Our common struggle is finding out that all along, our passion is not actually meant for us. That that same passion is a mere Rubicon we should cross.
From here, 24, this is what I’d like to tell my 16 years old self. An open note on how wants may not gratify what we need and what others need and what others more need – the self, the family, and our society. The factors that will challenge her, the damning growth of a young creative.
16 years old, we are young and we have that ultimate grit of becoming. The grit to change the world but I must warn you, it is going to be an open road of choices. At this age, we are away from home, in the city to study and experience how giant life could be. We will bring along with us, some fresh ideas and ideals. As young as 16, we are quite certain about who we want to be.
We will try many things and with many, that includes travelling alone for the first time. The independence will excite us and we will embrace it. We will live in an aunt’s house and there, we will have our own room for the first time.
17 now, our thoughts are finally growing some sense! We are starting to care about the deeper sense of life but, I must say, we are still a spendthrift at 17. The best that I can tell, however, is that we are slowly being shaped to caring about our surroundings – for places, for people and their welfare. We will only find out what this means until we start looking for our first job.
Same age, we will grow a sudden passion for visual arts. We will itch to go places: for adventures and stories. This moment will represent a huge part of our present narrowing our former dream of changing the world to a simpler matter – that home is the best place to root for.
At 18, we will discover a family away from home. Although we have already been seeing these people since day 1 at PUP, our blockmates will keep us from missing home. We will meet the best circle of friends who will eventually take different paths in life.
This is also the age of writing. We will write many things that does and doesn’t make sense but we will eventually turn our writings down from WordPress because we are so fond of “rebuilding the self” until nothing is actually built. In the end, we will not be able to save our writings. We will be confused in life, in love and in spirit.
Same year, we will spend so much time on Pinterest looking for images of people, places particularly of rooms – you frustrated ID you – and all sorts of DIYs/designs. This is the best time of visual appreciation. We will even spend a whole night just looking at the images of Mt. Pulag – oh the film we’ve been anticipating, “Above the Clouds” by Dir. Pepe Diokno. By this time, we are quite certain we want to train as a DOP and also write for films.
19, well, we had our shortest haircut. Everybody hated it saying we look like a boy but oh, how we love carelessly waking up in the morning – best in every day. People will ask us questions because this is a sudden change. Some relatives will even think we might be depressed, maybe they didn’t like it. But we are actually anxious. We will start loosing so much of our hair. We used to overthink, and stress over petty things but I’d like to congratulate you for overcoming your anxieties.
Our young heart will be broken after cutting a long friendship with a shy man we met back in high school. By this time, all we want to do is go home and find rest in our family in the province. We will be in love and find the man for reconciliation. He is a nice and patient big man. I must warn you, he is not our ideal but we will find out that all along, he’s been there.
Finally, this is a year of adventure. We will hitchhike for the first time, ride at the back of a farm truck smelt of inorganic fertilizers, visit uncle through a track our father and gramps used to take when they hunt monitor lizards, fly kites with Andie, and play patintero on the newly ploughed soils of the neighbor ricefield – where we fell facedown. Young times turned back – priceless!
20, the truth of life is slowly poking us now. We applied for an internship looking for a TV network to work for. Manila is a place of competition and we’re running out of time so we decided to head back home. Our application was accepted at a local TV network and from there; we’ve realized something that shuttered our 18 years old certainties. From having high dreams, we decided to go home after 4 years of living in the suburbs of Rizal, Philippines.
We graduated with a pretty nice record on the cards but, we still had a hard time looking for our first job. Right at this moment, our former anticipations are out of sight.
Imagine this; you are a degree holder and the main options you have in mind: “Should I just go home or pursue the passion here?”
21, we made it to PICC! Everyone at home is anticipating that we will do so well in life. Our hair started growing and our skin, well the breakout started inflaming too. Our dream of becoming a visual creative is still dangling but we decided to look for a job – any job. We were so frustrated; we barely went out with friends. We will turn down invitations last minute before the time we promised because, we just can’t do it. Being in a group drowned us.
We landed a job on August! This is one of the best times, our first job! It’s a so-so paying job nonetheless, we made it. This is the first time that we will ever feel validated as a citizen. We’ll start applying for valid IDs which requires another valid ID to get validated for a valid ID, crazy.
We made it to a government office. We talked with people and listened to a bunch of frustrating politics and grassroots stories. This will frustrate us, we can only listen and watch. Old men will visit us with broken skins, helpless people try to petition about community problems, and even critics try us. The work was good. Lots of stories as we have prayed for but this will exhaust us. The daily roundtrips around the province will no longer excite us after a year. This made us sick, physically. We will have to resign and restart the jobhunt.
22, we became an educator. We took a job at a state university down by the foothills of Mt. Arayat. This is so close from home and it felt like being back, a familiar place for us. Almost everyone is familiar, same faces we used to see in high school.
At this point, we’re quite certain. We know we want to pursue and improve on this work. Are we really growing now?
At 22, we will start working with farmers. This will give us a go into taking a new venture on rural development. Eventually though, we will shift to the academe. These particular times will help us find what purpose means at this age. So young yet so full of grit.
23, explored the mountains of Mindoro and saw tamaraws. This is your childhood dream happening. Imagine the endless layers of Mts. Iglit Baco unfolding after the morning clouds. At this age, we’ve met a lot of people from different sectors and walks of life. This is a freeing year for us. We also made it to Cebu and Kyoto, our first flights. So far, this is our best year yet. Not to mention the amazing students that empowered us in the academe.
This is the year of exploration. We’re still teaching.
24, that’s today in 2020. Taal is still steaming, Australia and Amazon are still burning, conflict in the Middle East is happening and ice in the poles are melting.
By this time, we should be certain.
When we start dreaming with others in mind, the process of getting there is much more meaningful than self-centered intentions. A sweet fruit only gets sweeter when shared. From here, I’m leaving you this thought from Albert Camus that says, “There is scarcely any passion without struggle.”