This Is Why No One Wants to Talk About Their Mental Illness (Published on Candy Magazine)

As I’ve said before, depression is an illness just like how cancer is an illness.

Like fluid released from a ruptured cyst, it will permeate your brain until you can no longer take the pain. You won’t know when it’ll hit you and when it does, there’s no escape. If you are suffering from this condition, then you are mentally ill.

It’s easy to claim that we are depressed; in fact, many people still mistake their sadness for depression. However, nobody wants to broadcast that they are mentally ill, to put the word out there for the world to hear. And it’s not so hard to see why.

For many countries, mental health is still an uncharted territory. With the majority of the population still turning a blind eye on mental health issues and with the stigma around it, admitting that you are mentally impaired is synonymous to claiming that you are crazy, psychotic, pathetic, crybaby, or whatever names they call mental health sufferers.

With the majority of the population still turning a blind eye on mental health issues and with the stigma around it, admitting that you are mentally impaired is synonymous to claiming that you are crazy, psychotic, pathetic, crybaby, or whatever names they call mental health sufferers.

It seems that we’re still far from witnessing the day when we can finally walk the streets wearing our mental health badges without being looked down upon by society. It doesn’t come off as a surprise, though, as women have been fighting for equal rights for so long already.

Depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder. You have to know these are not beautiful.

All those self-confessions and TV shows depicting the real-life struggles of mentally ill people are not beautiful. Nobody wants to talk about their struggles openly only to see a hint of prejudice in the eyes of those who are listening. Nobody wants to publicize a self-confession only to be rejected by a potential employer for being emotionally weak, for having a low emotional IQ. No one wants to be called “psychotic” by a colleague who has read their online article. No one wants to seek help from a doctor only to be judged by people as they walk down the clinic hallways. Nobody wants to suffer from any kind of mental illness. End of story.

Personally, I am not comfortable publishing posts about my struggles because one, I don’t want people to look down on me and treat me as if I am a vulnerable little crybaby and two, recruiters would see them, which means they could instantly dismiss my chances of working for them. I don’t want to be tagged as the “girl with depression.”

You see, this is not some kind of dating trend that people invent to have the internet talking about it. Our stories are not like those click-bait articles that people publish to boost their website traffic. We don’t invent stories for the sake of likes. We write the pain as we go through it because the process of letting out what we think and feel at the moment helps us heal.

We don’t invent stories for the sake of likes. We write the pain as we go through it because the process of letting out what we think and feel at the moment helps us heal.

And even though we’re not comfortable with publicizing our personal battles, we share them because we care. And you should care, too. You can start by opening your eyes. Because mental illness is not beautiful, but we can make the pain a little bit bearable by ending the hate.

Remember, everything affects everything; if the world were more open about the realities of the mentally ill, we would hear less news about people dying by suicide. Every action (and refusal to act) counts. Keep that in mind.

This originally appeared on Candy Magazine and was also published on Thought Catalog

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Today, I Decided to Be a Mental Health Advocate

When I started Nowheregirl, I was hesitant to publish my self-confessions for fear of being tagged as the “girl with depression.” Writing the pain as I go through it makes each battle a little bearable, but putting the word out there for the world to see used to make me uncomfortable. It’s not hard to see why.

We know that mental health is still an uncharted territory for the majority, and admitting you are mentally ill is almost synonymous to admitting you are some crazy psychopath.

What I did was write from a second person’s point of view. I made it appear as if I were talking to a twenty-something girl when in reality, I was talking to myself. This somehow made me feel I was not completely baring my soul, and it worked. But rather than posting it on my blog, I decided to give Thought Catalog a try. I submitted the article and received an email three days later that my article has been accepted and was up at their site.

Since then, I have been writing about mental health and submitting articles to various platforms, where I can reach and inspire hundreds of people, something that my blog couldn’t do for me because I have a small following.

From time to time, I get messages and comments from friends and strangers alike, saying they find my posts relatable. Some of them even share stories of their personal battles with me, seeking advice from someone who’s slowly learning to live with the pain.

I know there are downsides to publicizing your self-confessions, like being looked down upon by colleagues or employers. I have this friend who publicized her story about depression, which resulted in not getting the promotion that her manager almost promised her just because, in her manager’s own words, she has low emotional IQ. Even I got called “psychotic” by a colleague when he discovered through my blog that I was suffering from depression.

But knowing that there is someone out there who relates to my stories and finds comfort in my words is enough to compensate for those downsides. This makes me feel like in a way, I and my readers are on this journey together.

Today, I decided to create a Mental Health category in my blog, so readers who want to read about my journey can easily find them. Today, I decided I will be a mental health advocate in my own little way.

I’ll start by saying that if you are also fighting those invisible monsters, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me so we can talk and build an army. I may be an introvert and awkward at first, but I promise I will listen. Because, most of the time, that’s all we need–someone who will lend an ear, someone who understands.

If you want to get professional help, you can call our suicide prevention hotline (Philippines) 804-4673 (HOPE).

