The Importance of Faking It

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I thought for a while on what I wanted to write about today. I considered writing about your dad and I’s romantic history — a full telling of the Z & B ┬ástory. But thought, nah. Then I started drafting out something on the difference between what happens when passionate love turns into companionate love. But thought, nah, you could just google that. Maybe the difference between family and friends and romantic affection? The definition of love and what it means to me?

I’m rambling now. Anyways, I finally decided to make this post on probably one of the most important kinds of love: self-love. This is something you should develop strongly and fiercely at a young age — we can discuss those other loves another time.

So as I believe I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with an unmentionable amount of self-esteem issues. People told me I was ugly, and I believed them. I let those words consume me. I’d stay up late nights crying. I hated myself. I wore clothes to hide my skin and always kept hair in front of my face to hide myself.

With my full-body eczema, I felt hideous. Being a lil chubby, I had a horrible body image. I thought nothing about myself looked good, and it tortured me. There is so much pressure on young girls to look good, and I felt the entirety of that weight constantly pushing down on me.

When I was finally old enough, those thoughts of self-hate turned very, very destructive. I think from middle school to freshman year of college, suicide would cross my mind almost daily. Some days would be worse than others, and I’ve made my share of threats and attempts. I saw nothing good in myself. The negativity I felt towards myself was not just about looks, it spread to doubt in my abilities and everything. I felt like a wholly useless being better left for dead.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with you that something in me clicked. It wasn’t until I found out I was having a daughter that I summoned all the emotional strength I had to think positively and work to be a better role model. I was not about to let you grow up with a mother who would teach you self-hate.

Kids learn from their parents. That’s just a fact of life. There’s some weird trend where people take turns pointing out their insecurities and it’s just… awful. Why can’t a group of friends get together and sit around talking about how gorgeous everyone is? Why do we sit around and talk about our weight issues? Our skin problems? Our jealousy over what other people have? Why don’t we relish in our own beauty?

Now, depression does not just go away with positive thinking. There are still moments where I sink to scary, dark levels and those bad thoughts come back. But I’m trying to fight them. I’m trying. Sometimes I’m successful, sometimes I’m not, but I’m trying.

Now for the name of this post. I did a lot of faking it.

I walk around talking big. I talk about how gorgeous I am. I talk about how my makeup is perfect, my cute chubby belly is perfect, my thick legs are perfect, my short green hair is perfect. At first it was sarcasm, but it turned into something else. I talk about how I’m beautiful, I talk about how smart and creative and funny and overall good I am. And soon, somewhere in all that talk, it stopped being sarcasm. I believed it. I do believe it.


That certainly doesn’t apply to every aspect in life, but in this case it does.

I want to fill you with so much confidence that no one can ever knock you down. If you believe in yourself, everyone else will. If you believe in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t do. If you believe in yourself, you’ll never pine for anyone else because when you’re alone you won’t feel lonely. That might not make a lot of sense now but it will.


Ember’s second Valentine’s Day!

Ember, you are only 1 but you are already so smart and kind and funny and friendly and beautiful and strong. All and none of those words define you. It’s up to you to decide who you’re going to be in this world, but you’ll never reach that potential if you don’t have confidence in yourself.

A lot of people say not to make your child cocky because they’ll be obnoxious in school. Well, to those people I say, worry about your own kid.

There’s a difference between a kid saying “I’m so smart” versus saying “I’m the smartest one here”. There’s self-love and there’s arrogance.

The thing is that I would much rather teach Ember modesty than teach her to stop hating herself. Because self-hate is something very difficult to unlearn. I’ll show Ember through example how to love yourself, and I hope that fierceness will transfer over and she’ll instill unbridled confidence and power in her friends too. Self-love is a movement that needs to catch fire and my baby will be the first of many flames.

My parting words are this:

Love yourself. If you don’t, fake it till it’s true.


Fight or Flight

One thing I’ve learned in several different classes is that humans have this instinct known as “fight or flight”, which means that when we face a struggle we must choose to either fight it or run away.

Ember, you are just over 10 months old now and you are starting to walk! I am so proud of you! You were crawling around 7 and 8 months, and now you are up on two feet!

