, because I know that up until now, I have not grasped what this word is really all about.

But today, I’ve decided to try pen my thoughts about it again. Well, just a tiny little bit. Just relationships to be exact.

I was in a long-term relationship with someone I thought I would end up with at the altar. We have been friends for almost a decade, and thinking about it now made me realize that this relationship was the biggest factor that shaped me who I am today. I used to believe that if I only love someone enough, or if I only try harder to be the best that I can, everything else is going to fall into place, just like how I wanted it to be. I adored my parents’ love story so I had this principle that whoever becomes my first boyfriend, should be my last. Just like them. So even though I already saw the red flags during our early years, and even before we became an item, I did my best to hold on.

I’ve never been in love with someone else before, and I was afraid that I would never get to experience it again. So I kept on watering a dead flower. Until it destroyed me. I was no longer thinking about myself. I kept on thinking about what could have I done wrong to deserve such awful experience. I used to pride myself for being the cool one. I was someone who was cool enough to shrug anything and not give a fuck about anything, but when I got into that relationship, I became someone I hated. I became the exact opposite.

It got into a point where I would wallow in self-pity. My confidence and self-esteem completely went down the drain. I became paranoid and needy. I came to a point where I suffered from extreme jealousy. And I never got a single encouragement from him to ease up what I was going through. The worst thing; he would always make it worse.

I started to have mental breakdowns. I started eating unhealthy, and eventually got fat. I started not to take care of my physical appearance. I stopped blogging for a few months. Eventually, I started not seeing my other friends anymore. All of it, I did not see it was already happening. My friends started to get worried about me, but I would just shrug them off and tell them that what I was going through was just a phase. It went on FOR YEARS and nobody suspected anything because I was too good at hiding my pain. “It was nobody’s business,” I would say.

I was in constant battle with myself because I did not know what was the right thing to do. I would feel guilty because I would tell myself that, “If this is truly love, this should not be happening.”

I would tell myself that nobody in this world is really perfect for someone, until you choose them to be. So I would always choose him. Every single day. I wanted to him to be The One.

Until I changed. One day, I just woke up and saw everything clearly with my two eyes. It was like looking at my life in the big screen – seeing every single detail, with no more pretensions at all. I realized how stupid I was for overlooking all the details in my life, just because I was afraid of letting people go.

But, it wasn’t all muffled crying and damp pillow. I like to believe that what happened to us was real. There were happy times. He genuinely cared. It’s just that there are people that you only get to meet once in this lifetime only for a lesson. We were perpendicular lines who met at the right angle, but continued to move further away from each other.

If there is one thing that I learned about that relationship is to never tolerate your partner’s mistakes, as well as yours. Tolerance is different from acceptance and forgiveness. You can accept the person for who he or she is and forgive them for their mistakes, but never tolerate it. I tolerated his misgivings, justified it in whatever way I can, and lied to myself because I loved him. And in return, I would tolerate myself for killing myself every single day. This is a mistake I do not ever want to do again.

So I let go. Because just like what Cassandra Clare said in her book, City of Ashes, If you really love something, you never try to keep it the way it is forever. You have to let it be free to change.” I have kept myself caged for a long time. It is time to soar high once again.

I realized now how inexplicable Love is. Just when you thought you have it already figured out, you suddenly get surprised that there are yet more – seemingly endless doors to open.

I have always believed in that famous line, “Walang forever.” Because truly, nothing in this world is permanent. I am at peace to say now that even if you do your best to keep a relationship going, it will still end if the Universe has a much better plan for you. Let the relationship be. If it is meant to continue, it will. If it is meant to end, let it end. No matter how much we hate it, all of us in this world is bound in time – including our relationships.

My Mama Bean told me that I have always been unique and thinks differently from other people. She said that God has directed me to a different path from the others, so unsurprisingly; He has allowed me to experience a different kind of relationship. I just need to continue walking, and one day, I’ll get there.

I still have not figured out everything. But I would like to believe I am Love.

Education

“I know that not everyone thinks the way I do. And I know that each one of us experiences life differently. But I would like to encourage people to never settle. The world will tell you to do this or that so you can earn yourself a good place in the world. Remember, having a good education is not just all about learning how to solve quadratic equations. Go out to the world, open your eyes, and always try to learn something new.”

I cannot stress this enough; education is extremely important. It is what transforms a us to be a better person, or to have a better life. Education allows us to see through ourselves, and eventually help us with our personal growth. For thousands of years, man has evolved continuously because of education.

