Life Lately || 2022 Realizations

I need to give life the opportunity to surprise me.

I think that’s really it.

This year, I said yes to so many things I normally would say no to. Out of insecurity or fear or simply not believing that it was something that was meant for me. And oh my goodness, the places all those yes’s took me were adventures I never would have imagined for myself.

Admittedly, I’ve always felt lost and out of control whenever the plans were not in my hands. Like my sister would say, I’m the type of person who likes having things done my way which can bring a shitty amount of pressure to the people who are afraid to disappoint me. This is something my therapist likes to say, “you can let go, it’s not your job to make sure everything goes well for everyone in your life”.

But when I started learning where my boundaries are and simply leaving it up to people how to treat me as long as they don’t cross me, I now know just how loved I am. And weirdly enough, it’s one of those things I found surprising.

Everyone has rallied behind me with whatever I do and make out of life. For most of the past few years, I’ve always felt alone and isolated. I’m so attached to my pseudo-independence that I never really gave anyone the chance to support me.

The moment I let them though, they did. They didn’t just show up for me. They came full force in blinding light. And I was enveloped by its vibrance that I started glowing too.

While I’ve always known that I was loved and that I had friends, I was also a serial monogamist. And a lot of my self-esteem came from knowing there was one person in the world that was meant for me, knew who I am, and loved me for it. The longer I was being unfulfilled by it and when I was single and not dating (by choice), the more it dropped.

This year, I let life surprise me. And it was such a pleasant surprise to be loved in a way that didn’t feel like it was done out of obligation or that I had to beg for it. It was the kind of love that was given to me freely and wholeheartedly that I sometimes cry when I think about it. And it’s such a good feeling. I want to hold on to it for as long as I could.

Life Lately || Working holidays

Short update but honestly, I’d just like to apologize to the dudes who built their own businesses from the ground up that I dated and gave me the ick because they were working while we were out and about. I’ve always found it iffy to be giving someone my undivided attention while I didn’t get theirs. But I get it now.

When you build something yourself, you tend to it constantly. There’s a struggle there and the drive to bring it wherever you want it to go. It wasn’t just handed to you, it’s something you have to work on. It’s not all about the money (although admittedly, I’d be a few hundred thousand richer if I didn’t pursue this brand lol). There’s pride, there’s ego, and just about a shit ton of nuances attached to it. I have zero financial support from my family, didn’t grow up with an entrepreneurial mindset, and never really thought I’d own something. Everything I do and improve on, I learned from experience. It’s terrifying to be in this position and I always feel like I’m scrambling to make sure I stay on top of everything.

I’m someone who never saw herself working while I’m on holiday. I’ve always had clear boundaries with my corporate job. I’m only available for the 8 hours a day they pay me for. Otherwise, they can expect me to respond on the next business day. I never really considered work for sad girl scents as actual work.. so I guess that’s why my family was surprised I had been working throughout the holidays because there’s just so much to do, and so many suppliers to talk to. Even my sister stumbled upon me on my PC early this morning and asked “why are you working???” lol.

Sometimes, who I am now is a surprise even to me. My 2019 self would be shocked at how I’ve turned out.

Life Lately || End of year productivity

Been quite busy with work as both projects I’m working on at my day job are trying to tie up as many loose ends as possible before the office shutdown (which is literally just a week and I’ve had longer vacations than that so I don’t really see the fuss lol).

I’m usually fueled by strong emotions whenever I’m creating anything new for sad girl scents.. but for some reason, I’ve been feeling calm and stable recently so I don’t know where this sudden burst of productivity is coming from. It must be from doing all the site’s technical updates and the holiday rush, that in a week, I’ve managed to get the ball rolling on two new additions to the product lineup that we’re releasing next year.

I mean I hope this is what this means and not that I’m sad. Because I really don’t feel like it but now I’m second-guessing if there’s a feeling I’m working through because I’ve ticked so many things off my long list of things to do.

