Wow that went by quickly. I’m not going to lie, 2014 was a challenge right from the very start. There were decisions I wish I hadn’t made; money I wish I hadn’t spent; opportunities I wish I hadn’t forgone. It’s been a very rough journey. And lonely, too. But it’s been a great learning experience. I recall reading somewhere that if it’s not difficult then it’s not worth doing. There is a quote by Theodore Roosevelt that goes: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.” But while there were some difficulties, I think it is more fitting to end the year on a positive note, which is why I wanted to dedicate this post to the people who have made my 2014 so much more memorable and meaningful. Rather than dwell on the things that went wrong this year, I want to thank those who made me stronger and better for 2015. I believe I wouldn’t have gotten through everything if it weren’t for them.
So, a VERY BIG THANK YOU to…
Those who made me feel a lot less alone.
At the start of the year, I traveled solo for the first time and it was scary, but exhilarating at the same time. On the plane, the kind lady sitting next to me (Ate Elena was her name) was concerned that I was traveling by myself, so when we got to Kalibo, she and her sister took care of me. They took me from the airport to my hostel and even accompanied me to a nearby grocery store. The next day, I roamed the busy streets alone and met a photographer who was covering the event. I told him I was an amateur and that I wanted to learn more. I was surprised when he began lending me his lenses, instructing me on when and how to use each one. He even brought me to the top of a building so we could shoot a bird’s eye view of the festival. That night, Ate Elena and her sister messaged me and treated me for dinner. It was also during this trip that I met new friends who welcomed me into their crazy group and got me to paint my whole face black as we danced through the streets from morning ’til night. The rest of the year, I had to face the loneliness that comes with being a freelancer. Truth is, I hate being alone. I like having company and I like being surrounded by people. But as the months went by, I learned how to become more comfortable with myself. I learned to enjoy the solitude, to listen to my own voice, and to draw strength from within. I found out how to trust myself and figure out what it is I’m supposed to be doing with my life. Those who shared their stories.
Back in 2013, my main motivation to travel was to see all these wonderful places both in and out the country. In 2014, it was about the stories. I turned to people and asked them questions. Simple things like what they do, why they do it, what their dreams are. I’ve discovered that stories unfold around us every day, and we just need to be able to stop and listen to know what they are. When I look back now at the ones I’ve collected throughout the year, I am overwhelmed and overjoyed at how much these people have given me and I hope that I was able to give something in return. Those who opened up their homes to me.
And treated me like family. I feel extremely lucky to have met generous and kind souls who welcomed me and shared with me a piece of home. More than simply visiting places, I like the fact that I will always have someone or something to return to. Those who showed me what true passion means.
Passion is a word we throw around too lightly and too often that sometimes it loses its true meaning. In Samar, I learned that it means coming to class every day to teach students in a classroom that was destroyed by a super typhoon. In one of my freelance projects, I met a student who showed me that it is about not ever giving up on a dream even if you are at an economic disadvantage. It is making and playing an instrument that brings joy to different people. It is working your heart off for an entire tribe that depends on how well you do your job – even if that means losing someone you love.
I look to these people to remind myself that passion is about fighting the good fight, riding your Lion, and doing what you can, despite all your limitations and obstacles, to see it through. Those who taught me to never lose heart.
There’s always a reason to feel discouraged, to feel like you are the crappiest person in the world doing the crappiest work. It’s true in whatever profession or vocation. It’s easy enough to sink in a rut and feel like you will never get out of it. But there are always people, big and small, who inspire me to be better, who give me a reason to keep going. I will forever be grateful to them for pushing me to do more. Lastly, to those I have traveled with, shared a drink with, laughed with, danced with, trekked with, and worked with, thank you so, so much! You guys definitely made my 2014 exciting and fun 🙂
So there. With that last thank you, I bid 2014 farewell. It was definitely one wild roller coaster ride. Looking forward to the adventures and stories that 2015 will bring! 🙂 Happy New Year, everyone!