Love Your Choices

I snapped this photo when I was walking to the grocery store a few weeks back. Everytime I see artwork, a sign, a quote, or anything on the street that speaks to me, I take a picture of it. I always know that somehow, it’ll be used one day for one of my blog posts. This sign was no different, except this time it was very relevant to my current situation. I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a while, but never found the words for it.

A great theme for 2020 in my personal life has been change, growth, and being “confident in my choices.” I put that in quotes because sometimes I wasn’t even close to being confident in my choices, but I had to front like I was because the slightest inclination of doubt would turn into others, or even myself, talking me out of a decision. That was probably the hardest part about deciding to move – being so doubtful and scared, but not being able to talk to certain people about my doubts because I knew they’d just try to sway me in their favor. All out of love, of course, but not really taking into mind the opportunity to grow and learn.

Growing up, I was taught that whatever I do is a reflection of my parents. How I act and what my life choices are is because of how my parents raised me. And that always annoyed me. I didn’t understand the root of its importance. “Who cares,” was my response to everything. I’ve had the rebel mindset since a young age. When I was growing up, I didn’t care what people thought, I didn’t care if I was looked at as the “bad” kid, I didn’t care that I had the mouth of a sailor. That’s probably also because as a kid, there’s not much I could fuck up and make my parents / family look bad. I mean, I got good grades, made the honor roll, and I wasn’t doing anything illegal.

It wasn’t until I reached young adulthood that this took on a whole new meaning. Who I dated, what crowd I hung around with, whether I went to college or not, if I was married or not, what I posted online, all reflected back on my family and parents. This is something that I have talked extensively with close family members and friends – how the Filipino culture really values how others see them. To an extent, I get it – the need to look like everyone in your family has it together and is successful. I mean, who doesn’t want to be seen as successful and always making the right moves? But these fears of worrying about what others will think is really detrimental to young adults who are trying to get the gears turning for their own life.

“What will your _______ (insert the name of a prominent family member / or whole family as a whole) think?!”

“What will people think of you?!”

“How does that make us look?!”

These are phrases that so many Filipinos have heard from their elders.

This is something that I still struggle with. Because at the end of the day, I don’t care what other people say about how I live my life, but I do care that my parents care. And that’s where it gets conflicting. I find myself trying to do what I want to do in my life, but do it the “right way.” I find myself trying to find loopholes and justify my actions like, “well it’s okay if I move in with my boyfriend who I’ve been with for over 5 years because eventually we’ll get married, so it’s okay. And others should understand that.” But why do others have to understand that? They don’t need to understand anything. Especially choices that don’t concern them or put anyone in harm’s way.

“What will people think and say?” It’s so generalized. Who are these people I should be concerned about? And why should I care what they think about me? It’s ironic, because I was taught to not care what people think about me, in terms of classmates and peers. Oh, you’re embarrassed that you have on Payless shoes? Who cares, you shouldn’t care what people think about your material things. Oh, you’re insecure about going out in your pajamas? Who cares, nobody’s going to see you, and if they do, so what? Oh, you want to drop out of college and pursue music? What will your aunties think?! Of course, the last is a fake scenario, but you get the jist.

And even if it is not generalized and there’s a specific family member, or family friend that your elders are trippin’ about, why does it matter? I feel like there’s such a generational gap, where our elders feel the need to uphold an image of the family, or themselves. And I get it. But at the same time I think it’s so dumb and pointless. Especially if you have to tiptoe around certain people with your life choices – life choices that aren’t even bad, but that some people don’t agree with. All the while, people should just mind their business and not really care what others are choosing to do with their lives. If you don’t agree with a choice, just don’t make that choice for yourself and move along.

Choose your love. Love your choices.

This came to me at a time where I was very conflicted and needed that reminder. Sometimes in life it feels like you have to choose between pleasing those around you or choosing yourself. And is it worth keeping the peace while you are in conflict with yourself? Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you are in control of your life. And people – whether that be family members, peers, friends – will talk regardless. So what is the point of changing the route of your life to please others? I’m glad that I have taken the road less traveled by, in terms of being traditional and abiding by standards. But sometimes it’s really hard.

I find this quote relevant to other parts in my life – like who I choose to be around, hangout with, and give access to the “real me.” And I shouldn’t be apologetic for distancing myself from people or situations that disturb my inner peace just to keep the outer peace and external noise at bay. This year has been the year in realizing that I don’t have to react to some situations anymore. I can just remove myself, keep a mental note, and keep it moving. It sounds very detached, but that’s life. Can’t stop the show for nobody, the show must go on. Especially being at the age I’m at now, I got more important things to worry about, like how I’m almost 26 and getting the boot on health insurance soon. I don’t have time for petty drama, hear say, gossip, or things that don’t concern me.

