It’s soft because I don’t want to be hard on myself anymore.

Everyday, I think too much.

A long time ago, it was an advantage. Thanks to my ability to think too much about an abstract idea or a piece of melody, I was able to win awards, travel abroad and even earn a decent living.

But now, in this world where everything is increasingly unpredictable and uncertain, I don’t know if it’s still an advantage.

For instance, when I read a rant by a friend on Facebook about someone she doesn’t name, my mind starts calibrating stuff. Was I the one who caused her to feel that way? What did I do? Why did she have to go so public with it? Why didn’t she talk to me first? And so on.

Even though I’m not even sure it’s about me.

Also, the moment I lose a job or a contract, I literally go crazy. I get terrible headaches that I have to sleep off for hours. When I wake up from this so-called rest, my mind turns itself back on and just like that, I’m crazy again.

I worry about what to eat tomorrow, even though I already have food on the table today. I worry about what to pay my subcontractor, even though I haven’t talked to him yet about my project. I worry about my children’s tuition fees, even though I just paid. I worry about my credit card bill, even though it’s just a number. I cry over the travels I would no longer have, without even checking my email for the seat sale available.

PAQshet right? Why am I allowing myself to suffer this way, and over the most trivial of things? Why am I not thinking about happiness, music, philosophy, contributing to life and making a difference instead – on top of enjoying my family and my children?

It’s because. I. think. too. much.

When all these worries combine, I lose my appetite, get headaches and I sleep through the meals I should be having. It’s accumulated so much that I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror these days without wincing. Where did that crow’s feet come from? Why do I have so much white hair already? I shouldn’t be aging so fast!

So today, to guide myself to stop thinking too much and enjoy life a bit more, I’ve come up with the following items of advice. It’s really for me and tailored to my personality na hindi masyadong balat sibuyas haha! Do take at your own risk, because you will be hit hard for sure (as I’ve been hit like a bullet to the brain), although I’ve swallowed some of these pieces of advice already and haven’t felt any side effects so far. At least, not yet.

1. It’s Not About You

Stop being so self-interested. The world doesn’t revolve around you. You may have won awards and have a Forbes-approved last name shit, but nobody really cares haha. You’re going to die too. Just shake your head and continue scrolling down.

2. If it IS about you, confront the source right away.

My intuition about people and situations is pretty strong. There was one instance when I came across a rant on Facebook by a friend, and I strongly felt it was directed at me. I quickly messaged her. Not to my surprise, she responded and unloaded. We both felt better afterwards, and we’re still great friends to this day.

I hate losing friends because I didn’t respond. So when you can, reach out and touch base. I don’t mean in a manly way, but you know. Do unto others and shit.

3. Don’t worry about what you can’t control.

Many times, I’ve been guilty of letting other people or situations decide for me, so that when things don’t pan out, I can instantly blame them and feel better about myself. It’s such a lazy-ass tactic. I used to think it offers relief from worry, but what actually happens is that I then use the surplus energy to blame others and feel great about my “judgement.” This is stupid because it destroys otherwise healthy relationships, whether personal or professional.

A better approach would be to take charge of your own life, and when things don’t turn out the way you expect, reassess what went wrong and move on.

Better said than done, I know, but a helpful exercise is to live one hour and one issue at a time. Will you starve to death in the next hour? Will your electricity be cut off in the next next hour? Will you need to evacuate to safety? I can say with at least 65% certainty that the answer for most of you would be NO. So what the hell is wrong with you? Stop worrying about the future and focus on NOW.

4. Do what you love every two hours.

A lot of my anxiety actually comes from not finishing anything I need to do because I have a lot of anxiety! What a messed-up, dissonant loop I always put myself in!

I’ve found it helpful to organize my life in two-hour stretches, because it’s the running time of a typical movie! I spend two hours watching a movie, which I love, so why not do it for all my other activities as well?

You won’t believe how much you can accomplish in two hours. I was able to write this essay under two hours and managed to organize all my utility bills as well!

For the next stretch, I’m going to watch a documentary, and then start composing music. I’ll look out the window once in a while to see the sky. I don’t want to be one of these people who miss out on skies because they’re looking at computer screens all day long. Unless you have a screensaver of a Manila Bay sunset, but that’s pathetic…I’m thinking TOO. MUCH. AGAIN.

Just look out your PAQ-ing window already PLEASE!

5. Be with people who love you.

It’s a no-brainer, but it’s actually hard to do. First of all, just who are these people who love you? Sure, they accept you for who you are and shit, but what do they actually do for you? Do they help you reach your goal? Do they value your time? Do they inspire you to be more and do more?

I used to be a very needy person. I clung like a leech to people who I sensed some value in (yeah, I’m like that Bela Padilla character in that movie!)

But guess what? People are intelligent. They know when you are being too much already. So they start shrugging you off. They start saying no to you. Then poor you, you run and lock yourself inside your room and cry the whole day because you feel dejected, rejected.

What have you done?

You haven’t done ANYTHING biatch and that’s the problem.

People have their own burdens in life too, so why add to that by being needy? Be considerate. Carry your own burden, make it light for yourself first. Don’t spread yourself too thin and help others to boost your own sense of helpfulness when you can’t even help yourself.

Please love yourself first, so others will love you in return.

As much as you can, reach out to others only if you have a pabaon of cheer, good vibes, solid advice and prayers. I have a great friend who holds my hand and prays for me whenever I’m feeling down or sick. It’s so beautiful. I’m very hashtag blessed!

6. Choose your battles very well.

My one and only battle in life is LOVE. I know it sounds corny, but it really is.

When I was 12 years old, I wrote a letter to God and put it under my pillow. One of the things I requested from Him is to get me married to a decent guy who will love me for a long time.

A lot of my women friends who are single and empowered might laugh when I tell them this story. Marriage was really a major dream for me. I wanted to share my life with someone. I wanted to live the Grand Narrative, as one of my poet friends called it. You know – being a girl, getting your period, turning into a woman, getting married, having children, and so on.

I was born this way, says Lady Gaga, so I will live this way. A woman, wife, mother. I can’t think of any other life for me. Your own life will be different too, my friend. Embrace it.

In my case, it’s so HARD to be a woman, much more to be a woman who has chosen this battlefield called LOVE. It’s hard to be nurturing when you’ve had little sleep from breastfeeding all night, to give your husband a kiss when you’re just too paking tired, to organize your household when you are trying to organize your own unruly thoughts for a writing or musical project.

And the hardest part: to love people when one can’t even love herself properly.

But I’ve chosen this battle and I shall continue to fight, down to my last pair of panties!

7. Get yourself a sense of humor.

I’m not naturally funny.  I tend to take everything too seriously that if you tell me you own the Eiffel Tower and show me a receipt written in French, I will believe you right away!

But guess what? Not a problem anymore! I have a lot of funny friends and I steal their jokes! Then they catch me stealing their jokes and only then do I give them credit! I find it sweet that they really take their time to catch me stealing their jokes. They care about me that way.

Use your brain to memorize some jokes or two. It will come in handy, like right now!

My favorite joke is an Erap joke.

(while in the shower) Erap: Loi, walang shampoo dito, abutan mo naman ako.
(Loi, there’s no shampoo here, hand me the bottle)

(Loi hands him a bottle).

(Erap screams)

Erap: Loi, ano ba itong binigay mo? Hindi ko magamit!
(Loi, what did you give me? I can’t use it!)

Loi: Bakit?

Erap: Eh sabi sa bote, FOR DRY HAIR!
(It says on the bottle: FOR DRY HAIR!)