An Ode to 2016

2016 was shitty in a lot of ways. I spent the majority of this year away from home. Lived with five folks that made me want to tear my hair out more often than not. I had to learn how to resist coastal and racial assimilation. And despite my attempts to thwart assimilation, I let myself go in a lot of ways in New York. I left my first paying job out of college after one month.The devil has been pulling strings by getting the worst men possible placed into crucial leadership roles. I missed my family’s annual Christmas party.

At the same time, 2016 was a groundbreaking year for me. In 2013, I started to build a wall for every bridge I tried to build. I spent years frustrated with who I was, with my past mistakes and with where I was going. I left college frustrated, anxious and also excited for the prospect of a year of being away from home for the first time.

And it was the most challenging year of my life so far…full of incredible resiliency & growth.

I have never felt my person of color-edness more than I had this year. I’ve never felt more Filipinx. I’ve also never felt more American. I felt the struggle for balance between these connected identities more than I ever have. I’ve never felt so much like a woman. I’ve never felt so much like a Millennial. I’ve never felt all my identities press up against me like I did this year. I felt a lot.

I felt alone. I felt connected. I felt all my walls come up and also encountered extraordinary humans who possessed the ability to push my walls down. I witnessed my ability to stand up for what I believe in, even if it meant sacrificing myself. I witnessed how debilitating human fear can be to doing the right thing. I’ve watched human greed dehumanize good people. I saw white savior complex manifest in conversations and actions. I also watched how generosity, love and acceptance can build communities up. I discovered that in great uncertainty, there is still hope.

I learned that calling people on their crap can actually be a sign of love. I also learned the importance of meeting people where they are at.

I learned that as open as I am, there’s a lot of feelings from my past that hold me back that I need to work through. I began embracing my internal contradictions, my “both ands,” my insecurities, my pride, everything. I learned the power of self-love and learned that I can choose where I put my energy. I learned that it’s okay to be angry and frustrated and that my anger and frustration can bloom power so long as I learn to channel it.

I attended my first Freedom Schools and found a lot of healing from the racial oppression I’ve encountered. Understanding the history behind race and racism was liberating.

Living on the East Coast has helped me to discover new ways to live a balanced life.I discovered parts of me that are hard (East Coast) and parts of me that are soft (West Coast). I learned that my desire to live a life that shows my love for the earth is a product of the environmentally conscious West Coast. I learned that hearing Tagalog is a tangible way of making me feel at home. I learned that my personal soul food is Filipinx food. I learned that it’s hard for me to cry and laugh on the East Coast. I learned that I turn ditzy on the West Coast.

I took a chance to explore my relationship with my hair. I discovered that my hair is full of memories, emotions and moments. That it is just hair. And that it is also more than hair.

I relearned that I matter. That my voice matters.That I am worth more than my beauty, my brains, my body. That my soul needs to be cared for.

I’ve narrowed down what I want in a life partner. I realized I just need someone who will journey with the whole mess of a human being that is me. I realize that all the heartbreaks I’ve caused are all a result of me not wanting to lead folks on because I’ve always kind of known what I want. I spent so much of my life trying to fit prospective partners in an idealistic box that it would leave both of us frustrated and exhausted. Again, I’m learning to meet people where they are at.

I still need to work on listening. On lowering my pride. On following through. On being present. On taking care of others and of myself.

A lot, a lot, a lot of gratitude for 2016. I’m hoping to write more in 2017, as the brainstorming list of 2016 is long but the output has been low.

Cheers to you all during this new year! May it be full of just as much growth!

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