I was 13-years-old when I realized I wanted to change the world. I am now 18 and somehow, I still walk without any clue as to what the real meaning of changing the world really is. The closest I ever came to figuring things out was when I was 14 and I realized that I had wanted to write a book, a book that will change lives, a book that will move mountains, a book that will save the lost souls of so many, possibly even mine. About three years later, when I was 17, I turned away from this dream by giving up a degree in English Literature for a degree in Management.
For most people, writing cannot even be considered a profession or a real job. A real job in the opinion of so many is one that will get the bills paid. A real job for a majority of people is one that is spent in front of the computer, on the phone or even on a desk behind a huge pile of paper. A job only becomes real the moment you spend most of your time trapped within four white walls that produces a certain atmosphere of competition filled with sounds of ringing telephones and printers at work. Despite these common conventions people had about work, I have always believed that writing is one of the hardest and most genuine jobs one can ever have. Writing deals with the rawest of ideas, of opinions, of emotions. Writing was my magic.
My parents have no such understanding of how this is possible. To them, writing is nothing more than a hobby. The day the ACET results came out, a Saturday in the month of January, I believe, I came to them and told them how I was one step closer to becoming a writer as I had been accepted to an English Literature degree. My parents are both graduates of business related courses. My father is a Management Engineering degree holder while my mom is an Accountant. That Saturday morning, I saw both deep fear and worry in their eyes. I have nothing against my parents. In fact, I honestly believe that they are the best set of parents a person can ever ask for. That day however, the moment I told them I had gotten into EnLit, I quickly realized that there was something wrong. Behind the expression of support and the deep congratulations, I felt in them a sense of bewilderment and disbelief with the way the cards have played out. For awhile, I chose not to believe any of my initial speculations, but eventually, just like everything we choose to run away from, it slowly found its way and caught up with me.
Both my mom and dad have worked hard their whole lives to ensure that my siblings and I are given the best possible education available in the country. They have always tried to give us nothing short of the best in life. Despite this, they have made sure to instill in us the belief that we are not rich and that we never were. They have made my siblings and I realize that everything we have, everything we own, all the so called luxuries of life hat we currently have access to are the mere manifestations of the hard work my parents have invested their lives with. They say that all they can ever leave us with is our education, nothing more, nothing less. They have always implied that it shall be our ticket to a good life, to an even better life, which was all they have ever wanted to ensure.
I am the eldest of three children. My parents have always said that I am their child who is the most naturally adept when it comes to academics. I was a good student. I would get high grades and I would always try to improve myself through the use of everything I have learned and been taught. This is the reason why my parents would expect nothing short of the best in all situations from me. There was greater pressure on me than there ever was on both my brother and sister. I felt like I owed it to them to be nothing less than what they expect and want me to be. Their idea of “best” may not be completely the same with mine but I felt like it was my responsibility to give them whatever it was they deserved from me.
It was not the things they said but rather those that they did not that got me thinking. Though they had the obvious desire to convince me that there wasn’t much of a future in writing, they did not say anything. They found a way and the strength to convince me and even their selves that it was not so bad to pursue an unconventional career. They reassured me that even though my choices are not in accordance with theirs, they would still be behind me every step of the way. My parents are never the type to ask their children to sacrifice for their sake. As long as things are within their capability to absorb and understand, they will do so.
Before I even learned about the concept of becoming a person for others from The Ateneo, my parents have already taught me about the idea of selflessness, how we should always be ready to lose ourselves for the sake of others, even during times of adversity, even when we are at the losing end of the circumstances that will come our way. It is this early idea of selflessness that I so dearly held that has inspired me to dream big, to dream of changing the world. It is the way my parents stayed true to their words that got me to understand that behind every word lies a deeper and more profound meaning and understanding of the world that I move in, that I so badly want to change. My dream was against their ideals, it was in contrast with their beliefs, yet they found a way to understand. They tried their best to empathize.
Eventually though, after much thought and contemplation, I decided to change courses out of my own free will and transfer to Management just in time for the start of the school year. I came to figure that I had only one shot in college. I realized it was my duty to give them the peace of mind that my course would get me somewhere, somewhere far, somewhere ideal and I knew writing or art in general was not the road to the life of security I had owed them. I did not want to burden them with the possibility of a hard life brought about by my desire to pursue art. I figured that writing could come sometime later in my life and that at present, all I should be focusing on doing is putting the intentions of my parents before my own, just like what they have done all their life for us, their children.
I used to think that letting go of my dream of becoming a full-time writer would mean that I am also giving up on my dream of changing the world because I always thought that the closest I’ve ever gotten to changing the world was through writing. Writing after all is an art that has the power to reach the depths of a person’s soul. It has the ability to keep things real in a world where even the truth changes. It offers consistency, it dazzles and spreads magic in the hearts of so many seemingly unconnected people and brings them all together. Eventually I realized that it isn’t writing that has brought me the closest to changing the world but instead sacrificing for the ones that I love. I transferred courses not because I was pressured into changing, but rather because it only seemed right that I do everything I can to make sure that I never give the people I care for a reason to be angry at the world or at fate. Making sure that they aren’t, offering them a sense of consistency is in itself a good start to changing the world. I may have not began the way I had imagined I would, there’s no saying however that I won’t end the way I’ve always dreamt of.