I choose me. Even if sometimes it’s hard to do. I try to front like choosing me is an easy decision, but it does stir some feelings inside of me sometimes. At the end of the day, I want to please my parents, their opinion of how I live my life matters to me, but they also understand that I have my own life and need to make decisions for myself. I don’t care about the extra noise of others who haven’t raised me. As long as my parents are content with my choices and trust me to make the right choices, that’s all that matters. Luckily, my parents know that at the end of the day, it’s my life and I have to live with the decisions I choose to make. So they’ll give their 2 cents, but will support me in what I choose. I think that’s a beautiful thing. To know that they still come from the generation that “cares” about what others may say, but still give their silent blessing for me to do as I please.

Choose your love. Love your choices.

So much easier to read than to live by. Choosing my peace is more important that upholding an image of myself for the sake of family or for family image. Being confident in my life choices and what direction I choose to take in this life is something I still need to work on. I need to love my choices and know that I chose it for a reason.

Money In Your Palm Don’t Make You Real

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness,” is a phrase we are all familiar with. That’s a saying that has been engraved in my mind since I was a little kid. And I’m sure you’ve heard that saying since you were a lil ol’ lad as well. This saying was much simpler when I was younger, and ironically, the older I get, the meaning behind this saying starts to get blurred. In my opinion, I feel like it takes a lifetime to understand, practice, and actually believe this quote.

Growing up, we are taught that money doesn’t buy happiness. But as we get older, that phrase quickly turns into, “_______ doesn’t pay the bills!” At a young age we are taught to follow our heart and dreams. We are taught to stay true to ourselves and at the end of the day true happiness is all that matters. Then out of nowhere, it’s as if our main focus has to be money, money, money. Why and when does the conversation switch?

Somewhere down the road, we realize that talent alone won’t help you make a living. You have to be smart about what moves you make, and what route you decide to take with your talents. Suddenly, we outgrow the “money doesn’t buy you happiness” phase, and all of a sudden making and saving money is top priority. We grow older and start to realize that shit costs money, and without money, you can’t do shit. It takes money to start your dream.

I’m at a weird time in my life. I’m 25 years old. I go on social media and I am bombarded with updates of old classmates and acquaintences. Some people are getting engaged, some are married and on their X number of kids, some are graudating school, some are just starting school, some are still kickin’ it like high schoolers, and some are on a completely different route. And for the record – that is all okay. I feel like around 25 years old you look at those you grew up with and realize, “holy shit, we are all on some pretty different paths.” Some are starting families, some are still living at home, some don’t know wtf we’re doing with our lives.

But around my 20’s is when I started to see a shift. And at 25 I can see it more clearly. I am currently at the age where money and salary is starting to be a big deal. Some people have been graduated from college for a few years now. Everyone is moving on, everyone is getting their entry level positions, everyone is hopefully moving up the ladder. And now, everyone wants the money. And there’s nothing wrong with that, but with the help of social media, people amplify their desire for a bigger check. Especially living in the Bay Area, one of the most expensive places to live in the world, making good money is necessary if you want to stay in the area.

6 figures is what everyone desires around here. That’s the goal. 6 figures in the Bay Area means you made it, but most importantly, it means you’re not struggling to make it and live here. Straight out of college, that is the dream – to be successful and make 6 figures. And to those that have already achieved that, I salute you. Good shit! In my opinion – and I know there are people that may disagree – I would rather silently manifest that bigger check while my moves and monetary accomplishments stay quiet. Though, there are some that will exclaim from the mountain tops that they finally got that 6 figure paying job. There’s nothing wrong with either decision.

However, I was raised to never ask about how much someone gets paid, never ask to borrow money, never give money, just all things money related was off limits. I was brought up on the notion that other people’s money is none of my business, and my money shouldn’t be their business either. I was taught to never flex or brag about what I got. In fact, if anything, I was taught to hide / act like I ain’t got shit. And if you act like you don’t have money, you won’t have to worry or question people’s motives. That’s a whole other story on its own though.

“Money doesn’t buy you happiness.” That’s such a loaded statement. Because it’s true, all the money ain’t shit if you’re not happy, but also, having little to no money can be the cause of your unhappiness. Especially being in the Bay Area, if you’re not a techy or making that 6 figure salary, I’m pretty sure money would make you a lot happier! So we’re stuck in this cycle where we keep wanting more and more, hoping that our growing savings account can accumulate enough where you feel content and secure. But everyone starts somewhere.

I mean, I’m sure majority of us don’t have inheritance money. So we all got to start somewhere. Money ain’t shit if you’re making it the only reason for your happiness. But also taking on the role of broke bitch your whole life isn’t cute either. You know what I mean… I know y’all know a couple people. The kind of people that use being broke as an excuse to mooch off others or just an excuse in general, but you see them rocking the latest shoes? That’s none of my business though.

It’s a shame when people value money over everything else. Suddenly, working is more important than quality time with loved ones. There are people that think money and material things will solve everything, and that’s just not the case. Usually seeking validation through monetary value is an indication that you are trying to mask some unresolved pain within yourself. Money always brings problems from both ends – having a lot of money and being broke. A lot of famous people overdose and die despite having the big house, comfortable life, and lavish lifestyle. While people who are barely affording rent dream of the day when their big break will happen. We’re all just waiting.

