What Does it Mean to Own Your Life?

And how a word/statement changed my life

Ria Tagulinao
7 min readDec 23, 2022


Photo by Kalen Emsley on Unsplash

The theme was supposed to be “Shokunin” in 2021 and “Light” in 2020. But on both times I intended to have a theme for the year, I plucked a word practically out of thin air, announced it in some virtual space while the New Year high was still high, then, much like most of our resolutions, forgot about it the following day.

But coming into the year, I told myself, Okay, once and for all, we are going to make this Word of the Year stick.

The word for 2022 was“own”.

Why? Well, I realized last year that I struggled with executing, trying new things, and sticking to things. There were many reasons for this, but ultimately, when I dug into myself (like, Ria, for real, what exactly is the problem?), it boiled down to this: a lack of self-trust.

Whatever it is I’d be working on, at one point, some annoying voice would come in and whisper: “What if this isn’t what you’re supposed to be doing?” or “What if you’re not doing it right?” or when it comes to writing, “What if your story or idea isn’t as important or novel as you thought?”

When I worked in a start-up for my first job, one of the values the company hammered into its employees was ownership. The word carries a lot of weight in how it empowers you with self-agency but expects proactiveness. Essentially, ownership is the knowledge that you can decide, but that you must follow through on your decisions. It’s the ability to do a task no matter the roadblock — including the ones in your head.

I wanted to instill that sense of ownership in the things I do in life. Like, screw all you internal haters, doubters, and naysayers. I’m doing this thing whatever y’all are saying, so you can pack up your shit and go. Bye. Good riddance. Thanks for nothing.

But as feisty as this mindset was, I knew I had to do something to make sure I would live up to it. The solution?



Ria Tagulinao

Fun-sized Filipina Writer | To stay up-to-date with my work, here's my Sunday newsletter: http://riatagulinao.substack.com