This is the light-hearted reply of teacher and writer Arriane Serafico after being asked if everything—from her beginnings in the non-profit sector, to her continuous journey as both a student and instructor—was part of one big plan she had set herself to follow. “I [wanted] to get a job, and I [wanted] it to be a job where I feel that I’m making a difference. I never knew that this was where all the dots would connect and it would eventually take me.”
If you have followed blogs from a decade ago, you are probably already familiar with Arriane’s Purposeful Creative. “I would always have a day job, but because I was always writing on my blog, people would ask me to teach certain things, so on weekends, I would organize workshops.” This led to her creating an online presence which she had hoped would serve a wider audience that would eventually form an active community.
Several years down the line, Arriane has built a strong network of individuals who actively meet up both online and off, creating currents of ideas that ripple positivity in platforms that are often overrun by toxic interactions.
“With what the internet has evolved into, which is very capitalist, it’s just so nice to know [that people can still come together],” she says. “If you were on the internet during that time when blogs were for the sake of blogging, and people were on the comments section, they know each other, they comment on each other’s posts…
“That was what it was for in the beginning: for you to meet other people who, let’s be honest, weren’t so good with interacting with people in real life, but find some sort of comfort in expressing themselves on a keyboard, and finding some sort of connection with people who are the same.
“And I was like, ‘Oh, I wish meron pang gan’on.’ Then I realized that I was able to create a platform for it, that still felt like that. For me it was a big win also, knowing that somehow we kept that spirit alive in our community.”
Her book Existential Courage: A Survival Guide For Your Existential Courage (And All The Ones After That) was the culmination of the ten years she has spent teaching, learning from, and growing a community that thrives on discourse.
“I wanted to write a book that would get people to act on the knowledge.”
“It’s a book that I’ve been wanting to write for the longest time,” says Arriane. “I’ve always been so fascinated… that some people, they go through that 'finding yourself' process and they come out of it super purposeful, while some people never get out of it.”
Existential Courage is not just an ode to her own journey, but also an offering of goodwill for others who are also finding their own paths.
“I just didn’t want to write a book to share what I know. I wanted to write a book that would get people to act on the knowledge. Kasi if you think about it, a lot of the things that you will read in terms of life or career—these are things that we already know to be true, or we already know at the back of our [minds].
“But knowing something isn’t the same as doing something about it. So I wanted to bridge that knowing with action.”
To keep in pace with Arriane is to accept that for her, everything is a lesson. “I wish sometimes nga I could turn off my brain,” she says with a laugh. “I always process things and think about ‘O, what did I learn today?’ I don’t know if nakasanayan ko lang.”
Her curiosity is her driving force to try new things, and it’s not just on a grand scale. For Arriane, daily routines can always be tweaked and improved upon if only one asks the right questions.
“If you really care about what you’re doing, you’re always asking, ‘How can I make it better?’” She believes that curiosity can be learned, as long as one is open to unlearning other factors that are causing stagnation.
“Just don’t settle for stagnating in whatever aspect of your life.”
“[Existential Courage] is built on asking yourself better questions, because even if it doesn’t change your life, I hope it teaches you how to think deeper about your life and ask more purposefully as a result.
“When a person just does what is expected… I feel that you’re missing out on a lot of other things. You won’t die, but there's just so much out there if you ask questions.”
Arriane knows that not everyone has the luxury of focusing on things like finding purpose and enjoying one’s passion, and she reiterates that changes to improve one’s life and quality of living do not have to be drastic.
“I agree that exploring something new, or putting yourself in a different environment, or introducing a new stimulus in whatever it is you’re doing is really helpful, but it doesn’t only come in the form of leaving your job or packing your bags. Yes, those are great things, but there are so many other ways to introduce that change in your life.
“Not everyone has the luxury… to try something new or start a business. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t get to do that... It’s not the norm, and it’s okay, and you can find your own way to change things in your life, and you can start small. Just don’t settle for stagnating in whatever aspect of your life.”
The right track
For Arriane, happiness comes in the simplest of things.
“My dogs. Because I have 18 dogs,” she laughs, sharing that her dad has a soft spot for canines, and frequently rescues aspin.
“Working out makes me happy just because it’s the only activity where I feel like I’m fully present in what I’m doing, you’re focused on what your body is doing,” she continues.
“Teaching for me is something that makes me super happy. Being able to talk one-or-one or in a small groups with my students. I think it makes the work a lot more real.”
When asked about her own milestones, she admits that celebrating her victories is something that she needs to work on.
“It’s about being able to reflect on your everyday, and being able to say I live by my battles, by what’s important to me.”
“I need to be less hard on myself. I’m not very good at celebrating milestones, because I’m always looking at ‘What can I do better? What can I do next?’” Existential Courage, however, has helped her take a step back and look at her life map from another perspective.
“It taught me a lot about alignment. I think it’s one of the major things inside the book. You don’t really have this very clear progression… it was just such a big journey. But because I wrote this book, because it’s the synthesis of everything that I’ve done, I was able to look back. I realized na I’ve been really aligned with what I’ve started doing.”
One lesson that her own career has taught her is that the “right track” is not something you can see while you’re on it. “You go through it by experiencing. It’s not gonna be handed to you. It’s going to be a series of experiences that will eventually shape your decision at the end of the day.”
For Arriane, the joy of the journey is heightened by curiosity and fearlessness, and looking back has allowed her the grateful realization that it has been one of deep value. “I just realized na it’s about being able to reflect on your everyday, and being able to say I live by my battles, by what’s important to me.”
After all the work she has put into her book, Arianne plans on focusing on herself. “I think 2020 for me is about resetting my bucket, emotionally, mentally, but also [creatively],” she says, but seeing her thirst to make everything better, Arriane Serafico will definitely come back with a bigger bucket that isn’t only full, but overflowing with wonder and inspiration.
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PRODUCER: Charlene J. Owen
ASSISTANT PRODUCER/STYLIST: Patricia Melliza
PHOTOGRAPHER: Julian Rodriguez
VIDEOGRAPHERS: Jean Saturnino, Jham Mariano, Vincent Mendez
HAIR AND MAKEUP: Elaine Ganuelas
TEAM ART DIRECTOR: Jico Joson
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ysabel Yuzon
Shot on location in Caferista, 11 Brixton Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig