In retrospect, I wanted to be a doctor since I could understand the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Every decision I made since then was for that dream. I chose to study in a Science High School to challenge my knowledge in the field of science. When I graduated high school, I got accepted to University of the Philippines Manila (UPM), a “prominent” state university in my home country, specializing in medical courses. I took up BS Biology in UPM and for a while I was driven. I was on my way to fulfilling my wish.
Now it is but a distant dream.
I was fickle. During my summer break before I started high school, I fell in love with another dream–Writing. As I continue making decision after decision with the goal of being a doctor in sight, I grew more restless and distracted.
I found a new passion and it felt wrong, being in the course I was taking.
When the workload came creeping in during my second year in BS Biology, I had to stop writing. And it crushed me. That is how I knew. I have fallen out of love with my long-term dream and found a new one.
I started to get distracted.
The artist in me just couldn’t take it anymore. Being a doctor is a noble dream but it felt like it wasn’t mine anymore.
It felt like refusing to let go of your baby teeth, the permanent ones are begging for space to be free, but it is hindered by something that no longer fits you. Like wearing clothes bought in the kiddie section when you are a full grown girl.
I couldn’t breathe.
I felt lost. Too far away from where I had to be and yet too afraid to turn around and find my way again.
There are a few reasons why I was afraid. First, everyone was looking up to me, expecting me to be the first doctor in the family. It was a pressure too much for someone who’s having doubts about whether or not she still wants that destiny. Second, my mother have already invested money in me, and I have already invested time and effort to be who I thought I wanted to be. Third, everyone kept saying “Be practical. You won’t be able to feed a family or pay the bills being a writer in this country.
My fears have trapped me and it seemed like there was no escape. That I would be too selfish and naive to escape.
I was digging a grave for the child artist in me.
In my third year of college, the distress and discontent was affecting me. I no longer wanted to wake up in the morning. I dreaded school. The anxiety was killing me. The way I killed my dream to keep on pleasing everybody.
I distracted myself with garbage, fell in love with a man who was a monster underneath. I destroyed myself slowly, bit by bit.
Then my father died.
It was the last straw for me. I filed a leave of absence and went with my mom to Abu Dhabi where she works.
I was traumatized by how heartless the public health system in this country is. I saw the doctor I wanted to be let my father die right before me.
After five months, when my mom thought I was ready to go back to school, I tried pushing one last time. I still enrolled for two semesters and failed both accordingly. I begged my mom to let me shift to creative writing in Diliman but she convinced me, “There is no work when you graduate creative writing.”
Even my professors pitched in. “You are a bright student. You will waste your potential in Creative Writing.”
So I opted for another premed course that will not force me to pursue with medicine and still end up in the medical industry: Nursing.
At first I was happy. I saw the pride in my mother’s eyes, now my only pillar in the family, when she saw me in a white uniform. If it makes her happy, I will try.
But I was still restless.
Eventually, I went back to my habit of not going to classes again, dreading the day and embracing the night. I wouldn’t go to school, but I would go to malls and gigs. That is where my spoken word poetry and artist manager career began.
I met my best friend and fell in love with him and his original music. I started writing him poems and performed them on stage. I even co-wrote songs with him.
The child artist in me that I long ago buried and I thought had died started to breathe and live again.
I was happy. But I was guilty.
At the expense of my mom’s efforts and money, I wasn’t honest about school and life in general.
So I reopened the offer of letting me shift to Creative Writing. She agreed, but fate was not with me.
UP Diliman wouldn’t accept my request to transfer and shift to the program because my GWA from UPM and my units in UERM (where I took up Nursing) didn’t meet the quota.
Heartbroken, I left for Abu Dhabi, thinking I will never return again.
I thought it was the end of my dream, and my love story with my best friend.
But just after a few months in Abu Dhabi, destiny and my dream came knocking in. It was in a form I never expected, and it was quite ironic actually.
Denisse messaged me, and told me she’s currently studying again, after stopping for three years to work for her family. She’s taking BS Psychology, a course I have always been interested in, in Our Lady of Fatima University.
Seeing it as a chance to go back to the country where my heart and my dream is, I asked Denisse to enroll me.
I was able to convince my mom and she seemed more than happy to let me go back to my formal college education, and see me finish a bachelor’s degree so the papers went walking and I was officially a student of OLFU taking up BS Psychology.
I was reunited, quite bitterly, with my best friend, and I am now taking up a course which will help me in my writing and at the same time allow me to continue to pursue being a doctor without really forcing me to go that way, and leaving me with a few other options that I am willing to take: a professor, HR (Human Resource) personnel, guidance counsellor, psychologist, psychometrician, therapist, the list of options go on quite a bit.
I was happy.
At first I was scared that the happy feeling could be temporary and I could go back to my old ways and slack off of school again, but after I finished the first semester successfully, I was sure it was something I am willing to stick with.
I felt the fire in me begin to burn again, this time a small steady flame, not really very consuming, but enough to keep me going at life.
I have found balance that keeps me and my mom happy. The course has given me a lot of insights and inspiration for my writing and poetry. It helped me put things in perspective that I thought I had lost permanently. And it keeps the option open for me to still be a doctor eventually.
From being very distant from who I am and who I wanted to be, I am now ready to go the distance.
I am now officially a Phoenix. I have risen up from the ashes that was my hopes, my dreams, my personality.