At the end of the day, getting paid the big bucks doesn’t make you any better than someone who is still making minimum wage. There’s this weird notion that the more money you make, the more important you are. There’s nothing more sad than seeing someone who “made it” forget where they came from. As clichΓ© as it sounds, it’s not about what and how much you got, it’s about who you got.

I feel like if you’re looking to fill a void within yourself, then there will never be enough money in the world. And that’s why money can’t buy happiness, because happiness is something you determine for yourself. No amount of money or material things can make a person feel whole. Money doesn’t make you real. Money doesn’t make you more important. Money doesn’t make you happy. I guess that’s why they call it “paper chasing,” because you’re always going to be after something that can’t be caught.

I Saw The Sign

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

This is the question I have sat on this whole weekend.

To me, the quick and simple answer is no. Letting things naturally fall into place doesn’t mean you are being neglectful or careless. But, of course, going with the flow is easier said than done. This is something I find hard to do a lot of the time. Why?

Because I follow a plan. Not a strict one of course, but to some extent I’ve built out the skeleton of how I plan my life to be. And when things don’t go according to plan, I feel like I’m losing control and I feel lost and stuck. Is this way of thinking detrimental to my mental health? As you can see, answering these questions have only brought up more questions for me to answer.

Why is it that when someone does not have a plan, they are seen as irresponsible? While someone who does have a plan but gets thrown a curveball and freezes at the shock of things falling out of line is seen as unprepared? For both scenarios one thing remains true – you can never fully plan out or predict the outcomes of your life.

I’ve always been taught to have a plan, to not just do something for the sake of wanting to do it. I’ve also been taught to exhaust all possibilities – the good and the bad. And this is where I find myself stuck. Constantly outweighing the pros and the cons of every major situation/ life decision causes me to over-think, over-worry, over-analyze every possible detail and scenario, that I close myself off. And then I’m stuck. Stuck not knowing what to do, do you make a drastic change, or do you do “nothing” and let things go on the way they’ve always been? “Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken,” is the closest thing to my mentality.

But, that also means that there is no room for growth or improvement. Is staying where you’re most comfortable the best choice? I beg this question because I don’t know myself. Of course, it seems like the obvious answer is along the lines of: No! Without a little discomfort there is no growth!

But how do you know when it’s the right time to let go of your comfort zone? Does the right time even exist?

There are obvious answers, like the right time to buy a car. You have to make sure you have the consistent funds, the license, and the need for a vehicle. Most people don’t just decide they want a car and go pick it up. You have to do your research, see what your options are, and make sure you plan accordingly. Obviously, if you don’t have the funds, don’t have the license, or the urgent need for a car, it wouldn’t be “the right time” to purchase a vehicle.

I like to call this my “stalking,” phase. When I want something, usually that something will take out a great chunk out of my wallet, like a new phone, laptop, makeup, or clothing. I don’t usually spend my money on stuff (it’s mostly food when I hangout with friends and Uber), so when I do, I make sure its what I really want. If its an electronic item, I watch YouTube reviews, unboxings, reviews, and stalk the shit out of it for months. I make sure this is an item I really want, I take into consideration people’s pros and cons. Once I feel like I’ve stalked enough and I’m ready to buy it, I will save up the funds. All the while, keeping a close watch on possible sales, discounts, etc. That is true for me right now as I plan to buy a new laptop. The one I have right now is so beyond dead, only works when it’s plugged into the outlet, and heavy as rocks. I already have my eyes on a particular laptop, and when I get in the buying/stalking mood, I do my research. All of a sudden I know all the features and aspects as if I’m a computer wizard- which I’m totally fucking not.

That is the same for when I buy clothes or look at expensive makeup products to buy. About a month ago, I knew that the Rogue sale was coming up for Sephora. My sister is a Rogue member, meaning she gets 20% off of her purchases. This is a big deal, and these sales are usually when we stock up and figure out what we want. Being Sheltered in Place, I had all the time to stalk all the products I wanted. When I’m telling you I read maybe more than 150 pages of product reviews, I’m not kidding. What throws me off sometimes though, is when there’s a couple of 1 star reviews but the rest are 5. But anyways, I take into consideration all the information handed to me. Then, I look at reviews from different sites (sometimes they’ll just post the reviews from that brand’s actual website and I feel like I’m being played.) Not only will I go through multiple sites, I’ll ask friends if they’ve ever used it, then I’ll turn to YouTube videos. I guess its the journalist in me, to try to get all the information to make a decision for myself. I weigh out all the possible pros and cons and see if its worth my coin. But at the end of the day, regardless of the reviews, its up to me whether I want to buy it or not. And all those reviews can be completely useless if my skin reacts a different way.

My point is, this behavior just doesn’t stop at shopping. This way of thinking applies to my actual life as well. When I have a goal, I do the same. I try to talk to people who have achieved that goal, have the same goal, or are in the same track as me. I want to know what actions they are taking and what their plan is/was, so we can bounce back ideas and I can kind’ve see what my path should look like. Once I’ve heard the stories of successful people in the industry, and know how my peers have gotten their foot in the door, I’m left to make a decision for myself. In other words, I get the “reviews” in real life. I’m interested in people’s stories – how’d you get to this point? Was this the path you’ve always wanted? How should I go about making moves in the right direction? How’d you overcome the hurdles? Any advice?

