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everybody's free to wear sunscreen (the 2017 version)

December 29, 2017

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, a spin class would be it. Burn calories to the blinking lights and the beats of Bieber and Beyoncé. Savor those sixty-second sprints.

 

Entering the last year of your 20s ignites an existential crisis. You wonder if you’re where you’re supposed to be, if you’ve achieved enough at your age, and why you just can’t lose those last five pounds. When you are asked to describe your five- and ten-year plans for yourself and your advocacy for a panel, you struggle. You never had to see them as separate.

 

You should. You begin to. You doubt, you cry, and you listen.

 

It turns out you had all the answers all along — you just needed to be asked the right questions.

 

Zambales, November 2017

 

A Facebook post and petition you wrote in haste will take on a life of its own. The unprecedented attention terrifies you and you feel the urge to retreat because the issue is not about you. You really don't want to talk to another reporter, or reply to questions from friends and strangers anymore. But you have to, precisely because the issue is not about you. Ride the wave.

 

Tweets do come true.

 Tweeted in March 2016

 

 The first Southeast Asian SEA Camp, Coron, March 2017

 

Do not allow anyone to disrespect you and your work. Raise hell if you have to.

 

Being the "bigger person” is usually overrated. You don't have to apologize for the sake of fixing a fight. Not if you don't mean it. Let the anger and resentment run their course.

 

You stop reading the news for self-preservation. Every headline makes it easier to drown in the noise and negativity. Mermaids don't drown. Remember: your country is not its government.

 

You go back to school and promise yourself that you’ll be different this time. You'll study less and socialize more. But you are you: you record lectures and listen to them at night and before exams; you create reviewers and mnemonic devices; you fill up color-coded sticky notes with to-do lists; and you seek constructive feedback from your professor after classes so your lab report grades jump from 16.5/20 to 19.5/20. 

 

You can’t outgrow your obsession for achievement after all. What you have outgrown is your obsession with being the best. You instead focus on doing your best. Learning becomes more enjoyable than getting As.

 

(But let's be honest: you still love getting As.)

 

 Duke University Marine Laboratory, August 2017

 

No matter how many times you practice a presentation, there are factors beyond your control that will go wrong. Surrender to the lessons from your intensive musical theatre training. The show must and will go on. 

 

The shade of your lipstick can change your mood. Make good choices.

 

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life” is one of the biggest lies perpetuated by Thought Catalog and social media. The job you love involves brainstorming, graphic designing, content creating, fundraising, report writing, and liquidating day after day after day. You get excited about opportunities so you make plans and adjust timelines -- only to find out that funds will be delayed by seven months or not come at all.

 

These are the headaches and heartaches you choose, and the headaches and heartaches that choose you.

 

Your vision has always been 20/20. This clarity takes you to places you never imagined, and to places you have always imagined.

 

Pilot A-B-Seas program, Calatagan, May 2017

 

Andra Island, Papua New Guinea, October 2017

 

12th Conference of Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species,

Manila, October 2017 

 

 The all-new Save Philippine Seas website, launched in December 2017

 

Don’t let guilt stop you from letting go of projects you started. Allowing others to take over is good for you, the project, and its new leads. You don’t have to be apologetic for your career choices.

 

Thresher Camp, May 2017

 

You inherited your father's passion, love for wordplay, and defiance. He hopes you will inherit his plans too. But you are not ready for the work he has cut out for you. Not yet. One day. Someday.

 

Your mom will not stop asking when you’ll get a “real job,” and making passive-aggressive remarks about your financial instability and unwillingness to get married and have children. The disparity between your definitions of success widens. As much as you long for your mom’s approval, you must live your truth. For now and for always, you do you.

 

Ruins can be restored.

 

Athens, Greece, April 2017 

 

You will not stop loving those you once loved out loud. Unresolved histories unravel you on a Wednesday night under harsh fluorescent streetlights, the rain, and the influence of wine. Nothing has changed. Chemistry remains as comforting as it is confusing.

 

Yet everything has changed. You no longer have space for uncertainty and games. You no longer thrive in self-inflicted drama. When the rain stops and the wine fades, the truth rises with the sun: not all loves are meant to be pursued. 

 

There is, however, love that is meant to be pursued. Again. Love isn’t quite sweeter the second time around. It begins fragile, and insecurities will surface and resurface. Love out loud. Love some more until it hurts no more.

 

Your partner helps shape your lifestyle and your life. Be silly together. And be kind to each other.

 

Your friendships are some of your most valuable assets. There are those that are rekindled after a decade;

 Maica's bachelorette, June 2017

 

those that remain constant despite distance;

Hong Kong with Mikki, February 2017

 

those that make work feel like play;

 

With the (tor)mentors of SEA Camp-Subic, January 2017


and those that need updates of what you're doing and thinking everyday, including a detailed review of the masks you're trying.

 

 Masking selfie exchanges with Chely and Jam

 

You do not get to choose who your friends love. What you get to do is love your friends with everything you’ve got, and be there for them because that’s what they need more than your unsolicited advice and meddling. Listen to listen, not to respond.

 

You will always find your way home. Trust your journey.

 

 

And trust me on the spin class.

 

2016 version | 2014 version | 2013 version | 2012 version | 2011 version | 2010 version | 2009 version

 

Original version of "Everybody's Free {To Wear Sunscreen)"

 

 

 

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