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soul

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dear insecure self,

I’m embarrassed to admit that you care more about your appearance and physique than you would like to admit. I’m particularly embarrassed that you gained at least 15 pounds during your first year of college. You have never gained more than a few pounds here and there ever, and you’re also realizing how hard it is to shed those pounds. You were never fat, and you’re not fat now, but it doesn’t change the fact that you gained 15 pounds in just one year. You can now see all that fat accumulating in your thighs and tummy, and it’s frustrating to see that in the mirror every day. Your old pants, shorts and skirts no longer fit you, and the new jeans that you got don’t always sit so well around your stomach either. You keep on thinking you’ll lose the pounds and go back to wearing them again – but it’s been a year. Who are you kidding?

I’m scared to reveal to anyone too much about yourself. I’m scared to tell people things they probably don’t even care about. I get anxious when college peers ask for your age. Would they judge you for only being a sophomore when you should be a junior and could even be a senior in college? I’m scared to tell people about this, your space on the internet, “mistyprose”. Would they judge you for making stupid videos and blogging about stuff that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things? I’m scared to let people on the internet know about you, too. What if they don’t like the way you sound or how you look? What if people from real life find out? What if they think you’re this spoiled, fake girl? What if…??

I don’t like how obsessive you get about doing things the right way. Getting exactly 8 or 9 hours of sleep every night; going to sleep at the right time. Eating at the same time every day; eating the right food, and the right amount. Working out at such time of the day; working out this many times a week. Don’t you see that being so uptight prevents you from enjoying life? Don’t you see that this obsessive attitude is actually making you gain weight and feel miserable?

I’m not sure how I feel about you spending time alone most of the time. It’s great when you’re at home and doing your own thing – you’re a great company, but when you walk out and are surrounded by people, something changes. It feels like people are watching you all the time. If you eat by yourself, you can’t help but feel eyes prying on you, wondering why you’re such a loner. Walking alone. Hanging out alone. These judgments come from past experiences, but now it feels like you’re just repeating them all over your head, again and again. When are the voices ever going to stop?

I don’t understand why you put so much on your plate. You want to do the things that you’ve done before coming to college, yet you still want to explore new things in college. But life is limited, and you seriously have to just choose. Or else you’ll end up so overwhelmed that you just end up doing… nothing. Except watch videos all day and bingeing on food, just to take your mind off from all your insecurities and unaccomplished goals. Which happens more often than you’ll admit to everyone.

I worry that you will not be successful in life. You are brave in choosing to study the subjects that you are passionate about, but sometimes you can’t help but wonder if you should have tried harder in other fields. If you should have given math or medical school a second thought before you decided on your path. Or maybe you shouldn’t have given up on your creative aspirations, and could be pursuing an art field instead. What do you even plan to do with your majors, huh?

dear self,

I am pleasantly surprised at how strong you have gotten ever since coming to college a year ago. Not just mentally stronger, but also physically stronger. You don’t fear the cold as much as before – heck, you wear more clothes that show skin and you feel great in them. You’ve started lifting weights, and you can actually see your thighs becoming more toned and defined. Most surprisingly, your immune system seems to become stronger each day. You still get the occasional cold-like symptoms – but they rarely blossom into a full-on cold or flu like before, and you rarely need medication. Your body is learning to fight back.

I am so proud of how much you have matured and how much you continue to do so. You may still feel conflicted about what you need to do in life, but you are progressively gaining control on the direction of your life. Your interests are no longer influenced by those around you; rather, they inspire you to learn more about the world that surrounds you, and have also helped you become more certain about what it is that you want to spend your time on. It’s okay to keep things to yourself. It’s not okay to feel like you have to hide them from people, or that you’re constantly being judged by the things that define you. This is something that you still need to work on, but that’s okay, too. You’ve got time.

I applaud you for your top-notch organization skills and mindset. Your thoughts may not always be in order, but you bet you keep your life in order with your calendar, sticky notes, and reminders. When you have to do something, you write it down and do it (most of the time, at least). You plan your weeks in advance to make sure that you’re working towards your goals – even if they are just baby steps. You make sure to eat right, sleep well, keep your space clean, and exercise consistently. Even though you most likely plan your ‘spontaneous outings’, you feel happier when you give yourself the time to do them.

I encourage you to love yourself more. Your insecurities will never leave you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take the reins and still live your life. Even if it means doing them by yourself. You should go out, have fun, and meet people. You feel great when you do that occasionally. But you also feel awesome when you have the day to yourself, to do whatever your heart desires. I know it’s hard to always be comfortable when everyone around you seems so sociable all the time, but you shouldn’t let that guilt dictate your life. Your life is written by you and no one else, after all.

I love how ambitious and self-motivated you are. Whatever you’re doing, you always seem to find an intrinsic purpose for the things that you do. And if there’s no tangible end goal to what you do, you make sure that you’re doing it because you want to. Because you enjoy it. Because it aligns with the values that you strive to live by. You’re also realizing that it’s okay to find something that you really enjoy doing for a while, and then realize that it wasn’t meant for you.  You’re realizing that it’s okay to quit some things in order to make time for others.

