… can be difficult especially in the age of social media. So often, I’ve scrolled through my Instagram feed or Twitter timeline and felt myself sinking into an abyss because I see that people are having a better run at life than I am. But then I remember that social media is a highlight reel, and unless they turn around and show it then I’m not going to see that person’s bad days. 

But how to cultivate positive thinking when my phone is an extension of my hand and I have no self-control to speak of yet, so can’t just switch off just like that? I try to use it to my advantage. I listen to podcasts that get me pumped throughout the week (The Receipts Podcast, Say Your Mind, 2 Dope Queens (as of recent)) and I try to focus on social media posts that talk about the person’s achievements or specifically positive thinking.

Outside of that, if I’m feeling down I resort to my go-to definitely going to put me in a positive mood – reading. My cousin recently gifted me Lilly Singh’s book ‘How To Be A Bawse’ (thank you so much, bby girl, I love you, you the best) and whilst the majority of it is stuff I already know, the way she writes make it so relatable and got me thinking, “Okay, Chynna. Don’t just soak up this advice. DO something with it.”

This past week has been so up and down internally for me. So despite getting good news during the middle of the week, I was still in a foul mood all day. It wasn’t until I listened to something that my mood immediately lifted. I ended the day laughing and smiling and feeling so inspired. It’s amazing how a little thing can immediately turn your mood around.

It’s not going to be easy to be in a positive mindset 24/7. Allowing yourself to have a ‘bad’ day, so to speak, is still good for you. Just to acknowledge that these are feelings you are allowed to have. 

Small ways to cultivate positive thinking:

  • Listen to a funny podcast like 2 Dope Queens
  • Read a book and get lost in a new world
  • Write down what you’re grateful for
  • Crank up some happy music and have a boogie
  • Read more of my blog 😉

Much like my ‘Being Mixed Race’ post, this topic has been floating around my drive for a while and I’ve been wanting to write about it for ages. Since starting the ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series, I’ve been thinking about what topics I can write about and thought this is the perfect opportunity – especially as it has been a while since the last post.

Relationships are a tough topic for me just because they’re always so complex to dive into – questions like, “Why did this break down?” “Why did I even date them in the first place?” “Will I be single forever?”

But it is such an interesting topic and something I just wanted to touch upon. I’m no relationship guru (trust me on that), but I mean I’ve had some experience that could possibly make one or two books depending on how you wanna spin it.

First things first I’ll eat your brain… yeah, no wait… wrong discussion. Let’s talk about romantic love, shall we? Let’s ask really deep questions like, “Does it exist?” “Is it a lie?” “Is it a trap?” and then go into a frenzy because you don’t know what is real anymore. In a way, I do believe that romantic love is socially constructed and that would be thanks to Hollywood.

Think about it – you’ve grown up watching films and reading books where a guy and a gal meet and fall in love and live happily ever after. Love at first sight and all that BS. Although, miss me with that BS but I’ll get onto that later. Hollywood has led many of us to believe that we will meet our one true love by bumping into them randomly in the street – and, yes, okay, you can randomly bump into someone in the street, and they may have the guts to ask for your number, but 9 times out of 10 that’s not going to happen. And if it did… how do you know that’s your one true love straight away?

For me, love is something you build. I attended a family member’s wedding back in August and I remember the pastor did a speech and brought up a valid point. Wouldn’t you rather ‘climb’ into love rather than ‘fall’ into it? Falling implies that you will not have a great landing and it’s all bumpy and just not a great experience, right? Climbing into love implies that you’re building something with your partner and taking time as you go along. To reach the top is an achievement and to have your partner alongside you makes it even better. You build a partnership and you listen to each other, you support and trust each other.

I feel like it would be appropriate to insert something about love and devotion here, so… [emoji] I can’t get enough of all that love and devotion in my life. [emoji] /endsong

But do you see where I’m coming from? Honestly, I used to be such a hopeless romantic. I used to pine for the fact that I would meet my one true love and my life would suddenly have meaning. I mean, don’t we all at some point? Then reality hits and you realise you should really concentrate on yourself before committing yourself to a relationship, anyway.