Product #1 – my custom vessel supplier is already working on my bulk order. My box supplier is doing the same (thanks to the vessel supplier who sent over samples directly to the box supplier FOR FREE because I’d like to think I’m his favorite client lol). Printing Supplier 2 (Printing Supplier 1 is one of my fave girls, and at this point, consider her part of the team behind the brand already … but she’s swamped right now) is waiting for confirmation while I check the smaller labels’ dimensions and give a go ahead. But once all this is done, I already have the formula and I basically just need to do all the pouring. Aaa can everything just come sooner.

Product #2 – my vessel supplier has already started the import (well, for them it’s export) process for me to get my vessels. My box supplier is still waiting on the sample box before proceeding. I’m perfecting the formulation on this one so this will not be released anytime soon. But my amazing illustrator (Louise Ramos) is already working on the art for the label and the art for …

Collection #6 – can you believe I’ve released 30+ scents at this point??? My weird fascination with candles and fine fragrances has turned into this weird huge chunk of my life (and personality).

Everyone in my life has told me at one point within this past year that it’s nice to see the sparkle back in my eyes. Seems like they’ve all noticed my eyes dull over time. One of my friends said that she missed seeing me excited over anything after watching my excitement deteriorate over the past decade and having to listen to me apologize for my excitement every single time. It’s weird because I never realized that people notice these small things. But as it turns out, the people who care about you do. Huh. Something to tell my therapist when we meet in a few days. During the bazaar, my sister mentioned offhandedly that she likes it when I talk about the brand to strangers because “you start glowing, and you looked so much like how I remember you when you were so much younger”. I guess it’s never too late to discover the parts of myself I thought I’d lost. What a year. What a time.

Life Lately || The idea of forever commitment

My mom was in the hospital and needed blood transfusions from time to time. Because our blood types didn’t match, I donated blood to offset all the blood she was getting from family friends, and strangers. One of the things on the checklist was no one with tattoos was allowed to donate, so while I didn’t have strong feelings about getting/not getting one, I went on with my life thinking I’ll probably never get around to having anything permanent done on my body.

I just secured a slot for my third tattoo. Tomorrow. Lol. I asked for a quote for a design I wanted to get and they had a free slot. So here we are.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want permanently inked to my body. The idea of permanence is terrifying to me. I wasn’t this way before because life has always been stable. I’ve always had a support system (my mom). Always had a job. For the longest time, thought I’d already found a life partner at 17. But life has changed in so many ways that when I see old photos of myself (and some as recent as 2019), I don’t even recognize who she was. For a long time, I felt at a loss for what to do next. I’m a planner. Having a plan gives me peace and helps me manage my anxiety. For the past few years, I’ve simply been letting the current take me to wherever it flowed. While I seem overproductive to some (I’ve released so many things the past few years, it’s insane), it also felt natural and that I wasn’t forcing anything. I’ve always felt that I had to push or strong-arm my way into getting what I wanted – whether it was my relationship, my career, or whatever it is that I was doing. And whenever I got what I wanted, I always wondered whether it was worth it. Was planning this entire trip with a partner worth the stress and the budding resentment of feeling like I had to manage everything? Was climbing the corporate ladder worth the stress and the late nights and unpaid overtimes? Was writing/talking about all the vulnerable bits and pieces of my life so that hundreds of people feel like they relate to it and support a brand I’ve built from scratch worth losing the privacy to my own grief?

To be at peace with where I am and who I am and what I’m doing. I guess I just haven’t felt that for such a long time.. or ever. While it’s not a feeling that I constantly have or acknowledge, it’s still a headspace I’ve had multiple times throughout the year. And it’s such a pleasant surprise for me to know that I am capable of ever feeling this way.

I like having my tattoos on parts of my body that people can’t casually see (lol it’s on my rib cage area and I don’t share the photos online). Because I feel like with the brand, the blog, and to a lot of people – I’ve already shown so much of myself, my pain, and a lot of the little things that make me who I am. I’ve only always wanted to get happy things inked into me. I never want to look at a piece of my body and think of something I’ve had to overcome or go through or survive from. I want it to be a reminder of those fleeting moments of peace and quiet happiness that I never thought I’d have. So that when I look at myself in the mirror, I have those moments of gratitude etched into me. I want my body to be a mosaic of everything good, of everything that has made me feel loved, and everything I have to be thankful for. And three tatts – I have so so much to be happy about and thankful for.