I admire the choices you have made, even if they  don’t always provide you with a clear path ahead. You are not only studying the subjects that you’re passionate about in college, you’re also learning so much about the subjects that you didn’t know about before. You have learned the meaning of a liberal arts education, and are taking full advantage to explore the subjects that ignite sparks of joy in you. You know that your interests will change, and you know that it will be completely okay when that happens. College is not about studying that one thing that you’re set to do for the rest of your life; rather, it’s supposed to propel you towards different directions and provide you with options that you might not even know yet. So pursue knowledge with passion, and let go with satisfaction. This also applies for life after college too – nothing you do will ever ‘stay’ the same. And that’s the excitement of life. So fret not, because there will be a time and place for all that you wish to do in life.

dear loving self,

Llife is bittersweet. I’m not gonna deny that you’re full of flaws, because you are. You are flawed in many things, and flawed in seeing all those things as flaws in yourself. You pick fights with yourself, constantly. Every day. Your insecurities are persistent, but so are the strengths that come from them. You may look at yourself for the insecure person that you are, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have grown and blossomed because of these insecurities. Remember that both the flaws and strengths are what fill your life with meaning. And I know you will continue growing, slowly but surely, into the worthy person that you are and have always been.

the importance of taking time off

I am back home for winter break for a month, and it feels great. It’s allowing me to take a breather from school, wind down, prepare for the incoming year, and do the things that I personally love to do. My home is not as saturated as my college is. I’m not surrounded by multitudes of people everyday, I don’t have as many external demands, and I can sleep in without feeling guilty. My life at home doesn’t feel as fast-paced as it does when I’m in college, but this is what allows me to recharge for the incoming year.

To resume old hobbies. A lover of books, I realized a week into my winter break that I hadn’t touched my kindle once. I then consciously started reading, and the old habit kicked in. Other hobbies like playing the cello, taking pictures, learning about Photoshop, and catching up with films also followed suit. 

To reevaluate and set new goals. Winter break is a transitional moment, as it marks the end of a semester, a year – and the beginning of a new one. Reevaluating your goals allows you to see what changes need to be made for the coming year. Setting new goals allows you to be excited for the path ahead of you. The beginning of a new year always marks the start of a clean slate, and setting concrete goals allows you to not lose track of them as you go on with your life.

To plan ahead. As you go about your break from school, your thoughts might also drift towards where you see yourself in the incoming year. In addition to setting goals, you should have plans that will lessen your anxiety when the time comes around. I look at planning as the micro steps that I need to take to achieve my goals. Plans are not meant to cement your actions once and for all, as things are bound to change with time. But following through your plans will ensure that you’re going towards your desired path – progressively.

To reconnect with loved ones. For me, these are my family, friends from back home, and also keeping touch with new close friends I’ve made. I’m not the most sociable person by nature, but I value the few friendships and relationships that I have. While I had the excuse of being too busy while at school, there’s nothing standing in my way of spending more time with the people I care about at this time, especially my family.

To relax. This is necessary to restore calm and focus. I find that when I find myself free from demands, my mind starts creating new ideas, thinking of new things to do. I like to enjoy breaks by reading, learning and coming up with possible goals and things that I want to do, but I also have to remind myself that I can’t do them all at once. The world demands us to be in constant motion, but it’s also important to be patient with ourselves. Time is not unlimited, but neither are our abilities. Taking time to slow down is important in allowing us to see clearly what is most important to us – and to truly focus on those things.

Even with all the things that I’ve mentioned above, I reserve most of the time for myself. That means catching up on films that I personally want to watch, going shopping, sleeping in when I need to, catching up on reading, and simply enjoying my own company doing the things that I love.

-Michelle

blissful morning walks

I love when the sun rises early in the morning, and sets late at night, making the days seem longer and fuller. I enjoy walking out of my building and being greeted by the sunlight, even when it sometimes greets me too fiercely. I particularly relish my weekend morning walks around other parts of the neighborhood that I don’t normally pass by during the week. I love how the college dorms here are not inside campus, but rather in the areas surrounding it; it gives me the freedom to explore other parts of this town-like place, and it allows me to take these blissful morning walks. I am someone who believes in enjoying the small things in life, especially when nature is part of it. Taking a walk is the simplest way to wind down from the frenzy of life that surrounds us each day.

Taking a walk means challenging life’s demands. When I find that I’m overwhelmed by the demands of life, I make a conscious effort to walk in the places where nature is my surrounding company. It reminds me that I can choose to either rush my day to get as many things done as possible, or do a few things with thoughtful consideration without overstimulating myself. The world won’t end regardless of how much I squeeze into one day, so I might as well choose to spend it in the best way possible for me.

Taking a walk means doing something for yourself. By yourself. We easily spend so much time stimulating our senses artificially  that we deprive us of true alone time. We listen to music on our phones whilst we type away on our laptops, we watch videos or read articles online when we’re bored, we text people while we walk. Whenever we’re not interacting with others one-on-one, we fill our voids with the immediate stimulation that our devices can offer. But when we do this, we lose being in the company of ourselves. Taking a walk means listening to your footsteps, looking at the path in front of you, and noticing the details that surrounds you. Though I often feel like distracting myself with a good movie or burying my head in a book, it’s good to ground oneself back to reality at the end of the day.

