I haven’t been writing much.
If you want to know why, it’s because I was banned from a Facebook group of entrepreneurs.
No, it’s not because I lost my confidence in myself. If anything, getting banned (from anything for the first time ever!) has pushed me to reflect on my choices of who to follow and interact with online. I consider it an achievement.
Mostly, I had been very busy trying to live the new American Dream. If you haven’t heard, nobody believes in the American Dream anymore. You know, start from the bottom, work hard, and you just might find yourself at the top one day when you’re old and creaky?
These days, most people dream of working from their laptops, making a ton of money, and traveling the world. Why do you think everybody wants to be an Instagram influencer?
It’s the American Dream 2.0. It’s what so-called success gurus and personal development experts appeal to in order to get their audience to buy from them. You don’t have to start from the bottom and work 40 years before you can get rich and successful. You just need to have a laptop and an Internet connection.
And it’s true. There are so many, many, many ways to make money. The Internet is just one of them. So there’s really nothing wrong with the American Dream 2.0 (or the old American Dream), except that right now it is very much an American dream. Oh, okay, it’s also available to people in rich countries. But apparently, at least to some people, people in so-called poor countries aren’t allowed to dream as big.
Years ago, I read somewhere on the Internet a random bitter commenter who said that the “you create your own reality” bullshit is nothing more than white privilege. I vehemently shook my head at that. You create your own reality whatever the color of your skin is, whatever corner of the world you’re born in. I know because I am my own best example of this. And so, at that time, I began thinking of helping other people learn how they, too, can create their own reality with nothing but the resources they already have right now. (You’ll be surprised to know that all you really need to create your own reality, whatever that reality is, you already have.)
So I began delving into coaching programs and business courses and more personal development communities. I wanted to learn how I can build a website that gets more traffic, brand myself on social media as an expert on all things reality creation, reach out to the people who care about my message, convert them into clients as though they were nothing more than numbers to be converted into other numbers, make money from all that, and in the process make an iimpact, blah, blah, blah.
And yet, along the way, I kinda sorta lost track of what my initial vision was. Along the way, I kinda sorta got sidetracked by big, shiny promises of massive success and an unending money supply peddled to me by the very same success gurus and personal development experts I looked up to. Along the way, I kinda sorta fell into the trap that I could have all that and more, if and only if I did what they told me to do. I almost, almost, almost forgot that it doesn’t really matter what they tell me to do. What only matters is what I know in my heart I have to do.
I finally remembered when I got kicked out of that Facebook group of entrepreneurs who all had big dreams of making a fuck-ton of money while supposedly making a positive difference in the world.
You know why I got banned? Some members of the group proposed the idea of hiring virtual assistants from the Philippines and other places outside of the US. It’d be great, they said. You can pay them much less than if you hired a VA in the US, they said. And, yeah, it’s not like it’s exploiting cheap labor, is it? Except it’s exactly like exploiting cheap labor for some of the members who wanted to drive their VA’s salaries down to $3 per hour. (Some were extremely hard drivers and wanted to see if they could find a VA at $1.20 per hour. Good luck with that!)
And being the only Filipino who’s had some VA experience in the group and therefore the most knowledgeable person on the matter, I decided to speak up and advocate for $4 per hour for entry-level VAs. Just $4 per hour. It’s only one fucking dollar more than what those cheapskates wanted to pay. It’d just be enough to keep their VA alive and healthy enough so they could keep working for them the next day and maybe go out for dinner twice a month or open a small savings account if they didn’t have children or aging parents to feed. I wasn’t even asking for much.
And yet they presumed to know more about what Filipino VAs feel about the matter than a person who actually was one. Funnily enough, some of them think that the rest of the world only has two options: 1.) to work for Western-based businesses for low pay or 2.) to work in the rice fields with leeches on our legs. As Cher Andi Horowitz used to say, “As if!”
Unfortunately, the idea of “abundance is for everyone” that many of the group members so hungrily cling onto to justify their desires apparently doesn’t extend to Filipinos, or anybody outside of Western countries for that matter. I have to point out that there’s nothing wrong with wanting more money, more wealth, or more possessions. We live in a physical world, after all, and we have physical needs and wants.
Where things can get out of hand—and indeed this is how society and politics and the economy has gotten so out of hand—is when we start to think that we deserve all the good stuff in the world and others don’t. In fact, you know what? Screw them. We can build all these huge, successful ventures. We can travel in luxury and style all around the world. We can bathe in Chanel perfumes and drink pure French Alps water from Swarovski-engraved bottles all day long because our Higher Selves say we deserve to. And all on the backs of people halfway around the world that we haven’t met but assume are thankful to be paid a teeny, tiny fraction of what we make.
Here’s what I think of that. People who think they can build a business on not much won’t have much to show for at the very end. They will probably make a quick, easy buck or two, but there won’t be stopping that nagging feeling at the back of their heads. The world is changing, can’t you see? The air is ripe with it. Women are up in arms. People of color are up in arms. The LGBTQ are up in arms. Indigenous peoples are up in arms. Environmentalists, tree-huggers, whatever you call ‘em are up in arms. Even Mother Earth herself is up in arms. Pretty soon, everyone and everything around the world who has never had a voice will be rising up, speaking, and shouting from the top of their lungs. “No! Not this time! Not any-fucking-more!”
I, too, had experienced what it’s like to not have a voice. I, too, know what it’s like to sit in my own little corner head down as the rest of the world danced and pranced around before me, wishing I could dance and prance around with them too. And I, too, know what it’s like to raise my head and finally realize that, hey, I actually have a voice. And that, hey, all this time my inner self, the self that knows what’s going on, has been wanting me to use this voice all along.
It’s not so I can make money, even though I know that when I do things from the heart, I always make a lot of money. Always. It’s not so I can become famous. That may happen but that’s not what I’m after. It’s not so I can become someone with huge power and influence because I know I already have real power and influence anyway. We all already do, and it’s not the type of power that needs to wield arms or jump through loopholes in legal documents or take advantage of an oppressive system to make things happen.
For a while, I had forgotten about that. And for sure, it has set me back. But thank God for getting banned from Facebook groups that I don’t belong to anyway. Haven’t you heard yet? I’m not a groups kind of person. Never was. Thank God for being born brown-skinned in a third-world country riddled with corrupt politicians and dengue mosquitos and overly sensitive Internet users because it has given me a clearer idea of how the world works. And thank God because I finally remembered who I’m writing for.
And if you’re curious, I’m not actually writing only for Filipinos. Don’t you get it yet? Putting people into groups based on their skin color or sex organs or geographic location simply detracts them from realizing the inherent power that is available to all of us. It makes victims of others, getting them to believe that who they are is defined by the groups they apparently belong to instead of the essence of God Itself.
I’m writing for you, the person who’s reached so far down into this post. You’re the kind of person who cares. You’re the kind of person who wants to make a difference in the world. You’re the kind of person who knows, even though she hasn’t seen it with her own eyes yet, that there’s so much more to human beings than what we can grasp with our five limited senses.
There’s a popular commercial in the Philippines that asks, “Who do you wake up for?” The easy way out is say you wake up for your family. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s not much challenge in saying you do what you do for people whom you’re attached to and will probably always be attached to till the very end.
It’s much, much harder to say you wake up for yourself. Not for the self that sits inside your head, judging, rationalizing, and criticizing every single thought, word, and deed that you and others make. But for the self that resides inside your heart and extends all the way outwards to the people around you, outwards to the world around you, outwards to the entire universe around and inside of you.
Haven’t you heard? You’re not a bag of flesh and bones somehow animated by a mysterious force coming from some structure inside your brain. You’re not a train of destructive thoughts chugging around inside your mind. You’re not a train wreck of emotions or problems from the past you can’t get over. You’re not your job (or your profession if that’s what you call it) or your possessions. You’re not the groups you think you belong to. You’re not the roles you wittingly or unwittingly took on. You’re greater than all of that combined and, baby, it’s about time you get to the root of that.