The time I did a love challenge

A few weeks ago I had this brilliant idea. Inspired by Aileen Xu and her wonderful Artist of Life workbook, I decided to persuasively invite my two dearest friends to do a love challenge.

In her workbook, Aileen encourages us to write down 10 things we love about ourselves. To nurture self-love and confidence. As I was writing down some things I sincerely loved about me, I began to wonder – how different are the things I love the most about myself from the things the people closest to me love about me? And what can I learn from that?


WHAT IS THE LOVE CHALLENGE?


It consisted of the following:

  1. we each write down 5 things we love about ourselves
  2. we each write down 5 things we love about the other person
  3. a few days later we email each other our answers
  4. share with each other our reactions to what the other has said

HOW IT WENT


The first thing my friend told me when she reacted to my email was something along the lines of “I’m surprised by almost everything you wrote about me.” On the other end, I wasn’t so much surprised by her answers (because she usually expresses her admiration for others naturally), but more on the side of “I don’t usually see any of these as such great things to love about me, or consider them my strengths, but I am so glad that you appreciate them!”

On my email I wrote this about my friend:

“[I love] your shamelessness: yeah. for me who’s always been ashamed of so many of my feelings and likes, and afraid to show my feelings, you are incredible. I love things silently, you love them out loud without caring who hears. truly. it’s inspiring.”

The absolute best part about this whole challenge was the feedback I got from my friend on this particular point. She couldn’t comprehend why someone would be ashamed of liking something. “What is there to be ashamed about liking something? There’s nothing bad about it!”

Later, I would tell her that if you try too hard to fit in, and if people consistently tell you that something you like is stupid as you grow up, you end up being ashamed to show your love for certain things. To me, it’s always heartwarming to see someone else express their love shamelessly, because I can’t (and I really wish I could!).

This is what she told me:

“(…)because I didn’t see you learn how to love things, it’s like it was always a part of you. Because you don’t express the surprise of loving something it doesn’t seem like a new thing, it just seems like it has always been there. I didn’t even consider it love, I just considered it a part of your personality. I just thought you were a pink girl. I don’t think about me like that. I separate myself from the things that I love, but when I think about you, I don’t separate them. They are all you. Weird, right?”

Did you notice that what I love so much about her is something I don’t have that I wish I did?

I admire what I see in her as bravery because being honest about my likes and feelings is hard for me, therefore her openness about it could only be perceived as bravery for me. And I admire her for it. But to her, it’s the simplest thing!

My friend Sara is not afraid of showing her likes and feelings – it’s the most natural thing! So, to her, she’s not being brave when she does it, meaning she will not value this quality in her the same way I do.

What’s more, because to Sara it’s natural to show excitement over a new thing, and since I didn’t behave like that, my likes and loves didn’t even register as such to her. They were just who I am.

It was when I came to this conclusion that I knew I had found the answer I was looking for when I created this challenge: the things we love about others are a reflection of the things we value and fear the most in our lives. We love others in conformity with how we love ourselves. We hate others in conformity with how we hate ourselves.

In simpler terms, we tend to love and appreciate in others what they have that we think we lack, and would love to also have. And because love and hate are so connected, we might also hate others for the same reason.

This is why loving yourself is so important. Because the more parts of me I love, the more parts in others I will find worthy of love as well. I will not resent, I will appreciate. I will not envy, I will celebrate and support.


LET’S DO THE CHALLENGE TOGETHER?


Since it turned out to be such a nice way to share love for me and my friend, I thought, on this month that is considered to be the month of love, why not spread the love further? Let’s all share one thing we love about ourselves, and one thing we love about someone else in our lives.

Here’s what you have to do to participate:

  1. Go to my INSTAGRAM or  TUMBLR (if you wish to do the challenge anonymously).
  2. Leave me a message with something you love about yourself + something you love about someone else in your life (no need to identify who the other person is)

I will compile all the answers and share them on Valentine’s Day on a very special post!

Up for it?

Let’s spread the love ❤

P.S.: Please remember that if you do this I might share you answer on the blog and on Instagram, so before submitting your answer, consider whether you’d like to do this anonymously or not!

