Things I’ve Learned (So Far)

By , on August 30, 2014


Photo by Ching Dee
Photo by Ching Dee

I haven’t been around very long, barely thirty years.

I’m not going to say I already know everything there is to know about life and living—perhaps I never will. But just like any human being, I’ve had my fair share of lessons. Some lessons were learned the hard way, some epiphanies, some sweet revelations.

Nevertheless, lessons I would like to share with you today.

With this assignment, I decided to rummage through my blog archive. Boy, am I thankful for my prolific blogging days when I was in college (and through my unemployed-slash-confused phase).

 

On Putting Up Walls
Back in 2008, I was going through an angsty phase—much like any college kid held back by failed subjects. I wrote this during that phase.

I’ve just put up another wall—it’s called harshness—to cover up the thick insulation of hurt and the braces of frustration. It keeps hidden the layers upon layers of wallpaper of bitterness and a heart as fragile as that 14th century chandelier in Queen Elizabeth’s ballroom. To the south, you find the wall called strength; to the east is dominance; to the west is self-reliance. If the roof called ‘alone’ didn’t need the other walls to stand, it would choose to embody its name. It would choose to be alone.

Today, roughly six years later, I’ve learned that while being alone isn’t all that bad, it is definitely better to surround yourself with people who love you unconditionally and those who will support you no matter what.

 

On Having Huge, Callous Hands
As a horticulture major, I was no stranger to hard and dirty labor. I’ve spent many a days under the sun—tilling the soil, tending my plot, watering my experimental plants. These things eventually took a toll on my hands.

I’ve always wanted someone to like my hands. They’re huge for a girl’s hand—all callous and rough. Fingers hardened by work and skin toughened by toil, hands that have tilled the soil and caressed the land. Out-of-proportion and rickety joints ’cause of constant ‘phalanges popping.’ Hands so rough that even my own mother is not a big fan of them. She has given me numerous kinds of hand creams and lotions to soften my hands even just a little bit, but to no avail. ‘Because I’m a farmer, mother.’ I myself am not a fan of my hands, but unlike my mother, I do understand why my hands are the way they are. It’s my fault why my hands are like this. It doesn’t really bother me, unless somebody brings it up: my mom, my sister, my bestfriend, the manicurist. And now I came upon a thought and I figured that I actually look forward to the day when someone would like my hands more than I do, but would like me for more than my hands.

Later on, I learned that my friends and my family do like (and some even love) me for more than my hands. I just had to look beyond my imperfections and see what these wonderful people can do despite of me.

 

On Keeping My Mouth Shut
“I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut when someone makes fun of me says more than when I actually say something back;

I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut and keeping my ears open when a friend is grieving is more helpful than when I actually try to come up with some psycho babble crap I haven’t even tried myself (keeping my wallet open helps, too);

I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut while I’m angry will save both me and the other party further pain. I’ve also learned that the keyword there is “while;”

I’ve learned that when I keep my mouth shut, I sometimes deprive someone of loving words or needed encouragement;

I’ve learned that a basketball game, a discussion group, a metered phone call and sitting next to a thirsty soul is not the place to keep my mouth shut;

I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut and moving on when I’m (being) replaced saves energy—at least I won’t add to the earth’s rising entropy;

And I’ve learned that keeping my mouth shut is harder when it counts.”

 

On Being a Waste of a Good Woman
“Girls, never forget that trying to act like a man is a waste of a good woman.” – Christine Caine

I agree. And for me, this is a reminder.

I should let myself be a woman and I should let them be a man. I’m not saying that ladies should always be like damsels in distress. It’s 2014, for goodness’ sake! Strong, independent, capable women are everywhere—even in the mirror. I’m just saying that we don’t always have to be Superman, especially when Superman’s already around.

Dudes, protect your woman. Any woman, for that matter. She will not hesitate to hand over the reins when she knows she’s in good hands.

 

On Rejection
Let me tell you something about rejection: It really sucks. And to be honest, the only thing that’s worse than rejection is being too poor to buy cheer-up food so you can wallow.

On the other hand, I did learn one thing when I got rejected for a job post that I really wanted back in 2013: I’m at that point in my life when I actually know what I really want. That’s why, I figured, when I don’t get it, it hurts more than usual. It’s a learning process, this whole rejection thing. Not that I don’t get rejected. Believe me, I’ve had my share. It’s just that rejection is something that never gets easier even if you experience it a lot. It’s just something you have to deal with by bouncing back and doing better than you did that first time.

As I traveled home that day, basking in the un-glory of my rejection, I was reminded that the only thing that matters is that I did my best. It is the state of my heart that matters most, and my heart is at home with Him.

 

On Being a Boss
Recently, I’ve learned that being the boss doesn’t mean you’re always right.

Most of the time, being a boss means listening to several great suggestions and choosing the best one for the benefit of the entire team—not just your own profit.

Being in charge of the PCI website taught me that there are some things that you really have to say no to in order to say yes to something more important. But there will always be a way to make up for it.

I learned that making mistakes are okay, as long as you learn from those mistakes. My boss once told us that making mistakes are okay because it means “you’re trying.”

I learned from a boss-friend who’s about to move on to greener pastures that you don’t have to be stern all the time just because you’re a boss. Grace, understanding, and encouragement will always be better approaches compared to fear and intimidation.

Being a boss also sometimes means making unpopular decisions. Period.

 

On Trusting the Unseen
On Thursday, my Dad will have been in the hospital for two months—confined to his bed, unable to move. He suffered a severe stroke due to a massive infarct in his brain. He’s hooked up to a mechanical ventilator, pumping his chest up and down, filling his chest with compressed air and then emptying it again slowly. Nurses turn him to his side every 3-4 hours to avoid getting bedsores.

He opens his eyes a lot, but even his neurologist can’t really say he’s “awake” because we’re not sure if he’s conscious. We’re not sure if he knows I’m his daughter when he sees me. We’re not sure if he knows what’s happening around him.

There are no words to describe how unbelievably heart-wrenching and soul-crushing it is to see my own father like this. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who has gone through this. I’m sure there’s somebody out there who has been through worse. But it’s not a contest. It never is.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the two months that we (me, my mom, my sister, my dad) have been hospitalized, it’s that we can count on God. We can trust the unseen.

We can trust His ways and His love and His unending grace. We can trust Him despite my extended family’s lack of support, despite some of my friends who “seen-zoned” me when I asked for help, despite all those sleepless nights (and days).

We can trust Him that He is moving in the hearts of those people who truly care—those who cared enough to even just ask how we’ve been doing. Those who gave without being asked.

I learned that He is a God worthy of my trust, that I can entrust my father’s life to Him because He knows what’s best for Him. I can trust Him that He will turn all this unpleasantness into His glory.

 

With all this, there’s one more thing I’ve learned: that I haven’t learned anything at all.