Let’s Not Forget: I’m Sorry.

We live in an unapologetic world; as proud narcissists, we aim to neglect our wrongdoings and focus on what really matters: the things we do right. We do not look back and say sorry, we do not mind those who yell at us, we do not care of the toes we step on. I, too, identify as an unapologetic person. I never admit when I’m wrong or when I have crossed a line. I never bother to apologize and I never show my guilt. I’ve been plagued as of late as to why and how I am this way. Society tells us that apologies are for the weak and fragile; they are catered to be used by those who cannot help but stop and care about every little thing on the road to success. We are told to live our lives without regard for those in our way, because they’re only there to do one thing: to stop us. They are an obstacle on that road. I, too, push obstacles out of my way.

All of this is who I am, despite my upbringing. I was raised on manners; I was taught to say please and thank you and you’re welcome. I was raised to say sorry and be a nice person. However, as the years rolled along, I found it less and less necessary to say sorry when there was a better option: to forget that it ever happened. I’ve been doing this ever since because of its natural simplicity. As I stopped apologizing I began to notice the regression of apologies around me. Not only did no one seem to apologize to each other, but no one apologized to me. It took years to even begin to notice that this was a pattern. The world prior to this realization wasn’t any brighter or any better, it was skewed and kaleidoscopic. I became too accustomed to this neglectful nature of being unapologetic that I had forgotten about what the world could be. It was skewed in that I told myself that everyone acted this way and kaleidoscopic in the sense that it gave the illusion of a beautiful aesthetic that I didn’t bother to think that anything was wrong. If you don’t realize a fault, it doesn’t exist.

Simple, right?

But then what does this lead to? We sit and stew and seethe in our unapologetic natures and embody bitterness and darkness. We become the converse of what were raised to be. Then you have those select group of human beings that say: “I’m sorry that you misunderstood me. #sorrynotsorry” Let’s break that phrase down:

“I’m sorry…” -perfectly normal and non-abrasive.

“…that you…” -okay, now we’re missing the point.

“…misunderstood…” -hold on, wait a minute, what?

“…me.” -a curt declaration that you were right and I was wrong.

#sorrynotsorry -veined attempt at trending said fake apology.

This, right here, is why we have trust issues and can’t have nice things.

An apology that is formatted in such a way, isn’t really an apology. It’s a slap in my face and in the face of human decency everywhere. If you’re wrong, just own up to it.

In terms of advice, there isn’t a lot I can offer because I still find myself working this out. It’s tough because no one wants to be the first to submit and no one wants to state that they’re in the wrong. We’re proud people, only willing to beat our chests like King Kong and steal our opponent’s concubine…at least I think that’s how that movie ended.

I guess all I can really say is to catch yourself in the moment and think: “Is this petty? Am I being a child? Is the Earth truly round?“. If you answered yes to all of these things, then maybe you should apologize, even if you were wrong. Let the other pound their chest a bit, maybe it’ll bruise. 

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The “Easy” Complaints of the Young Writer.

I complain a lot. I complain about where I am and where i’ve been; I complain about the weather and student loans; I complain about being unemployed and not having a life. I complain because I only see what’s right in front of me at this moment. There is no next week in sight, only here, now and the past. I don’t intend to complain so much, there is never any intention to sound annoying; it just happens. A frequent indication of my whiny ego is always in regards to what I studied in college (I studied English): So you want to become a teacher? My response is almost natural, I roll my eyes, sigh and utter the perfectly scripted phrase that I have been giving since May: “No. Not teaching. I’ve been looking into [insert broad, nondescript job title that will get the interviewer off my back].” I use this response because it’s easy.

That response, albeit subtle, is also a complaint. When you factor in tone and body language, you can tell that i’m not in the mood to answer the question. I’d sooner be anywhere else. The real response, the response that has been floating around in my brain for years is simple: “I want to be a writer. I want to write for movies or write for television or write a book or write a recipe to the world’s best snickerdoodle. In short, I want to write.” For years I have fought myself on when I would be able to call myself a writer. I have racked my brain to determine the amount of pieces written or the “successes” I would have to earn to garner such a title. To my surprise, the title of “Writer” is the easiest one to earn; you write something. Easy, right? Right.

