When I was younger, I wanted to become a teacher. I loved reading books and I always saw them carrying lots around; I thought that I’d be able to read more if I became like them too. Little did I knew that librarians hold more books than them. I saw them back at the library with a friend when we were tasked to bring some books over to the lady over there. I’d asked her if she owns all of the books inside and she’d say: “Sure, I do. I can lend them to you, too, if you want.” Then, instantly, I wanted to become a librarian. That dragged on until nearly our elementary graduation when we were all asked to write about our ambition in our life. I wrote being a librarian and it got chuckled upon when seen by my classmates. I peeked at what they wanted to be and most of them wanted to become policemen, doctors, and teachers. I’d asked them what’s wrong with being a librarian and they’d say: “What are you gonna do? Sit all day?” Then they’d chuckle some more. I got disheartened by that and I erased what I wrote and changed it into being a doctor. Well, I still wanted to become a teacher but I wanted to become a librarian more than a teacher so I didn’t wrote it down. I guess some professions really just get looked down on.
I was introduced in the family business, which was a clinical laboratory, and I observed my aunts and my mom do their work in there. They were medical technologists and for some time I thought they were doctors because they also wear this very white laboratory gown but it turns out that they were aides of the doctor. They process the patient’s blood or any other body fluids in order to help the doctor in diagnosing a disease and I thought that they were pretty cool. They’re like the hidden keys in order to open a door of answers. My mother talked to me and said that I should also become one so that someone can continue the family business when they became old. I was indifferent at first and told her I would think about it. When I got in high school, I entered the special science class education because I couldn’t really think of what I wanted to become in the future. Having medical technology as my base, I opted to go there so that in any case I still couldn’t figure out what I’ll be doing I’ll just follow what my mother has said. Hopefully not, though. Anyway, by that time I didn’t have much books left to read and I don’t get that much allowance so I really couldn’t earn anything to spend on new books. I’ve went to the school library but being in the Special Science Class compound there were no literary books I could find. They were all books regarding science, mathematics, physics, statistics, and research. I thought I’ll stop reading books until I can earn to buy new ones however, by coincidence, I saw: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it”. It was from an American writer named Toni Morrison and I’ve not yet crossed with any of her books but I came across this quote of hers. Sometimes, when I would read a book I would think of the next scene but would end up disappointed because I didn’t get it right. I would look for books with a specific kind of plot but most of the times I would end up empty. I did try writing for a few times after that but I wouldn’t know what to come up next so it always ended up unfinished. Maybe, I really wasn’t cut for it. I’d always have my paper and green pencil on hand when we have free time in class and I would always think of what to write. Doodling felt easy so I tried drawing: trees, eyes, faces… but I always end up unsatisfied. There were times that I felt they turned out good but most of the time they don’t so I decided not to push it anymore. Drawing was hard because my sense of balance were a little off and writing a full novel was too long and I get too much writer’s block during the writing process so I wanted to do something short and a little easier. I scanned what type of literary piece would make nearly of that description and I decided poetry would be my best bet . With a pencil and a blank paper in hand, I thought hard on what to write next:
I was here for a moment, and then I was gone
Okay, that’s a start.
So long I have waited for my mom to come
And then another:
To change this sheet that comforted me at night
With a brand new one that’ll cradle me tight.
Until I made a full stanza. I noticed I enjoyed trying to figure out what I could rhyme the last words with so I decided to make another stanza:
I was there for a moment, and then I was lost
Body was shattered, kept, then tossed
Nobody knew, nobody has a clue
Where my body has gone to?
Then I kept going until I made a whole poem. In under an hour, I have made my first poem and I felt satisfied after finishing it. It was about a movie named “Lovely Bones” which narrates about a murdered young girl who watched her family move on with their lives after her death but with no body found and with no killer put to jail they’d struggled to do so. Maybe it was because I’ve seen it recently that’s why I chose it to be the topic of my new poem but writing it felt smooth and easy and I thought that maybe I could do this kind of thing. You could be called a poet but being a writer was more versatile so I opted to use that word; maybe when I get to know how the ropes work better then I could expand how I would write. Maybe one day, I’ll finally be able to finish a full novel and publish it even for my private collection only. I find that very interesting and so it made my list of things-to-do before I die: writing a published novel, that is.
