Not the “Pretty One”

I’m proud to have such pretty sisters, cousins and friends that I’ve grown accustomed to being the least attractive whenever I’m with a bunch of girls. Of course when I was still a kid, I had no concept of being “not so pretty”. I didn’t care. I’d wear pambahay clothes and sport an unflattering pixie cut, but I’d still feel that I was fine with myself.

I have a very vivid memory of my first experience of getting external input about my appearance in comparison with others. It was a computer class in grade school. We were being asked by the teacher to fall in line, and being the bibo kid that I was, I stood in front. He then remarked, “Sa harap ‘yung pinakamaganda,” and thinking that it was probably just a joke, I didn’t move. He turned to me however and said, “O, bakit nandito ka sa harap? Dun ka sa likod.” I don’t remember how I immediately felt back then but I knew that it eventually had a big impact as it made me dislike going to that class.

I always tagged along with my dad when he had basketball games with our youth in the 90’s. I also remember this one time when I was hanging out with the boys and one of them asked to rank me and my sisters in terms of beauty. I was ranked last of us three (Symphony wasn’t alive yet) and the topic ended with laughter from the group.

I was blessed to have a pretty childhood best friend who was not only good-looking but also kind. She didn’t make me feel ugly at all, despite her being the ultimate crush ng bayan even while we were adolescents. Other people found it a fun activity though to compare us both and take some pity on me for not being pretty. I can’t count with my fingers and toes the number of times that people were kind to me only because they liked my best friend.

In so many instances, I got tagged as the “smart one” as if it was a compensation for my not being too beautiful. And I think I probably took it to heart. I knew that I wasn’t as good-looking so I had to be smart, and I had to be bibo and funny. I’ve been competitive ever since I was young and behind that drive really is just a desire to prove that I’m as good as (or even better than) everyone else. When being the “smart one” was not enough, I’d resort to being angry or evil–shutting myself down and hurting others before they hurt me.

Things improved when I graduated from college as I had a stint of someone I like (finally) liking me back, I graduated with honors (proving my “smart one” persona), and I landed a pretty decent job. On top of that, I also had a fresh experience of Jesus and knew that He fearfully and wonderfully made me. It was never a full-on healing though, as each rejection that I got and each comment made on my looks still gave me a little wound inside–though I was learning to conceal them a bit better.

There was one time recently though when I took a hard blow. Before heading to the wake of our grandmother, we had visitors in our house who were far relatives. I was helping out with serving food in the dining table, while all the cousins were preparing outside, and my aunts wanted to introduce me to the said relatives. I did the usual mano, and then they asked me whose kid I was. Upon finding out that I was a child of my mom who was the youngest one, the said relative said, “Ah, kaya pala pangit.” It was my first time to experience it as I was never told that straight to my face, inside my home, and in front of my family. I didn’t know what to do so I rushed outside of the house and cried away from the sight of everyone else. My aunt found me eventually and assured me that the relative was just tactless and didn’t mean what she said. Deep inside though, I knew that there was some ‘truth’ to the comment. All of the ladies in our family were good-looking, and you’d easily spot me as the ugly one whenever we took a group photo.

Ever since that moment, I’ve been trying so hard to improve on how I look at myself. There are times when I’m victorious, and I am able to see myself the way God sees me, but there are times when I just question my worth and feel insecure about myself.

A recent minor life event triggered a series of emotions that made it hard for me to focus at work and even made me lose my appetite. A new person talked to me and asked about my life making me think he was at least platonically trying to get to know me, until I found out that he liked my sister. I was perplexed at first about why I was so affected, but I eventually realized that it all traces back to my issues. I felt hurt, not romantically, but because it felt like a replay of those memories that I’ve been trying to forget–those times when I am just used as a means to an end. I was the not-so-pretty one that you could safely talk to so you can get the actual prize.