My ability to write and to call myself a writer goes hand in hand with my ability to complain. Instead of needing to find a poor, unsuspecting individual to inundate with my tawdry problems, I can just write an article, post it online and share it with the world in under five seconds. The life of a complaining writer is easy. Well, it’s easy when you have no job, all the time in the world, and a whole library of quick-witted analogies and hyperboles to keep you company. Like I said, there is no intention to complain so much or to sound annoying; it’s just all I know.

I am twenty-three and I feel like I am thirty-seven with all of my “issues” that I write about. I don’t have many issues. I have written upwards of ten articles on my lack of a job, five articles on my failed relationships, and about a handful of rants that end with no message from which a reader could take away. I am twenty-three, I am young and I don’t have issues. That is what I often forget. Youth is supposed to be freeing and joyful and magical, yet all I do is write and complain and share it with the world. Why? Because it’s easy.

Easy is comfortable, comfortable is stagnant, stagnant is monotonous. Perhaps the reason I complain so much is to give off the illusion of a struggle. Perhaps the reason I complain so much is because I feel it puts me in the  ranks of these people I admire so much. Perhaps I should stop complaining altogether; at least until I have actual problems to complain about, like a mortgage or loan payments. Oh wait, I already have that last one.

The future is terrifying and choosing what’s difficult is terrifying; these are the true terror that send shivers down my spine and make me pee my pants. It’s always hard to face these things when you don’t acknowledge them outright. Before then, they’re just obscure silhouettes of anxiety, ready to kill you. But they’re really there to make you grow up. They’re really there to push you forward and make you uneasy. Easy is comfortable, comfortable is stagnant, stagnant is monotonous. When all is said and done, I don’t want to choose what’s easy. Put as bluntly as possible, I’m going to pee my pants and as a writer, I am obligated to take you with me, every pee-soaked step of the way.

Let’s Learn How to Read Again: Advice from the Once-Tortured English Major.

If you were to gather every book I have ever owned, from ‘Good Night Moon’ to ‘Cloud Atlas’, one could erect a castle as tall as the Empire State Building and as wide as the State Capitol. However, if you remove all the books I have read from this Empire State Building of Literature, you wouldn’t be able to erect something the size of Barbie’s Dream House.

Dear Reader, I have forgotten how to read.

Fortunately, I am still quite literate. What has seemed to vex me for the subsequent four years is my inability to read leisurely. After several pages of our book, I find my attention waning. I can easily be drawn into a book from the mere four sentence plot on the back of a book jacket, but once crack it open, it’s as if the illusion shatters. They have tried and (seemingly) failed to hold me.

As any English Major can tell you, we are relentlessly barraged by required readings of the Brontes, Baldwin, and Dickens and I feel it’s extremely difficult to recover from that. Especially if the only copies they have in the bookstore are hardcovers or anthologies. Now, that isn’t to say that I hated these books. In fact, I hold them up as literary masterpieces, forever to stay in the Golden Bookshelf in my future library.

I suppose what has “cursed” me (a term I use lightly; to be cursed by a book is actually a blessing in disguise) is how I came across these books. For every book in between semesters and after I had graduated, I feel there is an upcoming deadline to finish them.

I’m on a clock.

While that is somewhat the case (of course I want to finish these books. I’d be wasting money otherwise), I feel this academically induced pressure has attached itself to my brain. I still highlight and write in the margins of every book as if I have to refer back to them for a final essay. It’s like a twitch that appears on picture day or a zit before a first date. Something beautiful is about to happen, but stress and overthinking creates an obstacle to challenge you. It won’t leave me alone.