Mind you, this is not something that I always used to think. Like I mentioned I used to be a hopeless romantic but it wasn’t until I got into my first proper relationship that I realised that this sh*t ain’t no joke. It’s not all flowers and chocolates and snuggles – people actually talk about *le gasp* their feelings and when I was younger this was very, very difficult for me. After that relationship ended, I was told that I wouldn’t open up and if the first inkling of a serious conversation was about to take place then I would clam up and just hide myself in my phone. I used to deny this vehemently, but now looking at it retrospectively it is something that I used to do.

Serious conversations about feelings and the future still scare me but I’m getting better. This even applies to my platonic relationships. Situations sometimes arise and I just want to hide in my shell and not deal with it. But dealing with it is part of growing and sometimes you just got to rip it off like a plaster.
I think the best example of reality hitting me in the face was when Mutay and I had our one and only real argument back when we lived together in university (unless you count that time I got angry at her about Skittles back in like Year 8 or something, but irrelevant… I was just short and had a hot temper so, you know).

I won’t delve into what happened too much because honestly, I am very embarrassed about it but I was a terrible person who instead of talking to my best friend about what was bothering me would hide it and then it all came spilling out and I really had no justification for my actions. I was hit with things about myself that personally I knew were the truth but didn’t want to believe. Let’s face it, no-one wants to hear the worst things about themselves said out loud.

But even after everything, my stubborn ass refused to apologise properly. It got sorted out in the end because Mutay was the bigger person, but that episode was devastating. In saying that, it helped me grow as a person. You should be able to speak to your friends without it being a HUGE deal – be honest and open because if you can’t be then can you really call yourself their friend?

Rolling back to thinking I would find my ‘One True Love’, I used to be so stuck on the fact that we had just the one person that we were meant to fall in love with and be with forever, but I mean is that even realistic? I think we have soulmates – people who come into your life to teach you something and help you grow as a person and learn more about yourself. Just like a season. You may go through many soulmates and that’s cool; it’s a learning curve.

I was dating this guy at the beginning of last year and even though it didn’t work out, he did teach me a lot because he was unlike any of the guys I’ve ever dated. When someone opens up your eyes and shows you a different perspective, it is refreshing and I know can always look back at that time with fondness because I was genuinely very happy at that point in my life.

I think with all the guys I’ve dated, I have learnt something new about myself and just in general which is great (in an ‘Oh, shit then’ way rather than an ‘OMG YAAAS’ way, if that makes sense). There are a few relationships where I’ve mourned the loss of a friendship, even now I’m doing that with a guy I was seeing at the start of the year, but it is what it is and you can’t force things if they weren’t meant to be. Just live your life, b.

There were so many things I used to believe in and I think that’s because I was influenced by what I read/watched. Like in the k-dramas I watched where it’s okay for the guy to act like an asshole and the girl would still fall for him. What?! But I’m not going to lie to you because k-dramas still give me feels and I still watch a few, so hey. You get my drift, though. You ever heard someone say, “Oh, he’s only picking on you because he likes you!”? No, girl, noooooo. If the only way he can express his feelings for me is by picking me then I don’t wanna know.

Red flags are such a big thing to look out for in a relationship. I remember I used to get told, ‘You need to go to the gym’ or ‘You could have a flatter stomach’ or ‘I mean, your ass is great but think of the potential if you worked on it?’. And yet I still stayed with him?

Here’s the clincher, though! If you were reading my blog back in 2015 then you’ll remember I posted about my New York trip. What I didn’t mention, however, was how my boyfriend at the time made me cry whilst on said trip. All because of an Instagram comment and the fact that I didn’t FaceTime him every f*cking day. The details are hazy but I posted a selfie on Instagram and a guy commented on it and then Mutay commented on it and then my ex commented on it. I deleted all the comments because I was like, “Whatever” and my ex BLEW TF UP. “You shouldn’t have deleted my comment. Why did you delete my comment? I’m your boyfriend. Blah blah blah.” I was in Baltimore for a wedding and I was meant to be enjoying myself with my best friend and getting ready and yet I was f*cking miserable and crying on and off the whole day because of some fool who wasn’t even in the same country as me.

The moment someone makes you cry and feel so sh*t about yourself and like you did wrong even though you know you didn’t do anything wrong is the moment you exit the relationship. Just run. Just like this dude.