Taking a walk means noticing our surroundings with a childlike curiosity. There are increasingly more places to see, cities to travel, and adventures to have. It’s always fascinating to go on a roadtrip adventure or visit an exotic place, as it’s literally an escape from our more mundane reality. It’s fun and important to travel somewhere where the culture and reality is different to that of your own, as it’s a valuable experience in itself. But it’s also important to remember that the things that surround us every day can be just as special. You don’t need to travel long distances to find novelty; you can find it exactly where you are right now, if you choose to do so.

I believe that it’s important to accept this before you decide to go out and explore more. It’s important to accept this because only then can you see everything that surrounds you with curiosity, not just the grand exotic places. It’s important to appreciate the richness in all the big and small things.

So, take a walk around your area, but take a different path this time. What story are behind the homes that you see? How do you feel, walking along a calm residential area as opposed to a busy city street? What sounds do you hear – are they human, animal or nature sounds? Welcome any thoughts that come into your mind as you walk along.

-Michelle

how to recover from a burnout

BURNOUT: physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.

We are all familiar with this. That moment when… anything and everything seems to be too much all at once. When you just want to shut the world down, and make everything stop. When you’re no longer stressed, but on the verge of falling apart. When you lose that drive and sense of motivation that you used to have.

I have experienced my definition of high stress, social anxiety, and demotivation for short periods at a time. I don’t think I’ve actually experienced burnout to the point of being unable to go back to work, unless it was due to some external reason. However, I do have a few methods, that I have used myself, to help you recover from any form of short-term burnout (if you experience a heavy, long-term burnout, please consult a professional):

1. Schedule time for yourself.

Turn off the notifications in your phone, stop checking social media, and let the emails go. One cannot truly relax if one is constantly being interrupted by things as distracting as Facebook, Instagram, and emails. You live in the now, in the present moment, not in the pictures that random people post on Facebook, nor the chaos in the news nowadays.

Acknowledge it, value it, live it.

2. Do something creative

Whenever I delve into something fun, like practicing brush lettering, taking pictures, or even just journaling, it feels therapeutic. I put on some soothing music, and it becomes me and my art. It allows me to recharge creatively and lose myself in the beauty of it for a while.

Simply choose something that you consider fun, creative, simple and relaxing. For me, it usually has to do with some form of pen and/or paper. I love journaling, planning, brush lettering, doodling and painting in a coloring book. It’s easy and soothing, and it gets me going.

3. Get out.

This one never fails me. Whenever I feel stuck, stressed, and even on the verge of a breakdown, I force myself to go out if I can muster the energy to do so. I’m lucky to live in a neighborhood surrounded by parks, and that’s where I go. Not somewhere crowded with people talking; just nature, people walking with their doors, and cars passing by.

Nature, besides it being there to allow us to live, is the best natural form of therapy. It will allow you to breathe in the fresh, fresh air. Let you slow down for a bit, and enjoy your view as it is. Get you up and walking, without going anywhere in particular.

4. Get active.

Following #3, once you’re outside – take it to the next step! You could start by walking or jogging, or skating, or biking, or taking your pet for an afternoon together. Make it an event. Get your body moving and your blood pumping. You will have to focus on your task at hand and, consequently, get your mind off your work. Your body will also automatically release endorphins, which will inevitably relieve you of the stress you were experiencing, and make you feel much, much better overall.

You can get active by going out for a simple activity like the ones named before – walking, jogging, biking, etc. or by signing up for a class that you’ll have to go a few times a week. I do both, so I get my dose of endorphins pretty much everyday – whether I feel like it or not – and always end the day feeling sore, but refreshed.

5. Get your zzz’s.

I know, I know. There is not enough time to sleep. But there is if you make it a priority. I prioritize sleep because:

  • It allows me to perform hours of productive and concentrated work everyday; if I don’t, I end up spending twice as much time in each task and accomplishing half as much.
  • I maintain my body’s health and weight by doing so; if I don’t, I end up eating more than necessary, oftentimes caffeinated products or just food my body doesn’t need. Your body should not be dependent or coffee or any other food at all if you get your sleep.
  • I love to wake up early. I’m not an early bird, but I can wake up relatively early if I sleep at a proper time, and a consistent schedule is what allows me to be the best version of myself every day.

This is also key to prevent oversleeping, which will most likely depress you even more, as you’ll feel like you’re sleeping your life away. In order to take care of your body, maintain your health and recover from a day of work, is to sleep no more than necessary. Lie in bed for a while after waking up, but don’t fall asleep again if you’ve slept enough, or you’ll wake up more restless than before.


Lastly, forgive yourself if things don’t go your way. I cannot reiterate this enough. More often than not, your day will not go as planned. When that happens, acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself, and move on. It will all be alright at the end.

-Michelle