I was casually strolling down Noriega Street with my best friend when we decided to stop by the local grocery store for some bread. Inside, my eyes were instantly drawn to an energetic man who seemed to be in his early 30’s. Although the store was pretty much barren except for a few lone customers, he was craning his neck in an effort to get a full view of the store. I approached him slowly, and his gaze met mine as he asked, “Can I help you with anything?” I responded by saying, “Yes, can you spare some time right now?” He eagerly answered by saying, “Yeah! We do have some thyme! If you follow me…” He started to walk towards the direction of the herb, but his sentence was cut short when I piped up and said, “No sir, not thyme… I was wondering if you could spare some of your TIME.” Puzzled, he asked, “It depends what for.” I buoyantly stated, “I’m a blogger from around here, and I was just curious to see if you’d be interested in answering a few questions about love. Since there’s different types of love, you can just choose which type of love you’d rather talk about and then we’ll go from there.” He hesitantly looked over to the elderly woman, who I was guessing was the manager, and smiled brightly when she nodded in response. He turned his attention back to me and said, “Yea sure, why not.”
Flipping through my sets of questions, I was pleasantly surprised to see him pass the philautia, or love for self, towards me. I confirmed his choice by asking him again, “This one?” He nodded, and so our interview begun.
Mike is 30 years old, and he claimed that he has always loved himself. The sound clip below is a recording of my interview with him.
“I was raised the right way. Always love yourself”
The concept of being “raised” to love oneself is new to me, maybe because of our cultural differences. I don’t know if the rest of the Filipino culture is like this, but in my family, self worth and love for oneself is not really discussed. Although I appreciate the countless lessons of being selfless and putting others needs before your own, I don’t think that loving yourself would take away from the overall love you can offer for anyone else. The amount of love a person can give is limitless; it doesn’t matter if we love 20 people, or 200 people, as the quality of love would always be the same, so long as we treat each individual with respect. This concept is applicable to self-love; your love for someone else will never lessen, even if you decided to apply some of that love to yourself.
“I am amazing because I do all things amazing and love is amazing so might as well be amazing.”
The level of self-love Mike possesses just absolutely astounds me; I aspire to get to his level of self-confidence. In my day to day life, I notice that people usually either put themselves down as a joke (myself included). The thing is, it’s not funny. We may laugh a little, perhaps even a lot, but behind the laughter is the unmistakable feeling of worthlessness and a sense of not being good enough. In today’s society, the media portrays life as one big, glamorous adventure that should be spent traveling the world in luxurious planes, lounging around in fancy hotels, while flaunting designer clothes, on a “perfect” body complete with Barbie-worthy measurements, of course. Day in and day out, we are being pounded with the illusion of what it means to be happy. It’s hard to feel confident when the world is basically telling you what it means to be beautiful, smart, talented and successful, so the fact that Mike is able to hold his head up high despite outside forces is incredible. I think that surrounding yourself with supportive people aides in the overall improvement of self-esteem. Not only is this positive reinforcement, but it also forces you to be around people who genuinely care for your well-being. I don’t know how he is able to hold himself with such high regards all this time, but I do admire him for it.
“Always keep your head up. It’s always gonna get better .and just know that one day you’ll figure it out. You’ll be good.”
His advice could not have been any more accurate. As a high schooler living in today’s modern age, it’s easy to be brought down by the negativity and the expectations that are being imposed upon us. We are treated like children, yet expected to act like adults. We may be having the ‘hardest’ times of our lives, yet denied any help because ‘mental disability isn’t a real issue.’ In these times of peril, it is important to know that even in the darkest of days, a light will eventually shine through.
My church school teacher once told me that sometimes, it’s better to hit rock bottom because at least you know that the only way you’re going is up. I have gone through so many situations where I felt like I truly hit rock bottom, only to motivate myself to keep improving until I got myself back up. There can’t be any other time that symbolizes my struggles than my junior year at school. The whole year, I felt like I was barely getting by with my studies, despite the countless hours I logged in every night, reading and re-reading textbooks, taking notes, and studying for tests. At the same time, things were happening in my family and my friend group, things I could not control, no matter how much I tried. I remember feeling so helpless and unsure of what I was even trying to accomplish. In my despair, I decided to reach out to my best friend for help, and I’m sure glad that I did. I remember going to her house with our other friends, and just karaoke-ing the day away. Mike said to ‘keep your head up,’ but I sincerely believe that there are multiple ways that can help you to ‘keep your head up.’ I believe in reaching out for help when you need it, and not keeping all your burdens to yourself. You can’t handle everything on your own, so you might as well get support from your loved ones. On top of that, high school can be a confusing time because it warrants a lot of decision making. Questions like “So where are you thinking of going to college?”, “What major are you interested in taking?”, and “What career are you interested in pursuing?” are being asked more frequently. Eventually, all students will have to make the decision about what they want their future to look like. Some will move on to top universities, some to community colleges, and some may even enlist in the army. However, there may be a few who still don’t have an idea about what they expect in the future. The only thing to remember if you do fall in this category is exactly what Mike says, “One day you’ll figure it out.” There is no specific formula for life; it just happens, and you just have to know how to roll with it.
I was not expecting much from this interview, especially because I do not usually spend much time thinking about self-love and its importance, compared to love for friends or love for a significant other. I am guilty of not fully appreciating myself, but I am learning. I guess the most important thing to remember if you’re only learning to love yourself is to respect yourself, and as my personal rule of thumb, don’t say something to yourself that you would not comfortably say to your grandma.