What will I say to my 15-year-old self?
I am 35 years old now, and I do not have problem to admit that my life twenty years ago was quite different. I was in my third year in high school, and life was difficult. I understood at that early age that the world is never fair, and it will never be. The people with power and money will prevail and attempt to dominate to whatever degree they would want, and the rest would have to accept this hard truth with open arms and try to do everything one could to get a better future ahead. Twenty years ago, every peso in my pocket counted. I knew I have to use my resources optimally to ensure that I could cover all the necessary expenses I have every day. I learned the value of money and learned living within my means.
I was definitely an optimist, but very practical in essence. I dreamt to have a better life, just enough to say I can live comfortably within what is possible. I was dreaming for whatever that is “better” from what I had. Today, my life is different. Looking back and learning from my experiences in the past two decades, I would say three things to my younger 15-year-old self. This is the focus of this blogpost. (The picture presented above was taken when I was 13 years old though.)
1. Continue to develop that self-control and discipline.
What you generally learn from school are not the lessons your teacher presents every day. It is actually the discipline you develop by doing the multiple tasks at hand. The lessons you will eventually forget most of it, as you realize that most of them are not relevant to what you experience daily. Some lessons you will encounter again in the future, but just because someone has interestingly mentioned something related to them. But when you start talking about what you remember, you will be considered weird. Because what the society really wants is to know what you like, what you experienced and what are the things you are planning of doing. Focus on them. Your love for history would benefit you a lot. Focus on other language and culture. English is not everything as you would discover. Another world would open as you become acquainted with cultures not primarily related to the English language.
2. Listen to your peers more, learn to understand how the elders think.
Interestingly, you will encounter a dilemma between who you would want to mingle with, those who are in your age and those who are older with you. There should never be a problem if you would decide to stay in the Philippines, but once you decide to go abroad as you wished and dreamed for, the relationship between age and customary behavior would change. There you would make a shift in interest towards the older population who would somehow understand the values you have, and consequences of the tough background you have. However, not all would be willing to comprehend where you come from. Cultural and linguistic differences would create problem with you. You will be misunderstood, just like the others. However, as a 15-year-old, focus on knowing who you are from inside, from the perspective of your peers and family members. Stand up with who you are, and be proud of it!
3. Relax. I know life is tough but just enjoy being an adolescent.
You have certainly opportunities to enjoy being an adolescent. Do not be afraid to be rejected. Express love to those who you are interested with. Say it. Express it through actions. Do not worry. There is no reason for you to be afraid. You are who you are, and you will discover more of yourself as you relate to more individuals. There are no individuals who should not be part of your life. Learn to be acquainted with them. Talk and dare to explore the world with them. You will realize that the earlier you experience being loved, rejected and prioritized or not even, you will gain a new perspective of life, that is to accept whatever the things you cannot change, then move on. You have not really experience being a child, as an adolescent is your last chance. Take that chance, or less the lost childhood will haunt you later in life. That time the consequences of committing mistakes are larger and more serious than you think. Thus, school is not everything. Life is in front of you. Good luck.
The last two decades has been an indescribable adventure. There were several ups and downs. There were instances I believed I was strong enough to be independent and tough enough to handle my problems. However, surprisingly out of these instances, I realized that I was wrong. I underestimated how situations and individuals could affect me directly and insidiously. I admit my life today is way better than I imagined. I could not even believe the long, winding journey I have been.
I can say I am already satisfied with what I have now. I got already whatever I wanted and dreamed. However, this does not stop me from dreaming further, and aspiring better things in life. However, this time I would focus more on myself, rather than others. This time I would live my life in my own terms, considering the values and experiences I had. I want to live an uncomplicated life, a simple one but a memorable one. Such that two decades from now, I could say to my 35-year-old self that I have done everything I could to be happy. Good luck again.