My Anxiety Helps Keep My Creative Juices Flowing

I won’t sugarcoat it: anxiety is ugly. Not only does it make me feel a thousand emotions at a time, but it also triggers my depression big time. As a creative who writes for a living, I discovered there’s an upside to all this.

Well, I can’t really call it an upside, for that matter, because that sounds like romanticizing the illness. But one of the things I’ve learned from years of battling anxiety is when you can’t fight the current, you gotta go with the flow.

I have long embraced this condition and learned to live with the pain, so whenever the monsters come knocking on my door, I greet them with a deep sigh while mentally preparing my weapons. Simply stated,  I have learned to anticipate what’s ahead by not wallowing too much on those horrible thoughts, which used to lead to suicidal thoughts. While it’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time, the process makes the struggle much more bearable.

So, how does it help keep the creative juices flowing?

Like I said, when you have anxiety, you imagine a thousand possibilities, which, no matter how terrible some ideas appear to be, is a creative pursuit in itself. But that’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Recently, I stumbled upon two articles about how boredom is equal to creativity and how being busy kills our ability to think creatively. The articles have basically one message: to put your smartphone down and start paying attention to the world.

Apparently, articles like these make me stop and contemplate: how am I doing?

As much as possible, I try to have a work-life balance by going out with my boyfriend, friends, and family when I’m not doing my nine-to-five job or side gigs or squeezing in my interests that are essential for my alone time, like reading books and seeing movies.

With so much on one’s plate, you can only imagine how I can still make time for my blog. As I explained in my previous post, I don’t find the time to blog; I wait for the ideas to come out of me naturally.

But when you have anxiety, your brain has no switch. I take advantage of this condition by writing the ideas and thoughts that pop into my head on my smartphone. This happens when I’m taking a cigarette break, killing time during traffic jams, waiting for sleep to come, or basically during all my idle moments. As of writing, I have 79 unfinished drafts here on WordPress.

Unless you are an author who writes books to earn a living, I guess you can still live a full life and keep the creative juices flowing. In this case, my anxiety is doing me a huge favor by keeping me in a constant state of overthinking, which then allows me to gather ideas and turn them into blog posts.

Writing Is Easier When I’m Wearing My Heart on My Sleeve

I remember one of my ex-colleagues asking me how I find the time to blog. Here’s what I did and didn’t tell her:

I don’t find the time to blog. I believe if an idea does not come out of me naturally, there’s no point hitting that “Write” button and trying to come up with a made-up vision just for the sake of publishing something.

I used to do that during the early stages of Nowheregirl. I was in the process of establishing my blog, so I wanted to stay consistent and publish not less than five posts every month. What I would do was force my brain cells to cooperate so the juices would continue flowing. Unfortunately, this process does not work wonders for me.

Tell me what to do and I won’t do it; leave me alone and I’ll give it my 200%. This holds true for me in all aspects–work, passion, chores… I appreciate being told what to do, but I do my best work when I’m left alone. #IntrovertAlert

When blogging, I am more comfortable to put my thoughts into words when talking about three topics: musings, accomplishments, and self-confessions. When I write about my musings, I just let out what’s going through my head, like comparing intelligent people to land and idiots to water. I’ll start with the story of how I came up with that idea and then the words will flow naturally.

When I write about my accomplishments, say my career or love life, it’s no brainer. Accomplishments put me in good spirits and writing when I am in a good mood is as easy as writing when I am blue, which brings me to my next point:

If you’ve been following my blog, you’d know that I write mostly about depression and mental health. Most of my entries to Thought Catalog, Mogul, and Candy Magazine are self-confessions of how I go to war every day.

Last week, I talked to my best friend about not being able to post anything in the past weeks. I’ve been busy with adulting that I failed to notice it had been almost a month since I last wrote anything here. I even joked about how I wish I were depressed so I could at least publish something.

I know that was a mean thing to say, but it’s true for me. Writing my pain as I go through it makes each battle a little bearable. I simply turn my struggles into sentences, insert some metaphors into the paragraphs, and rearrange the sequences to create a piece that reflects my personal battles.

Simply stated, writing is easier when I’m wearing my heart on my sleeve. When an idea pops in my head, my first reaction is to either grab my phone or find a piece of paper to save them. I don’t force myself to write something for the purpose of publishing it. I have to either be on cloud nine or feel blue to be able to write my best piece. I need to feel an extreme emotion–either positive or negative–to write effectively. Anything in between doesn’t work.

What Did Mark Twain Mean By “Good Books?”

As a bookworm, I am always bombarded with book-related stuff that I see daily on my Facebook newsfeed. Over the years, I have repeatedly stumbled upon this quote by the great Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain, which reads:

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Source: Picture Quotes

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. – Mark Twain

This quote always makes me stop and question myself, what did Twain mean by “good books?” I bet many bibliophiles would agree with him on this one, but even then, I wonder what others think about this.