For instance, there’s this amazing book called ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara and it’s a literary behemoth, clocking in at upwards of 700+ pages. I wanted to devour this book. I wanted to lose myself and become enveloped in these words. But I’m so preoccupied with needing a highlighter, a pen, and to have to understand every last line as if I had a test to take. I put this enormous pressure merely because I feel obligated to.

The English Major has tainted my love of reading!

Now that I have my clickbait title built in I can go on to say that that’s not entirely true. It has enhanced my love of reading. It just takes more time to fully digest everything. Especially with works like Bronte, Baldwin, Dickens and Yanagihara, you don’t want to rush through them. You need to take your time (a man-made concept, but we’ll disregard that). I feel that’s what I need to get through my big, empty head; don’t time yourself, pace yourself.

Literature isn’t something to take lightly. Take it seriously. Fall with Alice and walk with Dorothy and at their pace. If you beat them to the end of the line, you might just spoil their own story.

Let’s Brace for Impact: Job Hunt 2016.

I talk about my employment status a lot.

I mention it in passing, I tweet about it, I joke about it, post about it on Facebook and Tumblr and Instagram and make signs that I hang outside my window that advertise it. I can’t stop. I’ve tried and it’s impossible. I’ve been trying since April of last year and have turned up little to no results. Was this due to my lack of trying? Was I doing something completely wrong the entire time? Am I not qualified enough? Am I not cut out for “the real world”? Do I not fit in?

One reason I keep talking about my unemployment status a lot because it’s something that is affecting me right now. It’s something so salient to my identity that I feel that if I stop talking about it, then I’ll never be noticed. If I stop talking about it, maybe the universe will recognize that as contentment and just let me wade down the river of a sedentary lifestyle, never to be heard of again. I like to remind myself that I’m “a part of the statistic,” as if attaching myself proves that I’m not alone in it. “8.5% of college graduates are unemployed,” cites Slate. I’ve also read somewhere that for 70% of recent college graduates it takes an average of 9-12 months to land their first job. Where did I read it? I’m not sure, but I read it and it’s reassuring. And while “small” it reassures me that we’re all in this together. All 8.5% of us, of whom I know maybe one or two people.

Sometimes I blame my choice in major: “English. pfft, what the hell was I drinking when I declared that?” Then I recall the incessant familial pressure to major in something with a more desirable paycheck, engineering was the hot major to declare five years ago because “there were jobs and I was good at math.” Now, I’m not doubting that there are jobs and that those in the field are good at math, I’m used the quotes to show what my family used as “legitimate reasons for me to major in something I had zero interest in.” So, I went with my gut and couldn’t be prouder of myself.

Adulthood Level 1: Achieved! 

Poring over these rhetorical questions, I noticed how often I turned the issue on myself: My lack of trying, Was I doing something wrong, Am I not qualified, and the list could go on. Immediately, I make myself think and feel and recognize that I am a problem. I don’t fit into the world I was born into. My shape doesn’t fit the box. I am letting the box define me. My unemployment is not due to my lack of trying or my ineptitude in the world or because I’m not qualified. I am adept, I am trying and I am qualified. It’s just really fucking hard out there. They tell you this (and by ‘they’ I mean society) over and over and over again; so much so that the message just becomes the white noise that lulls you to sleep at night. Their words become meaningless, much like the drool that pools in the fabric of your flannel pillow sheets.

Regardless of its loudness and repetitiveness, ‘they’ are 100% right: It. Is. Hard. And I have no solutions to give you because I have achieved no such luck and have learned nothing more than what others will tell you upon your foray into the working world. All I can say is: don’t let the bastards get you down. Something will come around in time, just be patient.

Yes…that is something ‘they’ say. The good thing about it?

It’s all true.

Let’s Reevaluate: Sex.

The word of the day is sex. Parents and family members of certain discretions, turn away from this article because I am about to be extremely candid and the last thing I want is for you to look at me in a certain way once the family reunion comes around. Or you can read on; I am not your boss and it is your mind that is about to be rewired. Happy Reading!

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Let’s Look Back: Another Year, Another Resolution.

