Sunday, 11 June 2017

Hello to Myself

Hello, it's June 2017 and summer time in the south of Spain. In a few days you will be 33, although you may not feel or look like it (because you still think you're 25) and you can't even remember the last time you have blown your birthday candles.

How have you been? 

Do you still remember me? That 16-year-old self you have left behind in the happy place of your childhood, the same neighbourhood you have worked hard to escape from. That little girl who turned herself around from a delinquent sophomore to someone who finished high school on top of her class and would go on to university on a scholarship, all with an average IQ but with plenty of diligence. That young dreamer who longed for the big city with skyscrapers and smart suits. Did you get trapped in the rat race and did you get through?

Do you still think of me? That 21-year-old small town girl who thought she could be anyone she willed herself to become. You were full of confidence (maybe a bit too much), until you realised that amongst intellectual equals, you were never special after all. Did you conquer your bitterness at being tricked to believe that you were otherwise? And did you finally realise that there wasn't anything wrong with being ordinary?

Do your thoughts ever wander towards me? The you at 24, who has finally stepped into European soil to begin the life that most Filipinos have aspired for, a job overseas. To you it was never about the better pay and working conditions but the chance to experience the world of the many stories you have read about and to find yourself in the process. It was about being able to reinvent yourself, no longer being tied to the customs and traditions you have always struggled to affiliate yourself with. It was about seeing the world with different eyes through travel. It was about finally opening yourself to love and being loved in return. Did you find what you were looking for? And is the world as fascinating as it promised to be?

Do you still smile when you remember your first kiss? You were 25, the background music was playing Dancing Queen on a Friday night out in Gibraltar and you couldn't believe how someone who ticked all the right boxes could ever think the same way about you. That like whirlwind romances that bloom out of a shared experience from travelling to a romantic destination (Tangiers with friends), the short courtship would end in a meaningful church wedding and up to now an everyday of blissful existence. That despite your many shortcomings and the minor life disappointments you had to endure, there is someone you will always be grateful for. Did you save a country in your previous life that you get to be so lucky in this lifetime?

Do you also think about me? The new mother at 29 who was holding a tiny bundle of life in her hands who was excited and scared too, of the responsibility of bringing up a person to become a decent human being, not someone special you once thought you would become but someone with compassion for others and a passion to live for. Even then you realised that it was not your place to dream his dreams but it is your duty to take him there. Because motherhood does not strip you of your own identity and is not an excuse to forego your own dreams. Did you manage to find the right balance between loving him unconditionally and letting him be his own person?

Do you remember the time you have finally bought your own house in the friendly neighbourhood of Hillsborough on a 35-year mortgage and a borrowed deposit? You were 30 and you have finally ticked all the boxes that your younger self had set herself up to define success. A family, a house, a car and a decent job. How was it to fulfil your dreams? Did it hurt as you pinched yourself or did it get boring because life has become a routine?

Do you feel proud of the you at 31, who took the courage to get out of that routine and chased after another dream of living in the sunnier part of Europe to go back to the job that you have always felt robbed of? And did you feel happier to have concluded for yourself that the grass wasn't greener on the other side and have the courage to admit so?

Do you also now realise that in the midst of adversity you become more resolute? The you at 32, who feared the back of the car's  steering wheel and made so many excuses not to drive for 2 years after passing your driving exams, has finally conquered that fear when necessity demanded it. And how satisfying was it to gain that sense of independence of being able to go anywhere you needed to be? And how silly was it that it to have taken too long to have discovered it?

Hello, how are you? 

Have you found happiness or have you already learned that life is a never ending search for it? Have you fulfilled your dreams or have you also found out that once one is realised, another one begins? Have you finally settled or have you discovered that you may not be where you want to be now but that someday you will eventually get there?

As for me, I am doing well. I might blow some candles this year and think of you, and pat you in the head and tell you you've grown well. Happy birthday and many happy returns!

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