IN RETROSPECT


I was thinking about how fast the months have gone by. I’m almost on my 4th month of living in Europe. This was just a hazy plan a few months ago. Now I’m living the dream.

Today, I’m here in France, blogging thru my phone. In a few days, I’ll be back in London to welcome 2013 at the Big Ben with new-found friends.

By January, I will embark on a new journey as soon as I pass my Finance exam. Italy, Prague, and Amsterdam from Jan16-30 (Holla if you wanna meet-up! denswithme@gmail.com. I need someone to take me around Rome!) Thank heavens for promo flights and generous relatives, I get to maximize my time off school.

Let me post an article that I was asked to write by a women empowerment website in the Philippines a few years ago. I’ve come a long way from this state. Makes me laugh at those times when I thought it was “the end of the world” for me! Gaaah, the drama! :) My life, I think, is living proof that the heart is resilient and a free-spirit can never be contained.

Lose and find yourself. It’s a vicious cycle. Lose yourself in love and life. Then find your center again. It’s a constant beautiful struggle. Love every minute of it.

Cheers to 2013!

Lost and Found
By Denise Congco

2009 was the year I thought I lost everything. I quit my job, ended a relationship, and cut ties with my best friend of 20 years. I thought it was too much to go through in one year. But today, two years later, I realized that those things had to happen so that I can find myself.

When the source of your happiness comes from external factors, whether it’s your career or a loved one, you sometimes lose touch of who you really are. You let yourself be judged by other people. You get affected by what they say.

But when you let go of all that, you start asking the right questions: Who are you when stripped of material things, friends, job, and boyfriend? What are your deal-breakers and non-negotiables? What are the causes you will die fighting for? If it’s self-fulfillment you’re after, what would you rather do?

At the time, I had all but lost my self-esteem. I had to figure out a way to love ME again. I took a vacation. I traveled around Asia and somehow gained a new zest for life. The world truly is my oyster!

Traveling gave me a different perspective on life. I realized that what might have been important to me was not necessarily relevant to the ice cream man in Singapore or the sales lady in Bangkok. What may be a big deal to you may not even matter to your neighbor, so what’s the fuss? If you failed at something, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pieces, take all the life lessons that moment has taught you, and start anew somewhere, somehow.

But how do I love ME again? I found out that when you rephrase the question, it becomes easier to answer: What don’t I love about myself? My answers ranged from the most trivial to the most profound. I had a problem with my weight, my inability to say no, my tendency to lose myself in a relationship, and my lack of a dream.

So I zeroed in on the easiest: the weight issue. I read everything I could find online. I consulted a doctor and found out that I had polycystic ovaries, which made it doubly hard for me to lose weight. Apparently, my hormones have practically been making me obese. I had to treat that first and then searched high and low for that one exercise program that would suit my lifestyle. Because of the Tracy Anderson Method and a clear vision to reach my ideal weight, I managed to go down to a size 4 from a size 12! From large to small!

[Before and After]

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I got so excited because that kind of happiness emanated from within me! It was the result of sheer hard work and perseverance. It started from accepting the fact that I had a problem and facing it head on.

Next on the list: my inability to say no. I figured that being gracious is different from letting yourself be taken advantage of. I suppose that when you lose everything, you gain courage. A regained sense of self will give you the confidence to say no to something you don’t feel like doing. That same confidence will make you proud of who you are and what you have become! That solves problem number three: my tendency to lose myself in a relationship. By knowing what I hated about myself and doing something about it, I solved two problems at once!

What do I dream of? What do I really want? Simple things, really: something to do, someone to love, and something to stand for.

I know that a stable job is still important to me. I know I have an innate talent to create something out of nothing, which in my industry means creating a marketing campaign with limited, if not zero budget. I know I enjoy making people feel beautiful.

Actually, I was already doing the things that gave me pure joy: marketing and makeup! I just had to find a company that would allow me to do both. I waited for the right job interview to come my way, not going to those that I knew wouldn’t allow me to explore my two passions. I had to stick to my vision! Soon enough, the perfect job offer came. I accepted and am now enjoying every bit of it. Plus, I have wedding makeup gigs every weekend! I am enjoying the best of both worlds!

Asked to describe who I want to meet in my Friendster account, I wrote “someone to hold hands and see the world with.” And I am happy to say that I have met that person. Gaining self-confidence allowed me to share myself again with someone I adore, respect, and believe in.

Little by little, I found myself getting closer to that self vision I created when I was down and out. It was not an easy feat. And up to now, there are days when I feel like I’m taking a few steps back. But then there are good days when the dream feels so close.

All those months of searching led me to several conclusions: Nobody should define who you are but yourself. Come to terms with what makes you sad, angry, or frustrated. Envision the life that you want to lead and then do everything in your power to attain it. Every day, decide and choose to create your own happiness!

Yes, I lost everything. But after all the hurt and the pain, I found myself.

Edit: I gained a few pounds back and broke-up with my then boyfriend but I have no regrets. As I have said, it is a constant beautiful struggle. And I’m willing to go through everything again with eyes wide open and a heart that is just so excited to experience life at its purest! ;) Positivity is key.

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