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

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Why Kim Namjoon is a remarkable leader

I remember being a little kid and, in my naive simplistic eyes, dividing grown ups into black and white categories: moms and dads, rich and poor, cool and cranky… the categories went on and on. Among them was bosses and employees.

It was only somewhere between high school and college that I began to understand that between those two categories I defined in my childhood, there is another, much more important one: the leaders.

In college, I was taught through lessons the difference between a leader and a boss. I took my notes, I passed my tests, and I knew the importance of that difference. But, after graduation, it’s in observing people who lead that I learn the most.

Kim Namjoon is one of those people.


WHO HE IS


Namjoon and a Rainbow

Being only 23, and the leader of 6 other boys who have taken the world by storm, breaking records, earning the trust of millions of fans, has made me rethink my perspective of what makes a good leader.

In case you have been sleeping under a rock for the past few months and don’t recognize him, Kim Namjoon (a.k.a RM), is a Korean rapper/musician, leader of the Korean group BTS. If you know me, you know I love BTS. And I don’t love them just because. Although I don’t want to  delve too much into the reasons why the group is amazing (I would probably get too carried away), the truth is, one of the biggest reasons why they are indeed great is because they have an incredibly talented leader guiding them through their career.

There’s no need to say much. We can all imagine what it would be like when 7 young people barely out of school get together to make music and become performers. How much conflict there must have been, how much insecurity and self hatred and fighting. All we have to do is think back to those group projects in school to know it’s not easy.

Now imagine doing that for 4 years, whilst somehow growing into friends that are like family, allowing everyone to have their say and their input, and, in the end, making beautiful songs that relate to every single one of them as well as their fans.

A boss cannot do that. A good leader can.


A REMARKABLE WEAKNESS


On more than one occasion, in songs and outside of them, Namjoon has discussed the fact that he has trouble loving himself. As an outsider, I first found it incredible – how someone who has done so many amazing things cannot find it in himself to love who he is. But the truth is, we are ruthless toward ourselves, aren’t we? Always expecting the impossible.

But you know, sometimes
I really really hate myself
To be honest, quite often
I really hate myself
When I really hate myself, I go to Dduksum
I just stand there with the familiar darkness

With the people that are smiling
And beer, which makes me smile
Coming to me softly
Fear, which holds my hand

– RM “Reflection”

Surprisingly, this unfortunate fact about Namjoon was what connected with me. I found in him a reflection of myself (pun intended).And a chance. As he began his journey to love himself, I looked at him and thought ‘if someone who has accomplished so much and is so kind hearted and real can find it hard to love himself, then even though I feel the same, maybe I have and will accomplish great things too.’

And it’s the simple fact that I can see myself in him that changes the whole way in which I see leadership. Because a leader who is relatable is one that does not keep a distance, does not inspire others by appearing to be always strong, does not put himself in a different position than those he is guiding. No, a leader who is relatable stands with those he leads as an equal, but knows how to nurture strengths and work on weaknesses. Because he knows his own, and he wears them on his sleeve to serve as an example.

Weaknesses can be worked on, strengths can always be stronger.

And, in doing so, it’s as if he’s looking at me and saying ‘if I can do it, so can you. And I love you, even if some days it’s still hard to love me too.’

Thank you for leading me towards believing in myself, Kim Namjoon.


There are many great leaders in this world, Namjoon is just one very personal choice. Is there a leader who inspires you in your daily life? Let’s talk about it in the comments bellow!

 

 

Memories of 2017

This time around I didn’t feel like using words to look back on 2017. Not because words aren’t important, but because, unless I wanted to commit to writing a book about this year, there was no way I could describe it in “a hundred words or less” (not really a hundred, you know what I mean).

Yes, yes, what I want to say is that many things happened this year. Some of the greatest moments of my life so far, as well as, perhaps, some of the worst. I did a lot of things for the first time, and lived a whole year with a vulnerable heart, treading carefully – getting hurt easily but also loving just as easily.

So, you see, this was a complex and abstract year, that I felt was best looked back on in a visual way. And that’s just what I did.

Memories of 2017, in a video (the first I made in almost 4 years, so it’s a special baby, this one).