“Good,” in this context, is such a vague adjective that does not imply anything unless Mark Twain explicitly defined this in one of his writings. “Good” is one of those adjectives (like beauty) which meaning entirely depends on the reader. That said, this single word makes the entire quote irrelevant.

Think about it. If some self-aggrandizing bookworm who prefers non-fiction books were to use that quote to justify that her taste is better than those who prefer Wattpad stories, her statement wouldn’t make sense at all.

Wattpad Reader: Wattpad is life!

Self-Aggrandizing Bookworm: Really? You should read the good stuff! Did you know that Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them?

Likewise, if a World Literature professor were to use the quote to back her claims that classic novels are better than young adult novels, she’d be making a fallacy.

World Literature Professor: So, what did you read over the weekend?

Student: Young adult books! Harry Potter is life!

World Literature Professor: Young one, you should be reading books with substance. Why not try classics? Mark Twain said that the man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them. Mark Twain is a legend. Believe him.

Student:

Young Adult Books:

Floor:

Simply stated, quoting Twain to justify our opinion about which books are “good” is total BS. In fact, the quote itself is a generalization and somehow demeans those who can’t read books. You see, even the phrase “can’t read books” in this context is too indefinite. Was Twain referring to the blind, illiterate, or impoverished?

I know some people who do not read books who are as smart as some bookworms I know. My point is, just because you are a bookworm doesn’t mean you’re smarter than those who don’t read. Although I believe well-read people have advantages over those who aren’t, being a bibliophile does not give us a free pass to insult the intellectual capacity of non-readers.

I hope people would stop using this quote from Mark Twain if their only intention is to humiliate others. Perhaps the better quotation would be from J.K. Rowling:

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Source: Pinterest

If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. – J.K. Rowling

On Editing: Making Money From My Hobby

Back in college, my favorite pastime was to point out the linguistic shortcomings of people. I used to cringe whenever I spotted or heard spelling or grammar errors. I may not have confronted anyone but I always secretly corrected them in my head. Sometimes, my best friend and I would discreetly talk about them and make a big deal out of those issues, as if those trivial blunders were a reflection of their intellectual capacity.

Being a Grammar Nazi was both a pleasure and a burden. When I was younger, I simply couldn’t help but butt in whenever my friends spoke or posted something in broken English. I always believed it was an act of kindness. I thought that by doing so, I was doing them a favor–I did not want others to make fun of them, that’s all. What are friends for?

Although it was never my intention to hurt their pride, some of them did not like my giving out unsolicited advice. For some of them, I was a self-aggrandizing bitch so they deleted me from their social media for fear of being criticized for their mistakes. I couldn’t blame them.

Now, I realized being a grammar police pays off. Even though I still miss annoying little details when I comb through my own works, I am now happily making money from my hobby.

Autocorrecting a grammar mistake when I see one has been imprinted in my personality, so having a nine-to-five job that involves editing and proofreading is a no-brainer job for me. It’s like doing what I do best but being paid to do it. The best part? I have more time to spare for the people and things I love.

At first, I was hesitant to pursue this career because I wanted a challenging job that would allow me to develop my full potential. Later, I found out it was a wise decision, especially because I wanted to pursue blogging and do side gigs at the same time. A boring nine-to-five job allows me to be more creative, apparently. With more downtimes on my plate, I constantly want to challenge myself and have the urge to do other things outside my full-time job. Really, it sounds like a dream come true for me.

If you are a Grammar Nazi at heart and you want to pursue your creative endeavors, I encourage you to get a full-time editing or proofreading job. I hope that would work wonders for you as it had for me.

Confessions of a Former Grammar Nazi

Back in college, my favorite pastime was to point out the linguistic shortcomings of people. Whenever I spotted grammar or spelling errors, I’d unintentionally make the person feel bad for committing such mistakes. What a bitch. If I’m being honest, I love to make a big deal out of trivial things. Naturally, I’d receive sarcastic replies or get removed from their friends’ list. I couldn’t resist the urge to point out those flaws, even in informal settings. I mean, what did these folks do in their English class?

At school, my best friend and I always sat next to each other to judge our classmates and professors. Our fetish: to make fun of people who incorrectly used the words you’re, your, they’re, there, their, its, it’s, stuff, paperwork, training, advice, and more. In our eyes, we were better than most of our classmates. In our classmates’ eyes, we were two arrogant bitches who loved to give out unsolicited grammar advice just to humiliate others.

Back then, my idea of an intellectual was someone who can write and speak fluently in English. I was so vocal about my dislike for people who commit grammar errors to the point that some of my classmates and friends, especially the English majors, removed me from their social media for fear of being publicly shamed for a stupid grammatical mistake.

Recently, I found out that even my relatives have become self-conscious of their grammar, too, because of me. Ha! They told me they’d rather shut up than receive harsh comments from their Grammar Nazi relative.

My philosophy back then was it’s pathetic to try so hard writing or speaking in English when it’s easier to do it using our native language. If it’s not an academic or work-related endeavor, or if you’re not talking to a foreigner, using English isn’t necessary at all, unless you’re simply trying to show off or look and sound cool in social media (which is totally uncool).

