Dear reader, I can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for the days of my youth, and yet an excitement for all that is still ahead of me. It’s easy to feel like time is slipping through my fingers. One day we’re teenagers wanting to quickly grow up, and the next we’re well into our twenties wondering where the time has gone, and mostly wondering where to head next. It’s a strange feeling, but it’s one that many of us can relate to.
Part of me feels like I’m still 16, while another part feels like I’m already 24 going on 42. I feel old at 24, but at the same time, I still feel young because I am just 24. In this post, let me speak now the 24 things I learned before turning 24.
“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret.” I’ve recently came across FilAm Youtuber Jedcal. In one of his vlogs, he mentioned this quote by author Jim Rohn and I’ve been thinking of it since then—so much so that I decided to put it on top of this list. Often times, it’s the pain of regret that I feel on a spiritual level. But as I’ve gotten a lot more mature, I’ve realized how I’d rather endure the pain and process of going through something that would benefit me more later on. Going to the gym⎯for the first time ever⎯was painful. But it was the kind of pain that taught me how good things take time, take tremendous effort, and a ton of discipline.
Freshly cracked black pepper. Two words: God tier. Store bought ground black pepper tastes nothing like its freshly ground version. If you want to add a kick to your dishes, marinades, steaks, and fish, cracked is the key. Plus the aroma is *chef’s kiss*. 🤌🏻🤌🏻🤌🏻
Sometimes, we need to be de-influenced. In the modules I have been teaching, the concept of Diderot Effect has struck me in ways I never thought it would. The Diderot Effect basically states “that obtaining a new possession often creates a spiral of consumption which leads you to acquire more new things.” Sometimes, I need to remind myself that I am not compelled to buy the same wide leg pants in four colors or buy the same bag in all available shades and textures. I’m taking my time…but the bag looks so good. 😭🥲
You will outgrow people. Some friendships are either meant to last for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. It’s completely okay to outgrow people. Forcing things to happen would only lead to further disappointment. Just go and move on; but be thankful for the memories and wish them well.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This adage hits different when you’re a lot older. I used to despise waking up early because it’s tantamount to a lot of school work. But now that I’m about to enter my mid-twenties, I’ve loved going to bed early and waking up early. Pro tip: minimizing lights and screen exposure 2 hours before sleep helps a lot. And yes, ZzzQuil is 👌🏻. I’ve been dreaming since I’ve gotten good quality sleep. I won’t trade good sleep for anything, which leads us to…
…my obsession with crisp white bed sheets. Ever since I’ve moved into and renovated my new room three years ago, I’ve found how the quality of sleep I get is also affected by the bedding I use. I’ve become so particular with how I like my sheets⎯minimum 300 thread count, white, king sized, complete with a duvet and a duvet cover. I can’t recall how many times I bought bedding last year. Invest in sleep. It’s a luxury.
I am aging. Part of turning 24 is having to accept the fact that my hairline is slowly receding, my face grows rounder, and that I’m starting to develop fine lines. I’ve always wanted to look young for my age that’s why as early as now, I am doing everything to not let the physical signs show up. I go to the gym, I avoid junk food, I don’t drink alcohol, and I religiously apply sunscreen. Why? I want to age like fine wine. I want to look like I’m in my 20s in my 40s.
I actually enjoy teaching. I feel like I am putting my knowledge into good use, and that I can still remember the things I’m teaching since they’re mostly what we studied and some I’ve shared in this blog. And now that the tables have turned, it’s my time to impart them to my students. It may not be a financially rewarding profession, but I am motivated because I feel like I am making up for the time I lost due to the pandemic. Crazy to think how I left university as a second year college student on a random Tuesday in March 2020 and three years later, I’d return as an instructor. Whew. And yes, dressing up for this job is equally motivating. You know me. 🤫
Tailored clothing. Over the years, I’ve found how it’s important to get your clothes tailored so they fit like a glove. Growing up tall, it was difficult trying to find pants that would fit me. I either get the right waist line, but the pants are too short. I may get the right length, but the waist is too wide, then it looks flimsy when I get them adjusted. So what better way to get the right fit than to design, buy fabric, and get custom made pants. I’ve tried designing clothes earlier this year and I’ve worn them a couple of times. I can’t wait for my clothing project designs to come into fruition.
Greek yogurt. Not much has to be said. I just love greek yogurt with granola and fruits.
Never ever comment on someone’s weight, skin texture, or physical appearance after not seeing them for a while. When someone points out your insecurities, you can only do three things: One, accept your flaws and move on. Two, hate yourself and never see them again and wallow in your insecurities. Three, do something. I chose the latter. I chose to do something. Being called fat during a day I am supposed to enjoy and almost developing disordered eating habits was awful. It took me quite a while to feel better.