But don’t get me wrong; I do not mean being educated means getting that expensive degree.

I grew up in a home where education is highly valued. I remember learning a lot, even at a young age. My grandparents would always encourage me and my siblings to always learn something new. Whether it is learning new words, playing an instrument, or making arts and crafts projects, we were always persuaded to always learn something. They valued education so much that even when my siblings and I were still in our mother’s womb, they already left us a trust fund to secure our future.

We were encouraged to read A LOT. If I were to sum up my childhood into one word, I would always say, ‘books’. My childhood years were all about Reader’s Digest, Encyclopedias, Bible stories, Nancy Drew, and Choose Your Own Adventure series. For a sickly child like me, I spent my formative years learning new things, which is probably the reason that right now, I do not like to settle on one skill. It makes my heart beat to always try other things.

During my grade school and high school years, I was very competitive and hated failing. All I ever wanted was to excel at school, go to college, get a degree, and find a high-paying job. That was what everyone expected for someone as studious as I. So imagine my family’s horrified faces when at the age of 16, I decided to leave home and stopped going to school.

I did not want to follow everyone’s path. I wanted to make my own, even though it is completely hard to go against the mold. Let’s just say; I wanted to be a student of Life.

Eight years later, I never regretted anything. I got to learn way more important things than what I learned from the university. The things that I missed learning from the university, I did my best to make up by doing my own research, reading books, attending discussions, traveling, or by simply talking to people from different walks of life. It is great to be a student of the Universe.

There are so many out there who even got their doctoral degrees, yet cannot find a job to support themselves. There is nothing wrong in getting that degree. Just don’t stop learning.

I promised my parents’ that I will go finish my degree soon. I know that it will make them happy. I also do not want to waste my grandparents’ legacy. I am just thankful that while they want me to pursue this one thing, they also support my wild ideas and plans.

I know that not everyone thinks the way I do. And I know that each one of us experiences life differently. But I would like to encourage people to never settle. The world will tell you to do this or that so you can earn yourself a good place in the world. Remember, having a good education is not just all about learning how to solve quadratic equations.

Go out to the world, open your eyes, and always try to learn something new.

Dream Job

“It is hard when what you truly love to do does not pay enough, so the world tells you instead to do something else that actually pays, even when you don’t love it.”

Oh. God. Yes. Everyone always has this dream job they just can’t stop talking about. I, for instance, never stop babbling about it to my close friends until they get tired of listening. I feel like one day, they will finally tape my mouth so I would finally shut up. My dream job is to be a highly-respected travel writer – getting paid to travel the world. What can I say? It is free to lose ourselves in our dreams.

I am not always like this though. Like I said, I only wanted to have a high-paying job when I was younger. So when I decided to walk off the beaten track, I did not know what to do. I volunteered at a shelter for abused and abandoned children for a while in my teen years and had few writing gigs.

I had no idea what I truly wanted then! So when I reached the age of maturity, I decided to try my luck in the corporate industry in order to support myself. I was no longer getting financial support from my family at this time. I said I wanted to be independent, so I better do everything I can to keep it that way. I worked as a Chat Specialist for almost four years, and during those years, I had a lot of thinking.

It was during this time that I got seriously into blogging. I have been blogging since 2008, but really, it was nothing. I only used my tiny space on the web to vent out my frustrations in life, school, and family. I was talking about anything under the sun with no particular goal in mind. When I started traveling in late 2012, I thought of sharing my travel stories to encourage my friends to leave their desks and enjoy life. It was only when I finally established Laagan Nga Bata as a name in the blogosphere that I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Travel writing!

The monotonous life brought about by the corporate industry stressed me out so much that I got sicker and sicker as time went by. I was drained physically and mentally. And even though I go on trips to somewhere every now and then. I also tried to engage in high amounts of light intensity physical activities, just so I can get more energy. But, it was not enough. Once again, I came to a point where I had to make a life changing decision.

So I decided to investigate my options. Staying in the company would be the safest option as I was receiving a great salary – enough for me to pay my bills, travel, and splurge every now and then. However, staying means not achieving my ultimate dream. So I tirelessly looked for another option. I was already doing few freelance works during this time, and started to earn a little from blogging, but it was not something that I can actually live on, let alone support my dreams of traveling!

Thankfully, my prayer was answered when I was offered an online work that pays well. Right there and then, I wrote my immediate resignation letter. My manager was shocked by my decision to leave a life of stability for an exciting, but uncertain one. Why would I leave the bonuses, the good salary, and the free insurance? Needless to say, I was simply desperate to achieve my dreams.

