Journal

My Life at Twenty

November 2, 2016

chiara-2

abbey, a letterer & author friend of mine told me to reconcile with my urges to write. i don’t know if i can do this anymore but i will try.

it’s 1am and i’m watching over my eldest sister at the hospital, and listening to my favorite ‘sleep’ playlist so this may be a good time.

i turned twenty one 17 days back. that means i’ve been living 14 years, asleep for 7. that’s considering the typical 16 hours awake, 8 hours of sleep. but i’m thinking it may be a little different for me, losing shuteye from when i was a nocturnal at 13 up until i left high school at age 16, almost always waiting for the sun to rise every morning.

this makes me want to claim i’m only fourteen, only growing.

nowadays i’m sleeping at 4am and waking up later than i should, my head heavy with dreams that don’t make sense but feel all too real.

in one a sweet japanese boy is madly in love with me, and then on another i am in a restroom in a bar in new york talking to a strawberry blonde stranger. i can’t help but feel that these are realities that might have been, that could be somehow. only if.

and yet i am here now. i’m me in my present. and always (always, always, always, always) there’s no place and nowhere else i’d rather be.

you know the truth is, sometimes not sharing gets to me. there are many moments and feelings and lessons i’ve experienced and felt and learned along the past year i wish i had the courage to share.

i’m still a storyteller after all, and always will be, but the silence has been such a blessing.

and i’m not gonna lie. when i stepped away from the mirror, i felt freer than ever.

i feel less. in my journal poetry has been replaced by goals & lists of to dos. i used to sink into experiences, swimming through the feelings that go along with it. today i acknowledge what is and move forward. it’s liberating.

my friend aryann laces these sentiments into words quite perfectly:
silence and simplicity are the keys. as long as you create with your heart, your work will be noticed without the need to be loud about it. you will attract the right people and that is when you will realize that success and clamor do not always go together. you can change and become and inspire in silence — more doing, less proclaiming.

so to make up for it, i want to just share little pieces of writing i’ve written as a 20 year old. hoping somehow this will make up for all the time spent away.

 

i’m on a sunset bus headed back to home. on my lap are blue velvet cupcakes made with love by my aunt, and i read a book i’ve been trying to finish but can never seem to. i feel lightheaded. b and i aren’t good and i keep thinking, if this bus meets an accident and i die… i shake the thoughts away.

i want to hug my dad tight and feel my furry blanket wrapped tight around me tonight. i’ve got more dreams to chase, and more strangers to find friends in. after hours of crazy city traffic and a small chat with a sweet 17 year old girl sitting beside me, i am back in the room i call home.

the heat i’ve been dreading to find in manila is replaced by silent, misty raindrops.

i’m writing this while eating my favorite watermelon and chocolate hazelnut yoghurt combination topped with mangoes and double chocolate chip cookie dough. i’m supposed to be working but for over 30 minutes now all i’ve been doing is watch strangers walk on by. as some weird hobby i usually watch people from a silent corner in a mall and create made-up stories around the lives that they live. now all I do is wonder.

these are the best of moments when I realize how insignificant i am in this world. just another one of the billions dealing with whatever they’ve got, searching for that more, whatever that may be for each one of us. it feels unusual thinking these thoughts now. the past months have left me no time nor energy to do this anymore. but now i’m trying to convince myself it’s okay to rest. and rest only means i get time for myself to do, well, even more thinking.

i keep thinking of nikki ocean (her last name comes from her love for surfing) and our conversation over chat last night.

all of it is true.

it’s weird how we think we’ve got our dreams all figured out. we sometimes think we know ourselves so well and that we have dreams set in stone but we evolve with our experiences and with the new wisdom that life offers. so we have to leave enough room for the surprises within us. our vision is engrained in our hearts. and god knows more than we ever will. the key is to stay grateful and realize how it’s all a grand, exciting journey. the delays, the drawbacks, the challenges — they’re all part of the plan.

i feel peace envelop me in its warmth.

there are moments in my life where the insecurities overpower all else. i’ve never claimed to be perfect but nowadays i feel less like a naturally flawed human being, but a terrible, ugly monster.

it’s not obvious but inside i’m so anxious about everything i’m doing wrong, all the words that i wish i said better, all the things i want to do but won’t because i don’t want to be judged.

this isn’t me and i feel heavy on many days. i keep trying to make sense of my feelings, listing down my weaknesses and solutions that can be made, and trying as best i could to improve everyday. it’s always the same story. try and try as i may, i will never get it perfectly right.

i don’t like how this makes me focus too much on myself. on some badass days i shrug my shoulders and say i don’t have to please everyone. but truth be told, i do care and i do want to positively impact others instead of getting on their nerves or causing them unnecessary pain.

until i realize, what a joke – a klutz and a perfectionist in one body.

happiness rushes back when i learn to excuse myself for my own shortcomings.

