Friday, September 9, 2016

4 Things My Parents Taught Me About Adulthood

“Being an adult means accepting those situations where no action is possible.” 

Being an adult can be the best feeling in the world. In addition to the freedom you've always looked forward to have since you were a teenager, adulthood gives you the opportunity to do the things you've have always craved doing.

Adulthood is an initiation. It is an invitation to start a life independent from your parents and other forms of restrictions.

I grew up in a moderately conservative family. Being the Kuya (the eldest) brother among five, I had ample time to integrate my parents' advice and wisdom. I was trained at a very young age to be discerning, decisive and most importantly, to take experience, frustration and hurt as teachers that could propel me to be a better man.

It wasn't until college that I started to hang out, visit bars, drink with friends and party until we "morning-ed the night".

However, despite the sheer awesomeness of being an adult, it did take its psychological toll on me.  I had to contend with friends leaving, lovers betraying, promises and ideals being crushed daily, and all those things which psychologically exhausted me to the brink of angst.

Usually, though I was oriented about the responsibilities that's supposed to come with the job description, it struck something within me that I both liked and disliked at the same time.

While yes, I may enjoy the perks of my job, I could not help but cringe at the social interactions and the dramas that I had to face.

Growing up the way I described it - being moderately conservatively raised  - I grew up with pretty rigid values and principles and it took some time for me to soften and loosen up.

Despite everything, I've always found my value system ingrained in me by my parents as something quite helpful to deal and survive my present predicament which I believe can also help you too.

1. People who love you will prioritize you.

"Kuya, people who love you will treat you as a priority and never an option."

I could still remember my college days wherein having friends was the utmost importance. Popularity was the currency. The more people knew you, the more likely you felt good about how you stand in the social ladder.

When I started working and most of my friends also started working, it became quite difficult to meet up over random cups of coffee or drinking sessions. I started to notice that I increasingly became a loner. Not in the negative sense, I just enjoyed the alone time most of the time. However, it did not start that way. I found it difficult that most of the friends that I valued the most started to drop off like dead twigs.

Most of our friends also have their social lives outside your once college-bound social circle so we can't really expect a lot from them.

I recalled one incident that I got heartbroken by a long term ex.

She was literally the love of my life. We broke up due to many reasons I will not disclose here.

I tried to keep it quite for a few hours but being the emotional guy that I was, I could not contain the emotional daggers constantly stabbing my heart.

I immediately called up some college friends, crying (manly tears) and asking them to meet up over coffee.

I could still recall how they dropped everything they were doing just to be with me because as they put it "I was in an emotional nuclear war".

During that time, although it took some years of reflection time to realize it, that I am and always have been a priority in some people's lives.

If you ever want to know how you stand in a person's life, try to see how they make you a priority in theirs.

Prioritize what and who matters.
2. The fewer the friends, the better.

"Kuya, diamonds must be rare in order to be valuable. Would you still value diamonds if it were as abundant as sand on the seashore?"

I have always been a friendly guy - though tactless at times - but still pretty friendly. I also have a tendency to project an aura that people find intimidating which can be both a blessing and a curse.

I tend to have some friends here or there from any nook and cranny I find myself in. However, having a lot of friends to comment or like your social media status doesn't really amount to much.

There are circumstances in our lives that just have to happen. Business goes bad. A girlfriend decides to leave. You are broke as hell.

When these circumstances do come, try to look around you. You will be surprised to see that the great multitude of "friends" has dramatically shrunk in size.

Heartbreaking it might be for a while, but the thing is - those who are left by your side are diamonds.

Keep them.

We were friends since I was still in High School. A decade later, nothing has changed.
3. You are not indispensable. 

" Kuya, love your work. Love it but never be in love with it because it can't love you back."

I know of a lot of friends who are so dedicated in their work that they burn themselves out every single day just to finish a task at hand.
When they get home, they stress out because of what they should do at work tomorrow.

Work takes care of us when it finds us important for its benefit. But what about when work finds us too aged, stubborn and replaceable?

Therefore, it is of paramount importance for us to invest in people - our family, friends and the people we love. In a world where everything constantly shifts, finding people who will be our center will be our solace and consolation.

We have to start looking at work as something that we can use to invest on what truly matters - not something that we need to emotionally invest on; but as a tool to attain happiness. Work must cease to be the axis of our fulfillment and happiness because when our tired, aching bodies wear down it will sweep up aside.
I love my work because I get to be with people.

4. Accept people as they are.

"Kuya, people will always be people. It's either you accept them for who they, try to run away from them or be miserable. The first option is the hardest to do but it's the only way to do it." 

My parents have always taught me to see the best in people but I won't lie - I am a very judgmental man.

Sometimes, I encounter people whose value systems are so diametrically opposed to mine that we just flare up when we see them. A part of me feels an urge to preach righteous condemnation against them. When they do piss me off, it takes literally a long time for me to forget a slight. I would convince myself that I don't deserve what was coming to me.

Truth be told. It is not their job to change for me and neither it is my job to change for them.

I've learned that unless I can accept that we come from different contexts and that we were never taught the same values growing up, I could never be happy.

People will always act in self-interest, it is always to preserve what is fragile and innocent within us. I do that and so do you. We are on the journey to discovery together.

What fascinates me most is that we all have different stories to tell.

Adulthood is a journey. It is the dark forest that most of us are compelled to enter and explore, at the same time it is the hell which we dread.

I think it's also a perfect opportunity for us to look back and reflect on what our parents have always taught us and profit from their wisdom.

My parent's have been there, they've been to hell and managed to survive it. They may be imperfect but think about it - can wisdom exist when you lack the experience of failure and heartaches? But one thing is for sure, these four things that they taught me will definitely stay.

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