I finally took the time to attend a retreat after almost a year of attempting to join then eventually backing out. It was actually a wise decision to hold off attending a retreat when I was still a wee bit confused and ‘lost’ because I wouldn’t be able to really open up myself and learn a thing or two about life. I attended the Life’s Directions retreat held by Ateneo CEFAM (Center for Family Ministries) in Karis Retreat House in Tagaytay, which was targeted for young professionals still finding their way, whether it’s with regards to their family, career, spirituality, personal lives, and any other relationships.
I went there without even telling most of my friends. I really wanted it to be a very personal thing for me and after all I’ve been through, I felt like rewarding myself with a different kind of nourishment–the spiritual and very personal kind. I’ve never been the Praise-the-Lord-and-shout-to-the-world kind of person. I’ve always had a much more intimate relationship with Him, which I’m very secure about so I really don’t have to brag or show off to the world that I pray or that I do have a strong sense of faith or something. I came to the retreat with not a hint of any expectations and I left with a bunch of whole new realizations about life, love, and God. I don’t like sharing these things but I felt like the lessons and realizations I got would be put to waste if I didn’t share it one way or another.
1. Find a mentor. Everyone should be able to find a mentor who’s more experienced in life to help guide them in whatever way they need. I do think that some people tend to lose their way because no one was really there to guide them and impart some wisdom when it comes to various life decisions. I don’t exactly have a mentor right now but I do know that I have a small group of people I can turn to if ever I do let bad situations get the best of me again (which of course I hope won’t ever happen again).
2. Walk the talk. I’ve encountered a lot of people (myself included) that wanted clarity, change, and the like. We’ve all spoken of wanting a better life and being a better person but most of us tend to be stuck in a certain black hole that hinders us from really taking off and making what we want happen. If you want something done, do it. If you want something better in your life, work hard for it and claim it. It doesn’t even have to be a big jump from your comfort zone–baby steps will do as long as you start walking/doing and stop talking.
3. Doubts pave way for wisdom. Yep, you’ve read that right. Don’t worry about having too many doubts because all these doubts will eventually lead you to finding the right path. It doesn’t make much sense now and I may not even explain it clear enough but it’s like if you don’t experience sadness, you won’t really know how happy you can actually be. It’s okay to have so many doubts because that’s completely natural and normal. Just have faith and trust that the right answers will soon come to you and it will automatically diminish any doubt you’ve ever had, even much sooner than you think.
4. The adventure is the way. So we’ve all heard about making the journey count more than the end goal itself, and it’s basically very true. I pride myself in turning my life around when I hit rock bottom. It wasn’t an easy process but I’ve managed to come out of it alive and fighting. But more than taking pride in being a better person right now, I actually am more proud with the things I went through to get to this point. I’m not even ashamed of the many times I fell again once in a while because it made me want to stand up more and move forward. Cherish the journey and your whole experience, both good and bad, and you’ll be surprised to find yourself so fulfilled once you’ve realized how far you’ve come.
5. Recollect your thoughts and listen to your heart. Sometimes we find ourselves being eaten up by either our logical thoughts or our irrational emotions. Either way, you lose. One way or another, you have to really snap out of it and take some time to stay silent and just breathe. Take the chance to connect with your real self and stop listening to what other people are saying. Stay silent and start gathering your thoughts little by little and try to connect with your heart as well. Now this is not an easy task and I can attest to this being a very ‘heart’ person. But everything should be taken into moderation and by simply following my heart alone led me to so much trouble. You’ll find yourself being able to feel so much lighter and so much more carefree once you’re able to connect your heart and mind, I know I did.
6. You’re not alone. When I was in the middle of a lot of problems, which I call my ‘dark ages’, I tried so hard in fighting and surviving on my own. And while it helped me in becoming stronger, it also made me crash harder. I eventually realized that I needed other people to depend on after being so strong for too long. Even just by voicing out some of my thoughts, questions, and feelings to some of my closest friends (and even strangers who eventually became my friends), I found the whole moving forward process so much easier. Never feel alone ’cause you’re not, even if it may seem that way. Stop taking it in all by yourself and start leaning on other people to help ease the burden you’re carrying.
7. Revisit the wound and maneuver the pain. Sometimes looking back on your life’s tragedies can actually help in motivating you to keep moving forward. This is one thing that I personally have tried and tested to be very true. I often find myself revisiting old wounds and believe it or not, it helped me in managing the pain and maneuvering it in such a way that instead of being stuck, it actually pushes me forward. And while doing so, I’ve gained so much wisdom, which is the very thing that propels me up to this day to be more positive, to have an open mind, and to be so much more. Don’t be afraid of revisiting old wounds and don’t try to escape your tragedies because it helps you find the beauty in walking away and in healing yourself. I personally found this to be so effective that I am able to just laugh off all the sh*t that happened to me before. True story.
8. Everything will happen in His time. Have patience and never rush things. I’ve wanted so many things and I’ve been so disappointed so many times as well because I wasn’t able to get what I really want. But guess what, I’m actually thankful that I got what I got and I didn’t get what I didn’t get. I realized that some of the things I wanted weren’t exactly good for me. And even though I had to go through a lot of disappointments, everything eventually fell in its place and I finally am where I wanted to be. There’s a good reason why sometimes you don’t get what you ‘want’ when you want it and sometimes you really just have to trust in a Greater Power that if it’s really in your best interests, it will eventually happen all in due time. Just wait and see.
9. Everyday is a blank sheet. This is one thing that, in my opinion, most people who suffer from great depression tend to forget. Every single day is a blank sheet and a new chance for you to turn your life around and start again. 24 hours is a long enough duration of time, which you can use as a starting point to wherever you want to go and be a better person. You don’t have to change in a day, that’s just impossible really. But what’s important is for you to just seize the day, take on a new perspective in life, and take a little baby step in making things better for yourself and for other people. One day a time.
10. Choose the right companions. When it comes to my friends, I always choose quality over quantity. It doesn’t matter if you only have a small support group. What matters is that they are really there for you to help and guide you in becoming a better version of yourself. People who pull you down aren’t worth having in your life. Choose the right friends and be the right friend as well. And for what this is worth, I dedicate this entire post to all of my friends who stayed with me even when I even pushed them away at some point. I owe a huge part of my ‘success story’ to them and I can never be thankful enough that I finally realized just how blessed I am with having very high quality friends.
So just to be clear, I’m not trying to force these personal learnings to other people. I just really wanted to pay it forward and share my life realizations and how it help in creating a much better version of myself. And for a final statement, I leave with the quotable quote that really struck me during the whole retreat:
“Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” -Fr. Arrupe, S.J.