I’ll miss that damn bed.

Bed

 

I loved my bed frame.

I remember moving out of my parents’ house and into my own apartment. Seeing my then-new bed being assembled and admiring the finished product just gave me a sense of independence. It somehow symbolized a new me – someone who changed what was to be a my cultural norm: moving out of my parents’ house. To many, it may sound like a silly accomplishment, but it surely wasn’t for a young Filipino woman. There I was, still a newly college graduate who was ready to conquer the world – or so I thought. I never knew life would kick me in the ass.

For about a year, life was manageable. I wasn’t where I wanted to be, but I was fairly content and optimistic about a better future. Then, everything that could happen at the wrong time, happened. In a timespan of about 4 months, an abscess formed in my throat resulting in an emergency procedure; rats chewed up my car wires that costed more than I wanted it to and my student loan repayment grace period ended. On top of it all, I got a new job that I’m not passionate about. I know, there are PLENTY of people who have it worst than I do, but it did bring me to some sort of mild depression. There wasn’t a day that went by I didn’t cry about everything going wrong. Financially, mentally and emotionally I was stressed. But you know what? In the midst of it all, I found love; and that alone makes all this adversity bearable.

My upbringing has influenced me to keep my guard up – it takes a long time for me to be able to trust anyone. My boyfriend and I are in a whirlwind relationship and I never would’ve guessed a little over a year ago, I’d be moving out of my apartment and moving into his condo. I was hesitant when this idea came to mind because I felt like my independence would no longer be valid. People usually come to me for help, advise and just someone who exhibits an action of care. These small, but stressful adversities has challenged me to accept help from someone who possesses the same characteristics people usually see in me.

Accepting help from someone is a huge change for me; but what’s special is that this wonderful man I have has taught me to trust someone. He’s taught me how to compromise, how to challenge myself and how to love. He’s taught me how to accept things we have no control over and how to make the most of every trial. He’s taught me how to be happy and to put myself first. He’s my confidant, my lover and my best friend.

As materialistic as I may sound, I cried when I found a buyer to purchase my bed. Reality finally set in – the object symbolizing my independence was soon to leave me. A few tears, sweet kisses and comforting hugs later, I realized what I’ve been saying all along was wrong – I DO fear change. But what is life if we don’t experience change? If we don’t experience vulnerability? I get it now – I’m not attached to the bed itself, but attached to the image of my “independence.” I was single for a long time before I met him, so becoming a “we” has been difficult; but oh boy am I the happiest I’ve been with anyone. In the end, I had to remind myself one thing – to not cheat myself out of happiness. Yes, I’m independent in the sense that I rarely rely on others for anything – it’ll always be tough for me to do so, but I ned to get rid of that ego. This person I’m with loves me unconditionally and I’d trust him with anything. I know this path we’re choosing together will enhance our relationship to be an even better one and most of all, I’ll be truly happy; something I haven’t felt in so long.

I’ll still miss that damn bed though.

XOXO,

Crystel

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Sunsets and Sunrises

Sunrise

 

To most of the country, Seattle is well known for a few things: Coffee, seafood, techies, the 12th Man, etc., and etc. Okay, there are plenty more, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

Aside from those, it’s also know for its lush evergreen trees, glistening waters, endless trails to explore and rain. Lots and lots of rain. When the sun decides to grace Seattleites with its presence, the Emerald City poses as one of the most beautiful cities across the country.

I live in a suburb just outside of Seattle. Everyday after work, I try to run as my routine in an attempt of keeping healthy. Last night, as I made my way through my usual trail, I noticed touches of orange and pink clouds peaking through the trees hovering above me. Whenever I see a glimpse of these clouds, I know right away a beautiful sunset or sunrise is happening. I decided to take a different route to admire and witness this sunset for myself.

I love sunrises and sunsets. They occur during moments where it feels like it’s most peaceful. I love them so much that if one of these occurred even when driving, I would purposely park my car just to capture a photo of its beauty; and to admire what nature, what God, has created.

As sunrises slowly transition our night into light, it’s a reminder of how lucky I am to be able to breathe and live another day. As sunsets transition our days into nights, it’s a reward of all the accomplishments I’ve completed that day. Either way, they both bring a sense of peace into my soul.

