By Masters, I mean my sister, cousins and adviser, as well as books and music, because I learned a lot from them.

  1. Staying up late

I remembered working on my research papers, editing videos and I even reached until 4 am then with only two hours of sleep, I had to get up again. I didn’t have a problem staying wide awake after those times. I’m usually the ‘early to bed, early to rise’ type.

I guess when I got into the habit of sleeping early, I couldn’t stay awake until really late to watch a movie or play with my cousins/nephews/niece because I usually doze off. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of watching a movie, playing a game, I retire to bed earlier than may comrades. There would be times that I would try to open my eyes wider to finish an episode of a series, but somehow find myself very sleepy. If they happen to catch me online late at night, they’d definitely be surprised and say, ‘hey, how come you’re still up, you should be in bed.’ But recently, I was able to stay awake watching shows or just talking without feeling drowsy. Of course, I have to get out of this habit quickly; but it’s been straight days that we’re sleeping quite late. When playing cards or a boardgame then, I am number one in surrendering, off to bed I go while they continue playing. They shared to me that people are saying they are sleepy yet each one of them is still competitive. I’ll stick with “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a girl, healthy, wealthy and wise” motto that I learned from our caretaker when we were younger.

  1. Eavesdropping, I mean being observant

Usually, people’s voices are too audible for others to hear like for example, in a café there are two people conversing near where you are seated. You end up hearing their entire story even you resist it. It’s not eavesdropping, my sister tells me; they don’t mind speaking loudly for everyone else to hear; and at times it’s just simply developing the skills of being observant. Learning psychology and body language, we are able to read other people’s gestures and what they are not explicitly saying.

  1. Learning how to say no or being more assertive.

I easily compromise for others, placing their needs before me and so I easily give in to their wants. I can easily adjust anyway and a lot of times it’s not big of a deal. My cousins though would want me to be more assertive and stand firm on saying no. I’m an easy target for persuasion, because I’m easily swayed. For example, finishing all the food we ordered. It’s tradition that we don’t waste food so the task befalls on me because they say I’m a good kid. Later on, I overeat a lot which made me feel queasy. I would try to refuse and in time, I have established that I’m already full and won’t be finishing all the remaining dishes. There are people who are untouchables and at times I envied how information gets filtered when it comes to them, while I have to bear the burden the elders have to give. I wanted to be part of the untouchables, but somehow there might be something on my face that says okay throw them to me. Later on, I have somehow learned to not accept everything, that there should be boundaries, and that I’m just human like everybody else. I cry and get hurt too, I can be a walking timebomb that could explode or implode anytime. There would be times now that they will be reluctant to bombard me with the heavy news and that really felt good.

  1. In and Out

We should take hold of our lives and not let others dictate on us. If people happen to repeatedly scold us especially on the things that are really not related to me, I should listen in one ear and let them out on the other. I could make myself busy by playing on my mobile phone, or simply wearing an earphone to avoid being a target. Don’t let them get to you, they’d tell me. It would be hard at first, but with practice I was able to partially don’t mind what others would say. I used to digest everything others would say and my heart became heavy in the process; all the sad events, the bad experiences and scolding that they had to offer. Good thing I had my mentors to encourage me and also my writing as an outlet.

  1. Live Life

Don’t think too much of other people. It’s enough that you did in the past. They told me to go out there, accept invitations as opposed to missing those opportunities. Right now, I grab hold of the chances to go out with my sister and my cousins. We explore food and places together. I take out my camera or use my phone and take lots of pictures. I try not to be carried away by what others say about me, because at times it’s enough that some people would understand you even before you uttered a word and that you don’t need to explain yourself; it’s enough that you be yourself amidst the masks that surround us.