 

I hope you have a 2018 filled with happy moments.

Let me know in the comments how your 2017 was (if you can put it in a hundred words or less).

Our Seoul in black and white

Have you ever wondered if, maybe, just maybe, some pictures are able to capture a little bit of a person’s soul? Sometimes, I think they do – when the photographer knows exactly which moment to snap the picture, catching his subject in a perfect still moment where their soul shows.

I’ve seen it in smiles, in gazes, in the way that the wind blows our hair. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s capturing these moments that has been my passion these days.

sara in black and whitesara and maia in black and whitemaia in black and white

All of this because, finally, about 5 months later, I decided to really go through all of my pictures from South Korea. Saying it took a while would be an understatement, and I might have used up a tissue or two wiping hypothetical tears because I miss that city so much, but I finally pulled through. After picking some of my absolute favorites out of mine and my friend Mariana’s camera roll, it somehow all came together in black and white – a style I am not usually one to pick but found so fitting in these pictures.

 SM artists at SM Town Mari and sara with BTS Maia in Gangnam

I always have said that, although black and white rarely fails to make a picture look good, it also gives it a gloomy vibe which I haven’t really ever wanted my pictures to have. However, looking at these, and as I write these words, I can finally understand why this style portrays these pictures in just the right way. And that is because of my very personal feelings toward them. You see, looking at these memories, 5 months after living them, brings me a strong sense of longing.

I miss that city like I have never missed a place before. I miss the friends I made there and the ones I left there. I miss the moments we all shared together in Noraebang and AirBnB houses, crowded streets and spicy food restaurants eating lamb skewers like crazy. It wasn’t just one thing or two about that trip that made it amazing. It was a lot of small, special things, and special people.

 Beautiful sara in Gyeongbokgung Maia in Gyeongbokgung Rae and her tattoo in black and whiteRae in Seoul Sara and Maia at a noraebang

Sometimes, I go talk to my friend and tell her ‘Mari, I miss Seoul so much today’. Sometimes, she will come up to me and tell me how she listened to a song and it made her think of Seoul too. And we will reminisce and hope that one day we get to go back. We hope that the friends we left there update us on what is going on over there, and send us pictures of the smallest things that make our hearts full of longing skip a beat.

Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Maia reading blonote at Arriate flower café Beautiful mug and flower at arriate flower café

And that is why black and white makes these pictures come alive. It brings out the nostalgia and longing towards a city that probably took a piece of me and kept it there safe and sound. Until another day, hopefully soon, when I go back and find it again.

Seoul (& Busan),

보고 싶다

(I miss you)

P.S.: Almost all of these pictures are from my lovely friend Mariana, so head on over to her instagram if you would like to see more!

Inspiration on being yourself: Kim Taehyung

It came to me, on a rainy afternoon as I made my way through the streets of Lisbon, that there is one thing I have been wanting to write about for a while – in urgency, leaving a tickle on the tips of my fingers and my mind racing with words just dying to be written. That one thing – or, rather, one person – is Kim Taehyung.

Odds are you have not heard of him. If that is indeed the case, then I am so glad you are reading this! You get to discover someone new, and, hopefully, feel inspired by him like I do.

Kim Taehyung photograohed by himself in mirror

At first glance, Kim Taehyung is a pretty face (like really fucking pretty, though). On second glance he is an ambiguous character with a smile that will make you happy, and his head in the clouds. After a while, if you care to pay attention, he becomes the most interesting book you will read – with the bonus of having a beautiful cover.

The basics are, he is a 21 year-old korean guy who belongs to one of the biggest and most famous acts of Kpop (short for korean pop), a group called BTS. He is a singer and a dancer on paper. But really, Taehyung is an all around Artist. He has what I value the most in people: a curiosity to explore the world, the open mindedness to see it from his unique perspective, and fearlessness to show his failed attempts and trials.

Jeon Jungkook photograohed by Kim Taehyung on a balcony

Jeon Jungkook portrait by Kim Taehyung
Jeon Jungkook captured by Kim Taehyung

What I have been finding the most inspiring about Kim Taehyung lately, though, is his passion for photography. The truth is, he has been blessed by both the face of a model and the eye of a photographer. He doesn’t just pose, nor does he just snap pictures. He is able to awaken a wide range of different emotions in you, whether that is in front or behind the camera.