a little 3 year old girl named faye is staying over at our place for two months now, and she’s our little ray of silly sunshine. only with dora hair and big eyes. she screams like a mad woman the moment i step on our front door, following me around the house and crying when i have to head back up and work and then some days she’d stay with me in my room as i struggle to finish tasks and play with her at the same time. i like this practice. and more than ever i feel in my heart that i want to be a mother.

sweet moments to keep: screaming-packed baths (because we can’t help but rejoice over cold, refreshing water), the sight of her drawing quietly with colored pencils i gave her to distract her from distracting me, blasting loud music while we dance and laugh until our bodies ache, her tight hugs and wet smooches, when she tells me she loves me and we’ll play again in the morning before she sleeps, and let’s not leave behind the times when she annoys me from her noise & nagging and i realize how difficult it is to be a mum to an innocent, playful child.

i’ve learned a new language called business. i used to despise all that i thought it meant. today i view it as an avenue to spread love and create change.

it’s been 8 months of pure love, impossibilities-turned-possiblities, a lot of crazy on the backend, learning, growing, and endlessly creating. although other loves have been kept on the sidelines and i get more late nights and belly butterflies than i normally do, this is life now.

in a month (september 28th) we launch eden & june online and i become founder, ceo & creative director to a community-centered brand & business and a leader to a small but mighty team of creative, love-fuelled souls who are bound to make manila a million times more amazing.

cray.

but i. am. so. ready.

here’s to the craziest, truest pursuit in my life yet.

i was talking to jehovah this morning, eyes shut and smiling like a crazy person. i’m talking to my best friend, crying even though i said i shouldn’t and wouldn’t, gratitude welling up in my heart until tears start falling out. i have days like this when life is so sweet (still not perfect, just as how it should be), i become so fearful of death. “please jehovah, give me more years. i want to turn these wild ideas into realities. i want to fall deeper in love, share even more love to others. i want to know what it’s like to make love, to bear and raise a child or two or five, cook better food, see & experience more of this world, find more friends in strangers and laugh and cry and scream and dance like there’s no tomorrow. please, please, please. thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

it amazes me how closely intertwined my life is with living, breathing, feeling human beings. whenever i meet people, related to me in one way or another, by blood, by passion or by chance, i can’t help but be utterly grateful for the connections. not just for people who are established or share the same dreams as i do, but even more for all the people in my life who lead lives so apart from mine. i’m constantly inspired by stories all around me.

some inspo and little things i love:

30 days of genius – serious genius, please watch every single one.

nonconformity and the creative life – i’ll let this speak for itself.

invest in experiences, not things – i love this mostly because i’m so passionate about having a light, simple life. i felt a pat on the back while reading through this!

everything is figureoutable – marie is my new fave and this talk of hers at super soul left me crying like a baby. i love her and her honesty.

what procrastination really is and how to fight against it – this was such a cool, uplifting read. now i can’t stop thinking about my future self and how all my decisions today affect her immensely. it’s stupefying. and so, so humbling.

a cute deleted scene from ‘one day‘ – this movie haunts me up until today and this clip doesn’t help…

• and the sillier videos on my list: hilarious ‘stupidest family’ on family feud & adorable giant hippos devouring watermelons

• and since music fills my days, here’s a peek into my ‘twenty’ playlist, just for you. half of which are songs b and i share.

                                                                                                            

just letting you know you can catch me on instagram stories more than anywhere else, so follow me there if you want.

and, i’ve finally updated the about me page where i’m supposed to try to limit the 20 years i’ve been living in less then 800 words.

hoping i find more time to spend here as a twenty-one year old.

know that i love you whoever you are,

chiara

Today

Tender Truths

February 14, 2016

tender truths

i’ve been listening to music a lot more lately. those same ones i used to listen to back in grade school, in love with a boy i hardly care about anymore today. a bit awkward how the feelings come swooshing back but they don’t mean anything anymore. they’re only cold feelings stuck within songs from moments of our past lives. it intrigues me. music is for the soul. if i could be really really real, unafraid of eyes glued to my vulnerability, maybe all i’d do is sing. i’d strum on my guitar or play the piano so passionately while i sing. except i can’t because there are a lot of things i can’t do. if only i had ten more lives to fit in everything i want to.

i’m writing this now because i just read through some parts of a new frankie magazine i bought a week ago. such a ripoff (in australia, $10 and here in the philippines $20) but so, so worth every single cent no matter. in awe yet again how the silent sciences and forces of this universe leads you always to the right people, the perfect reads. destiny for others, just physics to me. i read it yesterday afternoon, breeze seeping through the windows while i blast songs from yesterdayagos.

i am constantly understanding myself and how it’s really like to be human. we try every day, that’s the best we ought to do. try to be what, to do what? well, what else than to be the persons we need to be, to do what we have to do.

a wonderful writer by the name of rowena grant-frost says all the right words about not understanding but just going on anyway. and it’s so purely honest, i want to share it here for you:

“i can describe my career in numbers: 10 years, two degrees, five jobs, lots of words. the sum of my work is probably more than just numbers, but when i look back at it all, when i try to find the bigger whole that these bits add up to, all that goes through my head is this: “i don’t know, i don’t know, i don’t know.”