I want to say that I’ve already been able to overcome these insecurity issues, but I honestly still have struggles. I had a conversation recently with my sister and she tried to reassure me by saying that I’m smart and “rich” (by her standards) anyway, but I did not see the good in that. Most people would probably say that I am ungrateful, and I probably am–it’s part of my struggle. To quote what I told my sister, “I’m good with things that don’t matter in life.” And while in my head, I know that it’s not true because I am God’s masterpiece (#AMissingRib2), my heart is struggling to catch up and feel the same way.

Anyway, I just wanted to write about it ’cause it’s been occupying my mind for the last 3 days. It’s a bit relieving to release some feelings, but I know that I have to battle these thoughts in the spiritual realm. Do pray for me.

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So Long, Sweet Summer

We end this month by saying hello to much gloom and rain, and bidding farewell to the sunny weather of the prior months. Alas, summer is indeed over.

When I was younger, I’ve always been a fan of summer because it always meant that there were opportunities to have more fun vs. non-summer days.

  • When I was a kid, it meant playing outside under the scorching sun (prickly heat aside), tambourine and piano lessons, and attending Daily Vacation Bible School (DVBS).
  • When I became a tween, it meant mission trips to various provinces, and volunteering for DVBS (which I always liked since it also meant hanging out/dancing/singing with friends).
  • When I was in high school, it meant going to the mall with family & relatives and being more of a nerd by attending the Ateneo Junior Summer Seminar.
  • When I was in college, it meant going to school for 2-3 required classes (which isn’t as terrible as it sounds when you realize that traffic is light and you get to be with friends), going to gigs of my favorite bands, and having my internship in the CBD.
  • When I graduated, it meant FINALLY being able to join the clan vacation in Hong Kong.

Since I started working though, summer suddenly became just like any other time of the year. I do not look forward to it at all, especially since majority of my friends are already working anyway and even my siblings don’t get their summers off anymore.

On the flip side, I think I’m starting to enjoy rainy days instead. Seeing or even just hearing raindrops makes it so tempting to stay at home, and 10 times cozier to hide under the blanket and watch everything on Netflix.

Well, I’d wish for it to rain all the time, but I have to go to work and I hate bringing an umbrella.

(via Daily Prompt: Sunny)

Losing “Wisdom”

Hello from my bloated gums and face. I had an impacted wisdom tooth extracted yesterday, and I’m just so glad to finally tick this off my checklist. I’ve been putting it off for months, and I even got sick before my original surgery schedule. This really deserves a huge sigh of relief.

A combination of trust in the Lord (seriously!) and trust in my dentist helped to boost my confidence and actually get me excited (weird, I know) about the procedure. I was a bit worried about feeling pain having already experienced getting 2 of my upper molars out, but I was generally more enthused and just wanted to get it over with as I have accepted it as a part of #adulting.

Side note: I love the dental clinic that I go to in Eastwood. It’s called Smileability Dental Clinic, and I’ve been going there since 2014 for cleaning, check-ups and permanent/temporary filling. My usual dentist is Doc Sara, and she’s pretty awesome–very welcoming, and not masungit at all even when I’m makulit and ask a lot of questions. My favorite thing about their clinic though is how friendly the receptionist and the assistants are. We banter and joke around whenever I visit. My mom also goes to Smileability for her dental needs, and we’re about to line up my sisters. If you aren’t convinced to try them out yet (they are accredited by Maxicare anyway), you should know that Marc Nelson also goes there. So, if you are #blessed like me yesterday, you’ll have a chance to sit beside him in the waiting area, get a quick smile from him, and move your foot to let him pass by. Hahahaha!

