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…is what I occasionally ask myself when my mind or hands are not busy with something. Looks like I won’t be blogging as much as I did back in college–where I would carefully craft my posts feeling like I was such a good writer, at least I made some of my friends laugh with my words–but I’m totally fine with it. That’s because at least now I have good things to be busy about.

So yeah, what AM I doing with my life? I finally had the courage to resign from my advertising job a few months back. It was a fun ride, 80% of which I would account to the people I worked with: they were fun, lighthearted, creative, wise, funny, and more important, they were my friends. But work was busy as hell. Don’t even get me started; anyone from advertising knows what I’m talking about. Being busy is overrated, even glorified. I got caught up in this competition at one point. Big projects? Yay! Going home on time? Be prepared to be questioned about what you did for the day. Now, honestly, I still want to be busy enough to be productive towards goals that matter to me (no, you cannot expect me to be a bum for days, it’s not in my system) but still have time to clip my nails.

So what does matter to me?

  1. Being an entrepreneur – Although I didn’t graduate a business degree, nor have I handled a big business, I have always been compelled to push through with entrepreneurship. Ever since college I have been telling myself and others that one day I wanted to do this. And not just one day–I mean I see myself doing it in my future. Office work was always something I felt was temporary in my life. I can’t imaging being 30 and still confined to a desk. Finally my friend and I decided to get a small food cart. We already made a few mistakes before even starting, causing much delay, but I guess those are things you learn when no one is dictating what you’ll be doing for the day. I’m just happy that I found a reliable partner to work with and taking the leap with this maybe not-so-big move is the starting point to what I really want.
  2.  Being creative – I just CAN’T imagine life without creativity. And that is one reason why I decided to go into entrepreneurship–so I can have more control of my time and focus a part of my energy to making or developing things that others might love as much as I do. I’m taking a short accessories course, and I’m glad I am doing so (knowing I can be a spendthrift) because 1) what could be more fun than learning something new? and 2) it has empowered me to start a new accessories line (secret for now :P) and level up from the handmade trinkets I did. All I can say is, I am very very happy that I am doing something I truly love, that I’ve taken this not-so-little step, and I can’t wait to make it grow and grow and grow.
  3. Having control of my time – Not just time, but my energy. These two things in my life were out of control when I worked in advertising. It exhausted me too much, leaving me little time for everything else that mattered more than the flyer I was working on: relaxation, focus on personal projects, dinner with loved ones. Yeah, we all want those, but we can’t always have ’em. And that’s what I’m working on–finding that balance in my life. I want to pour my energy on things that actually came from me, not what is handed to me.

Where I am in my life, where I will be in the next few years, I don’t know, and no one else in this world can really answer this question for themselves. Sometimes I doubt myself–most people my age and older work in offices (which honestly I like too) and then they’ll move to bigger companies and eventually be in top positions. But that just doesn’t appeal to me. I will not be true to myself if I go down that road. A call back from an ad agency I did an interview with was exciting when it happened, but turned it down because 1) I might be blinded by the new offer 2) All I could think about at that time was the food cart we wanted to put up, and the Incubus album “If not now, when?”

I am lucky enough that when I’m in doubt of my life decisions, I am able to find reassurance just around the corner telling me I’m doing fine. It truly is a risk, it’s scary, but really exciting. I am happy, and whatever the outcome (crossing fingers of course!), where this adventure leads me to, I am pretty sure I can say this when I read back this entry one day–no regrets.

What about me

I first saw this artwork on Tumblr months ago and saved it on my laptop because I thought it was beautiful. I look at it and wish I thought of this first. Its simplicity and realism says a lot–this is how we look like when we cry. When we cry, blood rushes to our faces and gives off a pinkish reddish tint we call blush. Then the waterworks follow.

Now I have to deal with this blushing at erratic times of the day asking the same question.

It’s been some time since I last posted something here. I’ve been so occupied with a number of things. I read somewhere–and apparently it came from a Starbucks inspirational cup print called “The Way I See It #283”–that you should say I WILL instead of I wish, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

This year has been off to a good start. With I WILL in mind, I decided to start taking action towards the things I really want, and one of those is to continue doing designs. What I’ve always enjoyed during my college days were really the graphic design classes in my course. I am amazed at how typography, layout, shapes, and colors work together to make visually appealing works, whether simple or elaborate.