What I love most about them? Every sunrise and sunset is different. Not one is, or will ever be, the same as the day before. Whenever I catch them, I try to take every moment of beauty in. I try to live in the moment because I know I’ll never see the exact same phenomenon again.

It’s so much like life. We live in a world of instant gratification. A world where we plan a vision in our heads and are disappointed if doesn’t come true. With sunrises and sunsets, though not similar everyday, we accept and appreciate their beauty. We accept the picturesque image sewn together by the clouds and touches of the sun – accented with hues of pinks, oranges, gold, and sometimes even black. Though we know what a sunset and a sunrise looks like, we never visualize all the different pieces that cohesively create the photo in our minds.

If only people see life and people the way I see sunrises and sunsets. Tomorrow is never certain – take time to admire life’s precious moments. While we live in a world filled with routine, slow down and smell the roses. Admire the beauty of something unique. Admire a sunset, count the petals of a flower and as you’re savoring a bite of your next exotic meal, why not try to decipher the different ingredients in the food? Accept that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes – all forms and colors. Everyday, like a sunset and sunrise, people change – mentally and physically. Accept their changes, accept their flaws and if by a chance they are experiencing negativity, offer your empathy.

My entire point to what I have just written? Like you would a sunrise or sunset, savor life’s moments and accept people – beauty, flaws and everything that comes along with them.

XOXO

–Crystel

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“It wouldn’t hurt to smile.”

Book

I do not own the rights to this photo.

 

“It wouldn’t hurt to smile,” my coworker said to me as she walked past my cubicle. It was a rough week – both at work and in my personal life. To say I was drained, physically, mentally and emotionally was a complete understatement.

I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky individual. While my life was a little challenging growing up, you’d seldom see me without the biggest smile on my face. On top of that, I’m one of those rare young folks who still acknowledges everyone I pass by: “Hi, how are you, good morning, “hope you have a good night.” I’d consider myself an extroverted-introvert. I can start a conversation and get along with anyone, but there are moments where I prefer to enjoy my own company. I’m an observer – I’m curious of people’s actions and love to understand their stories behind them.

You can say I’ve sort of “spoiled” those who don’t see me outside of a professional setting, with my overly nice and optimistic attributes. So much so that when I come into work not chatting up a storm, or lacking my “signature smile,” it completely shocks anyone who passes me by.

A little bothered by that comment, I focused all my attention to my desktop monitors and proceeded with completing my work for the day.

What’s interesting about this entire incident is the phenomenon of people constantly branding others into an image of what they perceive is their “norm.” . i.e, If someone is always smiling, their life is perfect. Or, if someone is constantly posting photos depicting a fun time with friends/family, the relationship they have with them is all positive.

We often forget that we’re all humans. While we may come from different backgrounds, hold different morals and possess different colors of skin; what we all have in common is the ability to sense all kinds of emotion. So why do some disburse a specific emotion to one person and they expect them to uphold that emotion?

For me personally, it makes me feel like I cannot transmit any emotion aside from “happiness.” And honestly, causing someone to feel that way is just the most horrible thing. The reasons? Because if a person who usually transmits “happiness” transmits anger or sadness, the receiver of this message interprets it as being the end of the world. They interpret it as not being acceptable – as if you’re a person often happy, positive, smiley; it’s you’re responsibility to remain this way… everyday, hour, minute and second.

As I continued on with my work, and my 2nd cup of coffee, I began taking more offense in that comment.

Instead of commenting and encouraging someone to physically show their “normal” emotion, why not just acknowledge the emotion they have at that moment? Why not be more empathetic about it? Why not offer to better understand or accept that everyone should have a right to let out how they’re feeling.

Why does society treat emotion as sort of this stereotypical concept in which we judge a person’s life by the aesthetics they provide? What people should focus on is understanding people – listening to their stories before deciphering a conclusion. Simply telling someone to smile is not going to change how they feel. Personally, it would only make me feel worse.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” certainly is the best example to use. A book’s cover can be made with the highest quality leather, bound by gold or have the most attention-grabbing photo; but at the end of the day, the cover of the book may be what carries the story. There’s nothing interesting behind it. Inversely, a book that appears quite dull to the eye, is enclosed with a story inside that is intriguing, entertaining or contains a life-changing message.

