On anxiety, other people and forgiving yourself

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote an entry on my blog.

Busy, yes. But for the most part, it has been an endless cycle of type and delete, then “Save as Draft”. It’s one draft after another, unfinished anecdotes and opinion pieces collecting dust. So, this is where I start again.


“Hell is other people.” – Jean Paul-Sarte

Actually, to be very specific, Sarte said “L’enfer,c’est les autres “ (Hell is the others) in his popular one-act play No Exit. Not gonna get too philosophical here, but basically it’s Satre describing consciousness, how we perceive ourselves, and the capital importance of other people in each one of us. It is undeniable that our self-knowledge is product of the way we see ourselves in others.

The play No Exit tells the story of three people in hell, sentenced to spend eternity in a room where they will never be able to leave. In this case, hell is not depicted as it normally would. No bottomless pits, back-faced monsters, eternal flames — just a regular denizen room – fit for a regular joe but somehow also superficial. And the three characters? Trivial, pretentious, petty-bourgeois, with their own agendas, just trying to make it through. And with that, they find that hell is in the others and it will remain that way until they learn that the reason they are stuck in that very predicament is because they allow themselves to be judged wrongly by others and take it as truth and do the same to others as well. The only way out? Put other’s good above their own.

How I am perceived by others has always been very important to me. I have this habit of applying things that I do for the corporations that I work for, to myself. Build your network, put your best foot forward always, avert crises by choosing your words and your associations very carefully. I’ve also discussed this in talks I’ve done for students. They now call it “Personal Branding”. I roll my eyes each time at the term, believe me. So then, I put on all my social media descriptions the sentence “Wolves don’t lose sleep over opinions of sheep” as a reminder that I carry my own truth (and that I can just eat those who think otherwise). Being self-aware, confident in your capabilities, with acceptance of the things that you can and cannot do is vital to your mental health.

There has been much discussion about mental health and the cry for understanding and education towards these illnesses are now more prevalent. People are sharing very personal stories, posting pictures of prescription drugs, anti-depressants and what-not’s, their PWD IDs, all that show that their state of being as mentally or emotionally disabled is very real. The awareness is there, shared by thousands and thousands of those who sympathize if not relate. But even so, there are others who choose not to speak. It is with deep sadness that I, unfortunately, personally know people that are going through or have succumbed to the ordeal because of the lack of understanding, concern, and forgiveness. Maarte lang sila, diba? But I digress.

Forgive yourself

I write this for those who suffer sleepless nights of anxiety, of good days gone wrong for absolutely no reason, those who suddenly feel irrelevant, as if everyone’s turned against them. This is for those who cry without a trigger, as if a switch has just gone off, and for those who try their best to fight it. You are understood.

Learn to let go of your own personal hell (in every form and sense of the word) and pray for a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the kind of person you want to be. We feel anxious and uneasy because we are frequently misunderstood but we cannot let this have power over us. When we forgive ourselves for imperfections and use that energy towards our own betterment, we are stronger.

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