We have now officially come to that time of year when the haze of drunken eggnog-filled nights have dissipated and the real world beckons us back to mundanity and routine. Thankfully, the social construct of time has given us a reprieve; one champagne-filled night where we all ring in the New Year together with resolutions of losing weight, demands for bigger change and a combined sob of sadness at the realization that we don’t have a kiss at midnight.

I, myself, will be ringing in 2016 with friends, beer, and a simple night in a San Diego apartment. This is not a humble brag, this is merely me reassuring you, my reader (and my parents to some extent) that I do, indeed, have a life (sadly, still unemployed [a fact that is moot, but something I feel is worth mentioning since I never shut up about it]).

I want to take this time to review my year, as we all do to boost our self-esteems and ready ourselves for another 365 days of challenges: I graduated college, had a great relationship, came out publicly to the world and my family, broke up with the guy from the aforementioned relationship, cut off all my hair, grew it all back, had about fifteen early-mid-life crises, I wrote upwards of fifty articles (on this blog and through Elite Daily), drove to and from San Diego about twenty times, and ultimately had a pretty decent holiday season.

And i’m still unemployed.

Solid B+/A- type year if I do say so myself.

I was going to address plans and resolutions for 2016, but I always feel guilty when these things never come to fruition. Multiple failed attempts at writing a novel and gaining muscle have left me cautious at setting unrealistic goals (or in most cases, just goals) for a new year, wherein I can’t predict what will happen. Albeit cliche, i’ll say this instead:

Next year will be different. I will take what I have learned and power through with different perspectives and a happier outlook on living.

Happy New Year, everybody. Thank you for going through this ride with me and I hope you’ll stick around.

Let’s Come to A Conclusion: Paths.

*Previously posted on Elite Daily.*

It’s an old tale about a fork in the road; honestly, that’s about as much as I can recall. I feel it has something to do with our decisions and how we have to commit to those decisions, even if we end up regretting them in the end. I could have also started with that poem by Robert Frost, but that’s too often misinterpreted, so I’d rather not bring it into the mix.  I could easily droll on about the impact of our decisions and the importance of thinking something through, but I feel that that issue is something so often represented in the decision-making trope that it rarely ever needs repeating. In fact, I firmly believe that the mere repetition of it makes it, not only redundant, but less impactful. There is a beginning, middle, and end to everything, and I want to discuss the middle; the path after the decision is made.

As of late, I have gone through a lot of different life changing experiences: I graduated college, I had a major break up, I came out as gay to the world, I cut all my hair off, and I moved back home. I admit, some are much more trivial than others, but life changing nonetheless. After having made these decisions, I started walking down this path; at times it was riddled with felled trees and moss and mud, while other times it had a beautiful cerulean ocean that stretched for miles into the sunset. But along this path I chose to make, there came the inevitability of unwanted scenery. What I mean by that is, I could still see everyone else around me on their own paths.

Some went at glacial speeds while others appeared as if they couldn’t stop moving. I started moving slower so I could compare my place to theirs. Was I moving faster than those behind me? Why wasn’t I catching up to those already miles ahead? That guy over there has a better view of the ocean, why didn’t I take that route? All of these questions never brought me answers. Before I knew it, I was on the side of my path, letting those behind me get in front and those in front disappear from my view. I was so aware of everything else, I lost sight of what I was doing. I cared way too damn much about the trivialities of people I wouldn’t ever see again.

If there’s one thing post-grad life can teach you, it’s that you can’t regret the major you chose in college. You can’t regret the decision you made four years prior, because a part of you, deep down, chose to commit to it and not one part of you ever let you give up on it for four years. Thing is, there will always be someone in front of you, someone behind you, and someone next to you. And if you keep comparing and contrasting and dwelling on pointless nuances, you’re not going to be happy. You’re not going to move.

Different choices bear different paths and the path that we choose to take may be more difficult than others. It may not reward us with the same kind of benefits and privileges and it may even add weights to our ankles as we forge our paths. As sad as it is, we are able to see those paths everywhere: on social media, in real life, or on television; and we are somehow inclined to exaggerate and emphasize these so-called success and compare it to ourselves. In essence, we never feel good enough.