We don’t know what lies behind a sad face so as much as a face with the biggest smile in the world.

XOXO

–Crystel

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Carpe Diem

Vulnerability-Just-Ahead

I do not own the right to this photo.

I work in healthcare admin. Everyday, I speak to patients over the phone. Everyday, there’s at least one person who ruins my mood in that they blame me, or one of my other coworkers, for things that are not in our control. Everyday, I help patients process their referrals for things such as a hysterectomy, prostate biopsy and a follow up to a miscarriage. You can say I’ve adapted to often forget that these procedures, medical terms, life-threatening health concerns – there’s so many ways to describe them – are being lived by a real human. It’s easy to forget when you feel like you get the blame – when you feel like you yourself are helpless in trying to help.

My outlook on life changed a little these past few weeks. A close aunt, my second mom, had a hysterectomy. This was a shock to our family as it happened so fast. Last week, my uncle went to see a doctor due to chest pains. Well, a few hours after that appointment, he had to undergo an emergency triple bypass surgery. Even a bigger shock. Everything that’s happened to my family lately has really gotten me to show more empathy towards people. It’s also made me think more about taking chances in life.

I was speaking to an older gentleman this morning. He got transferred to our department after receiving a letter in the mail for his wife to see a Gynecologist. As I sat in my cubicle, I took a sip of my coffee to prepare for the worst:

“I told you guys already she does not need to be seen.” “Why is it taking this long for my wife to see a doctor?” “How would you feel if you were bleeding in pain and you had to wait a long time to see a medical professional!”

Before the gentleman had a chance to communicate, one large detail I noticed was bolded in red in his wife’s medical profile: Deceased.

“I just wanted to call to see how I can get it changed in your system that my wife has passed on – she died a few months ago.”

I offered my condolences, apologized about the letter and explained some changes we’re making to our management systems. He thanked me for the clarification and we ended up having a very eye opening conversation. Well, eye opening for me that is. His words were honestly like music to my ears. He spoke of how he met his wife, how she was the most beautiful woman on earth and how she had the most kind heart. I felt my eyes water as he professed the love he still held for her and how much he missed her. He sort of lectured me about “young people who take don’t chances.” He spoke of how his wife opened him up to be… vulnerable. Something that’s terrifying to many human beings today.

Imagine walking through the halls at your workplace, roaming through the aisles in a grocery store, or even as you wait for a professor to begin lecture in a college classroom. I’m sure you’ll notice one thing – people no longer are conversing, but rather have their heads pointed down to their mobile screen, all while quickly deciding which emoji to send to their chosen recipient. A lot of the time, we are vulnerable enough to communicate our feelings of love, anger and happiness through a little mobile device. A lot of the time, we easily express our hopes and dreams on social media. A lot of the time, what we express in our little mobile devices, rarely make it into our reality.

It’s interesting how much society has changed in that we’re comfortable, maybe even vulnerable, with expressing our feelings and emotions, behind a cellphone or computer. It’s interesting how it’s the complete opposite when you’re in the position of conversing with someone in the flesh – face to face. Will you be able to tell that person your feelings or express your emotion when you’re not guarded by a virtual device? I’ll tell you this, I still have a hard time doing so.

In Webster’s Dictionary, this term is simply defined in 2 ways:

  1. Easily hurt or harmed physically, mentally, or emotionally
  2. Open to attack, harm, or damage

I interpret it as taking risks without knowing what’ll happen. Knowing that in the end you might risk disappointment, hurt or hey on a more positive note, happiness.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about how I’m constantly being challenged by my family’s expectations. Well, I’m also being challenged by my lack of being vulnerable. Like many people, I’m terrified of not knowing what’ll happen; of failure. I’m terrified of not being in control – maybe that’s why I refuse to learn how to swim.

