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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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 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 Decide: Leader or Follower.

For eighteen years, I was a follower.

I’m not sure if it was the way I looked, the way I acted, or the way I talked; as far back as I can remember, the people around me have made my decisions. Not in some executive assistant type of manner, rather in one of condescension, as if they know me better than me. I wasn’t awarded the stereotypical, coming-of-age story arc every “twenty-five year old actor playing a sixteen year old” character got. I was told what I should wear, what classes I should be taking, and even what girl to date.

Oh yes, I cannot give myself the much coveted title of “Gold Star Gay,” because I have dated women in the past (two of them, in fact). Even so, the latter of the two relationships almost ended in utter disaster, due to the fact that it was built upon the fact that my friends told me to date her. They wouldn’t shut up about it; day in and day out, they would say: “You two are always hanging out together and you’re both so cute. You’d make a cute couple. Go for it. Ask her out!” Lo and behold, young, impressionable Jason said “Okay!” and asked out his poor girl and wasted a few months of her life. Months where she could’ve dated someone that actively and independently thought about dating her and wasn’t egged on by his friends to date her.

Oh, and someone who wasn’t gay. Granted,  I didn’t really know at the time, so I think I should let that one go.

Even in the vein of my career (yes, I am going to touch on this top as frequently as possible until I am actually employed), family members and friends and ex-supervisors have told me what I should be doing with my life, just because I’m good at it. By such a logic, I should begin my career in the ever-affluent path of Netflix bingeing. Lord knows I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Here are several, aggregated commands I’ve received in the past months:

Relative: “You should teach English in another country! It has good pay and is what you should be doing.”

Immediate Family Member: “You were an RA, right? Here’s this student life coordinator position. You need your M.A. and ten years of experience, but it can’t hurt to apply!”

Ex-Supervisor: “You were a great RA. YOU SHOULD BE IN STUDENT AFFAIRS. IT WAS MEANT FOR YOU. GO TO GRAD SCHOOL AND JOIN STUDENT AFFAIRS. #RAFORLYFE #STUDENTAFFAIRS #jointhecult.”

It gets tiring every now and then, but you learn to put up with it and tune out the unsavory ones. Like most posts, there really isn’t an answer or reason for this being here. Mostly because I don’t know who I am.

I’m twenty-two for fucks sake. I shouldn’t know a lot of things. Above all else, I still have a lot more to discover before I ever have to ask myself that question. As for being a follower; well, I guess you can say that I’ve learned to take the lead.

Let’s Listen: Music & Lyrics.

It never ceases to amaze me how much wroth and meaning we can pull out of music. The depths it can take us, the scenery it can create, and the emotion it can provoke; it’s wondrous and frightening and insane. As a routine, to keep my sanity in check and my emotions in balance, I listen to music every night before I drift off into reverie. I lie there, headphones in, lights off and I stare at the ceiling. Not because I have glow in the dark stars plastered across it (although, I should), but because it’s the closest thing I have to a blank canvas.

I stare at the same spot in the ceiling, only visible through my depleting vision (I would have taken my glasses off already) and the street lamps casting what little orange light they can through the slits of my blinds, and I paint a picture of my life that is tune to the song.

One moment, it’s like ballet, precise and gentle. A memory of me people watching at the mall; the chaos of people, the cacophony of children screaming, and the mundanity of such a trivial chore go quiet and all I focus on is me and how I implant stories and lives to these temporary people walking by. People I’ll never see again. People I’ll never bother to wish “Happy Birthday” or want to grab coffee with. Then the song changes and the canvas is blank once more.

The rhythm is upbeat, but the lyrics hold something deeper. A daydream of me and him finally meeting at the airport. A heavy heart, a piercing look, a hopeful smile. Beyond the canvas, I can feel my left arm tingling, I’m about to cry. Tonight, I don’t want to cry so I hit skip before I could give it the chance to bring up any unwanted tears.

The bass bangs my eardrums and I’m almost instantly on my feet and still in my underwear. Blinded by the lack of corrective lenses and shrouded by the dark of night, I start dancing in the small area around my bed. My phone that is in my hand is no longer a phone, but my guitar pick. I rock along as hard as I can and without care because no one can see me. The canvas takes a break because for once, I feel like I’m living in the moment. What matters is me, the music, and my killer guitar solo.

