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How I Learned That The Best Way To Care For Myself Is Discovering What I *Really* Want

The Best Type Of Self-Love
PHOTO: Getty Images

Growing up, I really did not think about what I wanted. I always went through the motions. Whatever I saw my classmates owned or were enjoying, I would like, too. Back then, I thought it was just me behaving like a normal teen. A 16-year-old who wasn't sure of herself.


When I graduated from college and started working, I totally forgot about myself. My father abandoned us, and as the eldest, I had to be the breadwinner. So, I was used to prioritizing what my family needed before anything else—including myself. It was hard but it had to be done.

As the years passed and my career soared (haha, I do have high self-regard for my achievements!), I found joy in providing for my fambam. Whenever I went out, I would always get pasalubong for them. I also noticed that whenever I would buy something for myself, I would make sure that my fam would receive something of the same value. I saw it as a way of loving and pampering them.


I was used to prioritizing what my family needed before anything else—including myself.

In 2019, I decided to make amends with my dad. I wasn't angry anymore, and I felt that I have forgiven him. It was also the time when I wasn't the breadwinner of the family anymore. I could finally breathe.

You would think that my life was rainbows and daisies after that—it was far from it. I realized I wasn't ready to communicate with my dad. I just couldn't go back to the way things were prior to him leaving us. Plus, I was dealing with personal and work issues. I started to think I wasn't good enough. I really had no idea who I was and what I wanted. All I knew was I needed to escape from my dream job and the family I love. Basically, I was lost and I hated my life.

I tried all the typical self-care activities that I've published on Cosmo but nothing worked. Massages, fitness classes, facials, K-drama series, and cookies (my all-time fave food). I was also lucky enough to fly to El Nido, Palawan for work. All of those supposedly R&R activities didn't make me feel better. 

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A loving friend gave me a wake-up call. She said maybe it's high time I should finally sit down and figure out what I *really* want in my life. She told me it's okay to prioritize myself. I shouldn't feel guilty. Maybe that was the type of self-care I needed. I was puzzled and in denial for weeks.

It's okay to prioritize myself. I shouldn't feel guilty.

I used my Christmas break to sit down and know more about myself. I first listed down the qualities I appreciated about myself. Then, I figured out the little things that made me happy. This wasn't solved in a day, BTW. Focusing on myself felt selfish—like I was taking something away from my family. I had to fight the guilt.

It took months for me to realize that I was people-pleasing most of my life. It finally made sense that I should stop feeling guilty about doing things that will make me happy. People-pleasing isn't a form of love—real love is knowing how to take care of yourself so you could give to others. For the first time ever, I said these words to myself: "Ako naman. Yung gusto ko naman." 


For the first time ever, I said these words to myself: "Ako namanYung gusto ko naman."

A year after that tough love conversation, I could say that I'm happier than how I was in 2019. Of course, I still have a long way to go in my journey to self-discovery. (The pandemic is very much real, too.) But so far, I've figured out interesting things about myself. From something as simple as who among BLACKPINK is my bias to something as complex as choosing the online course to take to enhance my skills. I never thought knowing what I *really* want was the type of self-care my soul needed.


So, if you're feeling lost, maybe it's about time that you really focus on yourself—and I'm not talking about pampering skincare routines, eating chocolate cake, or enjoying a day at the beach. Inner work starts with your own thoughts. Contemplate on the things that bring you joy. From here, you can begin your journey to self-discovery and self-love.



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