I thrive in looking at past experiences: “These statistics from last year showed to get to here, you need to do this.” Like many people, I do still think about my past; failures are the reason why I have my guard way up in opening up to people. I’m friendly, I’m outgoing, I’m nice; but I’m terrified when it comes to letting someone know everything about me – my childhood, past, failures, etc. – I’m scared to take that risk of being judged. Of being vulnerable in letting someone see me at my worst. But that’s what life is all about, right?

Speaking to this gentleman today made me revaluate vulnerability. In laymen’s terms, if one wants something, one must act on it. If you are miserable with your job, change it. Start looking for a new job. If you want to travel, travel. If you love someone, tell them. Life is way too short to be left in the dark – to be asking yourself, “what if?” When I get older, in my death bed, I’d hate to feel like I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to do in life. To not feel whole and have a sense of peace with my relationships.

These past few weeks have made me think about where I am in life. Like mentioned before, I’m not were I want to be in my career, but I’m working hard everyday to get to where I want to be. Now, sometimes I am so set on achieving my goals, that I forget to take care of myself. I accept any task family and friends ask of me because it’s a challenge. Challenges keep me busy. But in the end, I rarely feel accomplished because while I complete these tasks with the goodness of my heart, I never feel complete because I gave happiness to someone else, but forgot to give myself some – it makes no sense I know. What I’m working on now is to take more risks in hopefully receiving some sort of happiness in the end. And if not happiness, at least the feeling of knowing I tried – but for myself. Ironically, I call things that bring happiness to my life, distractions.

Coffee

I do not own the rights to this photo.

Getting off topic a little, but I promise it relates to the subject. With the help of my friends, I recently started opening up to dating. Wait, I lie, it’s been a few months. But for those who know me best, I’m pretty content with being single. Now, I’ve gone on a few dates – there was one I actually started developing feelings for, but he ended up being a lying douche. Shortly after, I convinced myself that dating and getting involved again is just another distraction. I told myself to focus back to getting to where I want in my career. After this experience, my guard was put up again, but not as much as before. I’m open to dating, but after what I experienced with this guy, I’m not going to fully invest my time in the first guy who sparks my interest again. I know my worth, and if a man does not value my time, I won’t go chasing after his attention. Oh man, I sound conceited – lol. I really am not. I think being “picky” is not so bad. But that’s a discuss for another blog post.

Looking back at it now, while I hated how it ended, the feelings I had, those weird butterflies in my stomach, were feelings that made me appreciate the time I spent with him. For those few weeks (I know not long at all), I was happy. I think it was because this happiness didn’t come after accomplishing something someone else asked me to do. It was something that formed naturally. I felt so… not in control. It was terrifying, yet satisfying at the same time. I was really taking a risk in the hopes of love. Something that felt like there is a little bit of magic in life. Something I hadn’t felt in so long.

I have no idea how I just wrote an entire paragraph about my love life – moving on.

My point of this entire subject? Taking risks, not for anyone else, but yourself is crucial. Being vulnerable is terrifying, but it’s better to know than to have never tried. If you’re miserable about something or someone, change it. If you like someone, show it. If you want to improve yourself, take chances in what is your biggest phobia. Life is too short – don’t sit around waiting for something good to happen. Invest in vulnerability and be open to it, because tomorrow may never come.

XOXO,

Crystel

PS – I’ve drank a few glasses of wine before writing this so I apologize for all of the spelling/grammar mistakes. 🙂

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Black Sheep.

BlackSheep

I do not own the rights to this photo.

Every month, I pamper myself with a manicure, pedicure and brow wax. I’ve gotten my nails done with the owner, Anna, for so long and just a few months go, she purchased a new shop. It’s been 8 months since her business opened and I know from experience that her success, her quick popularity, is largely due to her outstanding customer service. I witness so many people, I being one of them, agreeing to come back a few hours later because her shop is always so busy. While everyone in her team is fabulous, I see her rarely taking a break, just to ensure her customers leave happy. She’s certainly a very admirable woman. Last weekend, I went into the shop forgetting that it was Mother’s Day weekend – I’m sure you can imagine how busy it was. But I find a room full of women rather entertaining; specially since I’m quite the chatterbox.

