As a precocious little child, I only ever wanted to become one of three things: a scientist, an astronaut, or a nun. Yep, you read that right. I wanted to don the habit. I know my divulging this information merits a separate entry so I’ll just leave that for later. I was the family’s Little Miss Sunshine well before that movie came out. Obviously, I don’t recall much of my earlier years but from what I gather, I kind of was a smart-ass – for a kid, that is. First grandchild and youngest in the family (at the time), I was showered with a lot of attention but I was never a spoiled brat. My mom made sure of that.
One thing was for sure, I was never going into music or become a writer. You see, I come from a family of musicians and writers. I remember my mom telling me many years ago, “Gutom yan.” Not that I was going to be a musician or writer anyway. I was going to carve my own path and be the only hard-core nerd in the family. (Up to this day, I still am.) I remember many afternoons in front of the TV watching a lot of David Attenborough shows and that’s probably why, at seven years old, I decided I was going to be a scientist. I’m sure I wrote down in one or two slum books in primary school that I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. Believe me, that was all peer pressure! Although at one point, I wanted to be President of the Philippines. I was 10 years old.
I would often daydream about becoming an astronaut until that one road trip to La Union in the 1980s when I discovered I had motion sickness. It’s gotten better since then but even now, when I’m in a moving vehicle, I can’t look down or up or read a book. I can’t play any video games and I must always have the window seat. On planes, I try to drug myself so that I’ll just fall asleep during the flight. How I managed to survive that 22-hour flight from Sydney to London, I can only attribute to drugs and excitement.
Then I grew up. I learned that money didn’t grow on trees and that if I wanted to live a happy, comfortable life, I had to get a real job. Maybe I was going to have to be a doctor or a lawyer or an engineer. No, I couldn’t give up the dream of being a scientist and so I took up Geology. In between all of this, I also learned about love and then my next big “growing up” plan was to become a wife and mother. I’d be married to someone rich and wonderful, of course. My very own Prince Charming, just like in all those fairy tales I read as a child. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the happily-ever-after. My loves only led to devastating heartbreak and after two failed relationships, I’ve pretty much given up on love. I will, however, secretly remain a hopeless romantic.
To me, growing up means accepting one’s lot in life and making the most of it. It means never suppressing the child-like quality each of us had when we were little kids. It means knowing one’s limitations and playing to one’s strengths and ensuring we never hurt others or belittle ourselves. Growing up also means never letting go of childhood dreams, no matter how silly they may sound. You know, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be able to travel the world and yet, I’m doing that now! I truly believe that if we stopped dreaming, we would stop growing.
Occasionally, I encounter individuals who question my life choices and make tactless comments like, “You should be married by now,” or “Why don’t you buy a house? You should be investing in something for your future.” Maybe the worst one was when someone said, “You should really rev up your career. You’re not getting any younger.” To them I say, well excuse me for living the life I chose. But then it dawns on me that I’m actually much happier than they are. I’m not in the rat-race, trying to climb the corporate ladder and yet, I am able to indulge in life’s little pleasures nonetheless. I sure as hell am not missing out on screaming kids and unreliable spouses. Can you tell I really don’t appreciate other people imposing their ideas of success on me?
I don’t want to end on a sour note so even if this next photo is totally unrelated to my entry, I’ll post it anyway. Like I said, I do most things my way. 😉
The other day, a friend posted this on Facebook: I think maturity is attained when one no longer feels the need to prove anything to anyone. If I were to be truly honest with myself, I can confidently say that I’ve sufficiently matured, so much so that I’ve truly grown up. But there’s always room for improvement so here’s to dreaming and growing up and living a happy, contented life, no matter how we all choose to live it.