Now, whenever I look back in my previous posts, I see errors every once in a while. Obviously, those errors are not the usual grammar or spelling mistakes that non-writers make. Half the time, I spot poorly constructed sentences, dangling modifiers, and parallelism issues.

To be honest, it is easy to miss those things when you’re a writer. Writing and editing are two different skills, after all. Although some multi-talented or gifted word wizards can do both, not all writers are good editors in the same degree that not all editors are great writers. Editors and proofreaders don’t exist for no reason.

Let’s take this as an example. In my previous job, I qualified as a one-pass writer. This means my works did not go through the editing phase–I sent them directly to the web designers. We had editors, but the purpose of the one-pass writing program was to expedite the entire production.

When I first learned that I was among the chosen ones, I cringed because I knew I’ll never be good at editing (not true), especially if it’s my own work (still true). In a BPO setting, everyone needs to hustle because websites are being ordered in bulk and a company cannot afford a disruption in operations. Long story short, I had limited time for editing the pieces I wrote.

Normally, I have a tough time seeing my works from a different perspective. The trick is to change the font type, preferably to Comic Sans, so it’s like seeing the copy using a fresh pair of eyes. It works for me, but it’s not guaranteed to work 100% of the time.

Comic Sans and the Grammarly bot aren’t humans and humans aren’t perfect either. No matter how many times I comb through my content, my brain always beats my eyes. I found out that most writers experience the same. According to Wired, “the reason we don’t see our own typos is because what we see on the screen is competing with the version that exists in our heads.” This allows me to commit errors that, no matter how minor,  are enough to make me feel ashamed of myself and hide in my room 5ever.

But that was then and this is now.

I’ve long accepted that people commit mistakes–both in the linguistics and moral sense–and there’s nothing wrong with it (pun intended). I mean, it’s obvious when some idiot is simply trying to show off–I’d say they’re pathetic, but I won’t judge their intellectual capacity (even though I just called them “idiot”). I am both introspective and perceptive, thank you very much, and I am learning to consider things from different vantage points.

Whenever I see a writer (as in a self-proclaimed writer or someone who writes for a living) commit this mortal sin, I let them pass because I know the feeling. Writing, especially for personal blogs, is liberating when done without fears and limits. I do my best writing when I let out the exact words and thoughts going through my mind as I write. Although I usually hate my darlings by the time they become visible to the public, I am more comfortable publishing pieces that the grammar police in me didn’t inspect.

Now, if a Grammar Nazi were to visit my blog and judge me for all my grammar mistakes, I wouldn’t feel bad at all. Actually, I have a message for y’all:

Been there, done that, and I’d say it’s normal, that’s all.

xoxo,

a former Grammar Nazi

A Writer’s Dilemma: To Read, to Watch, or to Write?

My blog has been dormant for years (kidding, just three weeks) and I’m starting to feel like my life is a complete mess. The thing is lately, I have been torn between three lovers: reading, watching, and writing.

My best friend gave me this Kobo e-book reader and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since I first laid my hands on it. At the same time, I’ve been binge-watching 13 Reasons Why and Riverdale and seeing some movies in between. As I also write for a living, I find it hard to make time for my blog or my project.

In this post, I’ll try to solve a dilemma that’s been boggling me. Believe me, I write as I think, so in a way, we’re in this together. I have no idea what I’d write when I logged into my WordPress account. You see, as a writer of some sorts, I’ve been struggling for years: should I prioritize writing, reading, or watching?

Writing

I can’t emphasize enough how writing has saved me for years. When I ran out of courage to keep fighting, I wrote my way through depression. There were also times when my obsession with fictional characters made me temporarily forget my problems.

Writing is my therapy. However, writing for my nine-to-five job and doing some freelance gigs make it nearly impossible for me to write for my blog (a.k.a. submit articles to various platforms and then repost them here).

Reading

No matter what you say, I will always believe that to be a writer, you need to be a bookworm. When my boss at work asked tips on how to write quality articles in a lightning speed manner, I told them reading is my foundation. If you already have an idea in mind, writing the words will come out naturally. There’s no other way to do it good and fast than to read in advance.

That’s the reason why I never let my busy schedule get in the way of my passion for reading. Whether it’s a book, a journal, an online article, or what have you, you don’t stop reading because that’s how great writers came to be. Athletes work out to muster the strength they need for competitions. Writers read to gather information, exercise their imagination, and widen their horizons.

Watching

Writing for foreign clients requires knowing how to speak their native language. In my experience as a writer and an editor, I discovered that the biggest struggle of most of my officemates was Filipinism. Meaning, Filipino copywriters tend to literally translate Filipino idioms into English, which makes their copy sound sloppy and awkward.

I also found out that to be a good copywriter, you need to explain your message in layman’s terms. If you like to use hifalutin words to sound profound, you’re a pretentious little word witch and you need to learn spells to write in simple terms.