But, at the end of the day, its my life. Its my path. I can interview all the people I want and ask for their advice, but our circumstances are different, our journeys are different, our priorities are different, so our paths will be different. Knowing this information, I still ask for advice from those around me, those I trust, those who are going through the same thing. But deep down I know that my life decisions depend on me.

When I feel like I’m in a crossroad, I’m that friend that will vent about it until a decision is made. And sometimes, a decision isn’t made at all, and I choose to do “nothing.” But I feel like there’s a thin line between going with the flow and letting everything fall into place vs. not doing anything. How do you know when the time is right? How do you know when its time to act?

And I guess I just don’t trust my judgment. I’m so afraid to make the wrong move – career wise, decision wise, and life wise. I’m terrified to make a move in the wrong direction, that I end up not even making a move. How can things fall into place if I keep dodging them? Is “going with the flow” and “letting things naturally fall into place,” my excuse for being too afraid to make a confident decision for myself?

And my argument sometimes is : I’ll know the right time when I see it. And sometimes, I’ll even ask God/ the Universe for a sign to point me in the right direction. And if I don’t recieve those signs, was it just not meant to be?

If I see a butterfly, I’ll know that’s Mama coming to me telling me everything will be okay.

If I save X amount of money by this time in the year, it’s a sign that I’m financially ready to move out.

If I dream about XYZ that must mean its a sign to ____

If I don’t get a job offer by ___, that’s a sign that I should ____.

And the list goes on. Its like I’m playing a guessing game with myself. For the most part, I will say I do believe in signs when its so blatantly in front of your face. But what if there are no signs? What if you just have to make a decision without really knowing where either decision will take you? What if no sign is the sign? Or what if there’s no signs at all and I’m just looking into coincidences to justify decisions in my life? How will I know? When is the right time for anything?

If ya’ll are annoyed with my questions, just know that I’m even more annoyed with me, because these questions roam around in my head daily. But I will answer the first question in this blog post. In case you forgot what it was since I asked like 30 questions, let me refresh your brain:

Is going with the flow and letting things fall into place equivalent to doing nothing?

Like most of my answers, nothing is ever black or white with me. I don’t think going with the flow and letting things naturally fall into place is equivalent to doing nothing. But I do think that with time, hoping things fall into place and seeing that its not, and still choosing not to act is equivalent to doing nothing. Not saying its a bad thing, especially since a lot of people can relate. Not knowing the right move is scary. But I’ve learned that if you’re waiting for a sign and the right time to act on something, that sign may not ever come. And it all comes down to what you believe in and what you’re confident in. But if you yourself aren’t confident in the decision, then you’ll always be stuck waiting for that sign, waiting for things to fall into place. But how can things fall into place when you yourself won’t allow it? In this scenario, which came first, the chicken or the egg turns into : which came first, the sign or the action?

Not knowing where a decision will take you is scary. Thinking of all the possible cons that can go wrong is also terrifying. As I get older though, I’m stuck wondering which is scarier: making the wrong decision, or not making a decision at all?

The Podcast Pitch

I just want to say thank you to everyone that took the time to read / share / comment/ support my last post. Like I said a billion times, it was a story I’ve been wanting to share for a long time. My Body Positive journey has definitely been one of the most difficult things I’ve had to force myself to do. In the beginning, every day was like a new challenge. Was I going to keep pushing and unlearn everything I’ve ever known up until that point and truly accept my body at any size? Or was I going to give up and fall victim to the same ideals that have held me back for so long? When I say it was a mental battle – Me vs. Me – every day, I mean it in every aspect. It was exhausting.

“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is what it would feel like sometimes. Was it too late for me? Am I already set in my ways and I’m in too deep? How long will this take before I throw in the towel? It was truly a metamorphic experience. It took a really long time to get to where I’m at. Not saying I don’t feel shitty time to time – I definitely do. But for the most part I am can truly say I live a body positive lifestyle and it really brought me inner peace.

Especially studying in the Women Gender Studies program, I felt more enlightened. I was taking classes in this field while concurrently working on my mental health and body dysmorphia problems. And it seemed like everything was all meant to be. I was meant to make the conscious decision to accept my body and go down the self-love journey, all the while learning about women empowerment and feminist ideals. I love that my program really stressed the importance of intersectional feminism. It made me realize that just me as a person alone is a rebellious act. I’m a woman, a person of color, plus-sized, and in the terms of living in San Francisco – a broke bitch.

When I started progressing in my mental health journey, I realized that I was acting and thinking exactly how corporations wanted me to. They’d rather have people be insecure and unhappy so they can sell products to their insecure consumers. And I refused to be another statistic.

