I lost my dad before graduating from college. That’s when I knew, life is going to hit me in my lady balls. Over the years, I have “compiled” career and life lessons which I think, despite of it all, helped me get to where I am now.
I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. I experienced growing up with not having enough food on the table. And, I have a rich classmate who made me jealous AF for “having it all’. Sure, I have the brains (I’m too scared to be dumb). But, the world is not built for smart people. If there was a survival kit sold at every sari-sari store (the Philippines’ version of a convenience store), trust me, I would’ve bought ALL of it.
Since there isn’t any, I have to figure everything out on my own. Thank God for the internet, how-to guides are everywhere. But life lessons aren’t a one-way street. Besides, you’re not really here to criticize, are you? So, here they are.
1. Life is hard (and gets even harder)
Rent, groceries, dog food, internet, water, and electricity bills. These are just some of the things that I worry about every month. Talking about #adulting101
Plus, the fact that every time I go online, I see my classmates getting married, having kids, looking as if they’re having the best time of their lives.
I, on the other hand, worry if my emails are converting, if people are reading my blogs, if my client has received my invoice, or if my dog pooped already.
At present, I have five clients, three are retainers. I have a Facebook group, 3 Facebook pages (The Greatest Digital Creatives, Self-love After Ruins, Cherrie Ann Balictar-Content Writer), and 2 blogs (The Greatest Digital Creatives and Self-love After Ruins) that I try suuuuper hard to create content each month.
If not fate, I believe that everything that’s happening to me is a choice.
Because seriously, if I chose to have a family like others, I would’ve had it by now.
But I don’t.
Which brings me to experiencing intense pressure career-wise.
You see, I have made bad career decisions in the past. And when I say bad, I mean reaaaally bad. Decisions that ruined my reputation even friendships.
What makes life harder for me now?
The older I get, the more is expected from me.
A lot wiser
A lot more money
A lot sexier (wink)
But no. Everything’s been one hell of a ride. But I’m not giving up yet. I’m a tough cookie.
2. Everybody lies (including me)
I miss Dr. House.
He’s from a hit TV series in the U.S. called House M.D. which aired from 2004 to 2012. It is about a narcissistic but brilliant doctor who solves medical puzzles with a team of young doctors. He is known as the medical Sherlock Holmes.
The irony is, he’s brutally honest, with antisocial tendencies. I remember one episode where a guy asked for a consult. His skin is orange. Then Dr. House said, “Your wife is cheating on you.” The patient was, of course, surprised by his diagnosis. But then he said, “You’re orange, and your wife isn’t worried at all. I mean, come on, you’re orange!” The patient stormed out of the clinic, offended by his remark.
Dr. House is famous for his line, “Everybody lies.”
So, why do we?
Here’s my theory.
We lie because we need protecting.
Our loved ones can only do so much.
For example, a friend asked me to see a movie. It’s not payday yet. At that time, I only have 150 pesos in my wallet.
Instead of saying, “Sorry, I want to, but I don’t have the money yet.” I’d say, “Sorry, I’m stuck. Lots of paperwork. Maybe next time?”
So, why would I lie?
Simple. To me, it’s embarrassing to admit that I don’t have money to watch a damn movie.
For some, it’s normal. But for me, it’s a big deal. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m poor. Talking about life lessons that break your bones.
Now, what about love?
They say a relationship filled with lies is a dead end.
But again, we lie because we need protecting.
Have you read In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa?
3. Love is hard to come by
I found love at 27.
Yeah, I know, right?
But I can’t say I didn’t look. Believe me, I have so much love to give, I don’t know where to put it.
I didn’t stop looking. But then, I constantly fell for the wrong person. And when I say wrong I mean, committed.
Well, I asked someone on a date once. Thankfully, he said yes.
It wasn’t romantic, but I’m glad I pulled it off.
These mishaps made me cry sometimes. But, I’m grateful that love has finally come my way.
If not, damn, I better get moving.
4. When I say no, it’s a NO.
Did you experience someone force themselves to you? I have, twice.
It’s amazing how pop music romanticizes attractions with strangers. But that is if the feeling is mutual. What if it isn’t? That my friends, to those who still can’t fathom, is sexual harassment.
