Hooked with the “Same Drugs”

Nope, nothing illegal. I’ve just been hooked with Chance the Rapper’s song “Same Drugs” since October of last year. I thought I’ll get over it after a month or two, as what usually happens with my favorite songs after I claim that them to be the “BEST SONG EVER”. Obviously, I am not over this song. Same Drugs has oddly become my go-to song for rainy days and gloomy times. I listen to it at so many random moments ranging from when I’m folding and organizing clothes, to when I’m working on an intense task in the office.

While most people (including Chance) listen to Same Drugs and think of love lost, the song instead make me feel nostalgic. It feels like a conversation that I’m having with myself about the better times of the past, when I still had child-like wonder and vigor. As the repeating line in the chorus and the first line of the song says, “We don’t do the same drugs no more.” While I have never taken drugs (other than those prescribed) in my entire life, this paints such a clear picture to me. I sometimes look in the mirror and do not recognize who I am becoming anymore. I’ve grown up—too much to my liking, in fact. I no longer have the interests of my youth, and my experiences from just 3-5 years back feel like they happened a century ago. Growing up includes growing apart from who you’ve been–and that fact is just a mix of awesome, scary, and depressing.

The first verse of Same Drugs got me smiling, especially when I first heard the Peter Pan references.

When did you change?
Wendy, you’ve aged
I thought you’d never grow up
I thought you’d never
Window closed, Wendy got old
I was too late, I was too late
A shadow of what I once was

Does it get any more real that this? I can’t really pinpoint a specific moment in time when I “became” an adult. Even up to now, there are times that I don’t believe that I am one. I never saw myself being 26, working and unhappy. When I was younger, I’ve always assumed that life was going to be all fun and games. Too bad that it isn’t. Growing up means closing the window, and abandoning the trips to Neverland. It’s time to go home and be responsible.

Peter Pan and Wendy

(Photo not mine; found online)

The second verse is even more heart-breaking:

Where did you go?
Why would you stay?
You must have lost your marbles
You always were so forgetful
In a hurry, don’t wait up
I was too late, I was too late
A shadow of what I once was

Those two starting lines are lines that I’ve asked myself so many times–especially regarding my career and general direction in life. My growing up journey has been full of craziness (losing my marbles), hurry, and forgetting the ideals of my childhood. Before I knew it, I already made decisions for myself. It was too late for any regrets, or for starting over.

I particularly am in love with the next two lines of the song:

‘Cause we don’t, we don’t do what we say we’re gonna
You were always perfect, and I was only practice

There have been so many times that I’ve said that I was going to do something (quit a job, pursue a passion, follow my heart, travel the world, fall in love, etc) and I’d recant on my statement because of uncertainty. As I said earlier, when I was younger, I had an image in my mind that the adult/grown-up version of me will have things all figured out. Everything was going to be perfect. Fast forward to reality, my grown-up life is nowhere near perfect. It has always been like practice–trying something out, failing, picking myself back up, and trying again. It eventually got too scary to be bruised again, that practice eventually just meant staying in safety (like playing a game and saying that it’s not counted because “practice lang”) to give myself a cushion in case I fall flat on my face.

The next three lines just directly ask the tough questions:

Don’t you miss the days, stranger?
Don’t you miss the days?
Don’t you miss the danger?

I miss being more child-like and being more risky. I miss having the courage to try out something new. Nowadays, it’s become more about security and comfort–sticking with the familiar. Definitely no flying.

The first part of the outro is such a technical beauty with its phrasing and wordplay:

Don’t forget the happy thoughts
All you need is happy thoughts
The past tense, past bed time
Way back then when everything we read was real
And everything we said rhymed

Similar to Peter Pan, who says that all you need is happy thoughts to fly, I try to convince myself sometimes that I just need to think of all my youthful ideals and dreams to somewhat encourage me to be more bold and daring. And indeed I do think of them. I look at old files and old photos, from those times when life was filled with more wonder and fantasy–so simple, yet so easy–as if everything in the world is ours for the taking.

The second part of the outro brings me back to reality though:

Wide eyed kids being kids
Why did you stop?
What did you do to your hair?
Where did you go to end up right back here?
When did you start to forget how to fly?

To me, this is the best part of the song. I get teary-eyed whenever I hear these lines as I feel some form of longing for the younger version of me who was “wide-eyed” and knew how to “fly”. We go through so many changes as we grow up that everything just seems to lose its magic. There are just so many questions that I ask myself–why, what, where, when. And more often than not, there are just no straight-up answers.

The song ends with these lines:

Don’t you color out
Don’t you bleed on out, oh
Stay in the line, stay in the line
Dandelion

True enough, the older we get, the more society dictates us to stay within the boundaries and never color outside the lines. I say some form of this to myself every night before going to sleep to remind myself that I need to be mature and suck it all up–just do what needs to be done.

It’s a sad thought, but yeah. I don’t do the “same drugs” anymore. I seem to have used up all of my pixie dust.

The Essential Travel Packing Checklist

I was checking my travel map in Matador and found out that my last international trip gave me the 20th country that I’ve visited in the world. *insert celebratory confetti* It’s not a lot compared to how well-traveled others have been, but I’m pretty sure that I have “itchy feet” and wanderlust.

While I love going places–whether local or abroad, I am not a fan of packing. Not at all. I’d rather unpack, which I understand is something that people don’t usually enjoy but is to me like opening gifts on Christmas Day. I do not have enough travel funds to ditch the luggage and head to the airport with just a toothbrush, Packing is an essential part of travel, and is definitely one thing you’d need to ALWAYS do if you plan on living life a la millenial who always needs an escape.