Feeling lost after graduating is absolutely normal. When Sir Roger, our program chair, asked me how I was doing before he offered me teaching units, I remember telling him that I feel so lost. Casting my mind back to my graduation dinner, my dad also asked me what am I going to do next. To which I answered, “I don’t know, probably continue the business…?” But deep down, I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO (!!!!!!!!). There’s that lingering and terrifying feeling of uncertainty after finishing school because you’re literally on your own now. And you want to take your time to soak it all in, but the people around you keep on asking about how you see yourself in the coming years. I mean, I can’t assume that I have all the time in the world, but I don’t need to have it all figured out at the moment. I am just starting. I can take my time. Life is not a race.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is a remnant of my 21 lessons four years ago, and surprisingly, it became a Taylor Swift lyric. I literally Masterminded this. It still makes sense.
You need to be humbled at times. I’ve mentioned that I have started going to the gym this year. While it was rewarding that I lost weight and gained strength, trying out something new⎯and something I used to despise⎯is such a humbling experience. Sometimes, you think you know everything, but one moment, it just hits you that you actually know nothing. Allow yourself to be a beginner and never be ashamed of being one. The moment I stepped into the gym, I knew I was in for a learning experience. I can’t recall how many times I’ve been called out by the coaches for doing a workout in a wrong form, that I am working out too much, that I should still eat, and that I don’t have to punish myself. I mean, it’s embarrassing, but that’s how I learned.
I have to accept that I may inevitably become just like my parents. I know it’s a cultural thing to pass on knowledge, personal values, and beliefs. While I appreciate that these may be inherited, I am not marked safe from also acquiring their prejudices, biases, and preconceived notions. I am trying my best to unlearn their unproductive thought patterns and defense mechanisms. On the physical aspect, I also know that my parents will inevitably pass down their predispositions to certain illnesses like kidney problems, hypertension, and diabetes. I’m afraid I might end up the same way, that’s why all I am doing right now is to control and change my lifestyle. And prevent these from manifesting in my body when the time comes. I don’t want to end up like them when I get older. Again, I’d rather endure the pain of discipline than the pain of regret.
Which brings us to me realizing how much of a control freak I am. When things get out of my control, I freak out. Part of being conscientious⎯my most dominant NEO Personality Inventory factor⎯is being so obsessed with control, organization, punctuality, routine, and work. Sometimes, I have to remind myself that there’s no point in stressing over things I am not capable of controlling. That I should let things be in their natural flow and sometimes take it slow. Breathe in, breathe through, breathe deep, breathe out.
Literally nobody cares. The spotlight effect phenomenon is real. We think that everyone watches us, notices all our flaws and shortcomings when in fact, people really don’t care. No one notices that pimple. Nobody cares whether you’re wearing a $500 shoe or a dupe. Nobody watches you work out. Nobody cares whether you’re having a bad hair day. If they do stare, they’ll probably forget about it. Literally nobody cares, so do what you want. Wear what you want. People will stare, make it worth their while. Life is too short to think of what others might say. 🤷🏻♂️
Dutch ovens are the bomb. – Slow cooked food tastes so much better than food cooked quickly in pressure cookers. The meat gets so tender when cooked slow and in low heat, the flavors are also more intense, and the overall dining experience changes. Life hack: try to brown the meat first before cooking stews and soups. The maillard reaction makes a big big big difference. 💣💣💣
I’ve found how Pinterest, Youtube, and Instagram are the healthiest social media apps for me. – No toxic relatives. Less fake news. Less hate comments or no comments at all. Everything is just pure creativity when you’re in the right side of social media. Ideas. Recipes. Fashion inspirations. Workouts. Table setting ideas.
Unfollow your triggers. Whether it’s that brand you love but excellently makes you spend beyond your means, whether it’s that annoying pro-Trump and M*rcos Apologist relative, whether it’s that toxic influencer who keeps on spewing hate, it’s okay to block. Unfriend. Unfollow. Mute.
Clear space = clear mind. – Over the past three years, I’ve decluttered the whole house. It feels freeing to eliminate and donate stuff especially when your family is mostly composed of chronic hoarders and impulsive shoppers (myself included 🙋🏻♂️). I make sure that when I decide to buy something, I also have to let go of something else. This way, I can detach myself from the cycle of overconsumption. It’s good for my mental health when spaces are clean and clear.
Use absence to increase respect and honor. In the book 48 Laws of Power, Law 16 struck me most. People take you for granted when you appear too often and appear too common. Over the years, I’ve learned which events to skip, when to walk away, and when to actually show up. Being constantly present can lead to people losing interest and respect, but withdrawing at the right time can renew appreciation and enhance status. When something is scarce, it has high value.
Listen to your body. Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve become wary of my bodily sensations. My anxious ass panics when I feel a slightest hint of a cold, sore throat, and fever. Because of the fear and stigma the pandemic entailed, my brain would automatically interpret any flu-like symptom as COVID. Due to this, I want to stock up on antigen tests in fear of contracting the virus; or in hopes of ruling it out whenever I feel symptoms. I’m amazed by how our bodies try to communicate with us. I just can’t explain it, but I know if something is wrong and if I am about to get sick. I’ve become very keen on the early warning signs.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. We’re so caught up with finding success and happiness that we forget that the things that really matter are already present with and in us. Take a break. Appreciate the people around you. Make core memories. Often times, we forget that the best people, and things, in life are free.