Indecisively, I sorted through the new Shellac colors as I waited for my turn. To my left, an older woman was making small talk as Anna was applying the last layer of polish over her acrylics. Since it was Mother’s Day weekend, the subject of children came up. The conversation between Anna and the woman went a little something like this:

Woman: “How old is your son?”
Anna: “He’s 3 – I know, I’m 38 and had him at such an old age.”
Woman: “There’s nothing wrong with that. Look at you running a good business.”

I forgot to mention, Anna is Vietnamese and the woman, Caucasian.  As much as I appreciated the woman’s kind words, in my head, I knew she’d never understand why Anna said what she said. While she’s respectively successful with her business, she reiterated her “failure” in producing a child at a young age – an expectation in many Asian families.

I grew up in a very traditional Filipino home. It came complete with a routine of attending church every Sunday, living in a house full of aunts and uncles, and eating foods such as oxtails braised in a peanut sauce, served over white rice.

Most people would assume the family I described is close and tight-knitted. Well, if you’ve ever watched Full House in the 90’s, to compare, my family is the opposite. Yes, they wanted/want me to do well in life, but in their way. Now, please do not perceive this post as me being ungrateful for the blessings I have – but aside from what I described above, growing up in a Filipino household included growing up with years of immeasurable pressure. I hate to state the truth, but the reality behind a lot of Filipino families is that they are so prideful in maintaining a strong image of a “close family,” when in reality, behind closed doors, they contradict that image. Affection is very rare and instead of encouraging children to evolve into their own person, they expect them to live life how they planned it for them. This doesn’t account for all Filipino families, but for most.

Growing up in a strict household was one thing, but growing up as the only girl entailed to do well in school, earn a college degree with honors – preferably nursing – and remain living with the parents to help with bills. That is, until I get married and have children of my own. Sometimes I can still hear the faint voice of my grandmother saying in my ear, “Don’t ever leave your family. It is your responsibility as the girl to take care of your parents until you have your own family.”

I was talking to my coworker recently. She too is Filipino, in her mid twenties, and took the path less traveled by. I’m sure there are people of other ethnicities whose upbringings and expectations are carbon copies of mine. In a way, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one, but that doesn’t erase all the memories of trying accomplish expectations.

Though I graduated with a B.A. from an admirable University, it wasn’t a degree in nursing. My creative nature pulled me away from that path during the second year of college. With that said, it certainly was a long journey for me to be able to walk across that commencement stage. 7 whole years to be exact. While I know my parents are proud of me, I still sense resentment for not becoming a nurse. It’s a feeling that’ll haunt me – hopefully NOT the rest of my life. But hey, I’m the first in my family to graduate college. I assure you, I’m 100% proud of myself.

After graduation, I was eager to find a job pertaining to my degree. What’s interesting is during the last few months of college, I knew I wouldn’t get my dream job right away. Actually, I’m still trying to figure out what my dream job is. Nevertheless, I reacted to that perception so negatively when I was, or am now, living it. What’s ironic is I work in Healthcare Business/Operations – my mom is now suggesting I take courses in medicine – “You can go back to school to get an MA certificate or go back to do nursing.” I don’t think she understands the concept of “moving up” in a company. In the long run, I hope these other opportunities will be in some sorts of Marketing/PR/Communications. However, it’s hard maintaining my confidence in reaching those goals because I lack support.

I find that support I thirst for will only be quenched through supporting myself – I’ve grown accustom to being “independent,” and honestly, that scares me a little. It scares me in such a way that I often decline help from others – I like to be in control and when I’m not, I stress. This independence and control I have always caused, and still causes a noise in the relationship I have with my parents. I say this because I’m an individual who has opinions of my own that I’m not afraid to state. Growing up, when my opinions posed as a challenge to my parents, I was always prepared to receive the silent treatment for a few days. When we finally spoke to each other, we never discussed the issue, we just pretended it never occurred. There was never any closure with conflicts. Horrible right? I didn’t think so growing up because it was the “norm;” but I was a Communication major in college. I spent a few years critically analyzing the meaning behind text, communicating through writing, media and design. Let’s just say, it’s interesting I chose a major that allowed me to form my own ideas, opinions and conclusions; because growing up, I was always scared to. I was scared to open my mouth if my opinion differed from my family’s – specially my dad.

