How to reconcile the person you want to be with the person you are

Header image by Kristin Cornejo

I started blogging in 2005, 13 years ago, on my first year of college. I wrote about my observations at university, I postured at poetry, and tried to engage in philosophical discourse. If you ever find that blog, please forgive me for I was but a wee young Political Science student who aspired to become a lawyer one day and didn't know better with her provincial pretensions. Nevertheless, back then, I was a "serious" blogger. Imagine how slightly ashamed I was to start Project Vanity in 2008 - a beauty blog. Of all things.

I remember being very shy to share PV with my blogger acquaintances back then. They were pretty serious types, many of them men, and I was afraid that they would think I was shallow and stupid for blogging about makeup considering how they knew me previously. Remember, this was a time before YouTube and Instagram stars normalized, even glamorized makeup; makeup back then was thought of as something only silly and/or slutty girls occupied themselves with. But really - who cares? I realized that beauty blogging doesn't make me any of those things. It just makes me a person who blogs about makeup, but I could be everything else I wanted to be. I could be serious and smart, I could like video games and devour books as if it were 2 PM and I hadn't had lunch. 

And so I continued with Project Vanity, and now we are here. 

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These days, I wake up and go to sleep with a desire to paint with my watercolors. Every time I leave the house, I think about bringing my painting kit but I veto it because it won't fit my bag and it's just added weight. Not just the fact that it weighs about 800 grams (I checked), but the weight of it on my mind. Paint, Liz. Just do it. It's not hard. It only takes a few minutes. But I don't.

I got into watercolors in 2014. I bought so many books on the topic and traveled out of the country to get the best paints and paper I could find. My favorite place was Sekaido in Tokyo, where I'd spend two hours just checking everything and being surrounded by the musty odor of stationery and paint. I'd wake up at 2:30 AM with an image in my mind that I just absolutely had to put on paper! I was consumed by watercolors. I loved everything about it. The first thing I'd do every morning was paint something, if only to practice.

These days though, the first thing I do when I wake up is check my emails and social media, walk and feed the dogs, then go out to play tennis, run, or row in the reservoir. Then I dive straight back to work. I review the sales, check in with my clients, coordinate with my team, and go to meetings. Before I know it the day is over and I'm too tired to even think about anything else other than dinner and Netflix.

Rinse and repeat.

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If you told me even just five years ago that I would get into sports, I wouldn't have believed you. I've never been interested in sports and I disliked being physically active. Since I met James though, sports became a part of my life. I've been playing tennis for three years now, about two to three times a week, and I've also been rowing on water once a week for about nine months now. I love that sports teaches an important lesson: that you can be better with practice and perseverance. There's potential inside all of us, for anything, if we put in the work to reveal and polish it.

But here's the thing: I've actually been gaining weight recently. Some of it is muscle mass, but I don't eat as well as I should. I want to lose even just ten pounds but it's proving to be difficult. I have many, many excuses but they're not worth the space they will occupy as a list here. I simply eat too much. 

I know I shouldn't be upset about my weight because I am quite healthy, but what can a girl do growing up with such a fucked up idea of what a great body should be? This internal battle between what I know and what I feel is exhausting.

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What I am right now, in this moment, is a busy entrepreneur. I'm running my own company at 30 and my goal is to make it earn xx million pesos a year in five years. That's realistic (at least I believe it is) but it's not easy. It will be my priority for the next half decade and often I think I have to let go of a lot of things in order to achieve it. My art and my weight, for instance.

Let's stop and back up though. What was that lesson I learned in 2008?

I don't have to be defined by just one aspect of myself. I can be an entrepreneur, I can paint, and I can have my goal weight. Maybe not all at the same time because I still only have 24 hours in a day but that's the plan!

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We never stop becoming. Even when we don't want to change, change will force itself upon our lives, leaving us no choice but to adapt to the new reality. That doesn't mean, however, that we have to give up the person we want to be in order to be who we are right now. It's like...a bonsai forest. Have you seen one before? It's multiple bonsai trees in one pot. Imagine that some trees grow taller and stronger compared to the others; some trees could be shorter, maybe less pretty. But when you look at all the trees together, it's all part of a beautiful whole! Not a random one by providence. Everything is deliberate and tended to, at least as much as nature can be managed. I like to think of all the parts of me as a bonsai forest, growing, taking my time and working on each element to create a work of art.