Truth is, if there is one person who should really have an Instagram account, that would be Taehyung. Sadly, he does not. But you can keep up with his amazing self over on the BTS group twitter acount @bts_twt (which I highly recommend).

Kim Taehyung photograohed by himself in mirror

One day, I would like to have the confidence that he has, to be so unapologetically myself. Honestly, there is nothing more attractive and inspiring in a person. I guess, in the end, it’s not his voice, not his dance skills, not even his photography, that impact me the most – it’s his capacity to love himself.

He is a role model when it comes to embracing who you are.

And I wish him all the best.

Do you have someone who has been a source of inspiration to you lately? Let me know in the comments!

Shy girl takes dance classes

“Maia the hip hop girl!” said my brother-in-law, when I took him out to shop for some training clothes for my new hip hop dance classes. He was laughing. “It just really doesn’t fit you.”

He is wrong, obviously. I have been a closeted hip hop dance goddess all my life, kept in the shadows by something called shyness. So I laughed with him said, “But it’s so much fun!” and went on to buy me some hip hop casual looking hip clothes.

Shy girl takes dance classes

So, yeah, this is what I wanted to share: I have committed a fair share of my money to take hip hop dance classes. I have wanted to do this for at least a decade but was always too scared to. I mean what if I suck and everyone laughs? What happens if the teacher tells me to dance on my own?

Most of all, I was scared of that reaction my brother-in-law had. Of my family laughing and looking at me like they can’t understand why a shy girl like me would ever want to take dance classes.

Now I just find it kind of adorable. The reaction, I mean. I wonder if one day I’ll get to show them my secret talent.


Dancing is the most fun I’ve had in a very long time even if I still suck at it


Yeah, I lied. I’m not a goddess of dancing. I really do suck because I still know so little but boy does the prospect of learning make me excited!

I’ll get back to you once I’ve gone from Extreme-Struggling-Beginner to Half-Decent-Little-Dancer.

Wish me luck!

4 Shops I found in Seoul that I wish existed in my city

If you’ve ever heard about Seoul, you probably heard about how big the beauty industry is over there. Being there, you realize that what you’ve heard is not an exaggeration – from more plastic surgery clinics than I’ve ever seen before to make-up stores in abundance in every street -, Seoul will give you plenty to choose from if you’re willing to spend some money.

Yet, what often does not get told is that Seoul has plenty more to offer than just beauty (and all for a way cheaper price than anything in most European countries). I’m talking clothing, stationery, food & beverages, and so much more!

I put together a list of 4 shops in particular that I loved the most. These are the ones I wish existed in my city – the places I’d spend my money on repeatedly if so.

Without further ado, here they are.


STYLENANDA PINK HOTEL


Entrance to Stylenanda pink hotel

Stepping inside Stylenanda is like stepping into a Wes Anderson movie –  all you’re missing is the funny yet intriguing plot around you. Everything else is there: the stylistic choice of limited color palettes, the symmetry, the successful effort to transform every corner of the shop into a work of art. You are made to feel like you’re not merely shopping, but also walking inside a miniature hotel inside Wes’ head.

The store is made up of 5 floors, each one designed to look like you really are inside a very pink hotel.

Depending on the floor, you can buy make-up/beauty products, clothing, and then top it all off (pun intended) with some delicious treats at the Pool Cafe. But until you reach the top floor, have fun just admiring all that the store has to offer to the eyes and imagination!

Neon lights at stylenanda pink hotel in myeongdong

You can also shop at Stylenanda online.

Note for the curious ones: Stylenanda (in hangul 스타일 난다) actually means ‘your style is cool’ in korean.


ARRIATE


Entrance to Arriate flower cafe in gangnam

ARRIATE is a tea house located in a quiet street in Gangnam. It’s an unique place because it’s  full of beautiful flowers inside, giving you a cosy and welcoming feeling – and definitely making it Instagram-worthy.

