The Demons That Are Really Just You
Me: Long time no chat. How are you?
LDF (long-distance friend): I knowww. So sorry
LDF: I’ve been busy
LDF: With my social life.
Me: Well, that’s good.
LDF: How about you?
LDF: How are you na?
Me: I’m busy fighting my inner demons…
And then we went on a full-on discussion about self-assessment, past and present versions of ourselves, and a lot of feels-sharing.
I’m in my late 20s and at this point, I feel like I’m only starting to get to know myself better, especially the negative, unconsciously destructive parts of myself that I never really paid attention to, which is kind of bad. But the mere fact that I’m acknowledging these things, as they say, is already a good first step.
So here goes a list of the inner demons that I think each of us, in one way or another, have lurking within us:
THE CAN’T STOP EATING JUNK FOOD DEMON
This demon is really powerful because it has allies like your mind and your tummy, that they can use to trick you into thinking that you need to consume the unhealthy foods that are hiding at the corner of your pantry shelf. You deserve it, minsan lang naman, it’s not that bad, et cetera. It strikes usually in cohorts with your PMS, when you're going through a heartbreak, and on Payday Fridays. Trust me, it knows.
How to fight it: Here’s a lesson from a Justin Bieber lyric (and I don’t mean to be sarcastic): love yourself. I realize that when you genuinely care for your well-being, your body, and physical health, it will come naturally to consume only what will do you good. Although of course, that’s easier said than done.
THE PUTS THE BLAME ON EVERYONE BUT YOURSELF DEMON
This demon is a pro at coming up with excuses, and masquerades these as valid reasons. This demon usually surfaces when you’re faced with failure, and you’re not quite ready to admit or own up to it yet. So you pass on the blame to someone else, or something else—e.g. a past experience, anything to spare yourself from being accountable.
How to fight it: You can’t ever blame others for the way they are. It’s how you respond that can be changed. And at the same time, you can’t keep faulting the past for happening, because it’s done and there’s nothing you can do about it.
THE ALWAYS COMPARING DEMON
Your last job to your present one, the way your boyfriend was during your ligaw/landian days to how he treats you now, the photos of the girl you’re stalking on Instagram to your own feed. This demon moves in many and mysterious ways, and it’s always so surprising. It comes lurking when you least expect it—e.g. when you’re about to sleep and you’re browsing FB and * boom * you chance upon your batch mates who’re now officially doctors or lawyers or architects. All of a sudden you feel inadequate, that finishing a normal four-year course in college, graduating, and being occasionally on the dean’s list is Just. So. Normal. So basic. And you resist the urge to repost your 2011 grad pic just because, at the risk of looking bitter.
How to fight it: Think to yourself that you were never really interested in becoming a doctor or a lawyer or an architect and roll your eyes as you scroll down your feed.
I was kidding, but okay, maybe you can indulge yourself in a few minutes of that. But quickly snap back to reality (oh, there goes gravity) and remember that becoming a doctor, a lawyer, an architect, or a lowly writer isn’t for everyone. We’re all unique in our own ways, and we each have our own mothers to cheer us on whatever happens, anyway. So, as they say, keep doing you.
THE WALLOWING DEMON
There are all kinds of wallows in this world, but never the same wallow twice. There’s WIP, WIE, WIR, et cetera. (a.ka. wallowing in pain, in embarrassment, in regret), but the point here is that it doesn’t matter. Pain, embarrassment, regret, and whatever else you’re wallowing about will never be worth the wallow. It does nothing but paralyze you.
How to fight it: There’s truth in the saying “Let go, let God” whoever your “God” is. Or let go and let flow. Whichever works for you. But what I’m trying to say is that I think you should have one, that source of almighty, spiritual being that you can turn your worries to, when you know you’ve already done your best but things still didn’t go your way. So stop the self-hate and swallow the wallow.
THE CAN’T LET GO OF THE PAST DEMON
I’m one to reminisce about the good ol’ days when we used to play patintero instead of Tetris on our phones, when I would wait for LFO’s Girl On TV on MTV instead of just having everything searchable on YouTube, when I was content with just seeing a crush from afar instead of wanting my boyfriend to be always there beside me. The list goes on and on.
At the same time, I’m also one to reason out stupid analogies like, maybe I’m like this because in the past I was like that and lalala. And I know I need some shutting up.
How to fight it: Live in the present.
THE PROCRASTINATING DEMON
It was ever-present in school, and it still is in the real world, funnily enough. And I think we’re all guilty of this: procrastinating adulting.
For me, personally, it’s because I’m a middle child and I grew up eternally thankful that responsibility wouldn’t fall on me first, because I have my older sister for that. So I was never really a fan of responsibility. Remember Meredith Grey? “To have responsibility. It sucks. But there is nothing you can do. You just grow up and get more and more responsibility and it never stops.” she said.
How to fight it: Accept it. If you can’t, let your age scare the heck out of you. “Oh my god I’m [insert age here] and still in [insert current situation here]!” then panic as the zoo patrians did in this Spongebob episode.
THE PERFECTIONIST DEMON
Me, practice-interviewing myself way back when I was fresh grad:
HR: What are your strengths?
Me: When I’m passionate about my work, I dedicate everything to it. I put my heart to it.
HR: What are your weaknesses?
Me: When I’m passionate about my work, I care too much.
HR: How’s that a weakness?
Me: When I fail, or the project fails, it affects me. I find it hard to let go of it and detach myself from it, and keep thinking that I could’ve done better.
How to fight it: Be open to failure, rejection, and all that jazz. There will be an abundance of it in life, trust me. And the more you experience it, the more you’ll be able to embrace it, and treat your mistakes as opportunities.
THE MAKING OTHERS YOUR PROBLEM DEMON
I usually experience this when I’m with elders, they always have a say about how other people are or should be. It’s kind of like people-watching, but with a bunch of “dapat ganito, dapat ganyan” lines nagging in your ear. Whew. And it can get kind of tiring, but at the same time I get where the elders are coming from. They’ve got a lot of wisdom to impart, after all.
But if you’re young and already living this way, stressing about how other people should live their lives, it’s going to stress you out, too.
How to fight it: Just DGAF. Did you raise that person? Is he or she your child? Give zero you-know-whats, unless he or she’s a relative or a friend you truly care for.
This article originally appeared on the TITA Pacita Wordpress site. Very minor changes have been made by me because, you know, self-editing is real.
Also, cover photo by Miguel Alomajan.