The transition was definitely harder than I thought. Obviously, I cried (A LOT) because I did not know what to do. I was scared of what was going to happen to me. I even got a lot of scolding from my family and some close friends because of my nonsensical choices in life. Even my ex-boyfriend did not support this decision. It is hard when what you truly love to do does not pay enough, so the world tells you instead to do something else that actually pays, even when you don’t love it. It is a sad reality because we have to feed ourselves and luckily for me, I do not have a family to feed yet. I only have to think of myself.

I am just glad that my hard work and frustrations are starting to pay off. It has been almost two years since I started doing full-time freelance work, and I am glad that I am earning enough to support myself and do a little bit of traveling once in a while. I am also starting to get clients to write about travel stuff in my blog.

I am way too far from acing my ultimate dream job, but I am glad that I braved to take the first step forward.

I used to believe that if I only have a job that pays well for me to support myself and help my family, I would finally be content. But I would rather be happy. I have to do what is right for me, because no one else is walking in my shoes.

So dear reader, what steps have you taken to achieve your ultimate dream job?

Religion

“…if truth be told, life really has no meaning. We are all just passing through this life, and then we return to wherever we came from. It is what we create while we are alive that gives meaning to this life. The creator finds meaning to his creation.”

I do not know exactly when it happened. Nor do I remember how it happened. All I know is that one day, I just felt that my mind was opened, and I was more aware of myself…

If there’s one thing you should know about me, it is that I like to call myself a non-conformist. Because to be honest, I do not know what else to call whatever I believe in today. Although, I can be the most law-abiding citizen in the world, I do not like anyone to impose rules on how I should live my life. Especially when we are talking matters about God.

I was born in an Evangelical Christian family. My parents both served the ministry in their younger years. When they got married and eventually had my siblings and I, carrying out the Word of God have always been what our family is all about. My childhood was all about Bible readings with our father, attending Sunday services, and joining Bible camps. Basically, I grew up always taking into heart to become Jesus in this world.

As I grew into my teenage years, I was separated from my family because they had to live away from the city. I was left to my own devices and this may sound cliche, but I became this curious girl who was looking for something to fill in a hole in her heart. I was looking for a meaning in this life.

Eventually, I got to meet A LOT of interesting people. People who were also looking for something. I became more serious in reading the Bible. I even asked my aunt one time to buy me a pocket bible as a birthday gift, so I can bring and read it wherever I go. I was that serious.

I became an evangelist – and a strong one at that. Picture this out: a small girl wearing her university uniform with a pocket bible in one hand, walking around the streets of Cebu City, talking to strangers asking them if they knew where they are heading when they die.

I have used the Word of God as my sword for battle.

EVERY SINGLE DAY, I would read the Bible, join Bible studies, and discuss with my friends what we learned. I even read the Bible thrice because I wanted to learn more about God.

Only one day, the situation changed. I started to question my belief. I started asking questions to pastors. I still believed in everything that I have read from the Bible, but at the same time, I was open to hear what other people have to say. Traveling can really help you understand other people’s stand on religion. I started reading books about religion. I tried to get hold of a Qur’an. I borrowed a Tripitaka from an elementary friend. I would watch videos on YouTube about different beliefs. I also started practicing yoga.

I consider myself a spiritual person, rather than a religious one, which is why I instantly fell in love with yoga because it is a spiritual practice where the mind, body, and spirit are harmonized. It is not just about those jaw-dropping yoga poses you see on Instagram. It is so much more than that. I even read somewhere that it is believed that Jesus Christ practiced yoga and used it to heal the sick.

But Yoga is not my religion. (Yoga is not a religion, by the way.) Let’s just say that I am open to anything, and that my religion is Love. So long as I do everything I can to do good unto others. I do not want to be enslaved by a specific ideology, because doing so, will not lead me to new understandings.

I respect all religion. I respect everyone who does not share the same faith as me. I still even go to church with my family, when I am home. I used to have strong feelings as an Evangelical Christian, which is why I used to be against the Roman Catholic Church for their dogmas that goes against the teachings of the Bible.

But having that kind of approach builds hatred in your heart. I am not against religion. I simply do not want to put a wall between me from other people. Every man in this world was born without religion. Religion is learned. I believe that some people need it because they prefer rules, laws and morals to follow.