I acknowledge that I still have limited skills to execute the ideas I have, but for now I make do with what I’ve learned and try to read and watch tutorials from time to time to keep my mind fresh. I’ll also be enrolling myself in a short course for Adobe Illustrator hopefully by next month. I was thinking a lot about how much it will cost me, but I thought, what the hell? I’ll go for it. I don’t spend a lot except on food, so why not use the money to learn something new, right? It should be a good investment for whatever reason. My goal is to be good at graphic design, get work that allows me to be creative in this field and make projects in the future, but for now I  will keep learning and practicing when I can.

I started a tumblr site just to get my works out there. You can check out HelloStephYu to see some of the stuff I made, which isn’t a lot yet, and some photos I took that I never uploaded anywhere.

Heima's Paper Club

One of the actions I took was to work as an intern at Punchdrunk Panda, a Filipino brand that sells graphic-designed products such as shoes, laptop sleeves and camera straps. Although I worked as a marketing intern, it was an experience that further made me realize what I want. I got to meet some talented people and hear their thoughts as we did webisode shoots at Heima, a quirky furniture store; and organized an event called Anteroom Sessions, where Pinoy entrepreneurs showcased their products and compelling local bands played songs that brightened up the driveway of Cubao X.

All I can hope for now is that I am on the right track, but then should I hope it or will it? I say both.

That’s what’s in for me one Monday morning, the day I was set to tell my boss I was taking three more days of vacation leave, right after I used up the five days I filed for the month. I won’t elaborate on what happened; all I can say is I got what I wanted.

Reading the daily paper—once a habit done purely for leisure—is now also a requirement for my nine-to-six (nope, not five) day job. As I scan the papers for pickups, there is one section I will always avoid: the horoscope. As much as I am curious about what it has to say about my day, I would always convince myself that I can’t let two sentences take over the next 16 hours of my life. But then occasionally my officemates take a detour and read out loud their own fate, then ask my sign; and I am compelled to say it because I want to know mine.

I do not know exactly how the workings of astrology are done and how the writer formulates predictions to make anyone feel like something is looming over him. I read it because sometimes the assurance of a friend or giving myself a pat on the back despite the turmoil in my head is not enough. I want another option to tell me that today I will find a missing piece, or an opportunity to do something great, or that I will meet people and that today I can be courageous.

I always make sure that reading my horoscope works out for me by being partial to what I choose to absorb:

Gemini: You will find love today. You will finish something you’ve started long ago. Your lucky numbers is 23.

I say: Great! This is totally possible!

Gemini: You will have an awkward encounter with someone. Money is not your friend today. Two stars today and lucky color is orange.

I say: The hell. Noo, it can’t be. It just can’t.

My take on this is not to take it seriously. The cool thing is when it matches or your status or un-status quo, but these are just a few words put together to tell you how your life might run, or how you might want to run it. It serves as a reminder to what I’ve forgotten I can be: that I can be creative today, that I can start a business or a project, or that I can choose to take action despite this piece of print telling me today is not a good day to do ambitious things.

spreads I’ve taken out from the daily paper + two-month-old magazine issue + sketch pad for poster entry brainstorming + distractions

Lately, I’ve been feeling like my life’s just a list of tasks. I am not creating nor am I even consuming. I don’t know where to start or when to stop. I have ideas recorded on paper and typed on notepad files that never flourished enough. This must be what quarter-life crisis feels, assuming I live to 88. And it doesn’t help to know that others go through the same thing, or that others have bigger problems, or that it will all be okay. It’s irrational albeit comforting to say any of these, because these words are kisses to a man with a broken leg—it makes him feel better, but it does not fix his injury.

The thought of the future brings anxiety to the present. I see where the lives of older people have headed, and I am afraid of two things: becoming the mess like they are, or growing up not being as good (what does that even mean?) as any of them. Everyday, I walk to the station where I get my ride home; I know the route, but I feel directionless.