Over the course of my four year navigation in the world of Psychology, I have also traversed over different creative pursuits aside from the study of human behavior. In my case, it was the world of Gastronomy that became my escape from the uphill journey to Psychological proficiency.
In the typical Andrei Paras fashion of merging two different worlds together, this blog post is intended to bridge the gap between Psychology and Gastronomy—resulting in this recipe for a psychology major that is Andrei himself.
Allow me to share the ingredients of the recipe I’ve developed over the last couple of years.
Calories: 2022 calories
Preparation time: 2 years
Cooking Time: 4 years
Just as flour is sifted to get rid of lumps and to have a smoother texture, before I entered college, I sifted my choices and filtered all the possibilities so I’d have a smoother experience.
I had a lot of courses in mind, but there were three programs I was mostly leaning towards. I considered taking up Communication because of my journalism background in Cor Unum and my stints in DSPC. And partly because mom finished the same course, I thought that she would be able to guide me. Next, I also wanted to take up Hotel and Restaurant Management because of Old Town and because I love food and fancy stuff in general. However, I took up STEM in senior high, so I thought I might struggle with business subjects in college. Last, I was very interested in Psychology and I know that it’s a diverse field and I can pursue different paths should I choose it.
Long story short, it was Psychology that ended up passing through the sieve. If you have been following my blog for years, you know that it came to a point where I wanted to become a dermatologist because of my undying love for skin care. But then again, I am also bound to run the business. Hence, I was confused. Either I’d pursue medicine or I’d pursue the business. It was Psychology that became the balancing act. I thought to myself, “I can use it as a pre-med course and I can also use it for the business.”
Sifting my course choices was one thing, sifting my choices for university was another. As I continued to narrow down my choices, I applied to Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines—only to not make it to the cut because I admit I didn’t prepare enough. It was AUF that became my saving grace. AUF, again, passed through the sieve.
Initially, I was interested in Psych because of the LINGAP services in HFA. Familians know this too well. Akala ko dati, kapag Psychology ka, ang trabaho mo is to give advice, to analyze personality and behavior, and to administer all those tests. Boy, I was so wrong. So so wrong! I even thought na I’d learn how to hypnotize people if I study Psych! Hahaha! Budol-budol lang pala sa shopping ang matututuhan ko!
I remember way back 8th grade, my friend Yan, or Duys, as we call her, owns a Kokology book. It is a Japanese game, like a projective test, where you’ll be given various situations and then choose among the answers based on your gut feeling. In short, your answer would reveal your unconscious intent and personality. It was fun. My friends and I would gather around reading it and trying to decipher each situation and figure out our personalities. I think it was this book that preluded my interest in psychology.
Writing this down got me reading my blog entries from high school and walk down memory lane. Looking at it now, if I could talk to my 16 year old self, he’d be so proud of how far I’ve come and that the things happening to him all prepared him for his future journey in Psych.
Just as eggs give structure, form, and volume to breads and pastries, the things I learned in SHS coupled with my innate talents and capabilities have prepared me to stand firm and strong in college. These are what I’d call the “eggs” in my recipe for Psychology.
Before entering college, I have always said that the K12 program was also a blessing in disguise as it gave me ample time to decide which path I’d take. In which case, Psychology still ended up being my choice.
I knew that the lessons and experiences in my extra two years in high school would be beneficial in my quest for Psychological knowledge. Be it in research (I’m very thankful for the intensive training in research I had in HFA), journalism (Psychology requires one to have an extensive vocabulary and stellar writing skills), leadership, and the arts. I knew that these were the “eggs” that would hatch and emerge as time goes by. I owe it to HFA for instilling in me the discipline and diligence I have for academics. I would not have it any other way.
Although all the “eggs” were ready to hatch, it was mostly the academic eggs that I was able to cultivate further. My college life was mostly academics, and I no longer involved myself in extra curricular activities because studying Psych was already too overwhelming. I’d be spreading myself too thin if I involved myself in other endeavors. Apart from that, there were only few opportunities around. I didn’t join the school publication anymore, I didn’t get to host an event, nor did I dare join the university pageant. All of which were also halted further because of the pandemic. This blog also took a back seat. I was just focused on reading books.
My first year in Psych was all about academics, and to an extent, baking. It was either baking or Psychology. Nothing in between. Dissect ng frog sa morning, dissect ng cake in the evening. Hahaha!
Apart from my world of Psychology books and lectures, the presence of Old Town further intensified my interest in gastronomy. And because of the pandemic, my culinary talent has gone to new heights. It was the culinary and pastry eggs (and actual eggs, lol) that cracked during the lockdown. In short, may incongruence ang course ko at ang passion ko. Haha!
Apart from food, the pandemic also gave me the opportunity to return to my love for the arts. I would like to believe that the lockdown unleashed my creativity. I did this while still studying Psychology online. Crazy how I used to juggle all these before. I had all the time in the world.
It was in the course of my journey in Psych that I really expanded my skill set, and the pandemic even intensified this need of mine to know more things related to my craft. I’d rather be able to do a lot of things and not just excel in one, rather than excel in one thing and suck at doing everything else. I have always believed na maganda rin yung marami kang alam gawin para marami kang choices in the future, yun nga lang, minsan mahirap pumili ng career. Haha!
