As generic as it sounds, change is inevitable.
So why fight it? As I was walking to class one day, I started thinking about how different my life has become lately. Friends who used to be so close have drifted away, and sometimes I’m not sure whether to blame myself or them for it, or whether there’s any blame to be attributed to anyone. Family members who used to show up to all the family gatherings and parties don’t even come by or call anymore. Hell, even most of my neighbors who I’ve lived next to for 14 years have moved out.
I’ve seen the pregnant lady across the street whose husband always let me play on his Playstation give birth to their first son. A few years of not really noticing or caring, and boom. Another kid. There was Jasper the Beagle who used to howl and jump around whenever you passed by his gate. Well, he doesn’t howl or jump around much anymore. There used to be things that I could always count on happening in my neighborhood. Like that one chihuahua that used to chase me down the street when I passed by its “territory”, or that old lady power-walking around the neighborhood at 5 in the morning, or seeing that one hot neighbor who would always wave to me if she saw me in my backyard.
Just realizing how different their lives have become makes me reflect on how different mine is.
Up until the summer of 7th grade, I’d always look at myself in the mirror and see the fat just droop over my pants creating a man- muffin top. I’d look at those circle-framed glasses that made me look like a weird, geeky, nerd. I’d look at my hair, which never came out the way I wanted it to and just sigh sometimes. I was frustrated with myself for so long. My inability to speak in public, to talk to different people, to be funny, to be good at something, but above all, to be confident. I wasn’t who I wanted to be, but at the same time, I didn’t know who or what I wanted to be. I don’t know what sparked the weight loss; I’ll probably mark that one up as my weight being redistributed elsewhere as my growth spurts stretched out my body, but I do know what sparked everything else.
Sadness. Get ready for some real talk.
When I was a freshman, my father passed away from an aneurysm three days after we celebrated his birthday. Imagine that. One day, you’re at home with all your family celebrating the life of the man who you’ve looked up to since birth, then the next you’re in a hospital room looking at his pale, lifeless body.
It fucking sucked.
I don’t think I’ll ever cry like that ever again. Thinking about him makes me tear up sometimes. I remember being so sad that I didn’t even want to remember him anymore because I relived the pain. But him leaving this world made me appreciate the lessons he gave me even in his short time.
I never saw him much because he worked 2-3 jobs my whole life, and I never stopped and appreciated how much he provided for me and my family, both here in the U.S. and in the Philippines. He was the backbone of the whole family, a polarizing character who left this world as a fucking legend. (Seriously. If I had more space I’d tell a story about him, but I don’t really think I do) His death was the most extreme change in my life. It flipped my life upside down, and I had to get the pieces together somehow.
At that, time I knew I was never going to be the same. I never knew any stories about him growing up until he passed away. Hearing the stories of his teenage antics made me realize that my dad wasn’t always the same person, but more importantly, it made me realize I didn’t have to be who I was. I worked on breaking out of my shell from that moment on. Academics didn’t concern me as much as they should have, but I’m glad I redistributed my time elsewhere. Had I not done that, I wouldn’t have changed into the person I am today.
I’m not perfect. Not at all. And I will never be.
But while I still don’t know where my life will take me or where I’d like to take it, I know I’ll find my way eventually, just like how the loose change that falls into the cracks of the couch end up in your pocket whenever you need to tip the pizza delivery guy.
Everything comes with time, coincidence, and action. In reality, we have a lot of control over what goes on in our lives, if we just choose to do something about it. Assert yourself to others if you need to; don’t bend the knee just because you want to avoid an argument, or avoid going against someone’s will. Accept the changes you have no control over, and adapt yourself to it. Make the best of your situation. Seriously. Change is loose, and you can make that shit fit your purpose. Got it?
So don’t give yourself some stupid bullshit that holds yourself back. If I can turn the death of my father, the most depressing and traumatic time of my life, into a force that did a total 180 on my life, then you can get over whatever you’re going through too.
Born on December 27, 1996 to a Filipino family, Paulo has one older sister and too many cousins. He moved to Hercules, California before the 1st grade and has lived there for the last 14 years. He played piano from the age of 5 up until the age of 12, when he quit piano for the guitar. He lightweight struggles with time management and is currently attending the University of California Davis and majoring in Communications.