I mentioned that I was looking for something to fill a gap in my heart. I have finally found that ‘something’. I also said that I used to look for the meaning of life. I think, if truth be told, life really has no meaning. We are all just passing through this life, and then we return to wherever we came from. It is what we create while we are alive that gives meaning to this life. The creator finds meaning to his creation.

Everyone is entitled to believe in whatever they want. Here is a piece of advice though; Do not believe right away just because that is what everyone else believe. Do not settle on traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. Do your own research and analysis. Only then decide what you truly believe.

As for me…

“Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:14 (English Standard Version)

Friendships

“Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter what your status is in life, you will always need a friend.”

Other than your family or your life partner, building genuine friendships is one of the most important relationship everyone deserves to have. Our friends are the people whom we can talk to, laugh with, and get crazy with. They are the people whom we can get our strength in times of need. They are the people who help us stand when we are already tired of going on. They are the people who accept us for who we are. Whoever you are, wherever you are, no matter what your status is in life, you will always need a friend.

According to an Indian yogi, Jaggi Vasudev, “Without being in constant exchange with the rest of the cosmos, you cannot exist. The idea of individuality is an illusion.”

I remember when a fellow blogger told me a couple of months ago about the importance of having friends. He said, “When we are in a romantic relationship, we tend to let our emotions rule. The reason why we need friends is because they are the ones who reminds us, slaps us if need be, when we are no longer thinking logically.”

In all the times I have struggled with life, I have always got the strength to carry on and move forward because of my friends, whether they are old or new ones. And in return, I have also become theirs.

When I was younger, making friends has never been an issue. I was too kind to anyone I meet, that they instantly become my friends. Like in any relationship, we tend to hold these people in our hearts and we don’t ever want to let them go. Whatever they do, we do. That is why having healthy friendships with the right people is so critical. You don’t want those who hold you back from your full potential.

I used to be a straight up people-pleaser when I was still a kid, because I cared too much what other people has to say about me. Because of that, most of my close acquaintances took advantage of my kind-hearted soul. I have allowed them to dictate me as well, because I was afraid of change, and I did not want to lose them in my life.

Only when I realized how unhealthy it was for me did I start to let them go. I have made long-term friendships with a few people, but we no longer see each other often. Eventually, we all change. Our situations change. Our friendships change. Nevertheless, if you have built a strong foundation for these friendships, they will always be the same people you can run to.

I have seen far too many friendships that ended because the other person wants to control the other, especially when the other party is now involved in a romantic relationship.

I remember my Mom exclaimed that I have far too many circles of friends. Over the years I have made friends from work, school, blogging communities, outdoor groups, and volunteer groups. I thought that my friends from three years ago would be the same people I can relate to until now. Luckily for me, there are few who remains. But I realized that everyone goes on with life. These people will eventually find other people whom they can call as friends. It is a never-ending cycle.

That is why now, I treasure and value my new found friends just as I do with my life. I know for sure that some of them will change and not remain, but you have got to let the friendship be what it is.

That is the beauty of letting the Universe do its work. 😉

Afterthoughts

When you pen your thoughts in your journal or diary for your own viewing purposes, you are writing only for yourself. However, when you start writing using a medium such as newspaper, book, or an online space, take this to heart; You are no longer writing for yourself alone. That is why as a blogger, I believe that writing this means I am no longer talking to myself, I am also talking to you, my dear readers.

So hear me out as I say this; I started to become at peace when I stopped believing what I used to believe in. I bravely pushed the reset button. Do not fear on taking the road less trodden, if you really want to. If you do not want to, it is totally up to you. But if you want to, just do it. You will never achieve what you truly want if you will not start taking the first step. People will say it will take a big leap of faith, but really, it is just a matter of opening the first door, and taking the first step.

Why am I writing this?

I know a lot of people who looks up to me as if I am a hero or a god (what!?) They think that I have done great things at an early age, and now they have considered me as someone they should look up to. There is nothing wrong with that. But let me say this to you, I am nothing extraordinary. I am just like you. I am just a normal girl (but crazy sometimes), who still has not figured out life. We are all the same. The only difference is that I am writing this, and you are reading it.

I have seen so many precious souls trapped in horrible cages that they did not know they created. I have seen far too many dreams wasted because of fear. I have listened to so many desperate voices with their ‘What ifs’ and ‘If onlys’.

Whether you admit it or not, you are a creator yourself. Create your life. Mold it the way you want it to be. Reshape it should you need to. Rebuild it if need be. Do not let others do all these things for you because it is your life. Do not be afraid to make a stand.

Who knows? This might be the day you would stop to believe what you believed in.

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