Smooth. Fatty. Indulgent. Pleasurable. Positively reinforcing. Dopamine inducing. Serotonin boosting. My oxygen. My life. Cheret! When warranted, I always see to it that I still have time for self-care and leisure. Pero minsan sumosobra nga eh. Char ulit. I’ve always believed in the power of reinforcement and punishment. Oh, BF Skinner, be proud of me. Matagal ko ng ina-apply yung concepts mo sa buhay ko. To strengthen good behavior, dapat may reward ‘di ba?! Otherwise, mabu-burnout ako! I don’t let it reach that point naman. Just because life is hard does not mean you have to deprive yourself. Sabi nga ni Karen Horney, a form of self-hatred is self-frustration! No no!
When things were rough and life was tough, these were the moments that made my life smooth like butter (BTS pun intended).
Before COVID happened, my friends and I have a tradition of celebrating little accomplishments by eating out. Mapa-exam yan, project, birthday celebration, name it, we would always gather around food and enjoy each other’s company. This is also what the Psych department promotes—that you can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is very important. We’d treat ourselves with food, online shopping, or a salon day, basically anything that makes us happy! Satisfied dapat yung basic needs!
When the pandemic slowed down, I only go out with my family. I was not allowed to have coffee with friends. And super inggit ako sa mga nakakapasyal at nakakapag-gathering. It was only in 2021 that my family and I dined out for the first time. But then again, marami pa ring surge and variants last year so limited lang din. But now that the situation is becoming normal, and because we all have our vaccines and boosters, we have slowly explored and compensated for the years we were locked inside.
When the PCA started, I thought my world would just revolve around it, that I won’t have the time to go out and have fun, that I’d just lock myself at home reading and studying. I was wrong, mas marami pa yata akong napuntahan during the PCA season than last year combined. Yup. Ganung level. Partida na-surgery pa yung tuhod ko in the middle of it ha. Kaya yung anxiety ko bago mag-mock boards all time high kasi feeling ko babagsak ako dahil pasyal ako ng pasyal.
I can’t thank my parents enough for giving me and providing me with more than what I need. Siguro naging tradition na rin talaga namin as a family to implement a reward system, even if it’s just a small achievement or award in school, we’d celebrate, cook, go out or whatever. We’ve been doing this since time immemorial. And I think that really helped too, on a personal level, because when something motivates you, you’ll work harder to achieve what you want. In short, hindi lang naman ako puro capricho and kaartehan, I would proudly say that whatever it is I am enjoying right now, I worked hard for it. I earned it. Pinapakita ko talaga na I deserve whatever it is I may be asking for. (Talagang nag-justify pa eh no!)
It’s close to impossible to bake without sugar. Sugar provides sweetness, balance, and gives moisture to baked goods. Sugar is absolutely essential!
To analogize, I’d compare our dreams and aspirations to sugar, as they give us a taste of the sweet moments in our life. In this regard, you can’t achieve something without dreaming of it first. We feel a sense of direction when we set goals, plan, and dream of that sweet life. Once they’re all set and we’re ready, it’s time to do everything to let them come to fruition. In my case, the life I can see ahead of me literally involves a truckload amount of sugar. Lo and behold, the sugars in my life are as follows.
In my early days in Psychology, I planned on taking the board exams after I graduate. Everything I’ve written on my journals all say the same thing, that I wanted three extra letters after my name. But looking at it now, I am quite unsure. I think the pandemic also affected this plan, that the things I learned online won’t suffice and that the preparation I had was not enough. Maybe the pandemic redirected me to what is really for me. As of this writing, I am still unsure what to do. But one thing’s for sure—my future job would require me to wear white, and would literally involve sugar.
Because of the abrupt shift in education, we were all forced to study at home. But we didn’t think it would last this long. Akala namin before na the lockdown would only last for two weeks to a month and they’d be able to control the virus. Mali na naman kami. Two weeks mo naging two years! In whatever scenario, tuloy pa rin ang pangarap. Aral pa rin.
And since the lockdown extended, I have decided to renovate my room and have a proper study setup. I am lucky enough to have parents who supported me in this project. Nahihirapan na rin kasi ako with my old bed kasi lumalagpas na paa ko. I can’t sleep well! So ayun, everything was custom, even my desk. Kaya pinush na namin yung renovation talaga. In July 2020, I painted my whole room with the help of my cousin. Then over the next few months I slowly decorated it and as of this writing, it’s looking better than it ever was. I knew I had to invest in this because the pandemic would take time before it ends, and that I can’t bear studying and working in a disorganized place.
Since I just couldn’t let go of my love for clothes, I was ecstatic when they announced that we have the chance to design our white uniform. And as your resident fashion enthusiast, cinareer ko talaga. I was so happy when the white uniform design came into fruition. I just wished we had more f2f classes para sana nasulit ko siya.
Alfred Adler’s theory of personality postulates that we all experienced feelings of inferiority at one point in our lives, hence we try to compensate and strive for success. In layman’s term, you will try to compensate for what you might have lacked earlier in life.