Self-love really does not happen over night. It’s a journey forreal. And when I say journey, I mean a whole life long journey. You’re constantly changing, growing, adapting, making new experiences. Nothing remains the same, circumstances are always different. And you’ll feel those same highs and lows in your journey as well. It takes time. A lot of people reached out to me after I posted my last post saying they don’t know if they can ever start/ get to the point of accepting their bodies. But it’s really never too late to work on yourself. Best believe I’m gonna be an old ass grandma still struggling with my inner demons and trying to resolve my shit. I feel like as long as you’re conscious and aware that you want to change up your way of thinking/ make steps to becoming a better you, that’s all that really matters. Because there’s nothing more lame than a person who gives the excuse “Well, that’s just how I am.”

Working on my body dysmorphia and discovering the Body Positive Community made me realize that self-love is so much more than just liking and accepting what you see in the mirror. It’s internal as well. It made me realize – looks and appearance aside, am I a beautiful person inside? Am I good human being? I could be the baddest bitch out there, but if internally I’m rotten and toxic, what’s the point? And this journey really opened up so many other doors and layers of myself that I didn’t even know existed. You start discovering yourself. Is this really me, or the me I want people to know?

Anyways, that whole ordeal of me in class unfollowing everyone on social media that made me feel bad about myself happened towards the end of 2016.

Fast forward to last year, Fall 2018, my last semester of college. It was close to the 2 year anniversary of when I decided to accept my body and fall in love with the body positive attitudes and beliefs. And in those 2 years, I’ve tried to brand myself and advocate for bigger bodies and size diversity. I’ve decided “that’s my niche, that’s what I’m going to be known for” -in the writing world and in general. I’m out here putting it on my bio, occassionally writing about it here and there, and doing things that – at the time- I believed made it “obvious” what I stood for and believed.

Since my last post was so heavy and somewhat triggering, I’ve decided to share one of the most embarrassing moments in my life.

To all my friends and family that I’ve told… Yes, it’s the story of when I cried infront of my whole class πŸ˜­πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ˜«

Listen, this was my last semester of college and then I was done.

I was in the Online Journalism class with Sachi as my professor. I’ve had her in the past, and she’s cool as hell. Every assignment she ever assigned to me – either in the Online Journalism or Multimedia Journalism class – it seemed like she knew that’s what I’ve been wanting to do/ start but didn’t have the balls to do it on my own. Of course, how would she know… but that’s really what it felt like to me! As if the Universe herself was like, “Listen, I’m tired of you dreaming up these ideas and never following through with your lazy ass… so0o0 I’m just going to make your professor assign it to you so you have to do it.”

I’ve always wanted to start a podcast. Of course one that focused on body positivity or anything along those lines. So when Sachi told us our assignment was to come up with 3 podcast ideas, I was all for it. She explained that a good friend of hers who is well-known in the podcast industry would be coming to our class to hear our pitches. We would have to give our reason, why it’s important, why would anyone care, who its geared towards, who we would interview, and basically do our best to try to sell our idea.

And then, the nerves started to get the best of me. When I was planning out my 3 pitches, I even considered not adding the body positive one at all. I’ve never given my “why” infront of people. I felt dumb for parading all through social media that I’m a body positive advocate, yet I’m scared to give my back story. In fact, very few knew why it was so important to me and why it pulled at my heart strings.

“Podcast on ghost stories” I wrote down. The amount of done that I had with myself πŸ€¦πŸ»β€β™€οΈ ….. I ended up writing out the body positive podcast pitch, explaining that I’ve been insecure my whole life, how I was in a verbally abusive relationship in the past, my eating disorder, and all the above. Basically, my last blog post summarized into a paragraph.

I had my pitches printed out and ready to share that night (it was a night class). Originally, Sachi said we’d be sharing all 3 ideas. But with the amount of time we had and the number of students that were in the class, we’d be there 5 ever. So she said pitch our #1 idea, and you know what else? Fuck it, don’t read from your paper, make it conversational and sell it to her!

πŸ˜«πŸ¦‹πŸ˜«πŸ¦‹πŸ˜«πŸ¦‹πŸ˜«πŸ¦‹πŸ˜«πŸ¦‹πŸ˜« went my tummy.

What’s crazy is I usually don’t really care about presenting. Yeah, it kinda sucks and I get a little nervous, but for the most part I’m like, whatever let’s just get this over with. NOT. DISSSS. TIMEEE. πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€πŸ’€.

Each classmate went up in front of the whole class and pitched their idea to our guest – Sachi’s friend who is well known for her podcasts. Sachi was standing at her desk behind her friend. My classmates were killin it! They were mad chill and sellin it! Nobody read from their paper, shit they didn’t even bring it up with them when they got up. The passion in some of their voices was inspiring. You just knew it was something they were passionate about. Some you could tell it’s their niche in a podcast pitch. I envied how relaxed everyone was.

Because from my seat, I was a mess express. My heart was beating as if I took 2 shots of preworkout. When the person in front of me went up to pitch, I was freaking out. Holy fucking shit. I’m next. I don’t want to do this anymore. Maybe I’ll just pitch the ghost story one. But I knew I’d be annoyed of myself if I took the easy way out and didn’t pitch what I’ve always wanted to start a podcast on.