Watching American or British movies and shows helps me get a glimpse of their culture, traditions, and native language. When I write for a British audience, I’d recall how the Harry Potter characters or The Beatles phrased their words or lyrics. For an American audience, it’s easier. Our country is dominated by American pop culture. By watching and observing them, I learn to write how they speak.

Juggling three hobbies at a time may be tough, but I realize there’s no harm in doing it. After all, these activities keep me engaged. There’s lesser room for the negatives and to be honest, that’s enough for me. I’d rather struggle to choose what to prioritize than lay in bed and wallow in depressing thoughts. It still visits me every day, though, those depressing thoughts. Can’t speak for my future right now, but I have to admit, it’s getting better each day.

So, Tell Me, Why Do You Write?

As a writer, I often meet people who ask me the same question: Why do you write? My answer is always different each time.

“I write for a living.”

Perhaps this is the most realistic, most unpretentious answer to that question. I write because it’s my job. I write because I need money. I need money so I can buy things I need, buy meals that will stop my stomach from rumbling all day, and lastly, buy secondhand books that will feed my thirsty brain with knowledge. Perhaps.

“Are you serious?”

Because asking me why I write is like asking me why I breathe.

“I write for others.”

This is what I tell myself whenever I write web content for small businesses. I write to help them make an online presence. I write to help them grow their business.

“I write for myself.”

My brain is so pabebe it needs a pampering session every once in a while. My brain is so pabibo, it has no switch, and it keeps on keeping on even when I order it not to. My brain is so papansin it keeps on absorbing new things like it’s a blank canvas that can absorb gazillion coats of paint without damaging itself. And in case you still haven’t guessed what I’m trying to say, here’a hint for your dumb ass: writing is my therapy.

“What do you care?”

Because if your only concern is the amount of pay I’m getting as a writer, why bother asking me this? Why waste your precious time encouraging me to become a call center agent instead? As far as we both are concerned, I find my job fulfilling [1] and you don’t thank you very much.

“I write to inspire.”

Okay. So I didn’t tell anyone this because it sounds so pretentious and I bet anyone who knows me would laugh at me if I say this, but books, songs, movies, and art, in general, inspire me. These works of art lifted me up at times when I was depressed, helped me push through with life, and inspired me to keep writing when the world was dropping doubt-bombs all over me. Writing is my way of sending my sincerest thanks to the authors, writers, and all the creatives–both dead and living–who made make my life bearable.

And, oh, did I mention that I put up this blog to inspire others?

“It’s the only thing I’m capable of doing.”

I was once that dumb girl who told her friends that she writes because it’s the only she thing she’s capable of doing. Fuck that.

Like others, I can speak or chat with angry customers all day, empathize with them in their misery, and help solve their billing problems as if I have no problems on my own to deal with in the first place. I can be a production assistant in a big TV network, work 24/7, and receive the same low salary that I’m getting as a writer. I can work in an advertising firm, create catchy slogans, and build fresh ideas that will make our clients’ cash registers ring. I can work as a service crew at a fast food restaurant abroad and get higher pay. I can be an editor. I can be a team lead. I can try to do a bunch of other jobs, but I choose to be a writer because see [1].

“I write to immortalize myself.”

The photo of Robin Williams as John Keating in Dead Poets Society is not the featured image of this post for no reason. I have seen the movie and I have been greatly moved by the words of this fictional character. I wrote this post because I want to answer the same question he asked the DPS members:

We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race and the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering…these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love…these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish…what good amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are here—that life exists, and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

To answer the question of Mr. Keating, my verse will be to immortalize the ideas passed on to me by great people through their books, art, songs, and poems so I can inspire others who read my work.

_________________________________________________________________

“Why do you write?”

“To immortalize myself.”

“What do you mean, immortalize?”

“You know, to leave a legacy so people will remember me even after I’m gone.”

These lines are part of a novel that I made up, one that I created inside my head while staring at the blank space of this blog post a few moments ago. And it’s true, you know. If a job recruiter would ask me the same question, I’d honestly say, “I write to immortalize myself.” I don’t write for a living, dear sir. Scratch that. I need money, yes, but if I write for money then I’d have written press releases and paid reviews in my blog by now. I wouldn’t have submitted articles to websites for free. If I write for money, I would have spent my free time writing paid articles instead of wasting it by writing blog posts like this.

I write to immortalize my words. As Edward Sheffield said in Nocturnal Animals,  writing, for me, is like “saving things that will eventually die. If I write it down, then it will last forever.”

I want to inspire as many people as I can; it doesn’t matter how small my following is. I want to become an inspiration to others, too, and at the rate I am going, I am well on my way.

On the Extrajudicial Killing (of Darlings)

I’ve seen the movie Kill Your Darlings, but this post is not a review of any sort. I just want to react to a post I’ve seen on a certain Facebook page. Here’a preview to give you an idea:

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Source: Writers World

On Writing Without Fear and Editing Without Mercy

Ever since I started writing (like since grade school), I’ve always hated my darlings. Of course, I didn’t know it before, but I became aware of this when I saw the above photo on Facebook. Thanks to this post and the writers who agreed on the comment section, I know I’m not the only one.