It was this theory that applied to what I experienced in the last two graduation ceremonies I had. When I finished elementary, I went home empty-handed because my final average didn’t make the cut. I told myself that once I finish high school, I’d get all the awards I can possibly get. Then came 2018, my average was beyond my goal. However, it was my grade in Physics that pulled me down from the ranks. Instead of graduating with high honors, I finished with distinction. But I still garnered all the other merits.
These two experiences got me thinking that in college, I must (yes, must) finish with flying colors. This was the fictional finalism I have embedded in my mind, that I have to compensate for what I “lacked” before. It was such a dream. Take note, I imposed this on myself, and my parents do not demand anything from me. It was me who set these standards. Baka i-chismis niyo ako na pine-pressure ako ng mga magulang ko! I told myself that I’ll only graduate college once, so I better do everything to make it worthwhile.
The bread won’t rise without yeast. However, without the sugar, the yeast won’t have anything to feed on, therefore it won’t thrive. As the yeast feeds on the sugar, there would be no way but up. Hence the bread rises. Without the sweet dreams and goals, coupled with hard work and determination, I won’t rise to the peak experiences I’ve had in the course of my stay in the Psychology program.
In my first year in college, I kept on thinking about how I should utilize my Familian training. I always tell myself that I can’t let my alma mater down, which made me want to do better and excel further because my performance in college would reflect what I learned from HFA. Eh sa HFA kasi, lagi nilang sinasabi sa amin na pag college ka na, madali na lang dahil maaga kaming na-train at nadisiplina sa HFA. Eh yun yung tumatak sa ‘kin, na dapat mapanindigan ko ‘yung standard na ‘yon. Kaya ayun. In short, we were primed that Familians do really well in their respective universities. Magaling ang self-fulfilling prophecies ng mga Benedictine sisters! Pygmalion effect is real!
Furthermore, because mom has been with AUF for 25 years, whatever I do in college would also be a reflection of her. In short, wala talaga akong choice kung hindi ayusin ang studies ko because I can’t let her down. I can’t afford to fail or do something bad, because whatever I do would gravitate back to her. And hello, ayoko namang i-chismis ako nga mga former colleagues niya and ng Angeles clan na I’m not as good or excellent! Besides, I went to college for free because of her! I have a full scholarship, kaya I really can’t afford to fail or slack off because I should prove them that I deserve that merit.
Well, conscientious and studious naman talaga ako, and I know that mom and my HFA experience do not directly cause my academic performance. Siguro lalo lang nare-reinforce yung good study habits ko dahil sa mga iniisip kong ‘to.
I was fortunate enough to join PAPJA 2020 because this was the last major event for Psychology students all over the Philippines before the pandemic happened. I was so happy to see thousands of Psych majors in one event. Grabe, ganoon pala kami karami. It was an event worth remembering.
When it comes to achievements, I’d only say one thing: you reap what you sow. Don’t expect to have desirable outcomes kung yung performance mo and efforts na binigay mo, hindi ka-match ng outcome expectations mo. And small achievements and mastery experiences also matter, as they further boost your self-efficacy (uy, Bandura concepts). Additionally, it helps to surround yourself with good people, who are equally competent and driven as you, kasi nakakahawa yung energy that other people give out eh. If you surround yourself with lazy ones and carefree ones, alam mo na kung anong pwedeng mangyari sa’yo. Choose your friends wisely! Wag lalapit sa mga taong nanghihila ng morale mo pababa.Dun tayo sa may collective efficacy!
Bake at 350° Fahrenheit
With all things combined, it’s now time to bake. The ingredients are now complete and set, it’s time for the real deal. Without heat, no finished product will emerge. However, there may be times when the temperature fluctuates and gets out of control. Too little heat may result in a raw and undercooked product, too much heat may burn and ruin everything. Just the right temperature is enough for a desirable result.
Similar to an oven, life offers challenges and intense emotional experiences that when you can’t cope, you’ll come out burnt, damaged, and deformed. But if you know how to ride the tide, you’ll come out well. And strong. And in your best shape.
If there’s one thing I’d like to tell you about my college journey, it’s that it was not without struggles. The road was not as smooth as expected and there were obstacles along the way. There were moments that the heat was too much and I felt burned, but there were also times when it was not enough and I was not in my best.
The first month of my Psychology journey was all about the adjustment period, brought about by the shift in my school environment and the onset of Tang’s cancer. He met an accident in the first two weeks of my college life, he got a long bone fracture and spent 2 weeks confined, and bedridden for several months. Little did we know that it was the prelude to his almost four year battle with the big C. I spent two weeks of my first month in AUF going in and out of AUFMC to visit him. It was just the beginning of it all.
Just as personality theorist Alfred Adler’s childhood was marked by an awareness of death and sickness, I feel like my journey in Psychology was also the same. It was marked by a series of hospital visits, admissions, medication, and countless lab tests; not just of Tang’s but all of us in the family. To make things worse, the unthinkable pandemic happened.