Women deserve respect. If she’s flirting with you, that’s your cue to flirt back. If not, back of, mister.
5. Money is a mad dog from hell
Money has a tremendous impact on everybody’s life. Even relationships can break of lack thereof.
When I was in the BPO industry, that’s the first time I started earning real money. It’s not much, but it was enough to keep the light on.
Then, I started spending most of it with my friends. Eating out, drinking, buying unnecessary things. Back then, it felt as if I’m sharing my blessings with people I care about, which is not bad at all.
Sadly, I changed.
So did they.
Fast forward to today, I don’t hear from them again (unless they appear on my Facebook newsfeed). Most of it was my fault, anyway.
But, luckily, I still have those who decided to stick around. Early this year, I released my very first zine called Tara, yosi tayo (Come, let’s smoke) during the Gandang Ganda Sa Sariling Gawa, a small press fair by PICC and Gantala Press. These are stories inspired by my friends in the BPO industry. They were there during tough times. I’m forever grateful.
For money talks and practical life lessons, no B.S. tips, I highly recommend The Financial Diet.
6. It’s hard to stay healthy
I ditched my 8 to 5 because I’ve had enough office drama. Besides, freelancers are gifted with a “flexible schedule” which sounds enticing. But, flexibility comes with self-discipline, lots of it.
This has been my challenge, especially now that I have more than 2 clients. I find myself sitting all day, fueling my body with coffee. And when tasks pile up, I forget to eat. Good thing I have a dog who constantly begs for attention. Otherwise, I can imagine myself looking like a zombie extra from The Walking Dead
So with my little time to take care of myself, I try to meal prep.
I make a list of the things I buy before going to the grocery or market. That way, I’m not tempted to buy random stuff. Also, I only buy ingredients that I’m sure I’ll cook within the week.
Since I can’t live without coffee, I substitute creamer with soy milk.
For sweet cravings, I make gulaman (agar-agar) and store it in the fridge. My dog loves it, too.
Common household chores like sweeping the floor, cooking, laundry, and washing the dishes require me to stand up and get moving. They’re not as fancy as taking dance or yoga classes (which I’d love to try one day). But these will do for now.
When the first episode of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo aired on Neflix on January 1st, the world was in a trance. All of a sudden, everybody started to clean up. Thrift stores were swamped with donations. I was a victim myself. Now, I fold my clothes a-la-Marie-Kondo. But then, old habits die hard. There are times when I just want to dump everything in my drawer and get on with it. Regardless, I still think that tidying up makes a lot of difference. The process can be difficult, but it’s worth the try.
8. Feed your soul
I’m a Catholic schoolgirl until we moved two years before finishing grade school. I’d say I was very religious, memorized every prayer, sang every church hymn. But when tragedy struck the house, my faith was challenged, weakened even.
I blamed God, of course. Who else?
Then, my professor gave me a copy of The Star, a short story from Arthur C. Clarke’s The Nine Billion Names of God. it got me thinking. Sure it doesn’t remove the pain. But somehow, the story made it tolerable. It’s amazing how literature helped me survive these trying times. And it’s been what I’ve shared with my students in the past. Literature humanize.
It’s strange how life lessons change you.
When all else fails, there’s praying or meditation. Here are apps you can try.
This isn’t just about the money.
I’m talking about simple things that bring joy. Again, quoting Marie Kondo.
Yesterday, I bought a desk organizer. I got 3 for Php 100. One is packed with power chords, the second house my modem, and the third is where my notebooks are neatly stacked. This is not really a part of my grocery list. But, I figured, my work desk needs organizing, and I’m glad I did. Now, I have more space which somehow clears my head.
I have also invested in liniments. Yeah, eucalyptus is now my fragrance of choice. I slatter it everywhere before going to bed. The cooling sensation relaxes my shoulders and helps me sleep better.
10. Carpe fuckin’ diem
Overall, life is still good.
I may not have the riches.
I may not have as many friends as before.
I may not get old and still look hot like Kylie Minogue or JLo.
I may not be as successful as my classmates.
But I’m still here.
Creating my own little space on the internet.
I’m glad I did.
I hope you will find a way to carpe fuckin’ diem as well.
Are you in your 30’s, or about to hit it? Do you have life lessons you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments. Let’s hear it.