it’s a thought that gnaws at me when i find myself working. “why am i doing this?” “i don’t know.” “should i do something different?” “i don’t know.” “will any of this ever mean anything more than it does now, with all the stress and the noise and the pressure?” “i don’t know. probably not. this is probably it forever.”

sometimes i’m brave enough to ask myself if i’m happy. the answer, when it comes, is usually small and halting: “i don’t know.”

sometimes i find myself looking at other people and wondering if they feel the same way. other people, on their way to work with their polished shoes and crisp collared shirts, who seem so sure of themselves and their place in the world and their reasons for doing exactly what they’re doing. do they ever find themselves wondering what it all might add up to? what, in the end, the late nights and terse emails and piles of paper and folders, and meetings and reminders might mean? they seem so certain. they don’t seem to wonder. they seem so ready and eager to go.

i try to look on the bright side. i feel very grateful for everything i’ve achieved so far and know that other people have to struggle up much bigger hills than my own. but gratitude and optimism can only get you so far. gratitude and optimism can’t satisfy lingering doubts, or tell you what it all add up to — or if it is meant to add up to anything at all. they don’t soothe the voice that keeps prodding and asking: “what are you doing? why are you doing it? do you think any of it really matters, in the end?”

the voice wants answers, but i haven’t got any. i just keep going, ploughing ahead, solving problems and busily working, while i watch the days and weeks and years flit past. one day, you might also wake up and realise that it’s been 10 years. two degrees. five jobs. lots of words.”

these 10 years have sometimes felt like an exercise in contortion. they have sometimes felt like i have twisted and wrapped myself into strange shapes to continue on. sometimes i have felt like i have become someone else entirely: the kind of person who doesn’t think about anything other than the achievement of goals, not their meaning. the kind of person who is committed and confident and sure. the kind of person who believes, intrinsically, in what they are doing. the kind of person who is not afraid.

when you go home after eight hours of being someone else, your head feels as full as a fishbowl and your shoulders feel as heavy as your heart. instead of relaxing, you find yourself trying to reconcile the distance between who you think you are and who you need to become to get by.

i have tried letting go. i have tried resigning every conceit i have about myself and just accepting that i need to become someone else for good. but every time i have tried to let go, i’ve found some small part of myself clinging determinedly to the remaining strands of who i imagine i am, or who i imagine i should be.

“this is all you have left,” the small voice tells me. “make it mean something.”

so i carry on and watch the years go by. and hope that, in the end, it matters.”

 

when i read this i feel a tug inside. all of a sudden i don’t anymore feel alone. for weeks now i’ve been battling a similar war. making sense of who i really am and who i should be. i want so badly to understand, to find answers to my never-ending questions on how to balance everything out and not disappoint anyone. this leaves me helpless when i allow it.

and yet still, trying to put myself in rowena’s shoes,  i feel very grateful for having a very deep why. to live with purpose everyday, every movement with a sprinkling of meaning. it’s full, it’s messy, but it’s totally meant.

but at the same time, why don’t i feel like i belong? why does it feel like i should be happiest here and yet i’m not? i’m still looking for something, i still need to fill a part of myself i’m not getting. i just don’t know what it is, and it’s hard to move when what i want is so hazy.

i wonder if it’s selfish of me to want happiness for myself.

but you know what i desire deep in my heart?

the loudest of music pounding on my eardrums, flowing through my heart until i can’t hear anymore the voices that shackle me helpless everyday. i want to dance in front of other people so bad, with those same silly bops and boogies i do in my underwear when i’m alone in my room. the girl i see in my bedroom mirror, i want to see that same her across all other mirrors in the real world. the real me out there, living fiercely, moving with grace no matter how clumsy i can really be, throwing out love after love even when it’s hard. i want to accept sadness with joy. to fall in love and be able to hold hands with the boy that i love so everyone can see. i need someplace else to be real. to find my god up in the mountains where there’s only the two of us, nobody else, nothing else, no thought else. i want to to allow myself to be absolutely flawed and imperfect without being judged and being considered a bad person. i want to be the best i can be, but i also just want to do that whilst being me. i want to be honest. goddamn, i want to be so so so honest so bad. and to spend entire days living slow, reading a book or playing scrabble without thinking about anything else.

i leave the city for a bit for fresh air i’ve been longing for in months. i ride with my cousins as they head back to their home in a city up in the mountains. their busyness is a blessing even to me. they don’t find much time to spend with me but it isn’t at all a problem. i find a lot of time alone here, in milk tea shops sometimes but mostly on the bar at their place i marked my work place.

away from expectations, in here i am just me. not completely me still, but more me than i feel when i’m back home. so i silently write and draft plans away, eat lots of sweets (cupcakes, cinnamon buns, an assortment of fruits, chocolates, crispy brownies, so on) in between. i find time to jog and meditate, even read books past midnight. and then when we both find time, b and i talk over the phone and talk about how things have been. i feel so free.