My chip on my shoulder is my oldest friend

When people ask me who am I, I tend to shy away from associating myself with what I do, or how I can floor them with my achievements (which aren’t a lot, to be completely honest). I know I’m in the wrong company (of people) when I find myself scavenging my fried brain for things or phrases to see to make them realize I’m a fantastic person, albeit my social anxieties. In a perfect scenario, things don’t have to be this complicated.

I don’t often leave the most charming first impressions on people that matters.

I am not the best on paper, work-wise and personal-wise, which likely supports my theory about how when people get to know me, they either really love me — or think I am full of shit. Excuse my lack of profanity.

Some adults won’t go out of their way to engage me in serious conversations. It’s always irrelevant, completely empty small talks I personally despise given the circumstances.

I am often scolded in the family for being blunt, and honest, and verbally inappropriate.

People would oftentimes give me a very skeptic look whenever I would admit I am, and still is a practicing Catholic (I get that a lot.)

I’ve personally felt like I am just not taken seriously at home and in my past workplaces.

I’ve had adults raised voices at me for contradicting opinions, almost as if to say mine are worthless, and baseless, and it would be best for me to shut up because I know nothing.

I’ve had people in the past who have said this to me, in my face — “Magaling ka pala…” (I didn’t know you are good.) or “You don’t have marketable skills.”, or “Hindi ako bilib sa’yo dati.” (I thought you were a piece of shit.), or “Ikaw, expert?” (You, an expert?!). And so forth.

I had no awards in high school, in college, and I was never in the top classes because I only ever cared about Creative writing classes. Trust me, nobody voted me as the smartest, nor the most interesting conversationalist. Most awkward, and mysterious, maybe.

I know we all have our fair shares of rock bottoms when nobody would think to support you, or what you can be—even from the people who are genetically obliged to do so and if those people didn’t give you the self-esteem you would need in order to succeed, what are the odds that strangers would?

Depends on where you look, the odds are pretty strong actually. In my most humble opinion. (this is for another topic, I guess)

We get it — but what is the point of this Medium post?

When I was younger, I was taught how to find my tribe, and how to do so carefully. I was raised fairly well — had a very happy childhood despite my parents separation when I was in High School, went to Catholic school, then on to one of the most expensive colleges in the Philippines.

I have my mother to thank for that — she gave me a lot of things, but the most valuable of them all was self-confidence even when on the surface level, I don’t have much to show for and I wasn’t the type of kid parents would show off proudly to their eager friends but she still did. To this day, I still consider her as one of the few people who genuinely believes I can succeed on whatever path I take. No matter how long it’ll take me to.

How is this little piece of back story relevant to my post? It’s this: I’ve been constantly letting the opposite voices control my life, and what it’s really like to live it properly, simply for the reason that the right voices aren’t as loud as the toxic ones which were probably said to me when I was 5, 15, or 22 — a couple of odd jobs, and a lifetime ago. I can’t seem to turn them off, regardless if I cut off those people from my life or not, and they have been the constant internal battles I face with on a daily basis, even when things are going really right but most especially when they are spiraling downwards.

Words mean something. Give them away responsibly, especially to children and teenagers.

As a functioning adult with a history of failing (who doesn’t have?!) and of letting a lot of people down, I think that I can never really get over those instances that essentially shaped me, my personality and my taste for self-deprecation, not to mention my fondness for the concept of the underdog. Some days these issues would constantly attempt to destroy me, and everything I internally built to protect me from allowing incredibly toxic voices come inside my head (and heart) again. Most days, they have been relatively quiet, and passive but in no way, gone for good. I have no intention of turning this post into a sob story because nothing in here is even worth crawling back into that dark corner, and crying because this so and so isn’t pleased with me, or what I’ve fantastically created. No, I do think I can take criticism better now, and with respect to the giver, no buts.

People would say that’s kindness, I would just just argue it’s being dignified and proper.

If there’s anything I can do to give back to others, or to pay the good things forward, it’s watching my words, and how I give them to people whose lives and crafts are powered by the support of others. One shouldn’t box people up based on how they look like on paper, much more so teenagers who have their whole lives ahead of them. Proving something to people who can never be pleased hard enough is something that is a complete waste of time and energy.

You don’t just treat people differently when they are at their best, when you’ve never done so when they were at their worst, when they just made the biggest mistake of their lives, or careers. It is not conditional.

So.. what is your solution for this?

The whole point of this post is respect. As an adult, and as someone who is responsible for giving advices to younger folks, here are some unsolicited advice from a former kid who wished she heard this when she was 15, and completely sucking at school, at life — in general:

  1. It gets better. YOU will get better.
  2. Don’t worry about what THEY do, worry about what YOU do.
  3. I support you. No matter what. Unless you do drugs, don’t do drugs.
  4. People are different. You will suck at a lot of things but guess fucking what? so will everybody. Good news is that you will be SENSATIONAL in a few things, and those are the only things that matter.

5. To fail at something is to get ahead. Don’t ever think it’s a terrible thing to try. Not a lot of people would be as brave.

6. Vulnerability is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s what can set you apart from instagrammable others, in some cases.

7. Not everyone who looks good on paper is enviable. In fact, you probably don’t know their back story well enough to justify envy. It’s a useless thing. Focus on your own thing, and you’ll never be envious of others again.

8. Someday, you’re going to move places, and would probably start over from scratch and you’ll have way even less people to support you. Don’t forget the last 7 unsolicited advices.

Consider this post as the minority of good voices you’ll hear from today, and please do me a favor and pass it forward. You’ll never know when a kid from somewhere in a humble rural town in the Philippines would read it, need it, and keep it as a guide in the messy, always terrifying world called adulthood.

Always aim for the best in character development, not the best-in-whoever-can please-that-so-and-so-person.

From the author (aka me:)

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We all have issues. What’s yours?

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On the intersection of life and work. No in-betweens.

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