A New Normal

It has been half a year since I touched this. Let me bring y’all up to speed through a listicle:

  • July:
    • Started working at my job in San Francisco
    • Splurge with my first paycheck
    • Hanged out with Claremont friends in the Bay

 

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College friends in the Bay (Shoutout to Vy, Teo, and Riki)

 

  • August:
    • Familiarized myself with the marine conservation movement
    • Saw more Claremont friends in the Bay
    • Traveled to Washington DC for the first time for my fellowship orientation

 

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Court House Metro Station (Arlington, Virgina) – RAY Fellowship Orientation

 

  • September:
    • Went to SF Zinefest and reconnected with the power of art and community
    • Started rock climbing
    • Had a work retreat at Santa Cruz
    • Continued to see more Claremont friends in the Bay
    • Went to community event and conferences that nourished me with warm energy

 

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SF Zinefest (Golden Gate Park)

 

  • October
    • Traveled to New York City for the first time for a marine conservation conference
    • Began seeing more community friends
    • Met up with a couple of Claremont friends in the Bay
    • Started to become more active in community activism in the Bay Area

 

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New York Public Library

 

  • November
    • Started drawing class and build creative confidence
    • Got involve with NQAPIA’s triennial conference that will be happening June 2018 in San Francisco
    • FaceTimed Claremont friends
    • Got into crystal healing and exploring my own spirituality

 

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Rose-Shaped Beewax Candle

 

… And that brings up to December. So far, it has been a hectic ride with a lot of soul searching and being in a relationship with myself. The process continues in exploring what means to connect with people, how to love them and their “imperfections”, and what a community looks like while reconciling your needs and others.

From my previous post about having to be heartbroken, the question “why do I want to be in a relationship?” evolved to understanding how I internalized a particular perception of relationships. This issue is not fixated towards “romantic” relationships but, more importantly, the everyday connections we make with those around us and how life shapes them. Since May and June (aka graduation and being heartbroken), my approach to being in a relationship with others, especially in the Bay Area, was heavily fixated towards an academic and activist mentality. I was talking in tongues and jargons that no one in the Financial District in San Francisco could understand. While there were a couple of people who understood my theoretical rhetoric, it was still isolating to know where I was. My loneliness became the result of the inevitable transition of post-grad life and uncanny yearning to live in the past of my scholarly self.

The healing process that coincides with the relationships around me was definitely tough. It was through countless conversations with college friends and reading literature and articles (such as bell hook’s All About Love, Thich Nhat Hanh’s How to Love and various articles from “The Body Is Not an Apology”) that lead me to discover my own romanticize perspective of being in a relationship. The aspect of “letting go” of someone was not just simply me forgetting my exes. It became having to liberate myself from the idealized fantasy that I was so desperately wanted to uphold. My body and mind were chained to perceptions of being:

  • A “good” boyfriend to a significant other – wanting to go back to the relationship and fix what was “broken”
  • A “true” friend to loved ones – having to accept all the wisdom or “tough love” without question
  • A “prodigal” son to my family – living up with expectations and baggage that was past down onto me

The list goes on and on with all my identities. This mentality becomes dangerous through communication and how I would treat others. Projecting my idealized reality through words and behaviors would always conflict with other’s realities. Whenever there was an opportunity to connect and grow with someone also brings challenges and conflicts. Sometimes, we would forget about the potential hardships and want to stick towards the positive moments. I would state that this is where pain and growth constantly collides.

Painful growth has been a reoccurring theme throughout the past few months. It will probably be a constant theme throughout our lifetime. The negative aspects of life: the ugly, sad, depressing, dirty, uncomfortable should not be so bad as they are intended to be. I think it is simply human to wrestle with these nuances. This can be seen as a rainy, stormy weather. After the storm, it becomes peaceful again … but in a different way. Maybe some flowers lost their petals or trees fell over. But in the end, it becomes a “new” normal.

My “new” normal will be looking like moving out of my parent’s house. It will be finding a part-time job to keep up with the high cost of living in the Bay Area. It will be focusing on my art and be discovering what it means to be an “artist.” It will be continuing to love myself first before others. It will be building communities for others and myself. It will be the sweat, blood, and tears of surviving. Hopefully, by the end of the day, my “new” normal will be me thriving.

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A Broken “Shell”

 

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A piece of a coconut shell being washed away | Waialae Beach in Honolulu, Hawai’i

2017 has been a bumpy roller coaster … for me at least because a majority of the pain that I had to go through were breakups.

How and why did I have to deal with two gay breakups in one year?

Well, to give you more context on how I put myself into the situation of being heart broken twice within 6 months, here is a TLDR (too long, didn’t read):

My first ex, who I dated for two years, broke up with me before the start of my last semester in undergrad which was mid-January. My second ex/freshman crush and I dated four days after my first breakup. My second ex and I broke up mid-June.

