TEDx Takeaways

February 20, 2016 Filed Under: 5 Tips, Abbey, Artsy Advice, Personal, TEDxUPM, Tips & Advice 6 Comments

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It’s been more than a year after I gave my TEDx talk at UP Manila. It’s also been a year of amazing opportunities, creating new connections, and everything in between.

I was intending to write this last year after giving my talk, but I realized how fitting it would be to actually to share this after the crazy (fun) roller coaster I had last 2015. For the record, too, I’ve grown so much in many ways I have never imagined possible.


So, this post is just a compilation of personal advice I’d like to share from my learnings over my own experiences – and over things I’ve said during my talk. I hope you enjoy it. :)

Also, warning: long post ahead.

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Passion is hard to find

And you don’t stop there. Finding your passion is just the first step – there’s no guarantee what it can do to you. You can choose to either accept it, ignore it, or find ways to change it. But one thing’s for sure, you’ll always be drawn to it one way or another. Believe it or not, at some point in your life, it will just show up in the most unexpected circumstances.

For me, I guess having that big push to really pursue art (I could have just ignored it – but I decided to ~concentrate~ on drawing on my first year in high school without even knowing what I’d end up doing after; it was merely just for fun) really drove me to try taking it seriously. It never really occurred to me that x years later, I’d actually pursue it – but I did. I told myself that it was worth a try, and so far, I haven’t regretted anything. In fact, this has been one of my life’s best decisions.

So, whatever it is you’re passionate about – embrace it. Find ways to add it into your character / who you are. It doesn’t even have to be a big part of you, just make the small things add up. You’ll eventually see it unfold right in front of you. :) And, it’s your choice if you’d like to pursue it or not (as a profession). Let’s leave that at another post – that’s another story.


On finding inspiration & being a work in progress

I don’t understand why people constantly want to have a specific successful person as their “goal”. And that in x months, you would imagine that you can achieve the same things as that person. There’s definitely nothing wrong with looking up to people – I’ve always idolized painters, illustrators, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs – not only because of their talent and hard work, but because of the way they think. How everything sort of converged together to become who they are, what they do and eventually, why they are recognized for what they do.

News flash though – you are not them. But you can excel in your own way, and be like them, but in an entirely different way. I’ll admit it took me a long time to accept this; and in truth, after experiencing personal issues about this matter, I realized – I didn’t have to care about anyone else but my own progress.

I always tell people that “You are always a work in progress.” And all this time, everyone has been channeling the mindset of success as the finish line. But remember, it’s not the end goal. Success can be ~small wins~ (as my mentor told me) and little reminders of your growth.

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Saying yes to possibilities

The past year has kept me on my feet 24/7. Saying yes was just the first step; there was a lot of work to be done. But if I didn’t have the courage to say yes – to that book deal, to working with dream clients, to teaching workshops again, and more importantly, to pursuing art full-time, I don’t think things would have turned out the way that they are now.

Mind you, though – it wasn’t easy to feel responsible when I first started. Quitting my day job deemed to be daunting, but it was the things that transpired after (aka having to stand on my own and really become an adult) that tested me. But as they say, experience is your best teacher. :) It’s never been easy, but nothing worth having comes easy, anyway, right?



Competing against yourself

This is normal. Up until today, I still am my own worst critic. My standards have been raised, and I can be so harsh on myself. On another note, there is always a bigger comparison in the industry itself (trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s been self-inflicted into my system) – but remember, it’s up to you if you want to hurt yourself that way. Someone will always be better. So get over it, and go do the work. Use it as a personal advantage; at least it pushes you forward and propels you to max out your own skills.

And remember: it’s all about your journey. Make it count.

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Good things come to those who hustle, work hard & never give up

Let’s put it this way – maybe a part of being successful entails luck. But that’s probably just a little less than 5% of the whole equation. I can’t say that luck brought me here, or even say that I waited for things to land on my table before I openhandedly took every opportunity.

