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Forget your blessings and forget your worth

Why do we allow ourselves to break? How hard is it to believe we’re capable of great things? That we’re worthy of blessings? That we’re worthy of living?

Continue reading “Forget your blessings and forget your worth”

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The Imposter and her healing

When we fear and hide, we may lose the shot at the love we deserve. We can’t always expect someone to break down those walls for us and find us. It is in mistakes and in pain where we learn the most valuable lessons, and it is the fact that it can make us better people that makes the ache truly worth it.

Escaping

I wrote a piece sometime in 2014 titled “Sometimes the healing is in the aching“.  I talked about the pain and the necessity of the “ultimate heartbreak” and how the fear of it consumes us. And I also did mention that most often than not, this pain is self-inflicted.

After all that has happened to me the past few years, I couldn’t help but pat myself in the back and think that I had known it all along. It’s like my past-self screaming out a snarky “I TOLD YOU SO!” with a matching eye-roll. Four years after, here I am finding myself tired and consumed by my own fears, and breaking my own heart.

Today, I know I am healing.

For World Mental Health Awareness Day, I opened up on Instagram about the struggle I have had over the past four months. Looking back at all the things I’ve written since the start of this blog makes me think it’s been happening all along. When you force yourself to believe that you’re this strong, independent person and make others believe it, too, it gets pretty hard to accept that you need help.

“But you look like you’ve got it all figured out!” 

I cringe at this response every time I try opening up about what I’ve been going through. Of course, that’s what it looks like on social media! No one really posts about their failures.

I’ve done quite a number of talks on personal branding and “dressing the way you want to be addressed”. I’ve had young girls come up to me and message me about how they idolize and have me as their #goals or career peg, and I’m guessing now that that’s what’s making accepting this a lot harder. I feel like I had let the important people in my life (and the ones that have looked up to me) down. Like a true blue Capricorn, allow me to wallow in self-blame for a moment. I’ll get to the point, I promise.

I’ve long denied that I needed healing and didn’t want to accept that I was “broken” in any sense. It as only until a few discussions with my mom and my closest friends did I realize that we’re all the same — beautifully broken and trying to figure life out. We all need self-compassion!

Real healing is ugly

It’s frustrating. It’s staring blankly as you take your first bite of late lunch and then realizing you weren’t hungry anymore. It’s exhausting and draining. It’s waking up at 3am every single day and failing to get back to sleep because you’ve started overthinking, then crashing mid-day. It’s a lot of ugly crying. And maybe a bit of overspending.

Healing is not a trip to beautiful, scenic Sagada to find yourself. It’s not the dreamy sceneries of EAT, PRAY, LOVE. It’s not in long walks around the Eiffel Tower while eating a delicious falafel (based on experience). Don’t think a beautiful trip is going to magically fix you, and don’t try painting the process as anything other than what it is.

What I’ve learned from wise friends (and a good therapist) is that you have to learn to be there for yourself. You can’t be escaping your reality if you want true healing. True healing is learning to cope and deal with your realities, not running away from them.

The Imposter Syndrome

Fresh, confident, intense, intimidating and bordering cocky — I’ve been described as many things in the past years and I have embraced it as my career-driven, girl boss persona. It’s gotten me so far into the career ladder and has rewarded me with recognition here and there. 30 under 30 Young Marketers, 30 under 30 Asian Women changing the World, and many others. All of these achievements have made my parents extremely proud of me (which has honestly been the best reward out of all of this).

But why do I feel like I don’t deserve it?

Is it in the nay-sayers that have repeatedly called out that I’ve only gotten this far because of my looks? Because of my connections? Because of privilege? Because of luck?

I’ve begun feeling like I’ve created this imaginary world to be able to fit in and accept myself. I’ve always felt like I was running out of time, and it was a warped view of myself and reality that I had learned to live in. I eventually caved and broke down, and as I tried to pick up the pieces, I tried to put a name to the feeling.

A friend called this out as the “Imposter Syndrome“: a psychological pattern, initially prevalent amongst high-achieving women — in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.

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Once I’ve gotten to put a name to the feeling, I have learned to address it. Allow me to share with you ways to overcome this Imposter Syndrome (as inspired by this article):

  1. Talk about it. Recognize that you’re not alone in feeling this way. Having it all in your head is really going to consume you!
  2. Separate feelings from fact. Get feedback from others that can give their honest and unbiased thoughts towards what you’ve been feeling. Then you can recognize which areas you can work or improve on if you’re really feeling like you’re faking it. Having these thoughts and learning to separate what’s real vs. what’s not is part of self-awareness and is a great trait to have.
  3. Develop new ways to respond to failure or mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over messing up — learn from it quickly and move on! My mistake here is that I escape from it. I move on without learning from it and end up making the same mistakes again. You have to learn to go through the problem, not around it.
  4. Pay it forward. Learn to recognize and compliment other people’s achievements as well. By acknowledging when others do well you create an environment where openly appreciating effort is more commonplace.
  5. Have a new mental script. 

“I never ask for help because if I do, it will look like I don’t know what I’m doing”  ⇒ “There are things I don’t know. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.”

“I don’t deserve this award/break because I didn’t really do anything.”  ⇒ “I will list down the things I have done to reach this success and deserve this break, I will recognize opportunities for me to learn and develop. I will accept both positive and negative feedback and know that even recognition and breaks are needed for my growth.”

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Some people confuse Imposter Syndrome with humility OR false humility. But regardless of what it’s called, anything that brings you down to the wallowing well of self-blame and disappointment has got to go.

“When we fear and hide, we may lose the shot at the love we deserve”

When we are consumed by our fears and anxieties, we lose the shot at the life we were meant to live, too.

I didn’t write this to give you a step-by-step on how to heal and be okay cause honestly, I’m also still in that process. My friend messaged me after reading this article saying that “we attract what we claim” and that we should claim that we are healed instead of healing. I replied saying that I’d like to claim that I’m healed but it all goes back to my imposter dilemma, a.k.a. trying to claim something that I know in my heart isn’t real yet. I obviously have a lot to work on, but I am getting there.

I wrote this to get these thoughts off my chest, and hopefully get it off someone else’s too. We only truly start to heal and be better versions of ourselves once we acknowledge our demons and call them by its name. The healing may be ugly, but only you can make the journey worthwhile.

Please share your thoughts with me! If it makes anyone in the world feel just a little bit better or a little less alone, then it’s done its job. 🙂

Look up and move forward. Healing is upon you.

XX C

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On mind games and relationships worth having

The other day, I was discussing with some friends about how to not get “rejected”. One of our guy friends recently met this “amazing” girl that he felt he had a great connection with. And he had come to this conclusion from that one night he was introduced to her.

That night, they had exchanged numbers and he offered to bring her home (back to her place) – setting aside his evening plans. When he joined later that evening after bringing her home, we expressed our disappointment and said that it’s that grand gesture done too soon that always gets him rejected. We had advised him against texting her the next day saying that if he did, he’d look too eager. Yet, he did text her again (and again, and again). She didn’t text back.

“This is how I am! Why can’t I just be myself? Why can’t I show genuine interest in a girl the way that I want to?” he rants with such a heavy heart. “Because it’s all a game.” we quip. We’re all suckers for attention and love the chase. We all believe that anything “too easy” isn’t worth having.

Today, the chase is a game of numbers:

2-3 days before you text her again.

About 30 minutes to 2 hours before you reply.

One emoji? Two emojis?

How long should the “haha” be for it to look like I appreciated the joke, but it wasn’t THAT funny?

Honestly, writing it down and reading it out loud makes it sound like a joke. It’s all so high school. But it is what it is. It’s a long list of unwritten rules that, for someone that hates games so much, I have found myself guilty of playing. Why can’t we say what we mean and mean what we say? Dating today has become a sad, never-ending game of Poker except no one ever goes all-in anymore because we all have this false notion that we may be dealt better cards if we don’t take risks today.

