A letter to my 2022 self

Hi Kring,

Happy new year! How is it like, living in 2022? I bet it isn’t much different to how it is now, with the exception of vaccines being widely available in some parts of the world. Fingers crossed that the Philippines is among them – I really want to go home and see mom and dad.

I want you to know that I have a lot of hopes for you. The start of each years always brings about a renewed hope that we will continue our work, but in a better, smarter way. 2020 was a success in this regard – it was a big leap from 2019, where we were purely on autopilot.

I know how you work, Kring. You work slow, but want fast results. You get anxious when your tasks seem monumental, so much so that you save them for another day. I know your insecurities – you believe you’re not capable of much, that the only things you can do are those that require the bare minimum. You think you’re a loser and that you can’t swim against the tide.

It’s a wonder, where all these insecurities come from. Why do we engage in so much negative self talk? We remember our failures more so than our achievements – and we (at least I do, maybe it’s no longer true for you!) believe that they are proof that we aren’t clever and capable enough to do more.

2022 self, this I promise you: I will begin engaging in positive self-talk. This is going to be my big thing this year. I’ve been anchored down by my poisonous thoughts for so many years. I will break these self-imposed shackles this time, and not ride on my fear of failure.

We both know it, right? That this fear has been the root of our problems. I will work to temper this demon of a thing. Everything else will fall in its proper place, I think, as I tackle this head-on.

I have more resolutions than the above. But going above my fear is integral to achieving everything else. This is where my hope comes from! It’s great to have this small hope at the start of the year.

I know you’ll be better than me, 2022 self. I’m excited to put in the work to become you.

Kring

Do you cringe when…

…you read your old blog articles? I do. I cringe so bad that I don’t even finish reading them. A few paragraphs are enough to make me close my Chrome tab.

I used to think of myself as an okay writer. I think I’m still riding high from my writing wins from high school – Jesus, that was more than a decade ago. At fifteen, I managed our school paper and I won a few writing awards. All that achievement got to my head! It made me confident that I was a natural, and that I needn’t write so much because my talent was innate.

Well, clearly that isn’t the case. The sobering truth is that talent should be nourished through constant practice. The part of my brain assigned to writing has shrunken to a nut. I’m back to level one in terms of skill.

I feel like this is a thing that happens to a lot of people. The older we get, the less we practice, and the less we do the stuff we used to love doing. There are too many reasons it’s commonplace (e.g. our education system, Pavlovian conditioning, ever-increasing responsibilities, consumerism, the system beating us to a pulp…), but it’s prevalent enough that the idea of passion has become a Holywood-esque dream. The world hammers us to becoming cogs in the system – uniform and utilitarian.

Is there a skill or a hobby that you love doing, but haven’t engaged in for a long time? What are your reasons for not engaging in it? I’m keen to know.

Progress check: 2020 Resolutions

When 2020 rolled in, I decided (like everyone else) that it was going to be my year. I set up this blog and listed down my resolutions, determined to stick to them. Publicising my resolutions would put the pressure on me to fulfill them.

No one expected the crazy crap that this year has given us, though. The whole world has been swept off its feet, and by the look of things, we are still in for a lot of grim surprises. I can’t wait for this year to end – yet I’m sure 2021 won’t be any better.

The crappiness of 2020 is not an excuse to throw in the towel, though. My resolutions still serve as a reminder of how I wanted to change myself. I thought of checking in on my progress in the middle of the year, alas I found excuses not to, the primary one being my laptop breaking. No laptop = no means of blogging.

This has been four months late. I have a replacement laptop now, so it’s time to take stock of my progress.

  1. Control my life and not just let it happen to me
    2019 was a year when I was on autopilot: I never did anything outside of my routine. It made my life painfully boring, so much so that I vowed never to repeat it.

    This year has unwittingly helped in preventing that. How can you live on autopilot when the world is burning? So, yes, I think I have more control over my life and actions this year. Thanks for the help, 2020!

  2. Actually socialise
    Fulfilled. I’m more social now. I’m still not as good in banter in English as I am in Filipino, but I now talk with my colleagues more, and I’ve also enrolled in French lessons. There are now people in my vicinity whom I actually consider as friends.

  3. Join a club
    Yes, I joined a club. It’s not Toastmasters as I originally intended, but rather Alliance Francaise. I also enrolled in the latter’s French lessons, which I take up once a week.

  4. Get in touch with 24 long-time friends
    I thought I was doing a bad job at this… my journal says otherwise, though. I caught up with sixteen friends, so far! These friends of mine are based in different parts of the world: Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne, Las Vegas, Manila, Bangkok, and Dubai. The catch, though, is I’ve spoken to most of them only once this year. I should make our catch ups bi-annual.