Since I’m such an admirer of flowers (just looking at them gives me some sense of peace), Arriate was one of my favorite spots. Even before trying any of the coffee or pastries/cakes they had I already knew it would be hard for my friends to get me to leave this place. I was at home.

And to top it off they gave us a rose as a present along with the order!

Inside Arriate flower cafe in gangnam

Overall, Arriate is a great place to go whether you want to take someone on a date, just have a nice chat with your friends or even go by yourself to just work/study.

Just promise you’ll take good care of that red rose.


24/7 CONVENIENCE STORES


Outside a 711 in seoul

Also known as, “one of the main reasons why it was so hard to leave Seoul”. These convenience stores are basically in every corner (there was even one practically inside our building in Busan – the dream!) of every street, they are open 24/7 and they offer you the world.

By the world I mean they have the things you want and the things you didn’t know you wanted. From instant meals that are actually delicious to Doraemon gum, all kinds of snacks, alcohol, transportation tickets… what don’t they have?  

I went to one at least twice every day. Some days even more often. There was just always something that I just needed from there. Even if that was just a pack of Doraemon marshmallow bubblegum. A legitimate need, okay?

I’m not even going to recommend this. If you go to Seoul you will end up going to one anyways. There is no escape.

(Don’t worry, That’s a good thing)


KAKAO FRIENDS STORE


Kakao Friends store in Hongdae

Outside Kakao Friends Store in Hongdae

Over here in the West we like to use apps like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger to talk to our friends. In South Korea, they use another (superior) app called KakaoTalk. Said app has cute stickers, and those stickers are mainly of their own original characters, called Kakao Friends.

This store is a mini wonderland created around these cute characters. In there you can find all kinds of merchandise of your favorite Kakao Friend (I’ve still not been able to pick one). The worst, or perhaps best, part is that everything is so cute you’ll end up leaving with kakao friends’ cutlery and you wont even feel bad about falling into their trap.

On the top floor you can also taste some themed pastries and have some deliciois kakao coffee in the Ryan Cafe. Because Ryan might be a lion but he’s a lion with taste.

Ryan the Lion gif


Are there any shops like this in your city? Let me know in the comments!

 

What it was like to finally go on the trip of my dreams

Seoul was the vacation of my dreams.

You know the kind of  vacation I’m talking about, right? That far away place we long to visit one day, seemingly so far out of reach. That place we might have spent a little too much time on the internet drooling over – looking at pictures of it on Instagram, reading article after article about it. Maybe we have cried once or twice while doing this. Possibly. Cannot tell you with certainty because of reasons.

To me, that place was Seoul.
Gyeongbokgung palace entrance
Amazing Maia at Gyeongbokgung palace Ever since I started learning Korean a few years ago (damn, has it really been years?), and I became more and more curious about Korean culture, this became my dream destination. But going there would require a lot of money that fresh-out-of-college-me did not have, as well as someone else crazy enough to come along with me.

Until this day, I am still impressed by how it all came to be. How I went from seeing Seoul as a dream to actually making plans to go, buying our tickets and being there. Between you and me, I think it was one little miracle.

Of course, I had to work hard to save enough money to go and spend over there, but I also managed find some crazy friends who were willing join me.  Two friends that also were willing to work hard to save money so that we could all go.

And so it was that in July the three of us packed our bags and ventured to the opposite side of the world.


SEOUL AND US: A LOVE STORY


Our Polaroid in front of Kim Sejong the great

Now, listen, don’t get ahead of yourself there. It’s not that. None of us found a hot Korean prince and moved in with him into a palace. We just fell in love with the city, day after day, until the thought of coming back was one of disappointment. I’m not kidding, I’ve never been this sad about coming back home from a vacation before.

It wasn’t love at first sight, though. When we arrived, nothing looked particularly interesting to me. It was raining, the sky was overrun by dark clouds and all I saw were tall grey buildings everywhere. And the air… the air made me feel like I was inside a sauna. Bye bye straight fabulous hair!

Our second day did the trick. Finally, I was walking familiar but completely new territory. Seeing in person what I had previously only seen excerpts of on TV and completed with my imagination. You see, I watch a lot of Korean tv shows – I find them funnier and way more lighthearted than western ones – so the streets of Seoul weren’t strangers to me. The city was like a friend I had met online, and our friendship was finally transitioning to real life.