I have this rule of not taking pictures of difficult moments, not wearing perfume or scents, and not listening to music when times are tough. All because of the potential connection between these stimuli and the painful memories. In short, when these things are paired with the painful memory, their presence might elicit a pain response where you’ll feel like you are reliving the difficult moment again. That’s the reason I don’t wear perfumes in these times, kasi baka pag naamoy ko siya again in the future, maaalala ko yung bad memory. I don’t want that to happen. Ivan Pavlov, ikaw naman ang dapat maging proud.
However, I took these photos because I thought that when I look back, I’d think of how I survived and went through all of these, and how much I have grown after these experiences.
It was 2021 which exemplified the oven temperature exceeding 350 degrees. Siguro kung yung mga past years normal temp na 300 degrees, yung 2021 siguro mga 550 degrees siya. Hindi na siya pang normal baking, pang broiling na siya! Sobrang nakakapaso, nakakasunog, nakaka-damage. But still, there’s growth after the difficult times.
If you’re going to tell my 18 year old self that I’d spend 2 years of my college life studying at home, I probably would have laughed at you. But the unthinkable happened. COVID-19 happened. I didn’t think it would last this long, none of us did, and that something so miniscule would literally change the world.
On a similar vein, when I was younger, I was fascinated with volcanoes and earthquakes, so much so that I always ask my parents about their experiences during the 1990 earthquake and the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. I even watch related documentaries as a kid. Sabi ko sa sarili ko, sana wala ng mangyaring ganoon, kasi maraming masisira at mahihirapan kaming lahat. Pero during those times, iniisip ko what if something big happens that will collectively affect or traumatize us? When Pinatubo erupted, my mom was in her 2nd year in college. So iniisip ko, what if something happens pag ako na yung 2nd year? And you guessed it right, COVID happened when I was in 2nd year. Until now I am still in disbelief that the past two years went by just like that. I feel like I saw this coming, but nope, that’s just my hindsight bias. Coincidence lang na pareho kaming 2nd year ng mom ko when a collective traumatizing event happened. But it’s still unbelievable. I am still processing how and why all of that happened.
If you think it’s easy to attend school online, like fully online, nagkakamali ka. It was not. Pero it is made easier if you have the means, of course. I recognize my privilege in saying this. Pero hindi talaga lahat ng students nag-thrive sa online setting. Blessing na rin siguro na introvert ako kaya na-survive ko yung 2 years na isolated sa mga tao.
As mentioned earlier, the PCA was the make or break subject in my program. Either you pass it and graduate, or fail it and gradwait. It was never easy. It came to a point na talagang bare minimum na lang talaga target ko. I just needed to pass, and not ace it anymore, I told myself. Basta pumasa okay na. Yun lang naman talaga nagma-matter. However, God heard my prayers and guided me throughout the mock boards.
It was in this experience that I learned how afraid I am of failing, more so with the thought that failing would mean getting delayed. And if you’ve read earlier, alam niyo na ang iisipin ko—that me getting delayed would be such a shame because I invested so much effort, time, resources, learning materials, and all. I felt like if I would fail this, it would define me, and that my thought that Psych is really not for me would be further reinforced. Sabi ko, ang lapit ko na sa finish line, hinding-hindi ko afford ma-delay kasi sobrang lapit ko na sa goal ko, nakakahiya kung maiiwan ako.Nakakahiya sa parents ko, lalo na, dahil talagang binibigay nila lahat sa akin and my only job is to study well. Ang laki laki ng ginagastos nila sa akin, tapos ‘di ako mag-aaral nang mabuti? (This is not meant to offend or shame those who did not pass though, in case you might misconstrue it. This is just how I viewed it—that I can’t fail it because I had all the resources. I had nothing or nobody to blame but myself if I fail. You get me? So I told myself that failing it is not an option.)
Hence, I knew I had to exert more effort and devote more time in this challenge. I knew I had to do well. There’s no other option but to pass it, bonus na lang talaga if I emerge victorious.
It’s also important to remind yourself once in a while that you have to enjoy the process, and not just passively wait to arrive at your destination.Dapat active learning rin, not passive. I don’t know if it’s just me, pero yung takeaway kasi sa PCA is like proving yourself again na kung kinaya mo yung mga subjects na ‘to before, kakayanin mo rin sila the second time. Thing is, compressed lang sila and added pressure yung passing rate, kaya mapa-praning ka talaga kung hindi mo ma-manage nang maayos yung thoughts mo. Again, mental fortitudetalaga and test taking skillsang tine-test dito.
In the course of the PCA, one thing na nilo-look forward ko was to know the things and lessons we missed when we took the classes the first time. Kasi ang dami pa naming hindi alam na nalaman na lang namin sa mock boards. Nakakainis kasi yung iba hindi rin na-cover sa mga review lessons. Pero nakakaproud rin, kasi most of these concepts which were new to us, naaral lang namin on our own, and kinaya naman namin sila!
