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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Hello, I’m Dory

I have to be honest. I have the attention span of a goldfish. Dory of Finding Nemo (though not a goldfish) was never cute/adorable to me ’cause he reminded me too much of myself. I’m easily bored and ever so curious–and yup, I may have visited 3 other websites before finishing typing that sentence.

I used to be so proud of my multitasking skills, but I now realize the terrible effect it has on my focus and discipline. At any point in time, I can have 10 tabs open in my browser. You’ll also find me eating, typing up an e-mail, checking Facebook, or daydreaming while attending a conference call. I used to enjoy listening to music while working, but I’ve become so easily distracted that I cannot function with any background music at all. I’d end up singing along or humming the tune, which will flip my brain into music mode and make me lose focus in what I’m doing.

A friend recently advised that I might be spreading myself out too thinly. I definitely agree. I think part of why I’m so distracted is that I have so much on my plate that I need to pay attention to everyday. That requires me to shift gears every 30 minutes or so to think about what I need to do next. What a perfect way to enhance my almost-ADD! /sarcasm

I just took an online test on attention span and most questions made me laugh as I knew that I didn’t have to wait for the result to know that I have issues:

  • Do you get distracted easily (e.g. by background noise, other people’s conversations, etc.)? Uh, yes.
  • How often are you late for work or an appointment? Almost always. And yes, this is usually because I get distracted by something else when I really should already be leaving for said appointment.
  • How often do you catch yourself daydreaming at work? It’s my hobby and skill.
  • Do you jump from task to task because you just can’t seem to focus long enough to finish one completely? Yes. I’m not a proponent of the “finish the major task, then the minor tasks” concept. I dip my feet slowly into each task I need to do for the day.
  • How do you deal with boring, repetitive tasks? It’s fine for a very short period of time, but I’d likely need a break every five minutes hahahahaha.
  • You’re on the phone with a friend just as your favorite TV show starts. How difficult would it be for you to pay attention to the conversation? I will end the conversation or pause the show. I pause the shows I watch whenever I have to process a thought/idea by talking to myself. Yes, I’m a weirdo.
  • When reading a book or magazine, how often do you find yourself re-reading the same paragraph or skipping ahead? Huhuhuhuhu always happens to me because I usually read through a paragraph and then forget what I just read.

There were 2-3 more questions, but since this is getting long, let’s go to the result…

Capture

That said, please call me out whenever I get distracted by…ooh, a bird!

(via Photo Challenge: Ooh, Shiny!)

Being Well-Spent

I recently got invited by a friend to do a write-up on The Brewery, one of the nice and urban yuppie places in the metro. By now, you should already know that I won’t ever say no to an opportunity that combines food with writing, so I visited the place one early Friday night.

Said friend and I had some time to catch up on each other’s lives before the actual feasting began. While all of their dishes were a treat to the senses, what really stood out for me throughout the night was their free house bread. Other the fact that it’s free and it’s so moist and tasty, I got so amused with it because it was made out of SPENT GRAINS. Spent grains are the byproducts or leftovers from brewing beer, and people are just so innovative and cunning that they found a way to use it as “flour” for your bread.

Spent Grains Bread

Can you imagine that? Parts that normally would just be discarded are used to create something beneficial. (I’d even pick the bread over the beer any day, to be honest.)

Similarly, may this concept be something that we can apply in our lives. Even the qualities we have that we think are pointless and useless can be used for something great. Every part of you–every memory, every experience, every skill, every strength, every weakness–can be an instrument to make a difference.

Now, that’s what you call well-spent.

(Daily Prompt: Grainy)