Music can do so much and yet we so often mindlessly bob to the rhythm in the driver’s seat without giving any regard to the lyrics themselves; the messages embedded so deep within the music sheets are almost always looked over. Let’s stop that.

Homework assignment: Look up the lyrics to the last five songs you listened to and see if they resonate with you. I have a feeling they do.

With music, what draws you in is the melody, but what should keep you there are the lyrics.

Let’s Debunk: Normalcy & Dysfunction. 

When I went away from college, I decided to leave any problem or issue that happened at home, at home. For four years, I chose to focus on myself and what I was doing and where I was going. What I didn’t know at the time was that at the end of those four years, that was exactly where I’d end up: back at home. So imagine my surprise upon entering my old room and realizing that the place where I was at that moment, was no longer the same place I left.

There was an odd air of tension; not unlike those moments when you walk into a room and realize that the people in there were just talking about you. It wasn’t that I felt victimized, it was more like a huge battle had happened and I so happened to walk into the scattered remnants of bodies and cannon fodder. It didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel like the home I once knew.

For weeks after, I would go on mini rants about how this “new” home I somehow wandered back to was dysfunctional and “not normal.” The entirety of my college career, I could calculate that I went home no more than thirty times and the home I would come back to, was unchanged. A façade. Smoke and mirrors. If you would like more cliches, I’m sure I can fabricate some. The wools were pulled over my eyes (there you go). I’d walk through the garage door to happy faces and welcome back hugs, completely unaware that anything had happened or anyone had just fucked up big time.

This blissful ignorance kept me in check for four years. It held itself together in the form of a dam, keeping the waters of “dysfunction” at bay until I found myself in a semi-permanent position. At that point, the employees quit and the dam was demolished. The waters of truth overwhelmed me in one fell swoop and I had to learn how to swim in less than five seconds.

I’ve been home for a little over a month and what I realized was that the idea of a normal family is just what society wants us to believe a family is (I know i’ve written on social constructionism before, but at the time of this realization, it had decided to take a backseat). Every family has to be The Brady Bunch; no drama, no fuck ups, no bumps. Then you realize, no family is The Brady Bunch. I’m just upset that it took me so long to realize that not one family is really exempt from this. Everyone is affected. It doesn’t make my family any less of one than my neighbors and it doesn’t make me any happier that someone else out there probably has a much dire situation than my own. Fact of the matter is, in this world, normalcy is having dysfunction.

Anything functioning is simply a façade.

Let’s Weigh In: Body Shaming, Privilege and the Platform of the Internet.

This being my first foray into becoming involved in the omnipresent drama of the Internet, I would like to say that I feel concerned about said involvement. Everybody has an opinion of some sort and whether or not an individual is personally affected determines how loud their opinion is spoken and heard. While I originally contemplated tweeting something out, I then realized that 140 characters is nowhere near enough to encompass a preface to this opinion, let alone an entire post.

I feel like by now, the entirety of the world wide web has been privy to the fat shaming video created by a YouTuber named Nicole Arbour. While hiding behind the guise of “comedy,” this content creator went on a rant (although one can classify it as an ‘attack’ or ‘inadvertent asshole-ism) about how those who are overweight are:

  • At fault for their weight.
  • Playing the victim card.
  • Take their body for granted.

Not only is she wrong, she doesn’t really bother to create a dialogue about it. Claiming that she is the “ride-or-die friend” who tells it like it is and hopes her words are like “shrapnels” that bury themselves deep within the souls of her friends and will help them realize the “error in their ways” (not a pulled quote, just being sarcastic). As you may have already guessed, in order to write this I did have to watch the video (for the sake of journalism integrity, it is linked here). And, yes, I did manage to waste six minutes of my life watching it because it did absolutely nothing for the betterment of my being. If anything it added ten tons of fuel to the ever-burning fire of hatred towards inconsiderate people.

In the deep doo-doo that is her logic, I do understand her use of YouTube. As new or as old as it is, the site lends itself as a platform with which to express your opinions; at its very depth, that’s what this video was an opinion.