I think we all want relationships that are honest and drama-free. We all want relationships that inspire us to be better people. But some of us seem to have downgraded courtship to a game that leads to crippling anxiety and unnecessary stress. Why? Because we put ego first.

We don’t text first or too soon because we’re worried about seeming too eager. Eager for what? A relationship that can last us a lifetime?

We don’t cut to the chase because we fear rejection. Why does the thought of straight-up honesty scare us?

When we put our egos aside, we fear we lose “power”.

That power we want to keep has no place in a healthy relationship. When we attempt to hide or filter our true selves in the beginning, we only set ourselves up for failure.

I like you, but…

In a perfect world, everyone just says what they mean and mean what they say. We give (in small acts or grand gestures) without conditions or fear of rejection because that’s who we are. But the world we live in (with social media, apps like Tinder, Bumble and the ease of travel overall) creates the illusion of choice. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to have choices and great to know there’s someone out there worthy of all our love and honesty. But some of us think that “keeping options” open means putting people on the sidelines and not saying “no” directly. It’s so much harder to settle down because we think we’re going to be dealt better cards elsewhere. We now put conditions to feelings – like “I could be with her but she’s ________” or “He and I are perfect, and I feel like I love him but he’s __________” because no one really works on building good relationships anymore.

We’re so entitled because we think there’s this perfect person that will tick all the boxes and solve all our problems. At the same time, we hold on to conditional people as some sort of safety net.

“It is the capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.”

 

We highlight our differences (or the boxes they didn’t tick) as a mandatory to a relationship. Philosopher Alain de Botton – known for his amazing books and talks on love and relationships – shares: “It is the capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the right person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.”  Love only becomes right because two people WORK to make it right, and it’s not because they WAIT for it to become right.

We can never expect anyone to fill the cracks for us nor can we expect to be enough to fill theirs. People who play ridiculous mind games and put conditions to love desire for control and live in fear of their own feelings. They think that they’ll know the right person when they meet them, and the right person would tick all the boxes without kinks or conditions.

Love is a choice but it’s not to accept each other’s flaws but to recognize that we do have these flaws and we (as a couple) will work together to be better versions of ourselves as we go. We don’t get to this kind of honesty and trust with mind games because mind games are meant to MANIPULATE.

Some people may enjoy the thrill of the game, but it will get old (and so will we). We can choose to keep playing and put conditions to feelings or we can stop wasting people’s time, be adults, and work towards a relationship worth having.

XX C

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TRAVEL: Solo Flight Tips from Philippines to Maldives with AirAsia

If you told me a few years ago that I’d get to visit the Maldives twice — and not on a honeymoon but SOLO, I’d probably call you crazy. But… the stars and the heaven have blessed me with ROUND 2 of my bucket list experience, SCUBA DIVING IN MALDIVES, and now I can truly bestow some Maldives trip knowledge to all of you. 😉

This also isn’t the first time I’ve flown to the Maldives with AirAsia as I have always trusted them for the cheapest and quickest flight to my destination. Now I can go on and say that you can totally scrimp on the flight to get the lowest possible fare, but I’ve had a couple of learnings from last year’s trip. How do I cut long lines, ensure safety in handling of my dive equipment, get the best cost for check-in luggage, and NOT starve during my flight?!

This time, I went all out to try AirAsia X’s Premium Flex and Quiet Zone offering and also ordered myself some Santan hot meals. Here are some tips I have for solo travelers flying to the Maldives from the Philippines, and reasons why the upgrades are worth the peso.

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Airline of choice: AIRASIA (www.airasia.com)

Flight Price Range: PHP 16,000 – 50,000 ($307 – $960)

VISA NEEDED? For Philippine Passports, VISA is given upon arrival in the Maldives. Yay!

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS MALDIVES?  The Maldives is a South Asian island country, located in the Indian Ocean, situated in the Arabian Sea. It lies southwest of Sri Lanka and India.