I only got the hang of it in the last 3-4 years, but I’ve recently just been copying and pasting my travel packing checklist via OneNote. So far so good, I must say. I’ve survived with all of the essentials–whether it be at the hot beaches of Bali, or the chilly streets of South Korea.

Packing Checklist.png

I’m sharing with you my checklist of essential stuff to pack for your travels. View the list under the cut.

Continue reading

An Easy Guide to Managing Your Finances

I’ve had ups and downs in terms of my financial health. When I started to work in 2010 and up until 2012, I used some app to manage my money. It was as simple as logging what I will earn for the month, and logging my expected spending. I’d say it was effective ’cause I was able to save up some amount that allowed me to fund some trips on my own.

First Sweldo

Where’s what my the breakdown of my first ever salary looked like.

I earned a bit more year by year and was able to save more money by maintaining my lifestyle–well, that was until 2013 when life was so crazy that I decided to wing it and stop tracking my expenses. To add to that, I resigned in 2013 and took a lower-paying job to work for a non-profit, while still maintaining my IT salary lifestyle which was more “extravagant” than what I could afford (e.g. taking a cab to and from work, eating out every weekend, etc). I returned to my old company and somehow got comforted by having some extra amount to spend again. Yet, I continued to not maintain any budget for about 3 months or so.

Sad

The start of my downfall. No budgeting in August.

Seeing my bank account looking so terrible was my wake up call. It was time for a change. Some time in 2014, I went back to my habit of managing my finances and I’ve never looked back. It’s been great so far–there’s room to make investments here and there, and there’s no concern about being chased by someone for me to pay for a loan :) Year by year, I learn something new about how to handle my money and it gives me peace at night knowing that I am being a good steward of the money I have been blessed with.

MONEY is such a key component of adulting. I’d say it’s particularly even more crucial to learn how to manage our finances while we’re single and starting off in the workforce, as the habits we’ll surely carry over to family life whatever habits we form during this period.

I do not claim to be an expert, but I understand the fear of facing our finances (aha alliteration) ’cause when I was 3-5 years younger, I was so overwhelmed by everything I found via Google. Things were just too complex for my someone like me who had very little history on managing my money. If you are feeling the same way (like my sister–who I constantly bug to report to me how she’s doing with her money) and are just starting out, then I hope to help you out with an easy guide to managing your finances:

1. Define a budget.

I cannot emphasize this point further. This is most essential thing in the world. There are so many apps and website offering help (BudgetSimple is a personal favorite) but if you want to stick to good ol’ simple Excel, then I have a gift for you!

FreeDownloadBasicBudget

I created a FREE BASIC BUDGET WORKSHEET patterned after the apps I first used + my personal worksheets! Just download it here (if you want to help promote this blog) or here (if you don’t huhu jk).

2. Determine your essentials.

What do you HAVE to spend on? While drafting your budget, it’s essential to make a distinction between needs and wants. You may even want to categorize your expenses into stuff that will help other people and stuff that are just for yourself (this I do). Put an amount on the important stuff (e.g. savings!!!!, family obligations, food, transportation, church/ministry contributions, etc) before allocating an amount for the nice-to-haves.

It may work differently for you, but what has worked for me is to prioritize stuff in this order: savings, tithing + ministry, family, self.

2. Daily budget management is key.

Once you’ve got your budget laid out, it will make no sense if you don’t actually refer to it. I have a relatively complex way of tracking my expenses and am imposing utmost discipline on myself, and this requires me to record all transactions I do daily. I keep my receipts as much as possible, and log what happened to me financially at the end of every day. Fine, I skip some days (when I’m feeling a bit irresponsible) but I try my best to take note of my income/expense for the day in a notepad.

3. Do not compare.

Comparison will kill you. Seeing your college friends eat out every Friday night at Nihonbashitei may tempt you to spend beyond your means. Resist it. Stick to your plan. If your officemates are also dining out or getting delivery while you are stuck with a packed meal from home, DO NOT BE INSECURE.

4. Delight in the good stuff every now and then.

Yet, do not completely cut yourself off from everything pleasant in the world. Treat yourself every now and then. Save up for the stuff that you like that you might not be able to afford in a single month. I remember taking 6 precious months to purchase my own 2,000-peso cheap guitar. It felt good once I had it :) This will also save you from impulse buys you may have while browsing Lazada after you’ve had a bad day.

5. Dream on!

Set big goals for the future! This will encourage you to stick to the plan by having something to look forward to. Up to now, I still have my 4 goals from back in 2014 listed on my yearly budget sheet–a trip to Japan, a trip to Australia, a trip to the US, and paying for a home that we actually own.

I get encouraged to be financially responsible whenever I see those items, especially the amount I need to have to make them come true.

6. Discover new ways to save.

My sister seems to be getting good at this. Instead of spending 60 pesos everyday to go to the office, she wakes up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to hitch with my uncle on the way to Ortigas. There are so many expenses you can still scrimp on, only if you’d look. Really need a postpaid plan when you only text twice a day and have access to Wi-fi almost the entire day?

7. Discover new ways to earn.

Once you’ve gotten used to saving and following a budget, it’s time to maybe earn a bit more! :) Take on side projects, if your time allows you to. If you have a hobby or a special skill, it may be something you can earn extra from. You can sell clothes or bags, tutor some HS or college kids, organize birthday parties, teach arts and crafts, and many more! You can also eventually take a step further and “make your money work for you” (as they say) by investing in mutual funds, stocks, businesses and other opportunities. That’s something we can talk about more in the future ;)

(via Daily Prompt: Create)