Monday, August 7, 2023

Musings 01 from my solo birthday in Perth, Australia

“Excuse me, mate! Your coat looks amazing! You look good in it.”, said a local while walking back to my hotel at Hay Street in Perth. I had layered clothing because it was only 9 degrees in Perth. I wore a tan trench coat, wine-colored sweater, faded olive green pants, and low-cut brown corduroy Doc Martens shoes.

“Thank you, I appreciate it, mate! This is only from H&M, by the way. I bought this coat in 2016 in Bali because they were on sale!”

“No way! But we loved it! It looks good on you!”

“Thank you!” I replied with a smile. It’s not every day you get compliments from a stranger!

If there’s one important life lesson I learned from this solo trip to Perth is accepting compliments. Growing up, I was never confident, especially in my physical appearance. I was never the ‘crush ng bayan’ or the star player back then, not that I wished it, but when you’re in high school, being physically attractive has its advantage. I won’t dig deep as the list is very long, but you get my point. Being smart wasn’t enough, but at least I survived! I still have something to offer.

For some reason, puberty hit me late and hard in my early 20s. I know I still keep myself presentable to people, and my fashion sense isn’t questionable, but I never thought I’d stand out. When you’re in your mid-20s, trying to juggle things in adulthood, you always ask yourself, ‘Am I attractive enough to everyone?’, ‘Or what if no one likes me and becomes single for the rest of my life?’. These are some of the pressure points when we have a quarter-life crisis. I did experience that, and the dark cloud of insecurities had been enveloping me since my teenage years. I know that I’m witty and funny, but that’s it. Still not attractive enough. Again, blame my superficialities. It’s been a struggle trying to keep up with society’s standards.

During that same phase, I started receiving compliments from friends and acquaintances. They say that I look good. That includes I have a good fashion sense, and I am confident. At first, it was uncomfortable because I still struggled with it. I know how to fake it through the facade. Two things come to my mind whenever I receive compliments: one, they needed a huge favor from me, or two, they’re fishing for compliments. My replies are usually sardonic, and I downplay everything. “Ah, it must be the alcohol talking.” Or, “Okay, what do you want?”.

Eventually, I just realized that there are people who genuinely mean it. It took me a while to process this stuff. I’m also fortunate that I’m good at reading people’s body language and intentions, all thanks to my extensive travel experiences for years. I became more confident with myself when I came to terms with who I truly am and when I surrounded myself with the right kind of people. I learned how to love myself even more, embrace my flaws, and just do the things I love and make me happy.

I still love buying skin care products, clothes that make me look and feel good, and colognes that make me smell good. It’s not vain, but it’s all about taking care of yourself, self-love, acceptance, and confidence.

Here’s a sunset selfie with Perth’s skyline at Elizabeth Quay. Life is good. 

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