The classmate in front of me was done. Everyone clapped. Fuuuuckkkk meeeeeeeee. I screamed in my head. My hands began to sweat, I turned red, my heart was racing so fast that I thought I was going to throw up and pass out all at the same time. I decided that I had to read from my paper no matter what Sachi said. I was way too nervous. It was either read from my paper or pretend like I didn’t do the assignment.

I walked up. “So I’m just going to read from my paper….” I said. Sachi looked at me like, bruh… really…. 🀣 I started reading my pitch, and I could hear my voice trembling and cracking. Literally so embarrassing. When I got to the part explaining how I was in a toxic relationship and how I developed an eating disorder, I knew I was going to cry. It built up inside me, I could feel my eyes watering. This was the first time I ever presented to people my why. Yeah, I’ve told those closest to me, but here I was, intimidated as hell because I was pitching to a well known podcaster infront of my professor and peers. My voice got deeper (if that’s even possible) and cracked some more.

Wellllllll if you’re gonna cry you might as well cry now because everyone knows you’re gonna cry anyways. I told myself. …..K! And then bust out crying. Not even talking about like a tear or something, but legit the ugly cry where you’re trying to talk but you’re uh-uh-huh-ing trying to catch your breath. I put the paper down, no longer reading or hiding behind it. I started freestyling on why the topic is important and why women need to hear this kind’ve stuff. It all just came out like word vommit – with a mix of ugly crying of course.

Towards the end of my speech, the girl towards the front of the room where I was standing handed me tissue. Y’all, she got up out of her seat to go to the bathroom to get my paper towels πŸ˜­πŸ’˜ I thanked and her continued on. By now, Sachi was crying and the well-known podcaster was wiping away a tear or 2. I ended my rant with, “Sorry! I’m embarrassed. This is embarrassing.” Sachi and her friend quickly tried to snap me out of it saying it’s not embarrassing and that it just shows how passionate I am about the topic.

Still, I was so embarrassed. Seriously, probably one of the top 5 most embarrassing moments in my life. Everyone clapped as I sat back down and I was even more embarrassed. The insecure in me thought “Y’all are only clapping for me cuz you feel bad 😭.”

But what was even more of a FML moment was when I sat down back in my seat. The classroom is basically a lab room, so every chair had a computer infront of it. YOOOOOO, WHEN I TELL YOU I SAT DOWN AFTER MY PRESENTATION AND SAW MY DAMN REFLECTION ON THE BLACK IDLE COMPUTER SCREEN πŸ˜­πŸ’€πŸ˜­πŸ’€πŸ˜­πŸ’€πŸ˜­πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£πŸ€£ THAT WAS THE MF CHERRY ON TOP OF MY EMBARRASSMENT SUNDAE πŸ˜­πŸ˜­πŸ’”. I literally look in the computer, staring at my reflection, internally Selena Gomez-ing it with the smile cry thinking “… literally why?! I hate you hahahahaahhahah why are you like this! 😫🀣” Forreal “when you look in the mirror and realize you played yourself.” My post cry computer reflection could seriously be a meme.

Anyways, I was so embarrassed that I really thought of dropping the class and taking it the next semester hahahah. But I was graduating and already applied for graduation. Dramatic. But that was really the first time I told my why. My reason. My back story.

Every single person that I’ve told that story to has literally laughed their ass off while I told it 🀣 To the point where my girls will be like “send pictures of you crying so we know its real,” “but did you cry tho πŸ‘€.” At the moment it was so embarrassing, like I truly believed there was no coming up from that 🀣🀣🀣. But now I think its hilarious.

I told Sachi I’m going to return in X amount of years as a guest speaker and tell the story of how I cried in her class to her class. By then I hope I’m doing something great in the journalism world. It’ll truly be an epic moment, and I’ll probably cry then too. 😫✌🏽

“I’m a Writer”

I think back to an exercise I had to do in my Women and Gender GWAR class my last semester of college. The “GWAR” class is one of the core classes you have to take for your major/ minor that is heavily writing-based. It was maybe the first or second day of class, can’t be exact it seemed so long ago… Anyways, it was one of the very first class meetings. My Professor, Nan, stood in front of the class and said, “Ok, I want you to introduce yourself to the person next to you by saying, ‘Hello, my name is ….. , and I’m a writer.”

What a simple exercise to do. My classmates went about introducing themselves as writers with a smile, probably thinking, “Ok, whatever.” However, I hesitated. Saying “I’m a writer,” hits different and has a completely different meaning when that’s actually what you want to be identified as. But I turned to a classmate and gave my quick, “Hi, I’m Marinelle, and I’m a writer.” I could feel myself getting hot and turning red. I felt embarrassed that I was taking this exercise way too personally, but it really made me reflect on why.