Seoul at night Amazing Maia in Myeongdong Amazing Maia in Myeongdong Amazing Maia in Myeongdong

Quite just like meeting an online friend we have talked to for years, meeting Seoul was, at the very least, a thrilling experience. The realization that I was actually there, so far away from home, listening to the language I’ve been learning being spoken so casually everywhere — speaking it myself!  There was so much I wanted to see, so much I wanted to do. Just riding the subway was already drawing the biggest smile on my face!

Since I have already been in New York once, Seoul’s skyscrapers and flashing lights weren’t exactly a novelty to me. Yet they felt different, with their saturated multitude of colors and designs. It’s like, whilst New York is a carefully curated art collection, Seoul is an assembly of independent artists showcasing their art freely. My eyes had a feast every time we were in the city, finding more different and unique things to look at every day.
City lights in Myeondgong
All of this made up a perfectly imperfect and charming atmosphere for what would be my favorite 10 days of 2017 so far. We had many little adventures, many occasions where we lost our way, strange and exciting encounters with locals. We laughed a lot, fought a bit and tried new things. We bought a lot of stuff and polaroid-ed our way through the trip.

I made many memories over there that I will treasure in my heart for a very long time. And I will always remember fondly my everyday struggle to find non spicy food to eat.

And, just like that, I had fallen in love.

Polaroids of South Korea


And you, have you ever been on the vacation of your dreams? Where did you go? How was it? 

Feel free to share your experience with me down in the comments!

All of these pictures were taken by my dear amazing friend Mariana Pereira. You can click here to check out her Instagram!

Me, at 23

Today marks a week since I said goodbye to being 23. Am I a little emotional over it? Maybe. Am I nostalgic about it? You bet your ass I am!

Just to give you a little bit of context, I stopped being excited about turning a year older ever since I blew my 17 candles. Nothing seemed that exciting to me about being one step deeper into adulthood. All I ever saw was responsibility I didn’t want being thrown at me, and time slipping through my fingers.

This time around, it was different. I wasn’t exactly ecstatic about becoming older, but I was content. I feel like I’m ready to embrace this new year and make it mine. And that is only because my mindset changed a lot whilst I was 23. One could say I went through quite a transformation, even. And that is why this post is relevant – because I’m sharing with you who I was and who I became at 23.

After this, we can move on. SO LET’S GO!


ORIGIN STORY: A WHOLE LOT OF DENIAL

As every hero has her own origin story, so does yours truly. And just like every origin story out there, mine started with my life being A Mess (with a capital M for emphasis). This seems like your regular sarcastic answer – and it kind of is -, but it also isn’t. You see,  I didn’t really know I was a mess, back in my early 23’s, I just knew I wasn’t doing that great. 5 out of 10, maybe? Could do way better.

Money was a huge issue back then. I was counting every penny I had and depending on my parents a lot, which in itself gave me anxiety about being an Adult and not being able to take care of my own grown up self. I was also in denial about being lonely, and… basically every aspect of my life was dancing on a tightrope.  But I hadn’t fallen off of it yet, so I thought I was just fine.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine!”

(I’m really not)

The way things were, I could’ve been given nothing but denial gift cards wrapped in a cute red bun as presents when I turned 23. Maybe that’s what happened because honestly, I used them all. They lasted me about 6 months – up until the end of last year. That was when my denial about how shitty life was getting got so bad, the truth got fed up with it, slapped me across the face with a brick and said: “Alright, you lazy child, you either start facing me or you will fall off that tightrope of yours and break all of your bones.”

I still tried to fight back a little with a scared “Do I really have to?”. All that got me  was another slap, and I finally uttered out a reluctant okay.


THE TURNING POINT: BECOMING THE SHERLOCK HOLMES OF FEELINGS

Sigh. That was quite a heavy start. The good news is, my grim origin story ends there. Which doesn’t mean that after those 6 initial months I suddenly became a beautiful butterfly spreading happiness all around me (although I like to believe I am like that some days). It just means that by deciding to change, I no longer was spiraling down. I started to climb my way up, slowly, losing my footing more often than not, but still climbing up.


THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED

Denying the existence of problems and/or feelings doesn’t actually make them go away. On the contrary, it feeds them, which means they grow and become stronger. Eventually they become stronger than you.

So I started to exercise the opposite – I gave my feelings some time to just be. If I’m sad, I’ll allow myself to feel it for a while, and whilst I do that I try to think rationally about what it is that is causing me sadness.

“Why am I sad?”

“Because x, y, z happened.”

“What is it about x, y, z that saddens me?”

(…)

I do my best to understand what is causing my feelings to come to the surface, and then come up with ways to resolve whatever the inciting conflict is.

(This technique works wonders, albeit not the easiest thing to do. It is guaranteed to take ages off of your face! Better than a facelift! 10/10 would recommend.)

One could say, were he/she enough of a nerd, that I became the Sherlock Holmes of feelings. And not just of my own, funny enough! Because by understanding how my brain works, I became all the more inclined to understand what triggered certain behaviors in others as well.

And you know what? I’m kinda really good at it now!


THE HERO’S TEST: PEOPLE

It all started when I got close to this lovely lovely girl here

It might be a surprise to absolutely no one that I suck at people. I know, that whole sentence was an amazing display of eloquence, but what matters is that it gets my point across just right.

I always thought I was quite averagely talented at many things but if there is one thing that I have never displayed any talent for that has to be socializing. And it’s not for lack of interest, because I do want to know how to properly interact with people and build valuable relationships in my life – it’s just that people scare me like nothing else really does.

Before you start imagining horrible scenarios in which people are being murdered, let me explain. It’s not that I think everyone out there is trying physically hurt me, it’s just that I think everyone will hurt me emotionally, sooner or later.

And this lovely lovely lady came in and made everything even better   

What I am trying to say here is that, despite all of this, my 23 year old self finally started to get a grip on the reins of her social life, and is now consciously attempting to pass all her classes from her degree in People Skills.

If before I thought I was fine on my own, now I know that being surrounded by the right people is what allows us to have happy moments in our lives. I know that being alone and enjoying time with myself is important, but so is relating to others, and letting them into my life.


THE REWARD: A LITTLE HEDONISM NEVER HURT NO ONE

I might be stretching the meaning of hedonism a little bit here. Regardless, I have started to allow myself to enjoy the little (and the big) pleasures in life. It’s not all about being productive all the time anymore. It’s also about resting, having fun, and taking good care of myself.

The key aspect here is that I no longer settle for what life throws at me, but rather I seek out that which I want. In simpler words, I got tired of “living for the weekend”, working and watching tv and going out once in a blue moon. I got tired of saving all my money for a rainy day.

I don’t need to live every day on the edge. That’s not it at all. Sometimes all I need is to take 10 minutes off my day to enjoy the sunset over the river instead of rushing to catch the bus and go home. Reading amazing books that inspire me, eating my favorite food, having conversations with my favorite people. Whatever it is that brings me joy. 


THE SEQUEL: MY YOUNG (FOOLISH) DREAMS

Young-ish me dreams of nice things in her future. I want to start enjoying the good parts of being an adult (because, yes, those exist after all!).

  • living in my own apartment that’s filled with plants I can actually take care of, in a pink building, in Lisbon
  • having a kind and adorable puppy
  • holding hands with someone I really really like (and who happens to have the softest hands, just saying)

Most of all, my 23 going into 24 year old self wants her independence! It’s time! That and to be surrounded by people who want what’s best for me, whilst continuously growing into someone more confident and wise.


END CREDITS: NOW, AT 24

I know it’s lame to say this but I am indeed wiser. Still dumb and with flaws to spare, but wiser. Flowers are now my official favorite thing. I love my friends and my family. I’m proud of who I am but madly in love with the prospect of learning more and more about how to live my life just how I want it.

At 24, I have stopped passively watching life pass me by. Instead I’ve started to have an active role in what happens to me. And, now, nothing seems that impossible anymore.

Have a great year, me. You got this.