Sabi ko kanina, I don’t put on scents during struggling times. However, I can’t review well if my desk is neutral or boring. So, I’d warm up scented candles depending on my mood and how I’d like my room to feel like. Minsan amoy coffee shop ang room ko, minsan amoy spa. But, in my mock boards review, I chose a scent that smells expensive and hotel-esque. Para naman ma-motivate ako to do better, para actual hotel na ang puntahan ko agad after ng PCA! Char! Penhaligon’s Neroli and White Barn’s Blackberries and Basil smell like my PCA days. Grabe, the scents even lingered on my notebooks when I brought them to the testing site. Eventually, na-classify as good memories ang amoy ng candles.
These scents remind me of the arduous days of my mock boards review. Talagang I’d cry randomly over messages of support from my friends, family and teachers, over random quotes on Instagram about motivation and determination. With their support and enough mental fortitude, I was able to rise above the anxiety and struggle.
In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl once said, “We may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one’s predicament into a human achievement.“ This book is one of my all time favorites, as it renewed my perspective on the challenges we, or I, face. That it’s possible to derive meaning out of our struggles, fears, and challenges.
There are two more quotes from Frankl which struck me. Allow me to share them to you.
“But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.“
“Suffering is not necessary to find meaning, meaning is possible in spite of suffering.“
Without the heat, again, no product will emerge. No baked goods will be available without heat. Again, it’s important that we recognize these instances as growth opportunities, not just as inconveniences and frustrations.
Cooling Time: 24 Months
Cakes, breads, and pastries need rest after being subject to intense temperatures. Just like them, we need rest and cooling time too. Otherwise, we’d crumble and fall apart, just as when you try to grab a freshly baked cookie, you’re left with crumbs and pieces. When you allow it to cool, you’ll get it in its most perfect shape, in its most delicious state, and in its entirety.
I would consider the pandemic in general as the cooling stage. It was the quiet part of my life as things shifted abruptly. I attended school at home. Ironic, I know. I spent my time doing things I love while isolated from the rest of the world. The world was much more quiet. Silver lining siguro ng pandemic ‘tong mga ganitong pangyayari. Yungwalang ibang tao, walang crowd, walang traffic, walang pollution. It was a time for personal growth without anyone else’s input. Absolute solitude.
After the intense heat of 2021, things were eventually falling into place in 2022. I would admit that I manifested this. After Tang’s death, when the pandemic (the Omicron surge) kind of slowed down, things were getting better.
Our house was slowly being renovated and improved. Our sales was improving, and marami kaming naging clients because of the campaign season. Moreover, I don’t see mom getting stressed over hospital arrangements, searching for blood donors, and funeral preparations anymore. Siguro the silver lining of Tang’s passing was that he is in a much better place and that he is no longer in pain. And that we don’t suffer also by seeing him in pain. I know he is watching over me, over us.
It’s also in this time na tanggap ko na ring kasama talaga sa Psych journey ko yung PCA. Because at first I was in denial, and was constantly rationalizing kung bakit ko ba ‘to tine-take eh hindi naman ako magbo-boards. In the middle of it, I have come into terms that it’s something I can’t escape. Nag-enroll ako dito eh, wala akong magagawa kung hindi harapin siya. And again, kung kinaya ko naman siya dati, kakayanin ko siya ulit.
I can’t imagine my college life without these people. Kagaya ng sinabi ni Lanceleine dati, hindi ko rin alam kung saang kangkungan ako pupulutin kung wala ang friends ko. I am so proud of us for reaching this far, and for sticking until the end!
It is in 2022 that God answered almost all my prayers. I am living through and experiencing the things and events I fervently prayed for before. Everything just fell into place. I am the happiest. Worth it lahat, and nagma-make sense na rin kung bakit nangyari lahat ng mga bagay na iniyakan ko before. Almost everything I manifested at the beginning of this year have happened, and are bound to happen. I am so thankful!
Of course, I wouldn’t be where I am right now without my family. Thank you for the gift of education and for everything!
It’s time. The timer is off. The oven is back to its cool temperature. The product has also cooled down. It’s time to serve (Dasurv!), it’s the good part! Ito na ang exciting part!
When all of this is over, I’d look back with a grateful heart; for the years I spent studying human behavior allowed me to fulfill my goal—that is to have a better understanding of myself and other people. I am grateful for the experiences, the people, the lessons, and everything in between.
After traversing the world of human behavior, I know that I’d be choosing my passion next. I will study the things I love, the things I’m interested in, not the things I’m unconsciously afraid of, or the things that no longer spark joy. I know that the next destination would be sweeter in nature, and would involve actual ingredients and a legit recipe.
Psychology is not the end-all be-all of my life, it just had to be there for me to discover that I am capable, and that I can relate with others. It is not bound to limit my career path, I believe that it just diversified my career options.
We’re out of the woods! Adios, Psychology! Veni, vidi, vici!
That in all things, God may be glorified!
Author: Andrei Paras Initial Draft: February 2019 Publishing Date: July 19, 2022 Featured Image by: Air Pocket Creatives Edited by: Andrei Paras Graduation Portraits: Cimmaroon Photography
“Did you ever hear about the guy who got frozen? Time went on for everybody else, he won’t know it He’s still 23 inside his fantasy How it was supposed to be Did you hear about the guy who lives in delusion? Break-ups happen every day, you don’t have to lose it He’s still 23 inside his fantasy And you’re sitting in front of me“
When I think of the events surrounding my life as I turn twenty-three, I feel like I am in a clean slate. The things happening recently are both endings and beginnings—an end of an era, a fresh start, an advent season.