Which brings me to my next point. In the Philippines a majority of families still live through a hierarchy – the father as the head of the household, while the wife and children are expected to be submissive to his ideas, opinions and decisions. In the U.S., we are taught to express ourselves and form our own ideas, opinions and decisions. How do we, as children of a minority group, live a life in a “free” country when we are not even “free” in our own families? How do we live up to our prearranged expectations while we desperately reach for our own happiness? I can only dream that someday we find a balance.

In  February, I decided to move out of my parents’ for good. Mind you, I just turned 26. My parents did not reciprocate to the news very well. In fact, my dad cried and ignored me the day I moved out, didn’t speak to me for three weeks and didn’t step foot into my apartment until after a month. I know this was due to my decline for his help the day I moved out. You see, Filipino parents always want to feel needed. However, if I had accepted, I know he would’ve dictated the moving process – something I did not want to deal with that day. Eventually, my dad came around. I’m happy I’m living out of the house, but I still feel the side of guilt that comes along with my dad’s cooking whenever I visit them. It’s been 3 months, but why is it that I feel so… Guilty? Like I did something wrong; something just out of the “norm.” It really gets me thinking – it’s because I’m a black sheep in my own family and a minority within my culture.

I was born in the Philippines but my family and I moved to Seattle when I was only 2. The first day of Kindergarten, I got a sense of how culturally diverse the United States is. As a child, I didn’t think much of it – I was/am lucky to live in a city that’s a melting pot of different ethnicities. As I got older, I learned that the U.S. was/is still progressing from segregation – racism, women’s rights, LGBT rights, etc. Thinking about it today, in some way, shape or form; we’re all still a “minority.” Never did it occur to me how much people can pose as minorities in their own groups. This generates pressure from the expectations planned for them and creates a never-ending battle with trying to please everyone else but themselves.

Since moving out, I often ponder at how my life was before finally venturing out on my own. I realized how I always use put others before myself. While I know this is a good trait to have, it’s also why I didn’t feel whole living at home. I cared so much about making others happy when I lacked my own happiness. I put myself in the bottom of a steep hill to climb because I didn’t want anyone else in my family to struggle. I tried to abide by the expectations because I didn’t want to be a disgrace to my family. I did not want to be thought of as a failure when looking at life through my parents’ eyes. It’s safe to say that now, though it’s been only 3 months on my own (well, with a roommate), I’m happier and more confident than ever. Now I look at life with the glass half full – my entire life, I looked at it half empty.

I still am not 100% happy with my job, but I have  a job. One day, I know I’ll have a career I love. I’m not 100% happy with my living situation, but I have a roof over my head where I can do whatever the hell I want. I’m not 100% happy with how many friends I’ve cut out of my life, but I’m blessed to have a few close friends who I can actually rely on. The point I’m trying to make is that life is so short – why keep worrying about things that will not matter in the end? Why complain about the things you have when another person may have it worse than you? Why “plan” things in life such as the perfect career, where you’ll be living and what kind of person you’ll marry when plans often take a turn towards the opposite direction? Why live a life trying to satisfy a person’s expectations other than your own? Why not live, breath and just enjoy the moment because tomorrow may be your last?

In the light of it all, I’ll never be embarrassed of my heritage or family – it’s what keeps us all uniquely beautiful. But decisions I make in life now, I make based on what I feel is the best decision for myself – not because it is what is expected of me. While the “expectations” in my life conducted a difficult journey, it certainly trained me to successfully overcome whatever life throws at me. It’s helped me find a balance in mastering the art of overcoming not just expectations of my heritage and family, but expectations of my own. And for that I’m forever grateful.

If you don’t expect anything, in the end you can’t be disappointed of the outcome – that’s just the beauty of it all :).

 

XOXO

–Crystel

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No, I do not look like Vanna White.

I’m usually not one to take offense of ignorant comments – but that’s only to an extent.