I bet you are thinking, “Why the hell did I choose to date right before a breakup?”

Well, I am still learning from mistakes because I should have definitely taken some time to be single before settling with any other guys. But I won’t deny that my heart and mind was naive and fixated to the fantasies and dreams I wanted.

In this growth and healing that I am experiencing, I had to ask myself:

Why do I want to be in a relationship? What was the goal?”

Pondering on those questions in relation to my identity as a gay man, I thought my desire for having a boyfriend came from feeling lonely.

Growing up, there were a lot of factors that pushed me into “gay isolation” and into the “closet.” One, I didn’t have the capital to be going out and meet other gay guys. Two, I probably didn’t have the guts because I was so afraid of meeting strangers. And three, I was fixated and comfortable to communicate with other gay guys online and through apps.

Oh god … the culture of online apps. Having to succumb to the culture felt like another battle in itself. In having to dodge my way from awkward moments and microaggressions in conversation with other guys, it became tiring to deal with guys who were in the same struggle that I am experiencing. Even knowing people out there and being able to chat with them, there was always this void-like feeling. An emptiness that is shadowed by looks and characteristics rather than personality and dignity.

Then the online app culture captured me and left me falling into a trap of desperately trying to find some “companionship.” Unfortunately, a lot of that “companionship” developed into hook-ups. At first, it was being human to fulfill human needs. But over time, the whole process became exhausting and unfulfilling. From that realization, I guess that was when I wanted a boyfriend but still for the sake of not being lonely. The fact that I came into relationships with an internalized mentality of not wanting to be lonely was probably not the best move for myself.

So … why couldn’t I feel contend with myself and the loneliness that is out there?

I would argue, particularly in the gay community, that there is definitely a lingering toxicity and ongoing trauma from “being in the closet” that continues to rave havoc. Probably starting off with the issue of being lonely …

Why did I feel lonely? What led me to be in my own bubble? Was it because I was gay?

Then it dawned on me that maybe it was because I was gay and I didn’t take the time to fully accept that. Understanding the social pressures and stress that coincide with the identity, I closed myself off with a shell. Yet, that protection came with a price as I was also hiding my true authentic self. It was self-deprecating being stuck into my own way of living. It was numbing to know that I don’t feel good as I should with the accomplishments I made or the struggles I overcame.

So I guess now I have a new goal: to love myself more. To be with myself of who I am to the most full extent. To love myself as much as I love my mom. I hope to work towards inner peace with myself and my sexuality and to say that it is ok to be single. And hopefully, my process can transcend into helping other gay guys to love themselves rather than getting stuck in the cycle of hookups and loneliness. Yet, this is all easier said than done. There will definitely be bumps in the road. But at least now, I am feeling nourish in focusing on myself and doing what needs to be done to love myself more and more each day.

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I want to take the moment to recognize my exes for the painful growth you have led me to experience. Also, the article “The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness” by Michael Hobbes for shining light on the issue. I would highly recommend reading it because it does a better job of addressing the issue of “gay loneliness.”

 

Rejuvenate

New day, new me!

I decided to rejuvenate my previous blog that was once called “Alaala – Rey’s Philippines Journey.” The blog showcased my experience studying abroad in the Philippines back in Fall 2015.

My decision to utilize my old blog again to not only maximize what it can become a “way of life” blog but most importantly, using this platform as space for me to share my critical thoughts, opinions, and questions. After graduating from undergrad and moving into a new chapter of my life, my experience living back in my parent’s house felt like it was missing something. The proximity of my friends was definitely a factor but I won’t say it was the only one. I believe it was the intellectual discourses that I had back in college with my peers and mentors.

Yet, I am not discrediting the fact about having intellectual discourses with my family. Allowing critical conversations would involve having to incorporate dealing with intergenerational differences and language barriers. Even I am still learning how to navigate conversations with those particular circumstances.

With the time being, I thought it would be great to have those intellectual discourses through sharing my thoughts and opinion on this blog. This method shouldn’t demand an immense amount of labor or immediate attention from others because I believe I can allow my clouds of thoughts and concerns be frozen in “time” within the virtual world.

My goal for this “new” blog is to give myself a (virtual) space to express my ideas that don’t have to be molded into the performativity of social media like Facebook and Tumblr. In the long run, I hope to become a better writer through this experience.

Also, I hope to make this more interactive. So I will leave a question after each post. For example:

What was the last time you “revamp/rejuvenate” a project? Was it successful? What would you do differently? Or what did you do differently?

OR

What questions/topics you have come to face today?

Leave a comment below 🙂