If I could offer you only one tip for the future, going offline would be it. Download apps that impose strict, timed, child-like controls on your screen time as a surrender to your lack of discipline. The digital diet will create hours of self-care: reading one novel after another, journaling, decluttering, exploring.
Egypt, September 2019
Commit to a more plant-based diet because it’s generally kinder to the earth, your body, and domestic disabilities. Popcorn is made of corn and wine is made from grapes and are therefore plant-based.
You are great at standing up for your advocacy, but not very good at standing up for yourself. You learn to negotiate and push back with your full weight, carrying a message that self-worth is louder than your fear of being called demanding. “Free” is not the root word of “freelance.” Your cause may be charitable, but your skills shouldn’t be treated like charity just because you’re young and friendly, and especially not because you’re brown. You lose opportunities that you are more than qualified for. To walk the talk can mean to walk away. By saying no, you create space for what is meant for you.
Fiji, October 2019
Current and former bosses who hold your best interests are endangered species. Let their encouragement envelope you and build a place you can exhale in.
Love is not in the grand gestures and silhouettes against sunsets on Instagram. Love is in post-workout brunches, in coming home to an apartment where plants were hydrated during your absence, in celebrating silliness, in chicken nuggets that struggle to stay in your stomach the morning after a questionable number of drinks.
Alcohol still gives you amnesia. You will remember how fun the night was, but not the number of drinks you had (and bought for other people... until your credit card bill arrives), the lap dance you were given, and the confessions you listened to at 3AM. You will remember the hangover and the number of times you threw up in the bathroom and pressed your 30-something-year-old body against the cold, comforting tiles.
Love is a tiny human being.
my niece, Juliana Tala, born March 2019
The results of the elections will make you feel deflated, but not defeated. The entitlement of some government officials continue to stun you, like those who walk out of meetings because you apparently didn’t prepare a PowerPoint presentation for a policy proposal he should have already read, and those who slip out of an international conference to visit another country and come back in time for the closing ceremony. You address their incompetence with ways you know how: by watching Beyonce’s Homecoming to calm you down, then writing letters and creating movements.
Your “why" is clear but your “what" has become less so. Instead of obsessing over your exit strategy, focus on your exist strategy. Grow your impact, not your organization. Ask what you can do better, not how you can be larger.
Pursue the unthinkable: zero-waste sari-sari stores, a hackathon for marine conservation, mainstreaming refilling, and partnerships with large companies. Curate teams that go over and beyond (and tell you when your puns are terrible). Enjoy front-row seats to their creative confidence.
Manila Haquathon Team, June 2019
Reimagine Recycling Team, November 2019
Rejections and revisions are part of the game. Play. Hope helps you navigate your way forward. Forward is a pace. No matter how slow and how little, forward is a pace.
Earn a seat at the table where your contribution is valued. Make changes from within. Work with, not against. Be ready for the greatness you're asking for.
Kiehl's Made Better launch, July 2019
There are different standards for sons and daughters, for him/her/them. You don't tick all the boxes of the daughter your mother had hoped you’d be. You turned out to be well-read, ambitious, and independent, but you will never truly make her proud without a corporate job, a multi-million retirement fund, a husband (who must, of course, also tick all the boxes), and children. The dripping disappointment in her truth will tear you up.
Then it will tear you open. You have always lived your truth, but the wholehearted acceptance of your differing truths enables you to live yours overflowingly, intentionally, and unapologetically.
Lio Beach, December 2019
Your mom is made of tough love -- a phrase that begins with "tough," but will end in "love." Trust that love. It is love that motivates you, sends e-books of memoirs she knows you'll enjoy, takes you to musicals, and listens to all your stories, from the mundane to the mind-blowing. Your dad's love comes in the form of texts and handwritten notes scribbled on the back of receipts and Uniqlo tags. He tells you he is proud of you, and that he is proud of being introduced as your father.
Buy a robot vacuum. It can clean the fallen strands of hair and food crumbs better than you ever could. It's a great time to be alive. Buy it.
You do not have to forgive someone for the sake of “inner peace.” You can love and extend compassion to people in your past and still not want them in your life. Inner peace is exactly that -- peace rooted from within.
You can be related to someone and not feel like they are family. Likewise, you can be unrelated to someone and feel like that person or group of people is family.
Future for Nature reunion, October 2019
CITES with AA, August 2019
With Chely, B, and Lynn, December 2019
Each friendship has an emotional bank account. You cannot withdraw what you did not deposit. Deposits come in the form of sangria and tapas, voice notes, workout tips, emojis, skincare recommendations, and songs from your shared childhood. These relationships form the framework of your days. Home is not the city you grew up in together, but the place beside them, wherever that may be: in a bar, on a bean bag, by the beach.
"A Whole New World" with Mikki in Hong Kong, February 2019
With Jam in Makati, January 2019
With Patch at home, January 2019
With Gold and Donna in El Nido, April 2019
You can’t Type A your way in every relationship. Relationships, unlike your projects, don’t need an outcome, an output, and measurable success indicators. Let soulfucks dissipate through temporal and physical distance. Let them be.
Do your best. Your bestest. But remember that what your best does -- what it can and cannot accomplish -- is not up to you.
And trust me on going offline.
Sunscreen 2019 by @deslikesdoodling
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Original version of "Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen)"