I always get self-conscious about calling myself a “writer” for a lot of reasons. For one, I feel weird calling myself a writer if I’m not getting paid to write. When I tell people I have a blog, I feel a little shy and awkward, knowing that my online presence is nowhere close to where I want it to be. A lot of the time, I’m writing about things I’m passionate about, or experiences and stories that I think can help someone in some kind of way. At the very least, I want people to relate to what I write. From the get I’ve told people that my blog entries and the stories I share would probably never make it on your local TV News station. This ain’t breaking news. These are your everyday life stories.

My Professor went on to say that the point of the exercise was for us to be comfortable with calling ourselves “writers.” She explained that no matter how good or bad we are at writing, no matter how many eyes we have on our work, whether it’s for the public or for ourselves, that at the end of it all, we write, so therefore we are writers. It was a boost for the class to be confident in our writing, since the class was basically a writing class. Nan stressed that we’re all writers at different stages, and we all have more to learn.

Later on in the semester during our 1 on 1 meeting, I brought up how that exercise really hit home for me. I told her that it made me realize that if I can’t even confidently say that I’m a writer out loud, how do I expect others to see me in that light? We went on to talk about my research paper, and all the little goals I had with it. She assured me that I was doing great in the class, and that she was impressed with my writing abilities. She went on to tell me that I’m such a pleasure to talk to 1 on 1, but in class I’m so disconnected and almost not present, in a sense that I don’t want to contribute to the conversation when I know the answer. I laughed because that’s typical me, full of personality when you get me talking, but totally unbothered and minding my business if not. Nan encouraged me to apply for the Women Gender Studies Conference that was going to take place at Fresno State. I took her advice and applied – mostly because it was extra credit if I showed proof of just applying. A few months later, I was selected to speak at the conference about my paper focusing on the Body Positive Movement.

I get so in my head about writing, that it is beyond writer’s block. I have so many ideas and topics that I want to cover. It gets to the point where I go over a possible blog post in my head over and over again – how I would start it off, what topics to cover, what my point would be, what correlations to make, etc, that I exhaust myself. It seems like I write it a thousand times in my head already, that when it gets time to actually writing it out, I’m over it. And that’s partly because I’m high key a perfectionist, but at the same time a scared lazy ass bitch. I want my content to be worth the read, and sometimes I think, “Maybe this idea isn’t as good as you think,” and I talk myself out of writing it. Butttttttttttt, I gotta stop that. I am a writer. If not now, then when? If I’m writing into outer space and nobody actually cares what I say except my best friends and those closest to me, then so be it. Enough of trying to perfect everything. I always say I’m going to be consistent but end up fallin’ off. A lot of changes have been happening in my life and I feel like I should write about them because I know there’s people out there struggling with the same things. So stay tuned for my rants and quarter-life-crisis’s. You know that feeling where you feel like you’re turning to the next chapter in your book of life? Well that’s me. My brain’s in shambles thinking about life decisions.

With that said, I’m Marinelle Cabillo, and I’m a writer.

Kids Club

Blue carpet with colorful crayons that not only was on the floor, but also covered 40% of the wall. TV to my left, doorway with a half door to my right. If I look straight ahead I see the random column, also covered in that blue carpet.

This was my view for 4 years. I got my first job at the Kids Club in 2014, and it closed down officially June 1, 2018.

The start of this year, I got a new job at a preschool/ daycare, but I still worked at the Kids Club on Saturdays. Even when I had a new job, I couldn’t fully cut ties with my “roots.” There were rumors of the Kids Club closing, but I honestly didn’t think they would follow through, or if they did, it would be waaaayy after I graduated and have a Journalism related job. Wrong.

As I worked my last Kids Club shift, I started reminiscing on the last 4 years. All the people I met, all the parents I got close to, all the children I got to see grow right before my eyes, and the memories I’ll never get to relive. CHEEEEEESEEEEE. Yeah, I’m being cheesy as hell. But let me break it down…

This job was my new start in 2014. I was on my second semester in community college, I got myself out of a toxic relationship a month prior to getting hired, I just declared my major as “Early Childhood Education,” and this was my first job. Not only my first job ever, but also related to the field I wanted to get into. It was the start to my beginning.

When I first started working, the group of co-workers there were like my family. Even though we all went our separate ways, there’s a couple that I keep in touch with often and send non-stop memes to. I met so many people while working in the Kids Club. I noticed that I got close to a lot of the parents. On many occasions, I was the listening ear. Though I was (still am) young, many mothers looked to me for advice, to vent, to tell about their day or life in general. I built a lot of friendships with the mothers that used the Kids Club. I’ve heard their stories, I’ve heard their struggles, I’ve heard their side, I’ve heard (supposedly) the other side, I’ve heard what they’ve been through, I’ve heard the nasty drama they went through, I’ve heard their insecurities, I’ve heard the deepest parts of them that they so eagerly wanted to reveal and felt comfortable revealing to me.