But what people don’t always seem to get is that not all opinions have to be said. Not all opinions are important. Not all opinions matter. Sometimes you have to think about what you say, before you say it, and then ask yourself: “Am I harming others?” That’s just the cardinal rule of not being a total asshole.

“Stop being fat,” she claims in her video and, while not being on the same side of the coin (a topic I’ll write about in the near future) that is Body Image Issues, that comment isn’t conducive to anything but furthering someone’s issue with their body image. You can’t stop being who you are anymore than you can stop the sun from shining or from having Starbucks charge $6 for a cup of coffee that has pumpkin in it! From how she appears in the video, I cannot confirm nor deny that she had any sort of body issue growing up or at present, but who am I to pass judgment on her? I certainly can and just call it an opinion, but then I remember that I should stop myself and think: “Am I harming others?”

Chances are I probably could. So i’ll keep my opinion of this sad, lowly person to myself (most of them anyway). What this is in its entirety, is a matter of someone speaking on a topic, in which they are privileged not to have encountered and by those means, should not be speaking on it.

With great power comes great responsibility. 

With privilege comes responsibility.

This post was partly (or hugely) inspired by those who have already spoken out (content creators Grace Helbig, Will & RJ of Shep689, and Meghan Tonjes). Watching their videos made me realize how important it truly is to combat the negativity that is circulated every day around us. Too often do we just sit on the sidelines and watch them go by, commenting on their uselessness but doing nothing about it. I am aware that the written word is dated and, at times, exhausting to pore over, but this is my outlet for now and I’m sticking to it. I want to thank these amazing and inspiring content creators for giving me the encouragement to weigh in on this topic and I can guarantee that it won’t be the last time I say something about it.

Let’s Have A Candid Conversation: Anxiety & Me.

It’s worse in the morning.

I’m not entirely sure why, all I know is that there’s this feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like you’ve disappointed someone without having done anything. I get up, almost reluctantly, and head downstairs for coffee in hopes that caffeine is the solution to whatever is digging itself deeper into the pit. A temporary relief flows over me, like a morning affirmation saying that everything is going to be okay and that I shouldn’t have to worry.

“This is all temporary.”

“You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”

“Something good is going to happen”

The same three statements are  repeated one right after the next until the words sound so distant and irrelevant that they’re almost foreign to my tongue. I go through the day mostly okay, attempting not to think about anything. In turn, I think about everything.

  • Jobs
  • Friends
  • Relationships
  • Jobs
  • Loans
  • Jobs
  • My lack of a social life compared to those around me who have the means to perpetuate the type of life I wish to lead one day but cannot seem to manage at the present time
  • Jobs

All of these things take the shape of a hanging, nagging finger of obligation that follows me around from day to day. I’d probably be insane if they hadn’t taken the weekends off.

Eventually, I feel the days become shorter and the amount of tasks that I had completed match in length.

Sometimes I never truly know what’s wrong; all I could pinpoint was that I felt like crying. It was like I was writing a book and decided to stop because I was at a loss for words and kept staring at a half empty page.

I’m never sure what clicks in me but, in spite of the emptiness of the page and the hollowness of my gut, I always continue writing.

-X-

As far back as I could remember, anxiety has always been my nemesis. Imagine that, being twenty-two years old with a nemesis. Especially one that isn’t corporeal or technically alive. You see, anxiety isn’t something that’s fun to deal with nor is it something that’s interesting to have. I feel like popular culture tends to portray characters with anxiety as “fidgety” and “dorky,” when in reality it’s something that’s crippling and debilitating. Some shows tends to get it right (and I thank the skies that they’re doing it justice) but there’s still so much left unsaid and unheard from the realities of it. I get it, it’s not exactly marketable, but when you’re in the business of telling the truth, not everything is going to be able to be presented in a nice little bow.

What helps me make it through is the thought that my anxiety is actually a piece of me. It’s a part of me that is controlling and annoying, but it doesn’t define me. It can hold me back, but I know I can make it through. I know I can because there’s still so much out there to see and I want to be able to seek it out.

I still want to grow.