It's Not About Your Demons

  Photo: Courtesy of  John David Dela Peri

Photo: Courtesy of John David Dela Peri

As far as I can remember, I’ve always tried to please everyone around me. I put pressure on myself to become the person my family expected me to be, I changed myself to be accepted by people that turned out to be no good for me, and I pursued careers that brought me no glee.

I could easily blame those who set those kind of standards on me. But the truth was, I was the only person responsible for how I was living my life; it was my choice: my convoluted mindset was a product of my own doing.

It wasn’t until I started accepting the consequences of my own actions that I began to search for what was really meant for me without the bearing of what I thought was expected from me. Years and years of family trouble – mostly caused by my deviant antics – eventually prompted my family to tell me that all they wanted for me was to be true to myself.

I felt a rush of relief upon hearing this, feeling that my family is finally able to accept me for who I was – after years of perceiving myself as the black sheep. I thought it was easy enough for me to just slip right into my own skin. But it was the hardest thing I ever had to do, even harder than conquering depression. Almost two years since I began my journey into finding myself, I realized that the difficulty of it all was because of one thing: I was lost; I didn’t know who I was, let alone who I wanted to be.

I used the excuse of everyone’s expectations to shape myself into who I thought I was meant to be. When the time came for me to be true to myself, I uncovered that I held back because I was afraid… of myself.

I was terrified – crippled even – because I always knew what I was capable of. My dark side was too clever for my own good; it always found ways to escape the cage I built for it. I had a tendency to easily succumb to the devil inside me; the voice in my head that told me to defy any rule imposed upon me – and I did just that for an entire year.

You're easily consumed by what society tells you is acceptable and I was no exception. I created a version of myself that revolved around a misconstrued notion of acceptance: a life that was about gaining success, making tons of money, and having the right connections – this was what living in Manila was all about. I was brainwashed to think that this was of importance in order to survive living in this city, a place I once called home.

Needing a break from the toxicity of it all, I decided to venture in travelling solo in the hopes of finding myself. I wanted to get out of this bubble that told me to be this and that. I needed to see if this was the case in other parts of the world, thinking that I would concede if it were.

Through explorations of other cultures and gaining new perspectives, I was able to discover my true self. With every new adventure, I learned to love myself more because I found more and more of my own authenticity.

The thing we don’t realize is that it’s not about battling our demons. Rather, it’s a matter of appropriating those bad qualities and channeling it into something better.

I always had an IDGAF attitude. This mostly got me in trouble in the past – having done regrettable things, like embarrassing myself and by association, my friends (and that’s just one of the many horrible things I’ve done). It always got me tangled up in some sort of drama, something I had always hated. But the attitude was a part of me I knew I could never eradicate. As much as I tried to banish it from my system, I really couldn’t.

Instead of fighting the inevitable, I decided to turn it into something good; something that would be of value to my life as compared to something that would depreciate me.

That attitude caused me to act before thinking. Rather than having a disregard for the consequences, I’ve transformed my IDGAF attitude into a philosophy I live out every single day. It’s become something much simpler: I have no need for validation from anyone anymore.

As my actions now stem from a place of authenticity, I strive to live out a life filled with kindness. It alleviates the pressure of living up to perceptions – no matter who they’re from – while pursuing the life I want to live how ever I want to live it. Everyone can say whatever shit they want to say about me, but I knew that everything I did came from a good place.

It’s not a self-centered mindset that I lacked care for those around me. Quite the opposite actually. It’s a way of living where I’ve found peace within myself; that in whatever I say or do, I do it for me. I try to impart what I can in the hopes of opening the minds of those I encounter, without putting myself at risk of taking offense in how they react or perceive me. Because at the end of the day, I know the truth about myself – and that is enough; it’s all that really matters.

What I’m trying to say is that when you’re feeling lost, re-examine yourself and the life you’ve lived. It’s not necessary to force yourself to start from scratch just to reinvent yourself. It’s about finding your true, genuine, and authentic self underneath all those layers. Do what you have to do to find yourself. Especially if that means getting out of your comfort zone, because it’s only when you challenge yourself that you are able to conquer yourself.

It’s in searching for your soul that you’ll find peace and contentment within yourself. It’s in being true to who you really are that you’re able find your path. Be real with yourself and those around you, and you’ll find that the world will give it back to you. And eventually, you’ll uncover that exhilarating feeling of self-love that you end up finding true happiness within yourself, the same way I discovered myself too.

Words by Martha Ignacio

IG: @discoveringmartha

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