Twelve Life Lessons

People might think I think too much, or “feel” too much- that the world isn’t as complicated and I’m not all in the right. I acknowledge that. But selfish as it may seem, we need to make adjustments so we could feel better during the short time we’re here. Survival and self-preservation comes first before social interactions.

Self-preservation comes in many forms – some feed through their network of friends, some prefer to be with a standard support group, some… they can bear being alone and avoid investing on the wrong dreams, on the wrong people. We are all three in certain times, and here are twelve rules to keep in mind, most especially when the borders seem to blur. (After a series of unfortunate events, and finally realizing how tiring it is to bear unnecessary baggage all the time, I was able to practice these rules to keep my life streamlined and drama-free)

  1. Keep people who hold you in the same esteem. Do not lose your self-respect and self-identity by trying to keep up with people who don’t think or don’t make you feel that you matter.
  1. Stay away from interactions which will make you feel uneasy, or bad about yourself. Even if the other isn’t doing anything directly to cross you, if you don’t feel comfortable and you feel you always have to explain yourself with them because of conflicting perspectives or attitudes (I don’t understand how many people glorify shallowness and go berserk against intellectualism, people who confuse being sex positive with merely being a hair away from being a harasser, or people who impose their own views as the standard when it is obviously incorrect), cut them off. You do not have to explain yourself – you may give an FYI if you wish but if they ask, they have the right to know. It is a form of closure you are obliged to give, as a form of courtesy.
  1. People have a general disposition of only being around you when you make them happy, or when they need something. If you’re down, or if you are in need of help or just space- they disappear. Avoid them. They aren’t your responsibility. Let go of them the same way they ebb from you when you need them the most.
  1. A- I’ve always been confused with people who tell me they dislike the other, then all of a sudden, – BAM!- they’re BFFs for a day, laughing at each other’s jokes and filling out each other’s lines, as if they’ve known and liked each other since forever. After a few days, they’ll go on and tell you how they hate the other, again. It isn’t being civil – it’s being duplicitous. But it seems to be a well-loved characteristic because it’s a form of “peacekeeping”.
  2. B- Likewise, I do not understand people who disappear on people, without any explanation, even when you ask. People who suddenly turn cold. Then vanish. It may be a form of survival, you may be a toxic mess they would want to avoid- but as sign of common courtesy, they should have given you an explanation, when you asked. And most of the time, because we are kept hanging, we latch onto their memories and allow them to non-directly drag us down by “what if” thoughts and “could have beens”.
  3. C- I don’t appreciate it when people feel too entitled, they (blatantly) forget to say “thank you” when you do them a favor, or admit to their mistakes even when you call it out. Or when people confirm with you… and then cancel on the last minute. It’s a waste of your  time and a lack of foresight and consideration by the other. It is simple ethics, but a lot seem to not have it these days.
  4.  These thoughts lead me to this conclusion – that some people’s red flags are so easy to read. Everyone has one but we tend to gloss over it just because we’re “hoping for the best”, only to be disappointed that we’ve invested too much emotions, time, and energy on the wrong asset. Red flags are there for a reason- use it for your own advantage.
  5. Remember – Above all, value honesty and openness. In return, trust. If it falls but the other person admits to it, if it is still within your bounds of forgiveness, and if you see them truly change their ways sincerely, absolve and encourage. If they continue hurting you with their ways instead, inform. If they choose not to change, let go.If you share common interests and goals but don’t necessarily get along, be civil. Try setting the boundaries between being friends and being acquaintances. Do not fake interest and care only to get what you want – show genuine interest and care as a sign of respect to the other person’s value. Do not waste your time, and their time, with theatrics.
  6. Make peace with people you’ve wronged- if they forgive you, good. Do what you can to heal what you’ve hurt and regain their trust, but be careful not to let them down again. If they don’t forgive you, let them go, but know in your heart that you were once sorry, and never engage in any similar behaviour again so you can’t disappoint other people. Make peace with yourself.
  7. Be straightforward but not be brash (an area I’m working on still, because other people prefer “warming up” first before getting to the point). Appreciate, but avoid flattery. Give feedback and criticize… objectively. If they object, be open-minded, and discuss. If they object without reason and put you on the spot subjectively, drop it and don’t waste your time.
  8. Do not assume, ask. Seek first to understand. Do not hold others in bitter contempt, confront and connect, or avoid and let go. Do not settle for what feels “okay” and “tolerable” – go for the best recourse without taking pains to conform, and without stepping on others.
  9. And lastly, instead of sticking with the Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have them do unto you) subjectively (what you want to endure upon yourself may not be ideal for others), consider the idiom “Live, and let live” instead. It is strategically worded, focusing on letting yourself live first- live your life the way you want it as long as it is universally harmless, self-sustainable, and mutually beneficial; let others live the way they want to- and only react accordingly if it is starting to affect you.

The shade between living and letting others live on their own may cross now and then, and in those gray areas, survive, with little to no collateral damage.

About the Contributor

Vanessa Zambale is a secular-humanist who thinks for a living, writes with her passion, and lives to give and love. She is currently based in Cebu as a Communications Specialist while sidelining as a Social Media Marketer. She fancies living in a musical and proclaims herself as the Mother Of All Rabbits. While at it, Vanessa likes having her White Chocolate Dream or African Sunrise Tea Latte over meaningful conversations about humanity.

This contributor is a customer of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf®.

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Artwork by Mary Graces Reyes, Brew Your Best Year Contributing Artist. For more of her works, visit her Instagram.

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