When I was a kid, I wanted nothing but success. I defined success the way normal people defined it— get a good job and lots and lots of money. I envied the grand houses that they showed on MTV Cribs. I dreamed of building a palace. This palace would have seventy-five rooms, an enormous movie theatre, five swimming pools, a forest instead of a garden, and a roller coaster that goes throughout the whole house.
My first ambitious dream was to become a judge. I thought I would be a great judge because that was what I did on a regular basis. When my classmates fought, they would tell me what happened, and they would ask so Ja, sino ang mag-sosorry? [So Ja, who should say sorry?] I would analyze their situation, and I would come up with my decision. My verdict came in three forms: Ah, ikaw ang magsosorry, or dapat yata siya ang magsosorry, and pareho kayo dapat mag-sorry [you should be the one to say sorry, the other kid should be the one to say sorry, you should both say sorry to each other]. I noticed that I was such an effective judge, for I had loyal subjects who followed my decisions. Knowing this, I decided that I did not want to become just an ordinary judge; I wanted to become the judge of the Supreme Court. However, when I found out that I had to become a lawyer before becoming a judge, I was truly disappointed. I was not interested in defending people; I just wanted to judge them.
I discovered ballet and fell in love with it. I started dancing when I was six years old. Whenever I looked at the pictures that I had with my fellow ballerinas, I always stood out. I was the only kid who held her chin up so high that my face was rarely seen in the pictures. I was able to sustain such high chin lifting at such a young age because I did not want to become some random ballerina. I wanted to be a prima ballerina. Sadly, when I was in grade five, my mom did not have enough money to continue my ballet, so that dream ended.
I became obsessed with gifted children. I intently watched those Promil Ads, and I silently cursed God for not making me a gifted child. I was a smart kid, but I wasn’t a gifted child, and that bothered me. I was not like any other kid. I wanted to conquer the world, to live beyond myself, and I would have appreciated it if my genes gave me an extra boost, but they didn’t.
When I went to college, I suppressed my desires to become a writer and took up management. I became truly miserable in management. Our accounting long tests were a conglomerate of grammatical mishaps. It frustrated me when I answered incorrectly because the tests’ bizarre grammatical style confused me. In our subject called Leadership and Strategy, we had to write a fifty page paper on socks. We had to write about the different inputs to create socks, the kinds of socks, how many people bought different socks, and other equally mind-numbing bullshit. It was the most benign piece that I have ever written in my life, and I had to write fifty pages of it.
My course was becoming a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and I couldn’t stand it anymore. I decided to shift to creative writing. I was really happy at the start, but I grew increasingly insecure. I had enough intelligence to become anything I wanted; yet I decided to “waste” my intelligence by choosing to become a writer. No one ever said that to me, but I felt it. I felt people’s disappointment, or at least, a lack of enthusiasm whenever I said that I wanted to become a writer. When I told someone that I shifted to creative writing, his response was, Ay. This Ay meant too bad you’re going to be a poor writer while we will become economists, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and lawyers.
I began to fear failure. But something started to dawn on me. If I stuck to management, I could also fail. If I fail in management, I’ll be a failure AND I’ll be miserable. If I fail as a writer, I will always be comforted by the thought that I was brave enough to follow my dreams. Who’s to say that isn’t success?
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