Terrace House: A Romanticized Version of My Ordinary Life

Terrace House is probably the only relatable reality TV  I watch. It follows six individuals living in one house, all coming from different backgrounds and careers. One of the prominent theme of the show is how these six housemates take inspiration from one another and help each other achieve their dreams. The house is rent-free, with two cars to share, plus pocket money for eating out. If Terrace House were filmed in Vancouver, I would jump at the chance just to live rent-free. This is what I mean by romanticized- free housing and eating out. But aside from those perks, everything else is quite ordinary.

Everyone is  preoccupied by their own thing- whether it be med school, a fledgling business, finding romance, or figuring out what to do with life. Throughout the seasons there have been memorable characters and scenes but since I’ve been reading Big Magic and listening to Ang Walang Kwentang Podcast, it made me recall specific scenes.

I remember Mizuki from Terrace House ending up in tears because Tap didn’t think her dreams were legitimate. Mizuki had a dream she couldn’t quite explain verbally at the time because it was a concept that wasn’t quite out there yet. She wanted to run a coffeeshop and at the same time have that space be a place where she housed her other interests. As an audience following her days in the office working for a sports company while also moonlighting as a barista- it made sense. I could see where she was going with it even if it was still a concept. Tap however, felt like a dream had to be one solid thing. One straight path you aim for. Tap had been a tap dancer for most of his life and spent his time honing his passion as a career. He had a very rigid view of what passion and dreams were supposed to be and forced this value on everyone. Looking at Mizuki’s instagram profile now, I can see her dreams materializing bit by bit, the way she envisioned it years ago.

In another season I’m reminded by how the commentators looked down on Shohei for being a “jack of all trades master of none.” Shohei had just come back from a year in Taiwan and was working in various industries. He was freelancing as an actor, writer, and at an interior/construction company. Everyone else was perplexed by Shohei’s seeming lack of ambition. But Shohei explained that he wasn’t quite concerned about what job he had as long as he was able to provide for himself and for his future family. I saw myself in Shohei. He was still starting out, and it wasn’t like there was an opportunity for him in any of these industries- so he was dabbling and figuring out which one would lead him to a way where he can master his craft. He wasn’t attached to the titles of these occupations. He enjoyed many different things but people gave him shit for it. I understood why Shohei would get defensive at times. He wasn’t even hurting anyone with his lifestyle but people were on his case so often!

Looking back, Shohei was the least problematic housemate. He had no beef with anyone, was easygoing, was the house’s voice of reason and supported himself through his various interests. He even wrote articles for magazines. What a dream!

I still feel bad about how everyone slept on Shohei, from the production team to the commentators. Even Kaori said that Shohei was very productive, pursuing his art and always had good insights. We didn’t get to see much of any of his creative endeavours appreciated on the show! Such an under appreciated man but from his profile he seems to be doing well. People always joked about him mentioning Taiwan so much but look where he is now, he’s a Taiwan ambassador of sorts!

Like these two Terrace House alumni, I too had various interests. I was a film major who did well in writing and photography. I also loved zines and graphic novels and dreamt of publishing one day. In terms of a career I was “all over the place” not really being able to decide which to pursue first or how. This had been early on exacerbated  by the economy and lack of job opportunities. This time, I don’t see the need to throw away all my other interests just because I’m honing one skill more than the other. Life is both long and short. And if I’m ever lucky enough to live longer than average, I have all the time to pursue all these interests.

I wrote my dreams in a Google spreadsheet. Just like Mizuki’s, it’s still a concept. It doesn’t quite make sense when I tell other people so I keep it to myself most times.

My dreams involve many things including candle-making, pottery, photography, styling, floral arrangements and pastries. Instead of throwing away all these interests, I just made a house for it. I created a space, both physical and virtual to house all my creative endeavours.  Milk, Home & Honey became a virtual studio of sorts that houses all things creative. From my struggles as an artist, to my inspirations, to my process, and my work.


I try not to burden these creative interests to make a living for me. I do them because I find joy in them. This practice was greatly enforced when I reacquainted myself with Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic. In Big Magic, Gilbert advocates for being light and playful with one’s creative life:

“If someday I got lucky enough to be paid for my work, that would be great, but in the meantime, money could always come from other places. there are so many ways in this world to make a good enough living, and i tried lots of them, and i always got by well enough. I was happy. I was a total nobody, and I was happy.”

I also remember how Gege in Ang Walang Kwentang Podcast Ep 3 talked about how he started out. He was doing casting calls and was always getting rejected, but because he was a creative person, he manifested his creativity in other art forms. He started doing spoken word because he enjoyed writing. And that thing led him to be part of On The Wings of Love, then on to a published poetry book, and now a series from a Wattpad story he wrote. While Gilbert and Gege did eventually end up being successful in the traditional sense, I try not to expect that such methods would also lead to my personal success.

The hosts of Ang Walang Kwentang Podcast, Gege and Tonet talk about passion and suffering, which is quite in contrast to Gilbert’s approach to creativity. I enjoyed that episode because it reminded me of the hardships I experienced as a creative in Manila. Even so, I’m more attuned to Gilbert’s lighter philosophy rather than having creativity be about suffering. There is a line between working hard for your passion and suffering through oppressive systems, and systems that need changing (like the Philippine film industry.)

In one of the chapters Gilbert narrates a conversation between an artist friend and their sibling:

“What happens if you never get anything out of this? what happens if you pursue your passion forever but success never comes? how will you feel then having wasted your entire life for nothing?”

“if you can’t see what i’m already getting out of this, then i’ll never be able to explain to you.” 

Gilbert goes on to write about how we expect monetary success out of creativity:

“Such thinking assumes there is a ‘top’- and that reaching that top (and staying there) is the only motive one has to create.”

“Most dangerously of all, such thinking assumes that if you cannot win, then you must not continue to play.”

While I do have dreams and goals, I am also already living my dream. The fact that I can support myself and have time to immerse myself in creativity brings such joy and peace to my life. I’m surrounded by like-minded people and loving relationships. It would be great to ‘win’ that would be the icing on top, but I wouldn’t want to stop creating and be despondent just because I’m not besting anyone or making profit from it.  I don’t want to lose this joy to discontent and disenchantment.

Remembering these takes practice while I work on my creativity and reaching my fullest potential.

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