Becoming by Owning

 

 

 

Dear online shopper,
take these things I once owned for a discounted price
along with my hope, free of charge,
that they will do for you what they could not do for me.

“Reason for selling”
by Raydon L Reyes

 

The past year has been an inventory of the past decade. You know how some TV shows have that odd episode that recaps the past episodes you just watched– and after thirty minutes you wonder why one whole episode was made just to tell you what you already know?

It feels like that.

Now that I’ve entered my third decade, I can’t help but recall all my hesitation and idealization about where I should be and who I wanted to become. At thirty, I feel much younger, and it’s become easier to decide what to prioritize. Maybe it’s because I spent my twenties trying to fulfill obligations and being someone else for others, that I forgot my own priorities. It’s also been a realization of how I got by with a lot of help from friends and a supportive family.

One of the biggest realizations I had in the past few months is that I can create a safe space for myself, and that other people cannot insist to be in my space. I can choose who enters my space, and I mean this not just in terms of daily encounters but also what kind of relationships I exert my time and effort for. It’s a little strange to arrive at this only now, but as a yuppie trying to make it, I almost believed that I had to entertain everyone and make them feel welcome– regardless of rudeness.

In any case, with the second quarter of 2017 rolling in, I still have a lot of things that I need to let go of, mostly things that were an idea of who I wanted to be. Just this week, I’ve been reviewing the books that I haven’t read and no longer plan to… A toy typewriter I bought by mistake… Some clothes I never wore… Notebooks I never used… Pens that just went dry…

It’s amazing how many of these things felt like they fulfilled their purpose just by being possessed. I forgot to actually use them to become what I imagined to be. The process of becoming takes a whole lot more time and dedication that social media posts and photos justify. And sadly, for at least a year, I honestly believed that social media was the empowering tool for the youth to be heard  (it’s just a tool, and people are highly forgetful).

While there are days when I wonder why I even spent so much time for a cause that I wasn’t sure of, the good thing that I can see out of this is that it’s taught me to search for authenticity. At the end of the day, the commodification of authenticity might be the point of social media and online business– the pursuit of becoming by owning.

 

 

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Everyday

Over coffee one day, my friend told me about how self-help books are more to self-help the authors. It was his usual joke, driving at my interest in reading them when I don’t know who to ask about a topic (which is usually 70% of the time).

For this coffee break, we were talking about “the habitus”, mostly because I had been fixated on reading up about starting the year right. As much as 2016 was a bad year for many people, for me 2016 was the pinnacle of  my own hubris. That is, I had to learn about my failures in a way that I never experienced, and had to accept that my failings were no one else’s fault. In the midst of that tumultuous time it would have been difficult for me to know what exactly was wrong; a year later, I can’t help but feel grateful that I got myself out of a horrible, compromising relationship masked as a “friendship”.

On the plus side, losing a so-called friend left me re-discovering a lot of good things about myself, placing things into perspective and forcing me to do what I’ve always wanted to do years ago but didn’t have the courage for: to leave. Now, I just had to figure out what to improve about myself, to rebuild my habits in a way that I could re-discover more things about myself. You read that right: this friendship made me forget who I was. Basically I was setting myself up for a 2017 that could restore all the good in myself that I had lost.

Back to coffee with friend.

“We make all these resolutions, but actually most of the time you’re acting on your accepted habits. If you want to make real resolutions, you’ll have to study your daily habits first, otherwise you’re just making a list,” he said as he took coffee. “Not to seem too personal, but just my two cents’.” He was right though, and as an anthropologist with a grasp on many theories and actual experiences and fieldwork, I was not one to challenge his years of study.

So began the daily recording of my “habitus”. I realized that a lot of habits that I wanted to include in my “self-care list”, included a lot of activities that I never really did before– like weekly exercise. It didn’t take long (3 days?) that I broke the resolution and went back to my old habits (like, no exercise for weeks).

Another friend of mine said that “it takes 21 days to develop a habit.” Sure enough, as soon as I started talking to someone regularly, daily, I noticed that it had subconsciously become a habit– I began wondering if the person was all right, and wanted to talk to them.

And so began the experiment: I wanted to inculcate mindfulness. This to me meant becoming detached from my cellphone. I made it a goal not to look at my phone the entire time that I was commuting on the way to school (2-3 hours). With traffic jams  that caused commute time to extend to an hour almost everyday, I had developed the habit to read through my Facebook feed, social media sites, or whatever else I had on my phone. I thought, if I could overcome this habit of filling my commute time with social media reading, maybe I could build other habits later on.

A week into the resolution, I had a difficult time stopping myself from reaching into my bag and checking if anyone had replied or sent me anything. For someone who’s pretty low-profile, I no longer understand why I felt the impulse to respond immediately… but during that first week I can’t deny the impulse I felt to make sure that people who responded to my post were not neglected. On the third day, though, I had realized that I just checked my phone to see if I had any “likes” on a post– I felt a little pathetic after realizing that. I mean, who cares if people liked my post on Facebook anyway?

After that week, it was a lot easier to tune out my need to check my phone. I almost wanted to buy a basic brick-phone to completely tune out the need to check social media. On my way to work, I had also begun to notice some things which I never really did when I was distracted with my phone. I noticed that the coffee shop that I passed by daily had familiar faces (maybe they held office there?). I began to drop by the chapel and notice how people from all walks of life would also say a few prayers before heading out. I also noticed how many people were constantly glued to their phone when I’d be on the train.

I felt free, not feeling the need to be on my phone.

So the next coffee break, I’ll be telling my friend how right he was. And also, I’ll be taking note of how often I’ve been asking him out for coffee.

First Post : Why I don’t write

Hello to writing again! And Happy 2017!

First time in a while since I had taken to blogging again, and not for any particular purpose than to write and let some thoughts out.

Maybe the mistake last time was that I had an agenda– not that it’s bad to have a blog that was focused on something– but in a way, that stifled the things that I wanted to write about. Many times I found myself filtering my own writing because it did not fit the blog’s image. In any case, here’s to a first entry!

I had always wanted to be a writer, but today I got to think about the many conditions I had set since I was in highschool about becoming a “serious writer” (whatever that means).

In highschool and college, I said to myself that when

  • I began working, and having my own income
  • I had my own, portable laptop (so you can guess how old I am now)
  • I had my own place or apartment where I lived alone

Guess what, I had all those things for the past five years, and did any “serious writing” come to pass? NO.

Instead, I kept changing the conditions:

  • If I find time for it during the week
  • When I get to have that portable tablet + keyboard set-up
  • When I find a coffee shop to be alone and work

See, here’s the lesson I had to pick up on five or ten years later:

That in any serious goal or craft you want to achieve, you HAVE TO MAKE TIME FOR IT. Enough with the conditions. Now, and whatever you have at the moment will have to suffice, because otherwise other things are going to take up your attention. The problem with my serious writing not getting anywhere were not the conditions I found myself in, but that I had not really been serious about it at all… that is, I did not balance my time, or prioritize my activities in such a way that was deliberate.

No regrets, however. I think I also needed those past years of experiences, mistakes and failures to actually have SOMETHING to write about.

So cheers to 2017! And here’s to prioritizing goals and what truly matters.