  5. Juggle hobbies
    I’m doing poorly on this one. When my laptop broke last June, I stopped writing and drawing. But I regularly engage in hobbies that don’t require it: exercising, learning French, and reading… so I guess I’m doing okay.

  6. Either do a side hustle or enroll in a Master’s degree
    I was close to doing the latter, but decided against it for reasons too boring to list down. So no, I have no side hustle, and I’m not pursuing a Master’s degree.

  7. Diversify funds
    This I’ve done with the help of my mum. Apart from my job, I have two other streams of income.

  8. Save 50% of my emergency funds, and 70% of my funds for savings
    I spectacularly failed this one. My circumstances have changed, and I’m spending more money now than I did last year.

    I feel bad for not hitting my financial goals… but the quality of my life has improved because I put my earnings to use. (I have to drill this to my head – don’t feel bad for spending!!!)

  9. Learn to use WordPress
    Well, I am using it.

  10. Open a Youtube channel
    I wanted to do an ASMR channel at the beginning of the year, hahaha. Not sure if I still want to do it, though. So no, I haven’t opened a Youtube channel.

Brazenly criminal

Nowadays, reading news about my motherland always comes with unbearable pain. The Filipino people are experiencing utmost suffering without any means of support. The government’s ineptitude over serving the people has become borderline criminal.

When reading the news, it’s clear to see that politicians hate Filipinos with the passion of a thousand suns. They abuse the resilience of the masses by politicking their way to the country’s coffers. Presently, our President has given up on efforts to curb the coronavirus outbreak, reopening the economy despite cases increasing by the thousands. No mass testing has been done – not even the shadow of one. This, despite the government’s coronavirus loans amounting to PHP 386B. WHERE DID THE MONEY GO? We have not seen a sliver of it, despite having to pay for it for three generations onward. By the time our grandchildren are born and today’s politicians are dead, we will still be paying off this debt.

Sometimes, I wonder what made many of our politicians brazenly criminal. Filipinos are suffering hunger, disease, unemployment, and the lack of government support, yet politicians can turn a blind eye to it all. Many of them are too blinded by the wealth of their people, too busy scheming to stay in power, and too occupied licking our president’s ashen ass. Too many of them have corrupted morals and want nothing else but to stay in their position, even if it no longer serves the Filipino people. Is it not time for a revolution, to throw these people out of power?

It is time for change in the hands of the people. And yet Filipinos are already too weary. Many of us are looking for jobs and for our next meal. Many of us cannot act when our families are hungry and our security is on the line. This suffering may not be a deliberate move from our dear politicians – but boy, does it serve them.

I sometimes wish I could give up on my country. It’s too painful to be a Filipino; it has always been, but it especially is now. But it would serve no purpose to the Philippines if I, or anybody else, give up on it. What could we do, though? How could we serve the motherland best?

I’m drawing again

I’m drawing again. I thought I had retired from it, but here I am, with a brand-new pen tablet, drawing with excitement. It’s exhilarating to rediscover a hobby I loved so dearly.

I first began drawing thirteen years ago, making fan art of the anime La Corda d’Oro. I was lovestruck both by the male characters and by the the reverse harem (hehe), and so I spent my time doodling starry-eyed men as my head swam with their faces.

During university I tried my hand at digital art. My mom bought me a pen tablet, and since then I feverishly drew my favourite characters – this time, from video games. Persona 4, Suikoden Tactics, Tenchu: I drew fan art for hours on end and posted the final products on DeviantArt. Being part of an art community encouraged me to draw even more. I even gained friends from the site, and some of these friendships continue to this day.

There was a problem, though: I always created art out of envy. The illustrations I made stemmed from my desire to copy the style of more experienced artists. I was insecure and frustrated; I wanted to get good quickly and be on par with the masters. My mindset made being in DeviantArt toxic, as I saw better art everywhere around me – art made by people who were my age, sometimes even younger than me. I quit after three years.

What made me come back after a decade of doing nothing? It was a fan art I saw just three weeks ago. I was struck by how the use of colours made the character look so sensual. I don’t know why it inspired me so much; maybe it was my subconscious’ way of saying that I shouldn’t neglect I skill I actually have. It only took another week before I bought a new pen tablet.

Currently figuring out how to colour. I’m using a photo from this site as reference.

I’ve only been practicing again for a few days, and my progress is slow. My understanding of anatomy is laughable, and my colouring is poor. I’ve come to accept now, though, that developing a skill requires effort. It will take consistent practice to get anywhere. Optimism is important, too: even if my art is crappy at the beginning, it doesn’t equivalent to my being a failure.

Wish me luck as I venture once again on this land! And if you are rediscovering a hobby, yourself, do let me know. It would be nice to know people who are on the same boat as I am.