In hindsight, I should have left his ass as soon as those things happened AND YET WHO WAS THE FIRST PERSON I SAW AS SOON AS I CAME BACK FROM HOLIDAY? Sigh, Chynna. The thing is when you’re in something, you have rose coloured glasses and ugh. It’s difficult, I can’t lie. But we need to do better – we can’t be settling for these scrubs that don’t respect us. (I’m sorry, I’m actually listening to ‘No Scrubs’ as I’m writing this, so this is totes appropes)

I mentioned this in my ’25 Things I’ve Learned In 25 Years’, you need to love yourself first if you want a healthy relationship. Of course, anyone is capable of loving, we are human of course. But healthy > toxic, so if it takes you ages to love yourself then so be it but at least when you do enter a relationship you’ll have the right mindset.

The same mental process should also be applied to your platonic relationships. If you’re going out of your way for someone and they’re not doing the same, why are you wasting your effort? Relationships are a two-way street. You can’t expect to receive and not give and the other way round as well. It’s just common decency, right?

We should be continuously growing as people – surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals makes such a difference if that is what you’re looking to do. See someone inspirational? Don’t be jealous. Take from them and go do your thing, and spread the inspiration.

Negative Nancies, as I like to call them, have such a bad effect on me. I find myself slipping into a dark abyss (as dramatic as that sounds) and think that I won’t progress in life, but then when I’m with say, my best friend, and see how she’s freaking slaying life then I feel so inspired and that I can f*ck sh*t up (in a good way). It’s a vicious cycle, sometimes.

A note: cut out the toxic people in your life. This is easier said than done, I understand, but in order to reach Nirvana (no, I’m kidding… or am I?), you don’t want toxicity in your life. As O.T. Genasis would say…

Moving on, you should really put yourself before anyone and think about everything else later. Never put yourself in a compromising position for someone who wouldn’t do the same for you.

I’m sure there will be people who disagree with me on my thoughts about romance and love and blah blah blah, but that’s cool – leave it in the comments and let’s start a discussion. This is the exact reason I started the ‘Let’s Talk About…’ series.

 

“They’re your children? Are they adopted?”

I remember standing at the bus stop feeling like a melon because a random stranger had asked my mother this question. She was offended, as anyone rightly would be. I was left with a sense that despite my mix I could never truly express my Filipinxness. I felt ashamed.

When we think about identity, we usually focus on what we can see. If you were to look at me, you would probably be able to tell that I’m biracial. Living in London I have always had a sense of multiculturalism, which I know I am so blessed to have but growing up there was always a need to outwardly show where I am from.I have always been more drawn to my Filipinx side and this is perhaps in part because my mother brought me over to the Philippines starting from a young age. When I was younger staying out there was a blast. We would explore my mother’s hometown, reconnect with family members, travel to other parts of the Philippines. Nothing phased me. It wasn’t until recently when I visited that I started to notice things. Realistically, I have different facial features to the rest of my family and so I felt out of place. Alongside the fact that I don’t speak Tagalog, I felt set apart from my own family despite the fact that they would speak English around me.

Again, I felt ashamed because who am I to not even know my own mother tongue? Who am I to make them speak English just because of me? I should be the one making the effort to learn Tagalog, even just the bare minimum.

It doesn’t help that I have made no effort in learning about my roots on either side of my heritage. I know the basic history, but I have yet to dig deeper. 2017 will be the year I learn about my people. Their struggles and their strife. I want to ask my mother about what it was like growing up in the Philippines. I want to hear other people’s stories. I want to soak up all the knowledge I can.

I was struggling to bring together the seemingly conflicting parts of my Filipinx-Jamaican identity, but it’s only recently when I’ve been researching that I realised that they don’t have to be conflicting. When your parents are of distinctly different ethnic groups, you are sometimes made to feel that you have to “pick a side”, but this is not the case. I have an opportunity to use my identity to bring alight issues in both communities.

I can shout it from the rooftops that I am unapologetically Filipinx AND Jamaican, and both are truly wonderful. If I let go of this shame of not looking exactly like my mother or my father then I can truly start to free my mind and body.

In honor of Womxns History Month 2017, my friend AnneMarie has created a digital space for Womxn identifying / Femme Filipinx diaspora folks to reclaim the phrase “Walang Hiya”, which has been traditionally used to shame Filipinxs (Click here to read other stories and learn more).