A friend and I would often talk about the tyranny of choice—when we come upon a fork in the road, we are barraged with a million questions: If I choose this, what would be the opportunity cost? What would I miss out on? If I choose the other, what would I regret? Which one is the right path, the perfect choice?
I got into thinking about this yesterday at a lunch hosted by a friend who was leaving for Canada to continue his Masters. Soon, another friend is moving there to explore his options. Chalking them up to other friends who have been pursuing their chosen paths elsewhere in the world—in New York, in London, in Paris, I thought about the dreams they once shared with me that are now coming true, the challenges they are now encountering and overcoming, the successes they are now enjoying. The actions they have taken, whose consequences have led them to where they are right now.
I also got into thinking about my own choices, my what if’s and if only’s in life. The person I dreamed of becoming when I was younger and the one I am right now, the paths I’ve taken that didn’t quite align with one another, the dissonant and unfocused thoughts within me that manifested outwardly. There were just too many options!
I guess I’m what American psychologist Barry Schwartz calls in his book The Paradox of Choice, a maximizer. Simply put, a maximizer tends to overthink choices and overanalyze consequences. They like to consider each and every alternative and are worried about making the wrong choices. (The opposite of this is a satisficer, who makes a choice and sticks with it without looking back and worrying that there might be something better.) As a result of being a maximizer, I tend to always have realizations in hindsight: had I picked a different set of orgs in school, or hung out with a different set of people, or chosen a different course of study altogether, it would’ve vastly altered the landscape in which I move today. These thoughts aren’t imbued with hapless regret, mind you; I’m just really fascinated by the impact of one single choice. Knowing this has helped me become more focused and keep my goals aligned these days.
One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about how the diversity of people’s identities and tastes gives way to this explosion of choice just as well. He was referring to food marketing, how we can’t always explain what we want, and how there isn’t one Platonic—perfect and universal—way to prepare a dish. But it also applies to everything else. We have so many choices because we are all so different, and we have embraced this diversity more so today than ever. In the past, people simply became what their parents were. Options for what to buy, where to go, which course to study, when and whom to marry, etc. were as limited as the exposure they had of the world outside their boundaries. Now our world is bigger. The forks in the road have more branches. It can be overwhelming, especially with the variety of choices available to us these days. But so long as we know what it is we want, we should be able to make the right ones. ♥
Today is José Rizal’s birthday and the day I got to watch “Man of Steel.” Two heroes with a universe of a difference—one real, one imaginary, yet both permanently etched in history as beacons of hope in mankind’s inherent goodness.
I had planned for this to be a tribute post for Rizal, hence the subtle nod to the way he dressed. He was quite the dapper gentleman, sharp and handsome in his coats and jackets.
But writing about one’s hero can be a challenging task. How do you tell the story of someone whom everybody on this side of the world is familiar with? As for the things about him that are not widely familiar, how do you condense everything you know and admire about someone you’ve looked up to your whole life, into a few paragraphs?
Rizal is one of the first national heroes that Filipino children encounter, in their one-peso coins and school books. We all know his life and death story. We all know of his famous novels and his equally famous loves. We know that there are monuments and parks and museums and streets and establishments named after him. What else? Well, he is a polymath—excellent in many fields, and a polyglot—conversant in 22 languages. If he were alive today, he’d be receiving awards left and right for his interdisciplinary achievements: educated in Ateneo and UST, attended universities in Europe. He practiced medicine, trained in mixed martial arts, dabbled in visual arts (painting, sketching, sculpting, woodcarving, and get this: comics making). He wrote poetry, essays, novels and papers in various topics and using various languages. He was one of the first proponents of non-violence, perhaps even before Gandhi. He was a visionary: his literary works and his words are just as relevant (if not more so) today as it was during his time.
I have always been awed by him. His greatness inspires and frustrates me at the same time—the hope that if Rizal could be all of these things, so could I, and the awareness that few are destined for his kind of greatness. This afternoon, I sat down and tried to articulate it all but drew a blank. Giving up, I went out with my mom to see “Man of Steel” for inspiration. By now I’m sure most of you have watched this movie. I’ve read some comics spanning different universes and seen past movies, and while I’m not about to delve into how this particular reboot inevitably veered away from some well-established Superman canon, I will say that I for one appreciate the efforts to ground it more on reality and plausibility. Unfavorable reviews notwithstanding, I enjoyed the film. (Plus, Henry Cavill is smoking hot. Hee.) It underscores how being good and making a difference in the world is not so much reliant on some pre-determined path laid out for us, as on our own choices.
