How Chaos Creates Clarity, As Told By Jaz Reyes
The pandemic has quelled our appetite for life. As of writing, 15.8% of the country’s population has been fully vaccinated, while 17.3% have gotten their first dose. We’re still a long way from achieving herd immunity, and this bleak sense of unknowing adds to a collective restlessness—especially with a critical general election coming up that will dictate the next six years.
There’s a word for what we’re all feeling right now—we’re living but not exactly flourishing; drifting but towards nothingness—they call it languishing. On the opposite end of the spectrum, many of us are in a state of mental and emotional overdrive. Yet we are expected to stay in motion to the point of exhaustion.
So this September, we’re exploring the art of paring down. When demands are rigid in the face of a constantly changing world, we need not always strive for self-optimization. Creative director, host, 99.5 Play FM DJ and, from where I stand, wise Jedi-like figure Jaz Reyes reveals where she finds clarity amid chaos. Touching on intentional humor in the face of languish, limitless creativity despite anxiety, she provides answers to finding balance when everything seems to be in disarray.
In her second year of college, taking up Communication Arts, Jaz Reyes transitioned from theater to on-the-job training, receiving her first on-cam work. She became a courtside reporter for the Ateneo de Manila University for UAAP Season 74. “Nung nag-audition ako, hindi pa ako nakapanood ng basketball game ever (When I auditioned, I’ve never watched a basketball game ever). I lied my way [through] everything; I just wanted a job,” she reveals.
Her desire for a life outside of university stems from a strict upbringing at her all-girls high school; she could now “do whatever the heck [she wanted].” Her holistic education then involved hosting gigs, on-air radio duties and more extracurricular work outside of school. She shares, “I started working while studying at the same time because I wanted to ensure that by the time I graduated, I had something to fall back on, or at least I was growing the seeds for something, anything—whether it’s on-cam or off-cam work.”
Her passion for media, in whatever format available, influenced her heavily, which has materialized in the work she does today. She notes, “I think [looking at] my life, because I worked in a magazine company in high school, I understood how to interview people. I understood how to make a story interesting, and that translated [into] journalism work with courtside. It translated to work on-air when you’re trying to look for something interesting to talk about.”
She adds, “I had an education outside of college, which is the education I should have paid for because it’s basically made me who I am today. I gained the knowledge from there to create the stuff that I do today, and it really came from all these little bits of experience. I think that is kind of my journey—and it’s still ongoing ‘cause I’m still learning at the same time.”
From critiquing looks at the recently concluded Met Gala via Instagram Stories—see: “I think Kim [Kardashian puts in] efforts to find the balance between beauty and eleganza, unlike her two siblings [Kylie and Kendall]…whose only [requirements are]: make me look sparkly and have it show my body!”—to engulfing her kicks in flames, the 29-year-old content creator injects wit and humor in every post.
Churning out organic fashion-related content mid-pandemic, her forte, has admittedly been difficult without the freedom to go outdoors, thus transitioning to more creative types of posts. Jaz’s distinct humor, though, has always been part of her personality, ever since she was young. She reveals, “I didn’t have the looks to get boys interested and stuff, so I said, ‘Okay, I’ll just be interesting; I’ll be the funny one, and I’ll just hone the personality.’ Back then, when we had a talent show in grade school, my talent was stand-up comedy because I don’t sing, I don’t dance, I don’t do that stuff.” She adds, “As a host, sanay na din na (you’re used to the fact that) you really wanna be inviting; you wanna get the conversation flowing; you want people to feel comfortable. That’s my comfort zone—to make people feel comfortable. I just want to elicit a reaction, which is sort of the point of making certain things as well.”
Still, fashion continues to permeate every part of Jaz’s life. Growing up full-bodied made her more interested in trying out different styles. She considers fashion as an art form and an avenue for self-expression. She expounds, “I think I’ve always been interested in fashion because, growing up as a fat girl, I couldn’t wear the stuff that I wanted to wear, but I wanted to express myself. Even though I didn’t fit into what a model looks like, even back then, I was like, ‘No, I wanna try the elephant jeans, I wanna express myself with the bandanas.’ Like in other ways, accessories and whatnot, I’ve always been expressive in that avenue.” She highlights, “I think that’s where the seed was planted, and it grew from different expressions and different mediums.”
It can be argued that there’s not much to dress up for while stuck indoors, but Jaz has allowed this season to become an opportunity to invest in “forever pieces,” whether that’s accessories or clothes and straying away from fast fashion. She describes her favorite investment yet: a vintage tweed jacket from Chanel. She shares, “I found this good in-between jacket—a cotton jacket from Chanel, which has the iconic four pockets, the Chanel buttons and the iconic chain at the bottom of the hem of the jacket, so that it weighs the jacket down. Ang ganda lang talaga ng construction niya (The construction is beautiful). No other piece in my collection has that perfect tailoring…naging investment siya (it became an investment). If I’m gonna buy something, I need to know that it’s gonna be a forever piece.”
But like all of us stuck at home, the stylish female opts for comfortable pieces for the every day—even the time-honored daster. She reveals, “What do I have that is unexpected? Daster is life. I don’t care where you are in the world. Sleeping sets, they’re cute; I’ll bring them out if I need to look presentable. But if I really had it my way, daster.”
She continues her thought and goes on a proclamation of love, “Nakadaster ako ngayon. This is a hip-hop shirt from my boyfriend tapos sobrang haba, Ralph Lauren pa siya. Ginawa kong daster kasi ‘di niya masuot. Probably this might be shocking—nakadaster ka tapos braless, pantyless. (I’m wearing a daster now. This is a hip-hop shirt from my boyfriend that’s too long, it’s even Ralph Lauren. I made it into a daster because he couldn’t wear it. Probably this might be shocking—you’re wearing a daster then you’re braless, pantyless.) It’s the most freeing thing in the world, especially in this pandemic.”
There’s power in having a word for what we’re collectively grappling with—languishing. When everything’s too much, there’s merit in reframing our realities, or this sense of stagnation may just loom over us. For Jaz, coping comes in the form of acknowledging the state of dread, knowing it’s trying to point us towards some form of truth.
She notes, “I actually welcome the languish because it’s trying to tell you something. When it comes to really negative emotions, sometimes we try to push it away, but the negative is there to tell you something. It’s there to present something that’s missing, or something that you’re pushing back on or something that you have to address—in order to understand yourself more.”
When our senses are overloaded, contextualizing our unique situations puts things into perspective. For Jaz, answers can be found in the chaos. She explains, “There’s gonna be an answer that’s going to improve you, that gives some sense of peace and calm in the chaos. Knowing that after all the rubble clears away…[the answer] reveals itself; all the chaos creates clarity. If you are in this chaotic movement, be in it, welcome it, and make sure you open your eyes to see what it’s trying to reveal to you.”
More often than not, making sense of the mess takes courage and humility. But there is also merit in waiting it out whilst you embrace the clutter. Answers come to those who seek them, and answers come when we least expect them. For now and always, solitude is your friend; make space for it, and let it grow you.