Life Lately || November Musings

There is something about the holiday season that brings out the seasonal depression. I guess it was because, for most of my childhood (and maybe up until I was 20), my mom always made such a big deal over Christmas. She loved it. She would start planning her decorations early, and when she learned of Pinterest, she’d DIY everything to whatever theme or concept she was going for that year. She didn’t necessarily gift us expensive things, but always thoughtful gifts. On the year I discovered The Babysitters Club (I think it might be Book 20), mom spent months going to all the bookstores and thrift shops to scour for the series – she managed to get me Books 1-15. You need to understand that we live in a third-world country and sourcing things is hard over here, especially during the 90s. But the year I got so obsessed with playing Pokemon (I even had a notebook where I tracked all the pokemons, levels and evolutions included, I’ve caught in my saved game), mom went to different malls to try to find me Pokemon Gold and Silver for my Gameboy Color (in translucent purple!) because dad could only get me Pokemon Blue. She never really understood my fascination with a lot of things and she’d comment how I have a tendency to hyper-fixate on one thing until I get good enough at it before I drop it, but she would always find a way to be supportive of me nonetheless. And her holiday gifts always reflected that.

Mom died so close to Christmas that the lights along the boulevard (that they set up this time of the year) near where we lived would never fail to remind me of drives between our house and the funeral home. Every year, it feels like there’s an impending sense of gloom that creeps in slowly inside our house, and it eventually fades away once all the festivities die down.

We started doing the podcast this year under the sad girl scents umbrella (I don’t know how this brand has expanded over so many things), and I think one of the things I’ve loved about it was that it kind of just started on a whim of me just rambling on. So I had to pull my siblings to join in so that I’d actually have a conversation and it’s not just me.. and it’s kind of ended up with the three of us having actual conversations about our feelings. It’s really just unmanaged family therapy of sorts at this point haha. And I think we barely have conversations about how we all handed our grief separately, and it’s a bit healing to be doing it together now.

It also didn’t help that MY PHONE BROKE right after my trip. I had to purchase a replacement phone online (cheaper than buying from the mall) and also had to make a decision on which phone to buy. I’m a use it until it breaks kind of person when it comes to gadgets, so it had been very upsetting for me to have to let go of my 2019 iPhone 11. It’s only been 3 years! I feel like I didn’t get to maximize its value, but oh well. Because I was waiting for my new phone to be delivered, I had to last about a week without access to a working mobile phone. It took some time to get used to, but I like how much time I spent without checking my phone when I finally did. My sister and I bought those diamond paintings (like paint by numbers but bejewelling, cue Bejewelled by Taylor Swift lol) because it was marketed as art therapy HAHA, and we had been hanging out while watching cheesy holiday movies (how nice was the latest Lindsay Lohan film???) and other movies from the 90s/early 2000s. At one point, my sister turned to me and said “I miss being excited about the holidays” because we all are truly deep in our seasonal depression lol.

Over at sad girl scents – we finally released our new product line (eau de toilette) with some good reception, and some of the merch we’ve been planning to release. The brand is now available on multiple e-commerce sites and I’m hoping we clear out our inventory by end of the year (because I just wanna clean by end of the year HAHA). I’m not sure what the future holds for this growing brand, but I do feel good about it at the moment. 🙂

Other notable things that happened this month were all the social events I went to. I had dinner and some wine with Mao and planning for our Europe trip has now commenced. Mao is my favorite travel buddy so far because we’re on a similar wavelength and have similar travel styles. I think we might be traveling with one of his friends, so that might be fun. I’m looking forward to it.

