I am that type of person who is afraid of taking risks. Not because that I do not want to struggle but it is more of I cannot acknowledge that I am capable of doing something greater. I just want to be a normal person who does good things to other people for I do not see myself as someone who is called to jump out of a great unknown — or the mission of doing something that is beyond myself.
It is not because I am selfish. But more of someone who is full of so much pride — I do not want to do things for other people. I am capable of doing things and controlling things in my own terms, the world can do it as well.
However, it always ends up that I see myself sacrificing for other people. I remember when I was a Grade 1 student, my teacher told my parents that I will grow as a philanthropist or if not, a missionary ‘coz it is so easy for me to give my packed snack to a classmate who has none. I even bring in so much food to share. And it grew to giving out papers and lending my pens, then eventually I do teach my classmates whenever they cannot get the past lessons. And now, when my former teachers see me, they always call me as “Best in Generosity Student”. Yes, at times it is so annoying ‘coz the people who received those from me were the same people who bullied me — but I did nothing. I just gave so much love to them and now, I cannot help but to cry because I know that they do not deserve their situations right now.
To be honest, I think what I did towards them is just a small part of who they are right now. But the things they did to me plays a major part of who I am right now. And until now, every single thing I do towards other people brings so much UNCERTAINTY because I am so afraid of being taken for granted already. For me, I will just do the right thing and will not expect people to like, love or accept me for who I am — I will just do the right thing because I wanna live a life that I will be proud telling to the man I will be marrying sooner or later, or if not at least to a few people.
Until I went through a major event in my life I did not expect happening — I became a victim of gang raped and it was done by my colleagues. They took advantage of my innocence and stole my joy. They made sure that I will not be conscious as they take away the most precious thing I have — my sexual and physical purity. They made sure that I will not be able to fight for myself. They made sure that I will be broken and lost. I did nothing to them — I was so kind to them wherein I do the tasks they cannot accomplish because they are either tired or depressed or having a fucked up day. I prayed for them, I hugged them, I would even buy them cigarettes and will listen to their sentiments while they were smoking (I do not care if I get sick as long as they would feel they are not alone.) The same people I loved selflessly hurt me the most. The same people I helped betrayed me when I needed them. The same people I hugged were the people who broke me and stole my sunshine.
More uncertainties came when I tried online dating so that at least I can validate my worth as a woman. As I meet more men, I had doubts if I should have sex with them because I might get sick or if should I go out with the guy even if he is so sketchy or even if he is not my type. I questioned a lot of things even more. As I say yes to having more fuck buddies I doubted my capability of falling in love because I thought love is all about that “chemistry” in bed.
Until an unexpected Batanes trip changed a lot of things — the loss of signal, the change of weather and the possibility of being stranded just turned my life upside down. When I talked to the locals, I felt so much joy again and I felt HOME — the love and acceptance despite of me not knowing their local language. They made me embrace my true self again. I had my sanity back and all I know is that I am ready to face more uncertainties the moment I go back to Manila but with a new perspective that my doubts will lead me to greater things, I just need to be patient and having doubts makes me human enough ‘coz at least I can still feel something.
So, upon returning Manila, I made an artwork and posted it. Yes, I have doubts if people will like it or not but I am not posting my stuff for likes ‘coz I just post my stuff to express myself. However, that artwork led me to a person who asked how much do I charge for a wall mural and if I had ever done one. I have so much doubt knowing that I cannot do it and I do not even know how to charge people for an art I just started doing. I just chose to be honest to the client and guess what? She still gave me that project and she agreed to the price.
Fast forward to April 2015, I volunteered for Church Simplified’s Walkway and as I was going through it, a phrase pops in my head all throughout “Leave your comfort zone. I will meet you outside of it.” As usual, I doubted, “Why are you choosing me to take a leap of faith?” I have been through a lot already so I am not sure if I should still face my fear of failing or doubt of trying. Despite all of my questions, I did not have to do anything — my situation was the sign I was looking for to jump out of the unknown and do things beyond myself. It was not easy, I have to admit. I am not used to following orders from clients for having so much pride of my achievements:
- At the age of 19, I graduated with a double degree and received Latin Honors for both.
- At the age of 20, I received 2 promotions in less than 6 months.
- At the age of 21, I was earning at least 70,000php a month.
- At the age of 22, I was considered to be promoted as a Department Head leading 10 managers who are older than me.
All I am certain was, the need of filing an immediate resignation — even if I am wrapped with so much reservation of what if my decision is wrong? Or what if I listened to the wrong voice? What if no one will support me? But, I did it anyway. I did it out of the little trust I have. And the support I received was really overwhelming.