Looking back, the things I manifested on my previous birthday have eventually been fulfilled and are bound to happen. The most recent of which is my forthcoming commencement exercises. In twelve days, I will graduate, at long last! God knows how much and how long I prayed for this to happen. But once I achieve this milestone, I will probably keep on asking myself, “what’s to come? what now?” For I am still clueless how to navigate my life from here on out. Will I pursue my passion? Or will I continue what I have started?Will I choose what I want this time? Or pursue what society would like to see me do—to take the board exams and work elsewhere thereafter? What’s is to come? I have no idea.
This freedom is both a blessing and a curse. I am free from school work and academic endeavors. I am also slowly being disentangled from the strict parenting as I am slowly becoming independent…hopefully. At 23, I better be. On the lovely side of that, this freedom also makes me anxious as it would mean that I have to fend for myself eventually. I have to work, earn, save, and invest—a typical twenty something would be expected to do. Along with this comes the quarter life crisis—the questioning, the doubts, the uncertainty, the unknown, which entails the pressure of having it all figured out and achieving your dreams. I am fully aware of the fact that the responsibilities I have ahead are much more complex. I’ll quote Taylor Swift, the scary news is: I’m on my own now, cool news is: I’m on my own now. No other choice would be more appropriate than to move forward, forever onward. As long as I am fortunate enough to be breathing, I will remind myself that I am in control of what I’d do and how I’d like to live my life. I know I won’t have all the questions answered at this moment, but it’s my internal locus of control that would help me figure it out.
For now, the thing I need to do is enjoy the current moment, celebrate my victories, and not get overwhelmed by the uncertainty and unknown. I’d focus first on what is bound to happen in the coming weeks, and I’ll go get that bread! There will be no problems, just champagne. This is 23.
Not much needs to be said but thank you.
To God, thank You for all that You have given me. Lord, I won’t be here without Your unending grace.
To Mom, Dad, and Popons, thank you, I love you! I’ll do everything to make you proud!
To everyone who remembered me, greeted me, sent me food and gifts today, thank you all!
“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling 22.” I’ve waited 8 years and 8 months for the day I can use this Taylor lyric, and finally, that day has come. Yes. I am 22 and I can’t believe it. I remember the days I was 13, listening to this song and wondering what my life would be like when I’m already 22. And here we are now.
A lot has been going on in my mind: mostly academics, some family matters, the things I’m about to check out :P. So forgive me if I can’t organize my thoughts on this post. I am literally writing this 5 hours and 30 minutes before I technically turn 22. By this time tomorrow, I hope this post has seen the light of day.
Long story short, I have not planned anything for my birthday. I have absolutely no idea what to do. No celebration menu was planned. No outfits were prepared. No places were booked. No one was invited. No annual birthday post was drafted. Absolutely nothing. One thing is for sure, I know how Taylor Swift felt when she turned 22—happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. Apologies if I always have a Swift reference; I mean, she owns the age 22. Enough said.
Casting my mind back to this day last year, I promised myself that if the pandemic ends soon, as in December 2020, I am going to have a 22nd birthday with a RED album theme. But then again, COVID is still out and about; and starting a super-spreader event does not sit well with me. It would be a very selfish decision to gather people now that the virus has mutated multiple times. It’s pretty terrifying. I can go shopping and dining to celebrate this day instead. I love my friends and family enough that I don’t want them exposed to a killer virus. I know they will understand.
Right now, I am just counterfactually thinking of what could have been if the virus is not around. I am probably spending my birthday in my internship place, wherever that may be. Maybe I am bound to celebrate my birthday in a fancy buffet with my family in the coming weekend. Perhaps, I’d invite my friends too. What if. What if. I still have this disturbing thought that I am slowly losing my twenties to this pandemic, and I don’t like it. I hate it.
Although this painful thought continuously lingers on my mind, I have to keep reminding myself that my 22nd year has plenty of events in store. As of this writing, I am on my summer term. I am just 2 semesters away from graduation. I am finally graduating from college at 22. I am bound to experience my internship soon, albeit online, I am looking forward to it. I am yet to receive my COVID-19 vaccine soon as I am qualified in the A4 category. Hopefully, I’ll get my jab before 2021 ends. I will vote for the first time next year and I can’t wait to exercise this right. I guess being a Psychology major has helped me rewire my brain every time I have unpleasant thoughts. It helps a lot. See, there are still good things waiting for me even if the pandemic robbed me off of the fancy stuff I wanted. Heck, the things that are about to come are actually more essential than what COVID has taken from me. I mean, should I not be grateful about my education, my health, my career, and politics?
To end this obligatory birthday post: I just want to extend my heartfelt thanks to my family, my friends, my classmates, teachers, and everyone who remembered me today. I am thankful for the birthday messages, greetings, food, and goodies. Thank you, God, for another year. I am eternally grateful for everything.
Happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time,
PS: Please register to vote. Let’s make 2022 a better year.