My favorite line from The Alchemist is about how “when you want something, the universe conspires in making it happen for you” – somewhere along those lines. It’s always been something I stuck with and live by up to this day. It’s true, though – you might think what you’re doing now is nothing, but eventually, when you look at the bigger picture, you’ll realize that it was actually the small things that brought you to where you’re supposed to be.

So keep hustling. Keep working hard. Hard work trumps skill – always. Don’t give up. Keep going. Just as Nike urges you to JUST DO IT – really, just do it. Just do the work. You’ll get there.

I promise.

I just finished giving a talk earlier today at DLSU before resuming to write this post. It was about your future as a LaSallian, and it’s pretty apt that I got to talk about my not-so-normal journey throughout college (I balanced org work, academics, and joined inter-school competitions – and graduated with honors + best thesis). I never realized how much my college years mattered, not until I sifted through all my old photos, projects, and work during my 4 years in DLSU. Looking back, it’s definitely been one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in the four walls of school.

Most of you who are reading this are probably in high school / college / university. So I just wanted to say – enjoy every minute of your stay there. The real world is going to surprise you, but be patient and learn to accept it with open arms. I’ll be secretly cheering you on, whether or not you start pursuing your passion or taking a detour in between. All the best! :)

PS: Thoughts on this post? I know, I know. THEM FEELS. Leave a comment below; let’s talk!


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6 Responses to “TEDx Takeaways”

  1. Aaliyah Pangan
    February 20, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I’ve always wanted to be as great as someone who is good in lettering and calligraphy, I’ve even wanted to have the same skills they have but then when I read this and a friend of mine told me that it’s ok to idolize someone but always keep in mind that you can have your own way of being great as them that you dont have to copy or expect to have their fonts or way of writing because we all will have our on fonts we just have to find out what it is and practice it. At first I find it hard to accept that I cam stand on my own because I’ve always downing myself that I wont be able to be as great as someone ( this is about more personal issues and life experince that almost made me end my journey) but now Im starting to accept the truth that yes we need others to be able to succeed but what we really need is a 100% trust in ourselves, hence you wont be able to succeed if you dont have trust in yourself. There are times also after I made a project of mine and see others work I some sort of like cry and say that Im worst at it and never be good at it ( it happens most of the time tbh) that made me think yeah I know Im not good at this but still I’ll continue doing this because with this Im happy and through this Iam able to express myself and with those I can improve with what Im doing. That’s all Abbey Sy, looking forward in seeing you on your workshop on march 13 :)

  2. Nurul
    February 21, 2016 at 1:26 am

    Thank you for this, Abbey. Besides being my own worst critic, I tend to overthink a lot – which is always disturbing. I was thinking about happiness today and how it affects my works. For example, when I feel happy and light, it’s easy to draw and paint and write. When I feel down and stressed out, I can’t even bring myself to hold a pencil – and all of my works during that phase seem…forced. And dull.

    Oops, blabbing here!

    Anyway, have you read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert? I’m currently reading it (and highlighting all good phrases and sentences – I’m basically wrecking that paperback) and I cannot stress how much I learnt from it :)

  3. Abbey
    February 21, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    Hi Nurul! Yes I totally agree with this. Which is why having a happy / positive mindset helps contribute in doing good work. Don’t focus too much on the negatives…it will affect your work a lot. Learned this the hard way and I’m ~slowly~ improving. Good luck with that!

    Re: book, not yet. Am googling now and will look for an e-book since I don’t think a copy is available here…but I’ll keep an eye out for it. Thanks so much! :)

  4. Eunice
    February 21, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    I’m feeling a lot of this right now. I love art, writing, and planning for a lot of things ( artwork, budgets, food, the list goes on) and I’m approaching a rut from the place I can be in and the place I should be in. Art is my therapy, and I’m glad to have improved in less than a year after getting back to taking up my art materials at home. “Constantly moving.” – my mantra among all hardships.

  5. Abbey
    February 21, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    I love your mantra! Good luck with everything :)

  6. JOSIT
    April 5, 2016 at 11:46 am

    Just the right words i need to hear. Thanks Abbey!