By Denise Congco


2009 was the year I thought I lost everything. I quit my job, ended a relationship, and cut ties with my best friend of 20 years. I thought it was too much to go through in one year. But today, two years later, I realized that those things had to happen so that I can find myself.

When the source of your happiness comes from external factors, whether it’s your career or a loved one, you sometimes lose touch of who you really are. You let yourself be judged by other people. You get affected by what they say.

But when you let go of all that, you start asking the right questions: Who are you when stripped of material things, friends, job, and boyfriend? What are your deal-breakers and non-negotiables? What are the causes you will die fighting for? If it’s self-fulfillment you’re after, what would you rather do?

At the time, I had all but lost my self-esteem. I had to figure out a way to love ME again. I took a vacation. I traveled around Asia and somehow gained a new zest for life. The world truly is my oyster!

Traveling gave me a different perspective on life. I realized that what might have been important to me was not necessarily relevant to the ice cream man in Singapore or the sales lady in Bangkok. What may be a big deal to you may not even matter to your neighbor, so what’s the fuss? If you failed at something, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick up the pieces, take all the life lessons that moment has taught you, and start anew somewhere, somehow.

But how do I love ME again? I found out that when you rephrase the question, it becomes easier to answer: What don’t I love about myself? My answers ranged from the most trivial to the most profound. I had a problem with my weight, my inability to say no, my tendency to lose myself in a relationship, and my lack of a dream.

So I zeroed in on the easiest: the weight issue. I read everything I could find online. I consulted a doctor and found out that I had polycystic ovaries, which made it doubly hard for me to lose weight. Apparently, my hormones have practically been making me obese. I had to treat that first and then searched high and low for that one exercise program that would suit my lifestyle. Because of the Tracy Anderson Method and a clear vision to reach my ideal weight, I managed to go down to a size 4 from a size 12! From large to small!

I got so excited because that kind of happiness emanated from within me! It was the result of sheer hard work and perseverance. It started from accepting the fact that I had a problem and facing it head on.

Next on the list: my inability to say no. I figured that being gracious is different from letting yourself be taken advantage of. I suppose that when you lose everything, you gain courage. A regained sense of self will give you the confidence to say no to something you don’t feel like doing. That same confidence will make you proud of who you are and what you have become! That solves problem number three: my tendency to lose myself in a relationship. By knowing what I hated about myself and doing something about it, I solved two problems at once!


[To be continued]