After the movie, I remembered a Vsauce video I watched this morning about honor, the Great Man theory (that mankind’s history is impacted by only a few men whose destiny it is to be great) and the Accumulation of Advantage (that given the right advantages and circumstances, anyone has an opportunity to be great). The latter is a criticism of the former, but I believe the two are intertwined. I thought that for my Rizal tribute I’d also touch on Kal-el—ordinary in Krypton, and on Earth raised on an ordinary farm by ordinary folk, who just happened to be stronger and faster and more powerful than humans but is a good man with or without superpowers. How Rizal, born to a wealthy family with access to the best education that schools and world travel can give, made use of his gifts for the good of his people. And then I remembered the cover of my History textbook in Ateneo.
It’s one of my favorite books by one of the foremost experts on anything and everything Rizal: Sir Ambeth has dedicated his life and career to discovering the person behind the legends and myths. The ordinary individual with his foibles and human failings, the funny anecdotes, the contexts of his actions and words. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this image of Rizal as Superman came to mind on the same day I encountered them both and also happened to see the video. It is all a reminder of the importance of heroic imagination—to borrow from Vsauce, “thinking socio-centrically, not ego-centrically. Most heroes are everyday people who emerge as heroes in particular situations.” Here’s to the hope that when our chance comes, we would. •
Outfit details: Mango tailored jacket, Paper Dolls button-down blouse, Marithe+Francois Girbaud jeans, Cole Haan Lunar Grand wingtips, Dooney & Bourke bag, Guess wristwatch, SM Accessories necklace and bangle.
Forever21 tops, Marithé + François Girbaud jeans, Skechers sneakers. My dad surprised us with a Hong Kong trip during the Holy Week. It was a short one—we left on a Sunday and came back on Tuesday to be here before Holy Thursday—but really fun. It was the first time all five of us traveled out of the country together. The weather was comfortably chilly, which was nice. It was lazy-day weather; needless to say, I was (not) dressed (up) for the occasion. The outfits I packed were the type you could just pull on and be out the door fast. My picture-taking was just as lazy; since my first trip to HK involved taking a bazillion photos, this time around I decided I’d rather make the most of the family-bonding by not going on travel-photographer mode. So yes, this post is more OOTD and less tourist. Heh.
You couldn’t get more comfy-casual than these. I haven’t worn jeans on a regular basis ever since acquiring a taste for (and a sizable amount of) cute shorts and skirts, so my old pairs didn’t quite fit me right anymore. I dropped by Girbaud scouting for skinnies, and this one fit me snugly without depriving my lower extremities of oxygen. It’s one of the four styles of basic jeans they recently launched, all coming at PHP1,800. A steal, considering Girbaud’s usually higher price points. Even better, you can take home a pair of basic jeans for free if you shop there regularly. From March 11 to May 31, you get a stamp for every P500 purchase. Collect 18 stamps and your choice of jeans is yours.
Check out the bindi-inspired button details. Looking at it now, they seem to subtly match the graphic prints on the Forever21 tank top. Don’t they? Or maybe it’s just me and my unwavering penchant for matching pieces of clothing. Haha.
My trusty Skechers. Every time I slip into sneakers for errands and travel, I find myself wishing I were taller than my 5’1” stature so that I’d be able to wear flats whenever the situation doesn’t absolutely require high shoes. Love how the red just pops out.
Taken with Instagram (@shailagarde). If you’ve been to Victoria Peak, you know just how fickle the air is up there. One minute the sky is clear as day and you can see skyscrapers and mountains mingling in the distance; ten seconds later everything is enveloped in fog.
My siblings, Miku and Vince. I’m the eldest, but often get mistaken for the youngest. These two are more “adult” than me in a lot of ways. I love them to bits. They keep me sane.
Well, when we’re not goofing around, at least. So, how have you guys been spending your summer break? :)
A breezy top with jeans and boots is pretty much a manifestation of how I feel about the current transitional season. It won’t be long before temperatures start rising again in time for the summer, but I’ve always been a cold-weather girl so I wanted to hold on to whatever few and fleeting chilly spells we can still enjoy.
Hot or not, I love how the bright colors of spring/summer can perk up any outfit and give it that carefree, casual feel. Check out this ombré orange necklace! It’s not really my favorite shade, but I’ve been wearing this piece a lot because it just seems to make my outfits happier somehow.
Yellow and green are a different story—two colors I love wearing. Especially yellow. I got this bag from my aunt exactly a year ago during my birthday trip to the US and I’ve been wearing it to death every chance I get… I tend to do that with gifts from loved ones.
If you’ve been a longtime reader of this blog (and I sure hope you are!) then you’ve also seen these boots a lot. Because really, what can’t you wear with a nice pair of brown boots?
I seldom wear jeans anymore and usually go for shorts or dresses, but I’m glad I went with my gut that afternoon. As with most of my outfits, I put this together at the last minute to go and attend the Philippine launch of American Eagle Outfitters. Maybe because I’ve been a fan of the brand since college, my chosen neon-and-jeans ensemble was spot on with AEO’s Light and Bright Spring Collection.
In navy and maroon shades during our fashion blogging workshop for Myth boutique a few weeks ago, where we busted some myths (pun unintended) on blogging and bloggers.