Truth is, no one else matters. At that point, yes, it sucks. There’s no need to invalidate that feeling, but that moment isn’t forever. That moment of disappointment is not a defining moment, the defining moment is when you decide to get back up, put on some horse blinders and keep moving. So here I am to tell you to stop comparing your path, and to move forward dammit, because there’s a lot of ground to cover.

Let’s Recount a Tale: No Homo.

disclaimer: It’s rare that I ever feel victimized for who I am. For that, I am grateful and privileged. Every day people are judged and persecuted for actively portraying to the real world who they are and that’s a terrible injustice. I felt like it was just to recognize this fact before I go into this nonsensical anecdote because not everyone has it so easy.

It was the night of my cousin’s birthday party; with music resonating and wine in abundance, the night was set to be one that we’d probably remember. But first, a little lesson on what kind of party this was. It was one of those special birthday parties, not unlike a cotillion or a quinceañera. In the Filipino tradition, when a young woman turns eighteen it’s called a debut. When a Filipina decides to have a debut, they typically have what’s called a ‘court.’ A set of nine couples (totaling eighteen) to be her posse, and a set of eighteen ‘candles’ (close female-identifying friends and family members who recount stories of the celebrant) and ‘roses’ (close male-identifying friends and family members who dance with the celebrant). I was one of her roses.

Lesson over, back to the story.

The night goes off without a hitch. The wine had hit me in the right spot and I’m about as loose as I chose to be (it was my cousin’s birthday after all, so I didn’t want to unleash anything I’d regret the next morning. I know how to keep myself tamed). The roses all go up one at a time and dance with her. The music choices switch with every other dancer to keep the audience interested and I am about as nervous as all hell for a reason I can’t seem to remember. Regardless, my dance with my cousin isn’t the main plot of the story, just the foundation. Sorry I couldn’t tell you all of a terrible incident wherein I step on her dress and send her careening into the three-tier cake. I’m a pretty decent dancer and that would never happen on my watch.

I dance with her for a few seconds, wow the audience with an unexpected twirl of my cousin, and walk off to where the rest of the men are standing. Now we are getting somewhere. The last man makes his way to the hoard of men awkwardly canoodling at the end of the dance floor and the photographer asks for a group shot. Not uncommon. As we scoot together to fit in the frame of the camera, one of my cousin’s friends (I assume) puts his arm around me and promptly says, “No homo, bro. No homo.”

Naturally, this wouldn’t and doesn’t offend me. It’s essentially harmless. But with the wine flowing and my mind racing, I was able to trace this thing all the way out into a full tirade in my head.

“Excuse me, person who I don’t even know, but that’s pretty regressive. ‘No Homo?’ Right, because your armpit in such close proximity to my shoulder would release a secret homosexualizing pheromone that (unless neutralized by the phrase ‘No Homo’) would make you irresistible to me. Let’s not even acknowledge the fact that I do identify as a gay man, because I was gay before I met you and your arm isn’t what ‘turned me’ if that’s what you think you’re capable of. In your saying this phrase, it makes me think that you’re trying to repel me like I’m a case of the cooties. ‘Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot, now you have a lot of explaining to do cause I queer, I’m here and I’ll fight you if I have to.’ Furthermore, be inclusive. Who cares if you’re being chummy with another guy, it’s essentially what you all do in a locker room together when you’re doing sports things. It’s a picture, shut up, smile, and move on with your life…You’re not even that cute, so there. And don’t bro me, if you don’t know me.”

Let’s note that this rant lasted the entirety of the picture taking process, which was much longer than it should’ve been and I never saw him again.

Moral of the story is: Words may not hold the intention of hurting someone, but they can still hold weight that can trigger something in someone. Watch what you say and let ‘No Homo’ die. It’s not manly or cool, it’s just sad.

Let’s Ask: Would You Go Back?