Okay this is a really bad quality picture of you standing up by yourself but you did it and I'm proud!

Okay this is a really bad quality picture of you standing up by yourself but you did it and I’m proud!

I guess I’m not writing in a very coherent order right now, but I’ll try to explain what fight or flight has to do with this post.

So I recently started school again after a year of a few online courses. The thing is, it’s not the classes that are bringing me down, it’s my inability to socialize.

Coming in, I had this image in my head that I could be more outgoing and I could socialize and talk to people and join clubs and make lots of new friends. I thought I could be different than who I’ve always been, but it’s hard. My social anxiety takes a huge toll on me, and I’ve almost been reduced to tears several times already, and we haven’t even started the third week of school.

On the first week, I went to the first meeting of the Filipino club. Because hey, I’m Filipino, sounded like a good place to start. I walk in, see the room is jam-packed and nearly overflowing, and I freeze. Right in the middle of the room. I look around, desperately trying to get my legs to move. Desperately trying to think of something to say, for someone to say something to. I stand there for at least 5 minutes (though it felt like 5 hours), frozen, wanting to leave and go home and cry at my own weakness.

But, sure enough, I find my way to a table of girls and introduce myself. My heart is racing and I feel like passing out, but I do it, and I made friends with them.

The next week, I heard there would be a dance workshop over the weekend. I drag your dad and one of my other friends with me, thinking, “Oh, I love dancing this should be a fun way to make friends.”

As soon as we get there, I freeze in front of the door, and I start to panic. I sat at a table outside and hummed to myself and played on my phone, wasting time while my friends waited for me to make up my mind on whether I really wanted to go in or not. Of course I wanted to go in, but there was this nervousness and anxiety that prevented me from doing so. I probably paced around the door looking in for 20 minutes, on the verge of tears, before finally getting pushed in. As soon as I was in I thought, “Okay, not so bad…” But after we started I was gone after the first 10 minutes.

Yet another example of how anxiety was holding me back.

My last story is of this past weekend. I hear that there is another dance workshop over the weekend, but it’s with the Filipino club. I think, “Okay, I can do this, I can do this I’ll stay and I won’t leave I’ll make friends and be happy I can do this.”

The morning before leaving I think about just staying home and being a weenie, but I force myself to go, and I had a really good time! This time when I went, there was very little hesitation. The group I was with was very small which helped a lot, and I did dance and I did make a new friend and I felt really happy afterwards.

I guess what I’m trying to say about these stories is that I exposure-therapied myself? Which means I kept forcing myself to go to social gatherings, and I gradually became more okay with them.

During my gap year, I spent most of my time at home by myself. In that time I gradually forgot how to talk to people, and all the progress I made overcoming my social anxiety during my freshman year in college was pushed aside as a new wave of fear overwhelmed me.

Okay, now it’s time for a change of scenery and mood in this post.

EMBER, YOU ARE WALKING! Okay now to try and tie these stories together:

You love to be chased and tickled, you think it’s hilarious. Your Lolo keeps making scary sounds, and you laugh and you run away and it actually gets you to walk!

You somehow use your sense of flight to make you stronger. But I guess it’s not truly flight because you’re not truly scared, you’re just playing around.

I’ve spent most of my life in flight. Only since I’ve hit college have I started choosing to fight. By the way you constantly tackle me and bite me and slap me in the face, I can tell you are already a fighter (and I mean that in a nice way).

I don’t want to keep running away from people. I want to make friends and enjoy my life. I don’t want to keep holding myself back, and I would never dream of holding you back.

I hope that as time goes by we can fight together.

New Year New Me??

Apparently I haven’t written a blog post in 2 months, which is awful. I have ideas constantly running through my head, but I find myself lacking the time and/or energy to write them out.

Anyways, I’m 20 now! Yay me!

I came out to have a good time and I'm honestly feeling so attacked right now.

I came out to have a good time and I’m honestly feeling so attacked right now.

The title of my post is usually something said during New Year, but I’m applying it to my birthday. New year, and technically new me?

If I went back in time and told little weeb 14 year old me that in the future I would chop my hair off and walk around wearing green lipstick, I would not believe it. If I told myself I could give a presentation without shaking or crying, I would not believe it. If I told myself I could go shopping and talk to employees and ask questions without first pacing around the store for an hour filled with anticipation, I would not believe it.

