On my way back to Singapore early this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a Filipino mom on her way to Indonesia for work.
She’s one of the many Filipinos leaving home to work abroad just so she can give her family a better life. My father was one, and I guess I am, too. In a way.
She asked how I found myself working in Singapore. I shared the long story, as the immigration queue at NAIA was even longer. After telling her how I did it, she nodded her head as acknowledgement and said, “Tough girl.”
The comment surprised me, as no one had called me tough before. Clumsy, all the time. Tough? First time in my life.
The comment got me thinking whether I can say the same about me. And after everything I had been through, I realized that I am, actually, a tough girl.
What it made me realize, however, is how I deemed myself as weak more often than not. And I am not sure why I did that, because I know I am strong. I know that now.
In fact, in one of the job interviews I attended before, I was asked what word I would use to describe myself. I said “tenacious” which was pretty foolish, because it’s pretty much a declaration that they can throw any shit my way and I’d be fine. But honestly, I am pretty tenacious when it comes to work. I can survive through anything.
That’s why it made me wonder why I kept thinking I was weak. Why did I not think of myself as tenacious when it comes to life in general?
And after my very happy, very active year, I could say that I am tough, I am strong. Now that I know that, no one can take it away from me.
If you told me ten years ago that I’d be doing muay thai and running half a marthon in my 30s, I’d think you’re crazy. I was the least athletic person I know. How could I ever do all that?
But yes, dear reader, muay thai apparently is not just a passing fancy as I’ve been doing it for more than a year now. I still get corrected a lot, and there are some techniques that are hard for me to pick up. But I enjoy it, and I have been attending classes every week.
And running half a marthon? I’d like to call my high school P.E. teacher and tell her that the student she mocked before managed to run a half marathon! It may not be a full marathon, but it’s a great feat for someone like me who could barely run three kilometers before.
For a time I was even doing yoga, and now I’m learning how to swim. It still takes me a long time to learn a sport, and I still cannot even kick properly. I still think I need to work on my stamina, but I feel great!
My thirties is full of surprises, but being this physically active may be the biggest surprise for me. I still may not have the abs of my dreams, but this is the fittest I have ever been. Finally, I am happy with my body.
I had a lot of body insecurities growing up, and I didn’t realize it only takes growing up and growing older to finally be comfortable in my own skin.
One day, I saw a photo of me and was surprised to see that I look like my age. I look great (pardon the lack of humility), but wow, I look 32. It was a pleasant revelation, as I realized how I am comfortably and happily easing into this growing older thing.
I used to take pride in looking younger than my age, but I now know that there’s also nothing wrong with looking how old I actually am.
Last year, I claimed that I would have the best year ever. And I believe I actually did. In my own standards anyway.
Under the scorching hot sun while I was on the back of a Grab bike in Bangkok, I spontaneously thought as I was cruising on the highway, “I LOVE MY LIFE!” Cross my heart and hope to die.
This is not the life I expected to live, and it was far from what I had expected for myself. But I love every bit of it, all the good and all the bad.
I am grateful to have this life, and I was realizing all this after a relatively taxing and stressful work month for me. But despite all the bad, there’s still the life I am grateful to live. It is far from perfect, and there are still days, though very rare, when I still yearn for a life that’s different from what I have right now. But this is the life I have created for myself. Far from perfect, but perfect for me.
Definitely there will be more to life. I am still fairly young after all, and I am excited for it all.
There was a period when everything was feeling monotonous. I wasn’t looking forward to anything. But the monotony? It’s a privilege to have, and it’s a challenge for me to break.
In a conversation with a friend, he asked how long do I plan to stay in Singapore. This is a question that has been repeatedly asked of me over the years, but lately I have been realizing that I am here now due to my own volition. I am here because I want to, not because of anything or anyone else. Until when do I stay here? That depends.
I had used the past three years to find a new dream for myself. But I have just about finished rebuilding myself, and I plan to work on my dream next.
This year, I turned thirty-three. There are still so many things I’m experiencing for the first time and still so much I wish to do. There are times when I fear I am running out of time, then I remind myself that I have the rest of my life to live.
I am in no hurry, and some people might say that I am not getting younger so I might try considering hurrying a bit. Sadly so, this has been said to me a few times over the past couple of years, and it’s crazy that people actually thought it’s okay to say this.
But I have my own pace, and I don’t have to live on anyone else’s terms. I said last year that I want to live an unapologetic life, and I’m glad that I live true to that.
I can take my sweet time. I can feel my feelings.
I still have a lot of maturing to do, but I’m enjoying every bit of this growing old thing, including the not-so-fun parts.
For the past year, there’s a lot of acceptance I had to do. Some were a lot harder to take than the others. There were also a couple of realizations. Some enlightening, some terrifying (in a good way)!
It was indeed fun being thirty-two. I used to dread getting older, but being in my 30s is not so bad after all. 🙂