Take a second and turn back the clock. Your first day of college. Your last day of high school. Your kindergarten graduation. Your last relationship. If you could, would you go back to those moments with the full consciousness you now possess and attempt to notice what you couldn’t before?  If you could go back, would you?

There are specific moments, like prom or a breakup or graduation, where I’d think about seeing it all from a different perspective. Would I have enjoyed prom more if I had danced on a different side of the room, would I have been happier hugging different people at graduation, would I have seen the warning signs before it all blew up in my face? But what I’ve come to realize in all of this retrospection is that things are never what they were. In the moment, you’re greedy and self-righteous. You don’t think because there simply isn’t any time. You dance where you danced because there was free space, you hugged the people you did because they’re the ones that mattered at the time, you said he was an ass because at the time you couldn’t fathom to see it from a different perspective. Only in time do we realize that things begin to change, because we are changing. We’re growing up. Congratulations, you’re an adult. I suppose it then becomes the question of, is it worth going back?

As of late, I get these flashbacks to the happy little moments. Sharing a joke with a friend in class, noticing the exact moment I felt love for this person, and the absolute joy of hearing my name as I accepted my diploma case (sorry to break it to you kids, when you graduate you just get the case and then wait four to six weeks for a diploma to come in the mail).

In a way, I would want to go back for those moments. The ones that made my heart flutter, my eyes water, and my hands twitch. Those are the ones worth it. If I could bottle those feelings up and save them for a bad day, life wouldn’t feel so bogged down. The other ones make me wonder why I would pose such a broad question. Who would want to subject themselves to a torturous moment? No one wants to see their heart break in front of them or see their friends drift off into nothingness. That’s just terrible. It may make for a great Oscar worthy scene in a movie, but there’s no space for such torment in the real world.

Everyday we should strive to be happier than we were the day before.

Let me ask you again, dear reader: Would you go back? Is it worth going back?

Let’s Rediscover: A Sense of Wonder and Novelty.

There are many things that frighten me: The California Drought, the impending series finale of Scandal, and how my nephew knows how my iPhone works before knowing the alphabet. It’s a small thing considering his generation was born into this world, already filled with advanced technology ready for the taking. But it still has me concerned.

When I look back on my childhood (which wasn’t that long ago), I remember being outside and going on adventures every Sunday to random area in Los Angeles; we’d explore the lavish houses of the rich and greedy, followed by the innards of Los Angeles, herself.  Then I fast forward to today and find myself on my computer most days, confined within the walls of my apartment.

A few months ago, in Seattle, my mom took a picture of the highway. We were surrounded by towering evergreens along this tiny two-way speedway and she decides to take a picture of the rolling fog. In her picture there was a bird. A bird! Her excitement was akin to a child who has never seen a bird before and when she showed me, my reaction treated the moment as such.

“Oh, how cute! It’s a bird. In the air. Flying. How original.” Suffice to say, I didn’t care that much. It was just a bird! Then I began to think: Where did the sense excitement go? When did we lead the mundane and leave the eccentric and wondrous? When did seeing an animal that can FLY become so boring? Can you fly? Didn’t think so. Between my recent apartment confinement and this quick dismissal of avian wonder, I realized that I needed to get out more. This wasn’t in realizing that I lacked a life, rather that I lacked that sense of wonder and novelty.

Life has been so consumed by social media, like Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook, that I fear all of my time is set aside for that consumption. I was and am blindly content with living that life. It’s warm, safe, and doesn’t give me splinters or hurt my ankles. But in being so enveloped in this kind of life, I feel like everything beyond me has become dull, out of reach, or boring.

I refuse to accept that.

Life is so much more than the four walls of our rooms and the screens of our computers. There’s a whole world out there that is so beautiful and vast. Here comes the call to action: I feel we should turn off the screens, silence our phones, and step outside.

Let’s hit the trails or dip our toes in the ocean, and realize that there is a whole world out there to be discovered. Step outside and realize that there are so many things that are just as novel and just as wonderful.