2017: A Year in Reflection

A Toast! To the past 365 days of laughing, crying, and persevering.

From moving back home to Los Angeles, transferring universities and re-familiarizing myself with a environment, and establishing a brand-new social network, this year challenged me in more ways than one. Many times, on my morning commutes to class or on morning runs, I broke down out of sadness and confusion. I doubted whether my decision to push myself out of my comfort zone was the right choice. But as I began drafting the paragraphs of 2017, I began realizing the magnanimous impact the sentences I wrote would have on my personal well-being.

This year, many of my writings elaborate on my academic pursuits. Unabashedly, I prioritized my academics before a lot of things and slowly weaned myself of small engagements that I no longer found beneficial in my development. I quit smoking and eased up on drinking. Instead, I put that time into applying for fellowships, internships, and other academic commitments. The extra hours staying up to fill out scholarship applications, practice in-person interviews, and follow-up on prospective opportunities were not in vain.

My lovely PPIA UM cohort (Detroit Federal Reserve)

I was able to participate in highly-distinguished programs, connect with influential figures in the industry I want to pursue, and create meaningful relationships with the top professors in my field. This year, academics became my number one priority and I’m glad to see it pay off.

Outside of the academic sphere, moving back gave me space to reflect about myself and heal from an unhealthy period of consistently bad habits. 2017 was a tremendous year of self-reflection and challenging myself to think much more critically about my positionality and privilege. I drew inspiration from labor activists through events and classes I would take. My interest in local government politics and the plethora of issues it encompasses (i.e. affordable housing, economic development, sustainability) threw me at the forefront with organizing with Westwood Forward, a movement that extended past typical, and frankly trivial, university-setting organizing.

And aside from university affairs, I did my absolute best to be present in rallies, organizing hubs, and public meetings. My experiences in civic engagement were not an easy chapter to dive into and I repeatedly exhausted myself this year reading through all of the commitments I threw myself at (see: unhealthy bad habits). But I also made some tremendous decisions that explicitly prioritized my well-being such as moving away from campus, cutting off some of my extracurricular activities, and distancing myself (physically and social media-wise) from individuals that inevitably contributed to my emotional and mental deterioration. I hope to practice in 2018 what I began doing towards the end of this year: channeling the love-driven energy into campaigns I started this past year and reminding myself to take a break more than I should.

Marching with the Pilipino Workers Center at the annual May Day parade (Los Angeles, CA)

That being said, this year forced me to accept the fact that I cannot (and should never) be expected to perform 100% for every single person. These unhealthy habits wore me out. I gained weight in correlation to my mental health and my skin started to bust up (whoever knows me knows that I take my skin and physical health very seriously). These indicators alarmed me and made me reconsider the decisions I was making and deciding whether it was worth it to have in my life. As a result I slept a lot, I drank more water, practiced self-care, listened to Frank Ocean more, and erased a lot of commitments that I felt were not beneficial in my development. I hope to rinse, dry, and repeat these steps occasionally in the upcoming year.

Last but not least, I learned to physically and mentally depart from my immediate surroundings and witness parts of the country that many do not have the opportunities to indulge in. For short periods of the year, I was able to visit areas of the North American continent and appreciate the cultures and traditions that cling onto the people and things there. I visited the colonial remnants of French-Canada, spent a whole summer exploring the once-thriving city of Detroit, and backpacked along the eastern side of the US. I tackled anxiety and depression in the loneliest parts of my trip, smiled endlessly in catching up with familiar faces, and wrote about the most genuine and holistic individuals I was fortunate to cross paths with in my travel journal.

Somewhere on the way to the Grand Canyon (Arizona)
Overlooking Montreal, Quebec
Big Sur, Callifornia

In the year 2017, I was fortunate to visit San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Santa Barbara, Merced, and other California forests; Orlando, Florida; New York City, NY; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; and back to lovely Los Angeles. Further up north, I got the chance to visit Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, New Brunswick, and Quebec City in Canada! My passion for seeing and witnessing different parts of this country, this world keeps me going and I seriously pray 2018 does me good. And in a more local sense, turning 21 gave me pronounced access to parts of the city that I had been dying to venture into and enjoy. Turning 21 is a blessing and I am excited to the continued explorations of spaces that were previously inaccessible to me.

I can only hope to continue going down this path and increase my possibilities. But it would be remiss of me to not mention that strong support system that got me into those positions, the very backbone of my book. My chosen family, that comprised of friends, got me through so much and performed so much emotional labor for me. Without them, I would be a hyper-anxious dweeb.

Turning 21 with my high school friends! (Chance the Rapper concert, Hollywood Bowl)
#PinoysGoRogue (left to right: Val, Monica, Marg, Jachelle, me, Noodle)
PPIA cohort again (after hours)

I end the year, now, surrounded with close friends and closer family, an overflowing love for my city, and a renewed sense of self in knowing my path is but growing brighter by the day. I hope to gleefully end this chapter of my life and begin a new one! I hope to continue writing about the people I want to keep in my life, leave others in the past year, and bookmark my most favorite moments of my life when I close 2017.

I’m still not good at closing my blogs yet, so here is my ever-growing list of resolutions: drink more water, journal more, blog about my adventures, sleep like I don’t have deadlines, manage my time, don’t let people play me, call problematic stuff out and challenge others to think more critically, and promise to thoroughly proofread the articles I write before publishing them (unlike this one oops).

Mormon Bridge, California

peace, love, and blessings 2017. 2018 let’s do it.

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