There are no direct flights from Philippines / Manila to Maldives / Male. I flew a 4-hour flight via AirAsia Filipino to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and had a layover in KL before flying again for 4 hours to Male, Maldives the next day with AirAsia X. (Although there have been rumors of direct flights happening as of late – READ HERE!)

Tip #1: Secure the Quiet Zone + Premium Flex

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The flight from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to Male (Maldives) is approximately 4 hours and 15 minutes, and the last thing any tired solo adventurer would want is children crying and screaming all-throughout those precious 4 hours.

Don’t get me wrong… generally, children are lovely and I usually have a lot of patience for them. The Quiet Zone was simply a treat for someone coming from a tiring 15-hour layover.

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Children under 10 years old aren’t allowed in AirAsia X’s Quiet Zone (Exclusively for Rows 7 – 14)

I feel like all the signs of “Quiet Zone” also served as a reminder to the adults seated in the area. It was peaceful and was possibly one of my best flight experiences yet.

Tip #2: Pre-book your AirAsia Santan in-flight meals

It’s a 4-hour flight to Malaysia and another 4-hour trip to Maldives from Kuala Lumpur so make sure you book a meal.

You save more when you pre-book versus getting it on the plane. For example, a hotmeal + drink (water or coffee) will cost you PHP 180 when pre-booked versus getting it on the plane at PHP 200, and PHP 150 for ala carte.

I got the Chicken Rice which was roast chicken and special secret chili, ginger and garlic sauce! (You can get it as a combo meal with soda and a dessert.) I was pleasantly surprised at the amount and quality of AirAsia’s in-flight meals! Usually, you can’t expect so much with airplane food, but the Santan meal I had was not only delicious but also filling.

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AirAsia Santan Meal in Chicken Rice

 

Tip #3: Pre-book your luggage and tag your very important gear as “Sports Equipment”

They really weren’t kidding when they said that scuba diving was going to be an expensive hobby. The most important investments are the ones that you entrust your life to — your dive equipment! Having said that, I’d only prefer the most premium handling of my dive gear when traveling. Last time, I just squeezed them all in one big luggage to make sure they fit the allowance. Imagine the trouble I’d have if any of those items broke….

Tagging your gear as SPORTS EQUIPMENT isn’t particularly cheaper but it ensures special handling. Like VVIP for your luggage. To ensure the lowest possible cost on luggage check-ins, PRE-BOOK is the magical word.

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AirAsia allowed me a total of 65kg baggage allowance for both my check baggage (25kg) and sports equipment (40kg) allowance! You can check in items up to 40kg each.

Like the in-flight meals, it’s also better to pre-book all your luggage allowance! It’s about 3x more expensive to add on allowance. For example, you’d pay for PHP 349 only for 20 kg when pre-booked versus PHP 800 for 15kg at the airport counter! You’d also cut down on a lot of hassle having to move items around and “re-allocate” just to fit your allowance.

AirAsia is pretty transparent with their fees (fees/fares differ depending on where you’re heading: AIRASIA FEES & FARES (SEAT SELECTION, BAGGAGE and other fees)

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AirAsia’s Fly-Thru service has made my airport adventure and layover a little more bearable. All I had to take care of was my laptop so I can focus on more important things… like catching up on work emails on vacation. HAHA.

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Tip #4: Check-in via kiosk or app!

Breeze through the long lines via the kiosks available or the AirAsia app. Premium Flex does have its own priority lane, so imagine how much easier it is when you’ve done mobile check-in.

You can also come in at the very least an hour before departure. Personally, I don’t recommend coming in too close (*flashes back getting left behind by the plane in 2012*)… but you get what I mean.

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All set!

My total cost:

Flight Cost (Premium Flex, Quiet Zone, and 65kg baggage allowance) – PHP 30,000.00 All-In

As of May 9 – They’re on promo now! You can get flights as low as PHP 16,000 All-In 😊👍🏽

Philippine Travel Tax – 1,620.00

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Have other in-flight experiences and upgrade reviews, and tips to making your travels better? Share them with me!

XX, C