Here’s the thing: whenever an idea hits me, like a really good idea that I think would make a great blog post, I’d try to put my words into writing immediately, given there is a pen and a paper or if my laptop is with me (I have no smartphone kasi, huhu poor me). And then I’d get excited to the point that I’d skip meals or disregard my to-do list for the day because I know that I write my best pieces when the idea is still fresh in my head.

Unfortunately for me, I get scatterbrained most of the time and so I always end up staring at the blank space of the WordPress site for ages. And then I’d give up because according to my #SpiritAnimal, the late Charles Bukowski (you know, the drunken poet who spent the latter part of his life drinking and writing), if it does not come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.

Sometimes, I get lucky. Sometimes, my body coordinates with my brain and I become so dedicated and eager and passionate and excited to produce the best work of my life. As my workmate said during her Blogging 101 workshop, one should write without fear and edit without mercy. And then I found out that most writers disapprove of this one trick that I’m doing.

On Editing While Writing

One of the things I discovered when I worked as a copywriter is that one should not edit while writing. And like what I do with my other discoveries, I carefully put it in a box in the corner of my mind, left it there, and never opened it. Not once. Not ever. Welcome to my life.

I think the best writing comes from within. I also think that writers have their own creative way of writing their best work. And I think I create my best work when I follow this trick: I edit while I write.

The result? My 1,000 words become 500. My forever struggle: to delete or not to delete? Because sometimes, a really good idea hits me but I know that idea should be reserved for another post. I guess that’s one of the eternal struggles of writers: to write a short yet effective piece.

On the Extrajudicial Killing (of Darlings)

To make the long story short, killing my darlings has become my technique to write a good piece. I know I should proofread and edit my work before I post it, but as I already edit while I write, I don’t even look at the final output because when I do, I don’t see a masterpiece; I see trash [1]. That’s how it works every time.

Fun facts:

  1. I love the idea of writing, but I always end up hating my posts because [1].
  2. I’ve never been confident enough to share my posts with others, especially with my fellow writers and bloggers.
  3. I am constantly tempted to delete this blog because I don’t want other people to see my darlings (which I hate).

As long as I reach the bottom of the page and know that I’m done explaining myself to the world, that’s it. Sure, I always (as in ALWAYS, as in FOREVER) hate my posts when it’s already out there for the reading pleasure of the grammar police, judges, and readers, but thanks so much for the photo above, I am now slightly more confident that I have edited (or killed) my darlings enough. Here’s to the extrajudicial killing of our darlings! #EditPaMore

Blogging: An Effective Way to Liberate Yourself From Toxic People on Social Media

Do you ever regret posting a not-so-conservative post that made your parents, aunts, uncles, teachers, workmates, or bosses react like “WTF”? Did they comment or message you with something like “Why are you posting stuff like this? Delete it.”

Or maybe your family and friends are loyalists or Dutertards and your posts were against their beliefs so you had a debate on social media about whether who’s wrong or not.

And then you cried because you couldn’t understand how people can be so fucking stupid. You deactivated your social media account because you were so depressed and you couldn’t stand seeing more hate comments from them. Next thing you know, you’re thinking about disappearing from the world. Or whatever.

If this has ever happened to you, then your social network is toxic. First, let me clarify the meaning of toxic in this context.

Toxic connections are not only those who spread hate comments on your posts and bring you down. If you feel like you can’t post something because you’re afraid that people, especially your relatives or workmates, will judge you, then it’s time to take action.

Let me tell you why I blog (and why you should blog, too).

You’re Speaking to Everyone and No One at the Same Time

On Facebook, all my posts are visible to my friends (I have only 111 Facebook friends, btw). On WordPress, my posts are visible to the public. Why am I here? Even though people from across the world can see my blog posts, you’ll find that the ratio of WordPress users to Facebook users is 1:23. When you blog, it’s like you’re speaking to everyone and no one at the same time. 

Sure, I do the shameless plugging on Facebook and Instagram sometimes, but the stats show that most of my visitors are WordPress users from other countries. The referrers are not even Facebook or Instagram. See?

Perhaps people are too lazy to tap the link on my social media accounts or maybe they’re using free data to access Facebook, but that’s not the point. Most people, or at least most people I know, are not interested in blogging, so it’s flattering to know that there are even a number of people who take the time and effort to read my posts.

There Are Fewer Toxic People Here, Mate

When you blog, you can modify your account settings and choose the types of users who can comment on your posts. Also, you can choose to filter the comments and delete the ones you do not like even before they appear on your posts. In my case, I allow WordPress users only to post comments. This way, people who are not interested in blogging can’t throw offensive, lewd, or stupid comments at me. The smaller your following is, the lesser chance you have of dealing with toxic people. 