I had more uncertainties as I was starting my journey as a full-time visual artist. I do not know how to run a business, I do not know how to create a logo nor sell myself or the things I know I can do. But what kept my sanity is the fact that “I can always go back to the Corporate Jungle if this journey fails after 3 months.”
Fast forward to today, I did not expect that I can be part of greater causes by great people.
A lot of people keeps on telling me how amazed they are of the journey I have as a full time visual artist. Honestly, I do not know how to answer everyone who asks me about it knowing how unworthy am I of this calling. Yes, I am doing this for almost 3 years now but everyday still feels surreal despite the struggles I have internally and externally. There are days that I just wanna give up and live a normal life wherein I prioritize myself and the things I wanna do — get drunk, go to the beach and fall in love with what life would bring to me.
Whenever I wanna give up, I look at my past works and the photos of my first workshop. And it will leave me speechless and grateful because I chose to do the right thing. Grateful because I chose to pick myself up from the ruins caused by my brokenness. Grateful because the universe just allowed me to be vulnerable and focus on loving the unlovable even if it is tiring at times. Grateful because I choose to survive. Grateful because there is nothing else I should feel aside from that.
But, I wanna give pieces of advice to anyone who wants to pursue their dreams/passion:
- KNOW YOUR “WHY?”
– STOP DOING THINGS JUST BECAUSE YOU WANNA DO THEM. Do what you wanna do because you got a confirmation and you actually wanna do it! Have a sense of purpose why you wanna pursue your dreams or your passion project. Have an objective and set goals so that you have a guide and direction as you do things.
- JUMP OUT OF THE UNKNOWN
– Jumping of the unknown is about taking that risk you are afraid to take even if you are not ready. There is no such thing as “being ready”. When you start doing it, that is the only time you can say that you are ready. However, what is the unknown? That might be your comfort zone or your greatest fear or the person you love the most.My comfort zone was my corporate job. How did I knew about it? Yes, I was happy after job well done but, I was not growing anymore. Yes, I got what I want but I never had the things I needed the most. Yes, I was receiving a lot of favors from it but I was not able to give back genuinely. Yes, I was doing well but I do not have peace nor contentment — I wanted more promotions, higher salary and awards. I just go to work for the salary but not because I was motivated to work.
- EMBRACE THE STRUGGLES AND CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES
– I have to admit, the journey was not easy. The moment I jumped out of my unknown — the Ovarian Cyst at my right ovary is starting to develop and becomes bigger, also I had days wherein I cannot stand up of the bed because I just wanna sleep the sadness away ‘coz probably the next day would be better. But, whenever I choose to get up, I reward myself with a short beach trip to witness the sunrise and sunset and long bus rides ‘coz those are the things I enjoy doing the most.I also struggled with what to write or what to create or if I should create but I do it anyway. I just wrote what’s in my heart — choosing to be honest than to be liked or noticed. I do not even know how to sell myself but people who sees my potential helped me. Whenever it is my monthsary as LittleMsPrinter, I make sure to buy myself a new brush pen or a new Calligraphy material and celebrate it with a cake.
- ENJOY AND TRUST THE PROCESS
– The process towards reaching your goals, dreams or as you pursue your passion is not easy at all. I am telling you right now, you have to be tough because challenges will surely come and those challenges are caused by the things you see as mistakes or the mistakes you have committed intentionally or unintentionally. But, do not be hard on yourself just because of a single mistake or more. Remember, committing mistakes is better than not trying to do something at all.When you committed a mistake, take note of when you did and what did you learn from it. Do not stop yourself from trying and committing mistakes — they are part of the process of becoming better. But at the same time, try to develop your creative process — of how you do things and why you do things. Creative process comes out naturally so try to observe how productive you can be when trusting a particular system.Example: I cannot create without listening to a good music. So what is my solution to it? I make sure that I have curated playlists on my Spotify and from there, I will just choose what suits my mood or what I wanna hear. That is my process and I trust that I can create something or I can be productive for the day.
- REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED
– Honestly, this is the best advice I can give to everyone. Why? Because this is remembering the purpose and objective behind why you do your passion project or pursue your dreams. If there is one thing I can say I am proud of myself is having the right perspective of why I do things. But sad to say, that is most people lack — right perspective. Let us stop promoting that building a business is the easiest way to earn more money because it takes time, same as working in the corporate. BUT if you do it the right way, I can guarantee you that you will succeed and you will receive things you do not expect.Take that from me. I’ve been there and I am there every single day.
Now, I wanna end this with a letter my 2018 self wrote to my struggling 2015 self.