I’m finalizing the dates for my trip to Melbourne (and my first trip to Australia) with Alex. She’s flying to see her boyfriend/fiance/I honestly don’t know what their relationship will be like when I finally get there, while I’m really heading there to see what the fuss is about with Australia. Two of my closest friends, Alex and Kara, have a weird thing about wanting to live in Australia that it’s made me curious. When I think of Australia, I always think of kangaroos, maybe lots of nature (the typical stereotype), and Chris Hemsworth (so hot guys in general). But I also did work for an Australian firm and they were all nice people, so I have a positive experience associated with the country even though I just never really put it on the list of places I want to visit. But having friends that consistently fly back and forth has made me want to go, so I wanna see what the deal is.

Kara and I (along with Miyuki, her shiba inu) went to La Union to work from here. We’re currently benched (unassigned to any project) at work, so we thought hanging out in third-wave coffee shops by the beach with our work laptops and playing with her dog would be a good way to spend our time. I’m actually writing this from a Japanese-inspired little home because we’ll be here for a few more days.

Overall, November has been such a mixed bag of emotions and experiences. And I think I’ve gotten better at embracing that life is always going to be this way. It’s what you make of it. I think it’s time to be more proactive in my own life and take steps into living the kind of life I want to live (generally uneventful in nature, but spent meaningfully with people I care about). Let’s see if I still feel this way by the end of 2022.

Life Lately || Blood moon witch gang

November 8.

I’ve been grappling with a lot of emotions recently. So I thought what better to do than release our EDTs.

And it’s funny because I wanted to encapsulate how I felt at that moment in that caption – and I guess it worked because my sister cried. She said it perfectly reflects my vibe after this trip.

“The scents I personally love in cologne form. I’ve actually been using them for a while now but was terrified of sharing them because I like my personal scents lowkey and simple.

The past few years have turned me into a recluse, where every single step outside of my comfort zone induces so much anxiety. But there’s growth in going out into the world scared. We hope that every spray lends you the courage to be vulnerable, as we all grow and bloom together. 💖”

Maybe it’s coming home from a long trip where I felt a brand new vigor for life. Or maybe it’s because my life suddenly seems empty after being constantly stimulated for 2 weeks. Or how I found that kilig from a minor crush and knowing that the last message we’ll ever exchange is “all the best” (such a conversation ender). Or maybe it’s all just hormones – the most likely reason why I lowkey go crazy every month for a few days.

November 9.

Fuck that, I knew it. It was the moon coinciding with my period.

I woke up today feeling completely fine and like my life is back to normal.

As usual, woke up at 5 because Siopao decided what time I woke up as he makes a ruckus by my bedroom door. Went on my walk at 5:30. Drank my fiber and coffee around 7. Signed a contract for a consignment spot for sad girl scents before 8. Started my day job. Did a 15-minute walkthrough of the questions I was about to be asked with my sister (someone from a local university asked if they can interview us for a business immersion thing). Did more day job things, went on two more walks and sold the most number of EDTs (so far – I hope we break that record) within 24 hours.

Life is good again. Ugh. Finally clearing my head and getting out of that funk did wonders for my mental health.

Bangkok 2022 || It’s so hard to feel enough

It’s past 2 AM and I just got back to my room. I had a fun night out with someone I met during the trip.

And for some reason, I still felt so awake and lively that I just need to go somewhere else. At one point, I even thought maybe I should open a quick profile on a dating app and just get this energy out of my system.

Instead, I booked a motorbike to a market across the city. I’m only a few hours away from flying home – and at first, all I could think of was how nice my life is. I can go on long trips, I can do whatever I wanted, and I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I could afford most of the experiences I want to indulge in.

And then suddenly it hit me. If my life was so nice and good – then why doesn’t anyone want me. Like a switch, an overwhelming sense of rejection washed over me. While I know that I have people back home who love me dearly, still one has to wonder why I’m single at 31, on the back of a motorbike at full speed with no helmet on. I can be as reckless with my life as I’ve been because I have no one else to live for but myself.

When that feeling hit, I just started full-on sobbing. At the back of a motorbike. In Bangkok. At the very least, it was a main character moment.

But it’s so hard not to stop crying when you realize that in 30 years, no one has ever known all the versions of me, including the ones I’m ashamed of – and thought “that’s my person”. That I’m a free independent spirit because no one has deemed me worthy to anchor me down and let me rely on them.