This year, as I’m tackling on life after college, finally moving out of my parents’ house and balancing my social life with work; I have finally ventured into the world of dating. Yes, dare I say, “dating.” Now, let me just give you all a little background of my dating history. I’ve only ever had one serious relationship that didn’t end very well, hence keeping my guard up with any man who sparks my interest. I’m 26 and have been single for 3 years – I’m sure you all can imagine that I’ve grown accustom to relying on my self for every little thing life presents.

Anyway, back to the root and point of this blog post. Aside from my wonderful friends who forced me into trying dating apps, my coworkers decided to take part in the fun and “swiped left or right” for me during down time at work. While it’s all fun and games for some people, for me, putting yourself out there is tough; so I’m sure you can imagine my dislike with how some of my coworkers perceived my “picky-ness.” One comment mentioned, as I insisted I was not interested in one of the guys that caught their eye, was, “I don’t understand why you’re so picky, it’s not like you’re Vanna White.”

Yes, she was correct in stating that I am not Vanna White (she is beautiful). For one thing, I’m Filipino with brown skin, 5’5″ and “average” in body type. What irritated me most about this comment is the fact that she convinced herself to adhere into believing what society branded as the “normal” image of beauty. I mean, no offense to anyone who holds those attributes, but that image entails a woman to be caucasian with a body like those of Victoria Secret models and who has enough disposable income to splurge on designer clothing. As I sat in my cubicle attempting to decipher what she had just said, other thoughts ran through my mind – thoughts that reminded me of how much gender roles play in society; how much women are still objectified, specially in media.

In college, I was a Communication major and had my fair share of critically analyzing medias which focused primarily on gender roles. While many would disagree, in this day and age, men are still frequently portrayed as the gender with “power,” while women remain in their positions as their subordinates. How do we, as a society, change these traditional views of gender roles? We mostly look upon those who possess a strong presence in the media – singers, actresses, political figures, etc. Now, I am in no means a feminist, however, I feel many women in the spotlight, many women in “power,” do contradict themselves. While they distribute messages encouraging women to be both beautiful and powerful, their actions cause me to interpret their messages in an entirely different light.

For example: Beyonce.

BEYONCE

I do not own the rights to this photo.

I’m guilty in having love for the Queen B. Whenever I hear Single Ladies, I can’t help but to break out into a move. One of my favorite songs has got to be her single: Run the World. If you’ve never heard of this hit, to put it in a nutshell, it’s a song about women declining the traditional gestures of men – independent women. Sounds great, right? Well, if you remember the music video, you’ll see a strong and confident Beyonce (and backup dancers) dressed in leotards and dancing provocatively. Now, I’m all for a woman dressing and dancing as she pleases, but my concern with women in the media all draw me back to the question of why “sexy” and “beautiful” are often composed together to construct a sense of “power.” Do young women need to show more skin to display their confidence? Do they need to dance in a provocative manner in order to exhibit what sells in society: sex appeal?

I cannot believe a small statement from a coworker brought all these questions in mind. Now, please do not bash my opinions as I’ve only used one celebrity as a sole example in this blog post (PS – I still love Beyonce!). There are many strong women who ARE leading by example, however, there’s just not enough of their presence exposed in mainstream media. With that said, people are also encouraged by seeing “normal” invididuals as role models. One of my favorites is Whitney Thore – an average girl who is plus size but does not let her size refrain her from doing something she loves: dancing. She posted a video on YouTube that went viral and since then, she’s been sharing her story and encouraging body positivity. I certainly adore her as she’s shed some light on some of my own body insecurities – but hey, that’s a story for another day.

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I do not own the rights to this photo.

My final thoughts on my own questions and opinions? I love that media is attempting to acknowledge women as strong, confident and powerful. I hate how some powerful women often use the word “sexy” as a definition of beauty – but it’s sad to say I’m guilty of it as well. What’s even worse is how “normal” women – young women such as my coworker – still perceive beauty in the way mainstream media has branded it.

Anyway, that’s all for now – feel free to share your thoughts.

 

XOXO

–Crystel

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Goodbye 2015, hello 2016 :)!

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I cannot believe how fast this year flew! As excited as I am for 2016, I have to admit, 2015 will be a hard year to top. I graduated college, entered the workforce and travelled the world – well, parts of it at least :).