But shit, I never would’ve believed I’d have a baby at 20, so everything else seems so…

Ember, since the moment I found out I was pregnant, you have changed me. For the better, sweet baby.

Every moment before I had you was full of horrible paranoia. I talked about my depression and anxiety, but I cannot stress enough how utterly miserable I was.

Every minute of my life was Where am I going to school? What if I don’t like this major? Will I have to start over? Can I switch schools? How much does living in an apartment cost? What if I fail these classes? What if I can’t make any friends? What if I’m the first person to show up at that meeting and I have to stand there awkward and alone? What am I going to do after college? Will I ever defeat the patriarchy? What if I fall into crippling debt? Do I kill myself? How should I kill myself, so that it will be fast and painless and not too inconvenient to clean up? Where do I kill myself? Will tomorrow be better? Will next year be better? What am I waiting for? What do I have to look forward to?

When I say my heart was devoid of hope, I meant it.

But you. You, Ember. You’ve changed me more than I can ever say.

You’ve taken that hot mess and transformed it into When will Ember walk? What will her first words be? I hope it’s Mom, I didn’t carry her in my tummy for 9 months to let Zach have the satisfaction of getting called first. Okay, I’ll take this one semester at a time and graduate as soon as I can, and I’ll get a good job so I can buy Ember whatever she wants. Anything. I wonder if she’ll like school. I wonder what her favorite subject will be, or what her hobbies or interests will be. I will be the most loving and involved parent; I’ll look up everything she likes so I can talk to her about it. I have the rest of my life to love her.

Not only have you changed the way I think about my future, but you’ve changed the way I think about myself.

I talked about how I was picked on because of my skin. My eczema, my discoloration. People called me ugly, and I believed them. My lowest point was in high school. My skin was acting up, it was bleeding and oozing and I was in so much pain. I felt so disgusting, so horribly ugly, that during lunch that day I looked down at my food and thought, “I don’t deserve to eat. I don’t deserve this food. Eating is for beautiful people.”

I always remember that day. And I wish I could go back in time and hug myself and tell myself that I deserve so much more.

I read an article one day that really changed how I looked at myself. (I can’t seem to find it, but if I do I’ll link it here.) It was a woman talking about how women always put themselves down and criticize their bodies (because hell, everyone else is) but in doing so they’re setting the example. Their daughters will look to them, see their mothers hating on themselves, and think, “Oh, well I need to start hating my body too.”

I will not be that mother. I will not plant the seeds of insecurity in your beautiful little heart. I will fill you with nothing but confidence and self esteem, because you deserve nothing less.

Now when I look in the mirror, I think

  • Eyebrows on fleek
  • Lipstick cute af
  • Highlight / contour game strong
  • Eyeshadow perfect as always
  • Eyeliner sharp enough to kill
  • Hair on point
  • Clothes on point
  • Pretty eyes pretty nose pretty lips
  • Cute tummy cute thighs cute hips
An example of my looking 200% cute.

An example of me looking 200% cute.

What took me so, so, so many painful years to see, is that I am beautiful. With or without makeup, I walk around with my head held high like I run this shit, because I do.

I’m sitting on my bed typing this and you are sleeping in your crib next to me, and I can see in your not-yet-developed facial features that you are beautiful and you are a goddess and you are perfect, and you must never let ANYONE convince you otherwise.

There are people in this world that cannot tell the difference between confidence and cockiness, between self-love and immodesty, but their ignorance is not your problem. Love yourself shamelessly, love yourself before anyone else. Because you are so wonderful and magical and beautiful and worthy of love. You already have all the love in my heart.

Ember, you’ve given me the gift of confidence. You’ve given me the ability to love myself. Because if I was able to create something as beautiful as you, then how bad can I be?

I still have a long way to go, but seeing how far I’ve come lately, I know I can do it.

I’m not going to be a mother that can’t make a phone call. I’m not going to be a mother that can’t talk to people in public, or cry whenever I do. I’m not going to let social anxiety take over when I have so much to do.

Ember, I’m going to make you proud of me.