Moises: Looking for hope when hopelessness abounds

·4 min read

M: Hi, Singlestalk. I grew up with my grandparents after my folks separated and have since moved on with their lives. Yes, I feel like an orphan even if both of my parents are alive.

Last year, Lolo and Lola died from Covid-19. Then the super typhoon Odette blew the roof off of our house. Then after, whatever was left was reduced to ashes by a fire that ravaged our community. I’m still in my early 20s making ends meet at an evacuation center. I’m young but I’m already tired hearing that these experiences will make me stronger and wiser.

Do I really have to go through all these to be a better man? I feel like giving up.

DJ: When I was your age, I used to ask why life had to be difficult. Like you, I also thought I’ve had too much character development that I was afraid all those would turn me into a villain instead. In hindsight, though, they did prepare me for what I have today. But given your situation, I do understand if looking for the beauty in the faces of the children or to be grateful is like a rock. It’s hard. But I can give you some tools to smoothen the rough edges and hopefully, regain a sense of control.

Get as much sleep as you can. The condition at the evacuation center can be poor or sad. But missing out on a good night’s sleep can wear you down. Eat well, too. It’s likely that what’s currently available are processed and takeout food. For now, just make sure your stomach is full. This gives enough energy to work on a moving forward plan and do it.

Make a list of all the things you can’t control and give yourself permission to stop worrying about them. It can only magnify your frustration and make the situation even more bleak than it already is. Rather, make a list of things you need to do which you can control. This leads to actions that are going to help you. For example, find work. You really can’t control whether the break you need appears or whether an employer will grant you an interview. But you can control how much time and effort you put into searching for work. Keep on keeping on. When you’ll have a job, the steady stream of income will help you start over.

Where’s your Mom or Dad? Are they residing in the city? You are their child and they are accountable to see you through this really tough time. Claim it as a right. There may be a lot of hurt. But they are still your family. Reach out to them. In my opinion, this is still better than living on someone’s sofa.

Being strong doesn’t mean you never need help. It’s even quite the opposite. Being strong is recognizing that some problems are too big for one person. It is okay to ask for help and receive it with grace. Reach out to others. Build new friendships at the evacuation center. Improve your support network. You can draw strength and build resilience from having others to lean on. They don’t need to have the answers to the problems you’re facing. They just need to be willing to listen to you without judging. On the flipside, though, avoid anyone who magnifies your problem, who criticizes you or makes you feel even more stressed. And if you know of someone out there feeling lonely and isolated, be the one to take the initiative to reach out. Sometimes, when you realize you have the power to help others, you also find the power to help yourself.

Keep the faith. Whatever is your religion, believe there is a being infinitely bigger than all of us who is watching over us. When I was in my 20s, I went through what I thought were dark, harrowing nights. I am a Catholic and it was in those agonizing times when I realized that when God was all I had, God was all I needed. It can be difficult to stay positive and hopeful in the midst of a crisis. I wish life is composed of numbered dots, I can simply ask you to connect and the world suddenly becomes amazing where negativity cannot grow and prosper and children will have a smile on their faces. But life is really more like an epic—winding and complicated—in which you are the hero.

Never let your circumstance write your story for you. This is just a chapter. It will pass. Hang in there, Mike. I’ll also see what I can do.

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