The Experience Is Liberating

I have published posts against Duterte, Marcos, and the Catholic church (sort of). I admit, I did not use strong language in those posts, but I can only imagine the hate I would get if I posted those on Facebook or other social networking sites, what with all the trolls and fanatics out there. It’s a wise move, you know, and liberating on so many levels, unless you’re trying to become the next Mocha Uson (I’m not).

It’s Addicting

Blogging is like sex: once you start, you just can’t stop. Once you’ve found the courage to publish your first post, face the grammar police worldwide, and ignore the judging eyes of people, one thing will lead to another.

I have so many unpublished, private, and WIP posts on my WordPress app, but I’m trying to post one every week so as not to flood my site. It’s good to have a phone with you wherever you go. If you are a writer at heart, you won’t know when an idea will pop out of your mind. Whenever this happens to me, I usually put my thoughts into writing immediately. Good ideas are always best written when they’re fresh.

You Can Unleash the Writer Within

Practice makes progress. Even though I believe that writing is more of a talent than a skill, everyone can be a great writer over time. You just have to read a lot, write a lot, blog a lot, and then read some more.

Your Blog Site Can Be Your Online Portfolio

If you want to get freelance jobs, your blog site can be your best asset. Whether it is writing, photography, modeling, or what have you, your blog site is the easiest way for employers to see if you’ve got it in you.

If you’re like me who just wants a platform where I can express my “deepest thoughts and feelings” without exposing my posts to toxic people, then create your own blog site. Remember: here, you’re talking to everyone and no one at the same time, sans the toxic people who bring you down.

I Can’t Believe I’m 22

Is it too early to say I’m having a quarter-life crisis? Or is it just my anxiety getting the best of me? Whatever. It’s depressing.

Last year, when I celebrated my 21st birthday, the thing that bugged me most was the fact that I was going to be 22 next.

And what the actual fuck. 

I spent the entire year dreading the days leading to my 22nd birthday.

I mean, 21 was ok. Still young, only a bit older than an actual teenager.

I was fresh as a fresh grad, with the exception of a few wrinkles and pimples here and there, all thanks to the sleepless nights of fighting invisible monsters.

Now, I’m 22.

I’m still young, I know, if we’re talking about experience in the corporate jungle or life in general.

Yet I feel old, so old.

I feel like I’am a 54-year-old spinster trapped in the body of a 22-year-old dreamer.

I wonder why.

Perhaps it’s the depression that’s talking. “What, you’re 22? You’re getting old, and you’re dying soon.”

Or maybe it’s the responsibilities I carry on my shoulders. 

I mean, I’ve always felt old–I’m the eldest. I’ve always been the enabler, the leader. I’ve always guided my siblings, my peers, my partner, my colleagues. Heck, I even parented my parents.

I’ve always led the pack, even though I’m usually the youngest wolf.

And yet I’ve always felt old.

I can’t believe I’m 22.

I can’t believe I’m getting older and older each day. It bugs me every night. I can’t believe it’s been 22 years.

I spent two decades acting as an adult, as THE adult, because I always felt the need to act like one. 

Now, all I want to do is raise my middle finger to Adulting.

My youth is slipping through my fingers no matter how hard I try to save it. I can’t save it. I want to save it.

I don’t want to get old.

I remember Jeremiah de Saint-Amour from Love in the Time of Cholera, who took his own life before death took its toll. All because he didn’t want to grow old.

And like him, I don’t want to grow old. Just like him…

September 10 Is World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day. The funny thing is, it’s also my birthday. Could it get more ironic than this?

As you know, I’ve been vocal about my mental sufferings in my blog. For months, I did nothing but wallow in suicidal thoughts, going back and forth from being a cliche suicidal teen to a mental health advocate. 

The perspective of my writings keeps shifting from being The Nega Star (ever-pessimist-human-who-wants-to-stay-positive-but-couldn’t-thanks-to-my-depression) to The Advocate (the-writer-who-writes-about-depression-without-shame-to-supposedly-inspire-others-to-hashtag-never-give-up).

Thanks to this blog, I found refuge whenever I needed to let out my thoughts and emotions. But just because it has seen an almost-month-long hiatus from yours truly, doesn’t mean I’m suffering no more.

Truth is, the depressive cycle is not yet over.

The battle is not over yet.

And because I like to make a big deal out of trivial things, I want to make up a reason behind all this: of all the days in the year, why did the universe choose my birthday to celebrate suicide prevention?

When I first heard about this, I wasn’t okay with the idea. My first reaction was, “Are you fucking kidding me?’

But as I became used to it, I started making myself believe that it happened because I was ~destined~ to become The Advocate, not The Nega Star.

I’d like to believe that The Great Universe conspired so that every September 10, I am reminded of two things: first, my existence and second, the reason why I shouldn’t cease to exist.

Applying the 70:20:10 Ratio Outside the Office

This August, I was promoted to the Digital Content Manager position, hence the deafening silence on my blog. And last week, I facilitated a training program about the importance of the 70:20:10 ratio in the workplace. Basically, this learning and development framework captures three types of learning: 70% experience (experiential), 20% exposure (social), and 10% education (formal).