I’m under the pile right now, and I need something to push myself up. Until when will I be a wallflower? Will I ever shine?

It was almost 3 AM, and I was sitting among the disarranged monobloc chairs, and people were leaving. My hair was in a ponytail, a slight mess like it always is, strands brushing my face like I just got out of bed. Beside me was my friend. Let me describe what was in front of me: An interviewer holding his list of questions; a boom mic hanging above; the cameraman and his recording device; and the man I decided I would want to see  again after that day. His overbite smile and singular chuckle as he looked for a second to where I was sitting was enough to drown the voice of my friend who was telling me something, but I cannot remember what because I was not listening. My nervous self unknowingly smiled back.

Three months passed, and the plot which I primed myself to be familiar with has come to the inevitable point. I was careful with my heart, knowing sweet words were things he has said to those he might have loved or fucked. I made certain that his whispers did not mean too much to me, but eventually the words that came in one ear and out the other took a different direction and entered my bloodstream to affect me like any substance can. I was a seventeen-year-old again, turning the apple and refusing to see what was rotting here and there; I made sure the fresh crisp peel was all I can see. And I took a bite. I allowed myself to be special to someone again. It was a risk I was willing to take on again—letting a new person into my life, like one would open a door for a stranger to step into one’s home, going beyond the doormat that says welcome. I wanted to ask him who he is, to know who he is, to see who I am, but I held back from speaking my soul out of fear, out of logical excuses of the mind.

There were things I wanted to say—how I loved his eyelashes that pointed down, making his eyes look sad, delicate, but beautiful; that a month before his birthday I was already excited to get him a present, to write him a letter, to see him again and tell him how happy I am to have him around, to invite him to my home, curl up and talk for hours. But I only exist in one of the parallel universes, and to where I belong, he has decided to set me aside like a task and end a budding connection with an unapologetic lie—the funniest part that came with the twinge in the organ under my left ribcage.  And because the right time I was waiting for was not to come anyway, these words are only meant to be written, and maybe shared, but never spoken.

Not all the time, but enough times to say this is true.

It sucks. It really does. Don’t listen to good music when you are depressed—ever. When I feel like nothing, not even ice cream or a kiss or a half-pound burger can make me feel better, I listen to good music. There are enough rock songs that tell me to stop thinking and just sing along. I try to read a good book too. And then I listen and listen to the same album until I feel better, and then I can’t listen to these songs anymore. I’ve tainted them with history I’d rather not remember, and off with those are some songs that could’ve made my day, some day in the future.

Music, at the lowest points in life, can temporarily distract me from insistent thoughts and fill my head with loud steady beats. I can’t give you a playlist, because I always pick the ones that don’t speak of anything I feel anyway. And what’s worse is I have to postpone listening to some music for better appreciation, appreciation in a moment when I can let sound pass through my ears and think only what a great song that is. So sometimes I don’t listen at all; I just deal with my thoughts along with the sound of the droning electric fan in my room. It’s just better than mixing a beautiful song with a mind in riot.

I’m not the first person to put this into words, because I’m sure you’ve felt this: you feel that your life is like a movie—you are the character to whom all attention must be given, the soundtrack of your life plays on your iPod, songs perfectly fitting into place. Yes, that’s right, sun’s shining bright, I feel good! Wow, some happy catchy beat is on air! how did they know? And then there’s the other side: I have no direction in life, I just had a break up, everyone hates me. And yeah, radio plays your favourite misery tune.

Radio always has a way of making pop songs to be the soundtrack of the moment. I would have loved these songs that will one day be classics and much cooler to listen to when we’re all older, but I just hate how they have to be the perfect accompaniment to make things awkward as they already are, only because they manifest what I’d rather not say, or even think of at all. And I wish one thing: that it’s the same way for you, that it’s an experience you feel no one can understand completely and knowing you have the same sentiment will make me feel less lonely.

But time is always a slow painkiller. One day good music will be good music to me again, and I can finally listen to them thinking only, “Dang, this is good.”