Before I had my procedure, I may have bugged 10+ friends regarding their wisdom tooth extraction experience. So that you won’t have to ask me in person (I’m not masungit, I’m just efficient lolz), here are some things I have learned wisdom tooth extraction (and life) through personally going through the process:

  1. Do not scrimp on yourself. I asked around and found out that there were some dentists who were offering wisdom tooth extraction for a low low price of 3,000-4,000 pesos. That’s such a “steal” considering that mine caused my wallet to take an 8,000-peso hit. I do not have regrets though, since I was worry-free about the procedure and I realized that it was something that I had to do for me. I’d pay 20,000 pesos to buy a gaming console. What’s half of it for my health? Also, I’m so distrusting when it comes to medical/dental procedures, so I can only imagine the stress that I would’ve gone through if I picked a new dentist for an important procedure. I’m not saying here that it has to be expensive to be good, but I’d suggest that you go with your usual dentist no matter how much it might cost you because…
  2. You need to do it with someone you trust. Just like how you wouldn’t get into something serious with somebody you do not know, it doesn’t make sense at all to undergo this procedure with someone you just met. If you trust people and are not bothered by having a stranger working on your mouth for two hours, then good for you. For me though, it mattered that I already was comfortable with my dentist and dental clinic. I had so many questions pre- and post-procedure, and I was brave to ask them ’cause I knew the people already.
  3. Don’t overthink it. For the first time in my life (a hyperbole, maybe), I did not overthink something. I just sat on the dental chair, ready for the experience, just trusting that God will take care of the outcome. It felt good. I did not spend my precious time in fear or worry while Googling wisdom tooth extractions gone wrong. I just wish I can apply this learning to other areas of my life.
  4. Come prepared. While you do not need to overthink, you still need to come prepared. I drank the meds I was required to drink 1 hour before the procedure (amoxicillin, hemostan and paracetamol). I wore comfy clothes, as I didn’t want to feel cold for 2 hours. I freed up my day and took a sick leave. This honestly helped in keeping me at peace before, during and even after the procedure–knowing that I did my part.
  5. Use your “downtime” to reflect/relax. I am fortunate enough that I had my procedure when the dental clinic already moved to their new office at the 11F. The dental chair was facing the roof-to-floor glass window and I had a nice view of Quezon City/Marikina. It was relaxing, and helped me not to think about the slight pain in my mouth or the time it was taking for the procedure (mine took more than an hour). When I couldn’t stare outside, I just closed my eyes and thought happy thoughts (e.g. Marc Nelson, Nate Archibald) and relished the moment of not having to be in the office. Haha.
  6. This too shall pass. Despite my generally pleasant experience, it is a known fact that it’s difficult to have your mouth open for almost 2 hours. I wanted the procedure to be done. Also, some minutes into the procedure, I heard Doc Sara mentioning something about having difficulty taking out part of my tooth. I chose to ignore, and just assumed that it was a common occurrence, but I must admit, there was a slight concern on my end. Towards the end of the procedure, I was even coughing up that I felt like I was gonna choke since I had all these dental apparatus in my mouth and I was having a slightly tough time breathing. But, I knew that all was well when the dental assistant exclaimed a “Praise the Lord” followed by Doc Sara pulling out the last piece of my tooth’s roots. I breathed an inward sigh of relief. All difficult things come to an end.
  7. It’s not as bad as you think it is. Doc Sara caution me about bleeding, swelling and pain after the procedure and I was scared that I would not be able to function for a week. Surprisingly, upon getting home, I just had a one-time gauze replacement and the bleeding already stopped. There was pain and discomfort, but I just slept it out. When I woke up today, my cheek and gums were swollen, but the pain was very tolerable. I was even able to take a call with my boss earlier, though speaking has been very difficult. Right now as I type, I am feeling very uncomfortable–as if someone stuffed a huge chunk of cotton balls inside my mouth. It’s tough to eat food–solid and liquid alike. Yet, it is not as bad as I expected. Thank God. The major thing that I do not like post-procedure is that I cannot exercise. How sad. (Wow.)
  8. Take care. I normally am one who will not follow directions for “taking care” of myself. This is part of my being a pseudo-independent woman. Haha. This time though, I actually read through the brochure given out about post-procedure care and I followed it almost down to a T. I used cold compress, I gargled with salt solution, etcetera. Sometimes, we really have to follow the rules and stop being a rebel when it’s actually better for us :)
Wisdom Tooth

Unflattering photo of me pre-actual procedure. That is disinfectant all over my mouth that made it yellow/orange. Also, already had anesthesia so I couldn’t feel the right side of my fez.