I felt everything kinda just start crashing down and every single little thing that I can feel insecure about started popping up like fuck, no one’s even just trying to sleep with me. Am I that unattractive and unlikeable? Logically, I know that it doesn’t make any sense given that I’m not even on any dating app. Haven’t been for a while. If a dude does anything sexual in nature, I would get the ick. Never mind that I’m lowkey a recluse and I also keep my circle small. I almost never welcome any new people in my life.

But feelings are feelings – and they are rarely logical. And in the middle of a breakdown, I can’t even muster the comforting thought of having a person to come home to. Because there’s no one. Maybe someday there will be one and I can look back at this night and smile at how far I’ve come and how much peace I’ve acquired within myself. But right now, I have no one. And it’s just one of those moments where I just need someone, anyone, to hold me while I cry my heart out in a foreign city.

Life Lately || panganay problems

My sister graduated this year and got Latin honors for her degree (also an honors program). She’s also starting her first job in a few weeks – and in her job interviews, whenever asked about challenges/accomplishments outside of school, she would always use my brand as her answer lol.

My mom got sick and died early on, so I’ve mostly navigated through my adult life with no one to guide me. I got to where I am now, mostly through experience. I made my mistakes and learned a few things on the way which I passed on. Since mom got sick, I lost my safety net. With her around, I know I can fail because whatever I do and even if I break, someone’s going to be there to unconditionally pick up the pieces. And for a long time after her diagnosis, I felt completely alone. I knew my responsibilities and I know I can’t ever relax with them because I now have two people relying on me, and I had no one that made me feel like they were stable enough that I can rely on them. Both my siblings were young and they needed to have someone to be there to pick up their pieces. I knew I didn’t have that anymore in anyone, and the best I could do was be their safety net.

My family isn’t big on affection (I bet we all scored zero on words of affirmation as a love language) and the best way I show my love is by making someone’s life a little bit easier (sometimes at my expense, but that’s an entirely different conversation – preferably with a therapist). And while I’m happy at the fact that my sister can focus more on being her amazing self (do not tell her I said that) with a further starting point than I did, I’m also a little bit jealous that I didn’t get that. I know it’s a valid feeling and I know it’s no one’s fault. And life has gotten better (with time and therapy), but sometimes, these feelings would pop up and it’s hard not to feel guilty about it.

I guess it’s also because I’ve recently been working with a lawyer to do some legal stuff for the business, I just got a loan, my credit limit has kept up with inflation and increased by a significant amount, and I’ve been doing all these adult things. At 21, it felt like I had to sit in the driver’s seat before I even knew how to drive but I can’t crash and burn because I got passengers. The last passenger just got off (my sister – who funnily enough was in the car when I was literally taking actual driving lessons lol), and I find that I’ve gotten comfortable with driving and I can now relax my hold on the stirring wheel. I was just about to get to the nearest exit so I can slow down and explore more places, and maybe find a stop where I can get off the car I’d been driving nonstop for years and rest for a bit. Walk around and take in the sights. Instead, the vehicle turned into something so much bigger, that one wrong turn and I would start a pileup – and now I have no choice but to keep driving down the same path while being completely terrified of driving again. No one’s around to take the wheel when I’m tired or sick or restless or anxious. Just me, driving a truck on the seemingly endless expressway – when all I wanted was to drive down a scenic route in a small compact car at minimum speed limit.

Life Lately || career crisis averted

I’ve just had the weirdest/shittiest/best/most interesting day I’ve had so far and honestly, I’m extra grateful for it.

