I recently went through a period of self-realization. It’s good that I found the answer in time to celebrate Women’s Month.
Putting up a website, juana.com.ph, led me to ask the question: Who am I, really?
The first incarnation of the website was meant to cater to a broad market—hence, the description, for “EveryJuana.”
I wanted to tell the stories of Filipino mothers, their lives and struggles. Funny enough, I sought anonymity in the website’s name, always explaining that this was about everyone else except me.
In each meeting, the website team urged me to put more of myself out there, to give it personality. I struggled for a while, as I was scared. What if people don’t like me? Why would anyone want to hear what I think?
It was then decided that the website would be rebranded as an online journal curated by an editor, Ana Javelosa Gloria, and myself.
We spent a long time trying to figure out the “personality” of the site. My dad was right in having counseled me, at seven years old, with the words of Polonius in “Hamlet”: “To thine own self be true.”
It took about 26 more years for me to figure that out.
The original website didn’t work because digital media these days is very honest—the readers look for the heart behind a site.
I worried that, maybe, the readers won’t like me. My ego took a blow when, during the revamp period, as we were crafting the new site, a marketing consultant questioned my relevance and that of the site, because it was for the “old and rich.”
To him, the site—which was not yet up and which he had not seen—would not appeal to the digitally savvy millennials whom he considered “young and poor.”
That’s another thing; I sit on the cusp of millennial-hood by virtue of my birth year, but don’t reflect the stereotype. The judgment was passed on me, without knowing about the work I had done, but by virtue of just checking out my Instagram feed.
It forced me to take stock of my life. But then again, I was left wondering, why in the world did I feel I had to make excuses for myself?
People are quick to pass judgment based on what they think about you. It’s easy enough to look at Instagram feeds to see a reflection of their lives but without really getting to know them.
At age 33, I am finally starting to be content as I settle into the different roles I play.
Ana, who has become a friend through all the work we have done over the past eight years, told me that the best thing about getting older is that you start to really accept yourself, and not care what others think otherwise. As a wife, mother, editor, employee, employer and parent representative, I make no excuses for any facet of my life. I always give 100 percent to everything I do.
The trick to balancing everything is to set boundaries for the different things you do. I take my kids to school every single day, then go straight to work. If I have time in between, I do the groceries and plan the week’s menu, as I cook all the meals for the family.
At work, I make myself available to everyone. But there is a cutoff time, when I stop replying to e-mail and texts, as this is the period I set aside for quality time with my family.
In my 12-year career in publishing, I have always hidden behind the brand that I was working for, carrying out its mission and vision. Perhaps building the site was cathartic, as it forced me to accept myself.
When I did this, I also decided I would not make any excuses for who I really am. When you finally find yourself, you are able to go on and create other things and be better in every aspect of your life.
In the age of labels and multihyphens, and as a person whose job it is to profile people, I tried to fit myself in a box, as I do with the people I write about.
The truth is, women today don’t fit in specific boxes or carry proper titles anymore, because we do everything. No one is “too old” or “too young” to do anything. Women are constantly evolving, changing and growing.
Millennials and the Titas of Manila can get along perfectly fine, and learn things about each other, and learn how to better their lives. I remember, years ago, the debacle on the titles of “full-time mom,” “stay-at-home mom” and “working mom.” I feel these are no longer relevant at a time when all women are everything.
In everything women do, they are 100-percent invested. And because of that, we do deserve the entire month of March to celebrate who we are.