I’ve always been all about the tea and beef. πŸΈβ˜• Ironically, I try to avoid drama within my own life, but when it’s someone else’s drama I’m like YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS, SPILL THE TEA RIIIGHTTTT NOWWWWW, UPDATE MEEEEEE. I guess I’ve always been interested in other people’s lives, but not only in a nosey way, but also because I want to help somehow or give some type of input. A mom from the Kids Club would tell me all the time how she valued me as a friend because how wise I am for my age, and how I keep it real with her regardless of how she would react.

I’m realizing now that maybe this job steered me into the path I’m at now. I knew I ALWAYS wanted to write. I declared “Early Childhood Education” as my major, but I felt like I was settling. I love kids. I’ve always been good with kids. So 18 years old, fresh out of high school, in community college with an undeclared major, I’m like…. fuck it, just declare child development because you know you’re good at it. But deep down I knew I was taking the easy road – Not saying at all that it’s an easy job. I still work with children as I work towards my degree, and it is no easy task. But for me personally, I knew that I chose to play it safe because I was too scared to actually follow through with writing.

But how would I make a living off writing? What if it flops? Who even cares what I have to say? What if people think my work sucks? What writing major can take me further and open up more than one path?

But working at the Kids Club also made me realize that I was in the wrong major. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the kids, but something in me was like, you know… this is a great job for now, but you know that you’ll feel unfulfilled if you stay in this major because you’re too scared to take a chance with something else…

So I switched…. And I switched….. then I was undeclared…. then I switched again. And found myself in journalism. I’m glad I took many classes to see what I really was into. But for me, I always had to have a plan. Where would this major take me? What other opportunities can it get me if I don’t get that particular job I have in mind for this major? But at this point I was like: bro, this is the start of my 3rd year in community college, I need to transfer already. Yeah, Journalism, yeah, writing, sure, ok, DECLARED. I think I declared journalism as my major before I even took classes on it. I would over think every major I went into (and switched out of), but it’s funny that the major I stuck with, was a no brainer. I didn’t want to over think because I felt like I wasted a lot of time doing that. And partly, I was tired of switching. I wanted to pick something and transfer out already. I figured as long as it’s writing, I’ll figure it out. I was always uncertain if I was on the right track. And if I’m being real, there were many times where I was close to switching back to Early Childhood Education because I was afraid of the unknown.

It probably wasn’t until transferring to SF State that I realized this was for me. I realized journalism didn’t mean only hard news. Journalism was anything that I was interested in, with sources to back it up. People think journalism is just writing and doing breaking news, but it teaches so many other skills that can really take you down multiple paths. I realized that I’ve been doing journalism all along. My interest in other people’s lives and wanting to know their emotions / situations were pointing to journalism this whole time. In the beginning I wanted to write for entertainment, made up stories that I concoct in my head. But the more classes I took, I found myself wanting to use my work to put out a message. I wanted to inspire, to inform, to make some type of difference in the world even if my audience are a few individuals. What I wanted to do was right in front of me the whole time.

When I think of the Kids Club closing I get sad. I feel like it was such a big part of my life. I did a lot of growing and met a lot of people there. 4 years, I did a lot of thinking, self reflecting, crying, laughing, stressing, etc, in those 4 walls covered in blue carpet with crayons.

The Kids Club will always remind me of our love story. That was truly the beginning. When Christian and I first started talking I’d be trapped in the Kids Room while he worked front desk. I’d look forward to those “bathroom breaks” he’d take, and I would so happen to be standing at the door so we could talk. πŸ˜‚ I fell inlove with my co-worker, and we have the gym to thank for it.

I knew I wouldn’t be working at a gym daycare forever. I knew this day would come, where I had to let go of my first job. I’m such an over thinker that I can’t help but look at the last 4 years like a movie. All the things I went through, how much I grew, all the shit that happened in those 4 years, it’s crazy!

Just the thought of knowing that the room doesn’t exist anymore makes me sigh. Time is changing and time waits for no one. It’s like the end of an era almost. I guess the universe has a way of forcing you to move on and do better things in your life. I was always hesitant to find a new job or move on. It seemed like everyone I worked with found better opportunities but I was too afraid to find mine. I was afraid of the unknown. I didn’t want things to change because if it changed, that means I’m back to square 1, taking a chance on my decisions. And I didn’t want to do that. But at the end of the 2017 I knew it was time to start another chapter. I found the job I’m currently in and started January 2018, while still working the Kids Club on Saturdays. Not 1 month into my new job, and talks about closing the Kids Club started going around. And here we are 5 months later and it’s closed for good. I felt like it was meant to be. That the universe was like “bruh you ain’t neva gonna leave, we gotta close this shit for you to leave.” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

Change will happen regardless. My last shift, most of the parents took down my number for future babysitting. I looked at the walls, covered in drawings. Some of the artists of the drawings have moved away for years already. I sifted through the DVD ruins, and got the movies that I brought throughout the years. My “Kids Club” movie was over.

I told Christian that we had to take a picture inside since that room had so much meaning to me and our relationship. We got one of the new workers to take our picture, *snap* *snap* *snap*, 20 snaps later and our Photoshoot was over. I turned off the lights and closed the half door behind me. That’s a wrap.

Photo above taken by Manager B.P.