702010 ratio infographic
The 70:20:10 Ratio

The discussion was supposed to be quick and short but we enjoyed it to the point that a 4-slide PowerPoint presentation, which was supposed to introduce the actual training program, lasted for more than 40 minutes.

The bottom line is, although the formal learning accounts for only 10% of the total learning of an employee, it plays a crucial role to improve the performance of a person in the workplace.

After the training, I had one question in my mind: how can we apply the 70:20:10 ratio outside the office?

70% Experience (Experiential)

Let’s take a writer as an example. While other people claim that writing is a talent, I believe it’s a skill that can be learned and honed through the years.

Anyone can be a writer.

Experience is the best teacher, so for starters, you can start a journal, create a blog, write in your spare time, write whenever you can. Simply stated, if you want to be a writer, write.

But if you ever have a tough time in making your creative juices flow, remember what Charles Bukowski said: unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don’t do it.

20% Exposure (Social)

According to this framework, learning is 20% exposure. This one is about our social interaction with others. If we follow this to improve our writing, you must choose your circle carefully. Follow your favorite writers online, find and join groups of writers, and go out with people who share your passion.

The 20% also includes collaborative learning, which happens when you discuss ideas with people in your chosen circle. It also covers coaching and mentoring, which happens when you receive and provide feedback.

However, we must not forget that alongside feedback, we must also receive and provide encouragement to and from others. Feedback and encouragement go hand in hand. Without the other, the 70:20:10 ratio won’t work its wonders on your learning and development outside of work.

10% Education (Formal)

As I said earlier, this part might comprise only 10% of our learning but it is as equally important as the two other factors. Without this, you can practice writing until doomsday but you won’t achieve that much-needed boost in your passion.

I understand you probably wouldn’t do as much as a double-take in the matter of signing up for paid structured courses and programs since we’re talking about your passion outside of work, but the internet, although not purely reliable, offers tons of opportunities for all of us.

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on training programs related to your craft, find free online courses through your social network. You can try searching on Facebook and LinkedIn as there are so many entrepreneurs and influencers who are offering free courses in exchange for, say, a blog review, a newsletter subscription, or anything but money.

Sure, shopping around for free courses may be difficult, but that is your only ticket to success. At the end of the day, these structured courses and programs are what separate your normal learning experience from one which gears toward development. 

If you can’t sign up for these programs, the best you can do to help yourself is read the works of your inspiration authors and writers. They may not be able to provide theoretical learnings but they can at least teach practical lessons, which you can apply in your own system.

Got questions about the 70:20:10 ratio? Shoot me an email and I’ll help you if I can. 

Liebster Award

award1.png

I don’t have a large following, so I was #shookt when Niall, an English professor from Ireland, followed me. If my memory serves me right, he stumbled upon my blog when I posted a confession about being a former Grammar Nazi and I instantly regretted hitting that “Publish” button when I discovered he is an English professor. LOL.

Anyway, thanks for not unfollowing me even after seeing my grammar mistakes. Kidding aside, thanks for nominating me for the Liebster Award. (Check out his blog if you want to know if steal and rob are interchangeable and learn a thing or two about the beautiful English language)

Now, here are random facts about me:

  1. I sleep on my stomach.
  2. I won’t get tired of watching the Bridget Jones movies.
  3. I feel like I’m a 65 years old woman trapped inside a body of a 21-year old girl.
  4. I’m in a love-hate relationship with my boyfriend’s loud snoring.
  5. The word “ardent” makes me swoon.
  6. I don’t own a pet.
  7. I can cook but I’d rather write. Or read. Or live.
  8. I want to visit Liverpool and all the places referenced in The Beatles songs.
  9. I prefer a house over an apartment.
  10. I’d love to live in the countryside.
  11. I’m not a fan of the restaurants in our area.

In turn, I’m giving these people, whose blogs inspire me, a chance to speak:

  1. Rebel Rookie
  2. Out of Desk
  3. After Hours
  4. INTP Bubbles
  5. Cari’s Blog
  6. Very Happy Berry
  7. Booknomnom
  8. Hainrihi’s Discoveries
  9. Untouristing
  10. Smitten Wordsmith
  11. LonelyHappyThoughts

The questions would be:

  1. What’s your favorite book?
  2. Who’s your favorite blogger?
  3. American English or British English?
  4. Have you seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
  5. How did you get into blogging?
  6. How many books do you own?
  7. Name one item on your bucket list.
  8. What’s the one local band you would recommend to a foreigner?
  9. How do you normally spend your Sundays?
  10. Do you have a library at home?
  11. What’s your favorite F word apart from Friday?

And for the rules,

  1. Display the award and thank your nominator.
  2. Give 11 random facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 11 blogs.
  4. Notify them.
  5. Give them 11 questions to answer.

Cheers to blogging!