 

5 things I want to do in May

May is kind of a special month for me. Something about it just seems extra nice, like a breath of fresh air. It’s the height of Spring, flowers are blooming, the weather isn’t too hot nor too cold, and people seem to smile more easily.

That, or just the fact that it’s the month when I celebrate my birthday.

One of those. Definitely.

Anyways, as this is a special month to me, I want to write down some equally special things I’d like to do this month. Goals to achieve, you might say. Lately, sadness has been my companion and I’d like to take it as an inspiration to make some changes in the coming days.


1

Finally have a birthday celebration that makes me happy


I’m starting off with the most important goal, because, why wait? This is something that I have been struggling with for so many years, I don’t even remember when it started being a problem anymore. My birthdays.

I used to laugh it off and say that I didn’t want to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t care. I didn’t even like getting older every year, so why celebrate? But, actually, that’s just something my brain told me I wanted, just so I didn’t have to face what was really happening.

To no one’s surprise, what was happening was that I was scared. Scared that I’d throw a party and no one would come. Scared that I had so few friends, those who actually came would leave and laugh at me for having so few people who actually liked me. So yeah, birthday celebrations are kind of like that time of the year where the only way to keep my facade of perfect girl who is fine on her own and lacks nothing is put to the test. And the only way to avoid it is to not celebrate at all.

This year will be the first year I will go against the current. I’m not scared like I was before, although all of those things I listed above are still insecurities of mine. No, because what younger me never realized was that it’s not about how many people celebrate with you, it’s about who celebrates with you that matters. (I know it sounds corny but it really is true, I mean who would want to celebrate with people who were gonna badmouth you once they left? Surely not this version of me.)

I already have a few ideas about how I want to celebrate. The key part is, I want to share my time with not only my favorite people but also on my own. So, I have a few plans that go beyond just my actual birth day. If they go through, I will be really fucking happy!


2

Tell people what my favorite thing about them is


I always look back on the times when seemingly out of nowhere, someone gives me a compliment about something that is so uniquely me. When that happens, I’m left with no doubt whatsoever that they really mean what they say.

Said heavenly beings made up of sunshine (that’s what I’m calling everyone who’s ever done this to me from now on) haven’t felt pressured to do so by the situation, nor did they expect a compliment in return. They just blurted it out because it felt right.

These are the best compliments. The ones that stick with us and give us that extra shot of motivation when we need it.

Why not, then, do it for others? People I find deserving of a compliment. I will try my best to think of something unique to them, something that truly sets them apart from others and makes them special to me. Then watch that look on their faces as they, for a second, wonder if they forgot today was their birthday.

Hopefully, I’ll be responsible for a few extra smiles!


 3

Develop my first photography film


My most recent love is analog photography. I got a really cool camera at a street market for a bargain price (I smile tenderly at it every night before sleep), I loaded a 35mm film roll into it and I’ve been taking pictures hoping for the best. My aim is to start having photo albums at home like the old days, but have each one have a different theme and hold different future memories.

This first one is a reflection of my world now, my perspective. The things I love the most. The things I find most beautiful.

I can’t wait to have them all in my hands (and if they suck a little then that will have its own charm won’t it?)


4

Give myself a gift


Well, it’s my birth month anyway isn’t it? How about not only making others smile but also making myself smile? Take this opportunity to give myself a gift I would otherwise not get. Something different. Something special.

(I know just the thing. Shhhh.)


5

Post my video


I’ve been wanting, yearning, dreaming of making a video for a long time now. I planned it, I went out and recorded for it. I even edited it. But you know when you’re perfectly content with something you’ve created, only to watch someone else’s and feel like yours is complete shit? Yeah, that happened.

Truly, I don’t actually think my video is shit, only that it needs some improvements. And I know this is my perfectionist self speaking here, and I am getting dangerously close to those times when I keep altering and perfecting stuff into infinity (or, well, until I give up on them). So I’m limiting myself to one shot at making changes. Kind of like a company would do to a client. After that, I have to upload this bitch of a video. And be damn proud of it.

So, there you go. Five goals for the fifth month of this year – like that isn’t cliche at all. What fate awaits me in May, I wonder? Alternatively, what are your goals for this coming month? Let me know and let’s cheer each other on!