You know how it goes, on a weird career funk yada yada yada – so I went on a job interview today that I got invited to after I responded to a recruiter on Linkedin. I checked the role description she sent my way and admittedly, I knew from the get-go that I would need a wider-than-usual learning curve if I ever got this role. There were skills that were needed for the role that I am not particularly skilled in but heck, I learn best by trial by fire. I’ve proven to myself that I’m quite adaptable so I still went for it. And to be frank (I’ve done this my entire career HAHA), I like applying for positions I know are a significant jump from my current position and using it as interview practice. These interviews are my warm-up before I send in my CV to openings that I feel are a better fit. For example, before I applied for my current job, I went ahead and applied for two different management positions (knowing I’d get ask relatively harder questions), before I went in for the interview for this one. I’ve always seen it as a win-win situation – if I get the job, then I get to grow in another role. But if I don’t, it’s totally fine too because I knew I wasn’t ready for it yet.

During the preliminary interview with the recruiter, I made it abundantly clear that I lean more towards the business side of tech rather than technical. I remember having to repeat this because I studied the opening and knew I was reaching. Not gonna lie, I kinda expected never to hear from her again. But I did. So I went.

I left the house 2 hours before the interview. I was initially going to leave earlier than that but I had an issue with my clothes that I had to change just before I left.

And then the car I was in got into a minor accident because another vehicle suddenly cut us off. It wasn’t anything serious but oh man, was I glad that I use the seat belt even when I’m on the backseat.

I still got to the building 51 minutes before the interview (even with all that happening). I needed a drink and hanged out at the Starbucks across the street. I like to arrive to interviews 15 minutes before my appointment. So I left the cafe 20 minutes before my schedule.

While crossing the street, the FUCKING SOLE OF MY RIGHT SHOE FLEW OFF. I only had this thin cloth as a barrier between MY FOOT AND THE CONCRETE ROAD.

So I thought “ok lang to, I can just buy new shoes AFTER the interview” and kept on walking. But then the strap of my LEFT SHOE DROPPED because the sole was also loose.

And I had to sprint to the adjacent mall to get a new pair of shoes while the pair on my feet was falling apart piece by piece. I had to purchase an overpriced pair (it was a posh mall with mostly designer brands) – an unplanned expensive shoe purchase that I still have buyer’s remorse over. At that point, I was just done with this interview. I wanted to get it over with and just wanted to go home HAHA.

On the car ride back, I suddenly realized that I’d never had an eventful day in such a long time. During the interview, I was less focused on selling myself and my skills. I answered all the questions truthfully and asked those “intrusive thought” questions I rarely ask because I kinda took it as a sign from the universe that this job is probably not for me, so what’s the harm in asking. The questions I was asked and I asked during the interview gave me a new perspective on things I still have to learn, on readings I was planning to do when I got home.. and honestly, I’ve never felt more exhilarated in the past few months.

Maybe it’s the outside air. It’s the broken shoes. But this weird blip this year is going to be such a funny story. I feel so much more at ease now and less antsy about my career. And any upcoming interviews headed my way can only be better than what happened today. 🙂

Life Lately || career crisis

I’ve never really seen my job as part of my identity. To me, it’s just something I do for 8 hours per day for money. While there have been countless times where I quite enjoy what I do, I’ve just never been someone who aimed to climb the corporate ladder. Personally, I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Not having an emotional attachment to my job has allowed me to be objective and productive. There was even a time where my job was a break from my chaotic personal life. 8 hours of only thinking about the work tasks I need to accomplish or deadlines I make sure I meet.

I guess this feeling of detachment from my job has been exacerbated by the pandemic. I lost my job at the peak of it – which further hammered in the fact that I can work so hard and lose a job within a 15-minute zoom call. And I feel like the longer the threat of potentially dying due to a virus is around, the less I feel like it’s worth it.

Recently, I’ve been responding to every single Linkedin messages I get for any job opening. Am I actively looking? Maybe not. But maybe I’m hoping that a new job would get me out of this weird funk I’ve been. I want to open my work laptop and feel excited for a new work day – but most days, I spend it asking myself if I’m even qualified to be doing what I do. And the thing with all these interviews is they always ask the classic question of why I’m exploring. I usually would give a template answer of looking for new challenges or growth.

But I lay here at midnight and wonder what’s the point of even doing so. What am I even looking forward to? What am I working so hard for? I used to enjoy studying and learning new things, but I’m slowly losing the drive to do so.