It’s hard for me to explain how much graduating meant to me – 7 years of confusion and changing majors. While I cried the day I walked across that stage, the tears that came out were for tears of joy!

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Graduation

Lots of stressful days with these beautiful ladies!

It’s interesting to say, but during the last month of school, I was just so eager for everything to be over. Now that I’m working full time, I actually miss the stress of figuring out the answer to a tough equation and pulling all nighters to finish a paper and/or study for a final exam. What I miss most is my amazing friends. Sadly, they all moved away to different parts of the country – one even moved to Germany! Boy do I miss them.

Graduation was a milestone, but what happened the next morning; the next month to be more clear, was an experience I’ll never forget! I was off to the skies and flew to Europe for an adventure of a lifetime.

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London with Big Ben in the background.

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The Eiffel Tower – Paris was my favorite city :)!

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Rome, Italy

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I took a cooking class in Rome! One of the most memorable moments of my vacation. While I don’t post about it much, I LOVE to cook 🙂

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New friends from our tour group 🙂

 

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New friends from our tour group 🙂

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Having fun at an Italian Restaurant.

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Athens, Greece

 

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Parasailing over the Mediterranean Sea 🙂

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Poros, Greece

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Barcelona, Spain

I had the privilege of growing up in the beautiful city of Seattle, Washington and like many people, I did things based on what I knew and the environment I grew up in. I was always seeing things from a Seattleite’s perspective – I order coffee a certain way because I’m from Seattle. I dress how I dress because I’m from Seattle. I talk how I talk because I’m from Seattle. I’m sure you get the picture by now.

Traveling around Europe for a month thought me to see life and live life from a different perspective. I enjoyed learning about different cultures by simply roaming around their markets and indulging their delicious foods. Being in a foreign place helped me become a more confident woman. It’s funny how successfully navigating through Paris’ complex subway system (the most complicated one in the world), with the challenge of overcoming a language barrier, gave me the confidence to tackle anything life throws at me. One life-changing experience I had was parasailing over the Mediterranean in Greece. Why is this life-changing you may ask? Well………… I CAN’T SWIM. I didn’t realize how philosophical I’d get as I ponder about this experience. Not knowing how to swim was a challenge – I’m glad I said to myself, “Fuck it and put a life jacket on. When are you ever going to get to do this again?” To make it short, I should never refrain myself from something as there is always a way to make it happen. I can’t wait to see where my next adventure will be in – oh Europe, how I miss you!

When I came back from vacation, I spent the rest of my summer working and spending time with friends. Luckily, as I mentioned, I live in Washington – I have so many beautiful places to explore.

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Beautiful Mt. Rainier in Washington State.

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With one of my dear friends.

Towards the end of the Summer, I was in the hunt for a new job and luckily, while entry level, I was offered a job at an admirable Seattle-based organization. I’m hoping to eventually earn my way into their Marketing department. So far, I love the people I work with and I’m thankful to god for the opportunity.

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My desk is usually not that messy. It’s the Christmas decor lol

Last but not least, I went to one last trip this year. One of my dearest friends from college moved back to the East Coast as her husband got stationed in Virginia. I flew there around the middle of November and we had a mini road trip to NYC!

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Virginia Beach, Virginia

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Times Square – New York City

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New York pizza 🙂

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What a wonderful year. I graduated, got to travel, began working towards the career I want to get into and I learned a lot about myself. Now, this blog post may look as if my year was perfect – it was not. I’m currently in a phase where I miss school and entering the workforce was sort of a culture shock. I’m no longer going to school, internship and work all in one day. I have weekends off and I never know what to do with my spare time. I need to find a hobby. Actually, this year it will be focusing more on my health. Yeah, I know. I’ll probably start off great with health and fitness in January, but fall off a month later. Well, you all just wait and see. I know for a fact I’ll stick to it this time 🙂

Again, 2015 is going to be a year I’ll remember forever and I cannot wait to see what 2016 will have to offer.

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Spending NYE 2015 at home with family. I love my large wine glass lol

 

Cheers and HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

xoxo

Crystel

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