I continued writing and writing on all sorts of paper I have in hand. Some even were restaurant receipts where I’d go bored and I’ve written over it about how sad it was to wait. Every last pages of my notebooks of different subjects have their own writings too. I didn’t have a proper way of filing them, I just wrote whenever I wanted and I felt at ease every time I do so. The topics came easy but I always end up writing poetries and I never went astray from it. In short, I struggled to write anything other than poetry. Some may have been too long; some have a topic but I couldn’t really express what I wanted to say; some were just unfinished because I had recurring writer’s block; some were finished but I didn’t want it so they didn’t make my list; and some were dropped because I was lazy. There were various reasons why I stuck to just poetry and even after I always end up doing one it just never gets old. I still feel happy and contented when I finish one and I thought that’s what all matters to me back then. However, there came a time when our school came up with writing competitions , especially on school events like Teacher’s Day and whatnot, and as a student vying for honors in class I opted to join whatever events I can in order to gain points. The problem was, their choice of literary pieces were all essays; shorter than a novel for sure but I was scared I couldn’t finish it and ‘d end up not even passing my paper. It’ll be a disaster. So, in order to increase my knowledge on these stuffs, I read more essays than books. I’ve read about lots of essays about Teacher’s day, past essays done by students of the same school for the same event, and looked for my mom’s notes for writing essays (she actually graduated bachelor in arts majoring in English for her first course then decided to study again for medical technology). Although she was a journalist back then and even was the editor in chief for their school newspaper back then, she actually never taught me nor influenced me to follow through what she had started; I just fell in love with books and with writing. In order to test out my progress, I wrote an essay about my life in high school… and I couldn’t finish it. Feeling more nervous than ever, I decided to just try the contest without proper preparation. I’ll let it be I told myself.
To my surprise, I’ve won the event and even earned a cash prize and a little recognition up the stage for the whole school to see. I felt very happy at first then guilty afterwards. I couldn’t understand why I was chosen out of all the other contestants (some were school journalists competing regional and national levels) when all I did was pattern my essay to an essay I’ve read done by a former student l for the same event which happened two or three years ago (the writer won the said event too!). It puzzled me. Well, I did not really copy the exact wordings but I sure did copy the structure of how it was written. For example, the writer had put his/her experiences on one spot where I would just rewrite with mine. However, with my memory I couldn’t really remember all of it so I just wrote what I wanted next after that. Still, I considered it a rip-off. I felt happy for the result but I didn’t felt happy writing it because it wasn’t entirely me. I guess. Anyway, I applied becoming a journalist for our school newspaper and thought I’d try passing out feature articles but the only position they could give me was news writing. I dipped. That wasn’t my cup of tea.
Then, I received my first ever computer laptop and I got introduced into the world of internet. Since I lived in the rural part of town, internet access weren’t that accessible at the time because of limited signal. So I was just happy when I received my laptop and would bring it to school because the connection there was excellent. Scouring through, I’ve stumbled across sites and pages offering lots of books and other pieces to read from and I remember being just so excited of this overflowing source. Until I stumbled upon a site full of fanfictions and it mesmerized me to the point wherein I wanted to make mine too. I don’t know why because they were also novels and the only difference I could think of were the characters being used were already known and has already an established reputation. I couldn’t really figure out why but I felt comfortable with that idea. I ultimately started writing novels intended for that site and even publishing it. It was surreal but it was a first step. Little by little I sent out novels I could write about for the characters until ultimately I published five: three of them I have completed. It was a feat for me since I had a history for not finishing off long stories. After that, I started to want more. I had several urges to write a story with my own characters in it but every time I started something I had a hard time ending it. Until now, I couldn’t finish any of them but I am hoping that one day I would.
High school graduation came fast and several career assessments were done in order for all of us to really decide on what we wanted to do in our lives. My friends stuck to what they’ve written down on the very first day at school school but I, on the other hand, was still afloat and don’t know where to go. Before writing anything for my college application forms, I talked to my mom about what I wanted to be in the future. Even though I was still on the rocks, I told her I wanted to become a writer and she had said: “Like what? Like a journalist?”. I nodded and told her that it was of sorts but mainly that I wanted to publish my own book. She then told me: “It’s okay to want that but you need to get a proper job and not just become a writer. You can’t earn money with that kind of profession”. It left me sad knowing that my mom didn’t want me taking writing seriously enough to become my job but instead wanted me to pursue medical technology because of the steady income it would produce in the future. It made sense but my happiness were at stake, I wasn’t interested in their profession but if I couldn’t convince my mom I would end up doing what she said. After some thought, I still couldn’t convince her and with nothing else to do I started to make her words my reality: “You can always write a book no matter what other profession you would take” she’d said. That ended my long love of reading and writing about literary pieces.
In college, I started reading books about sciences and wrote about research articles for my graduation. I couldn't continue writing poetry or essays even though I badly needed them because I was too busy and too tired to do them on every free days that I had. Throughout college, I’ve only written a handful of poems on the back of my notebooks mostly talking about heartaches of losing friends and being alone in a city far away from home. I was miserable and I adjusted so much in order to try and forget writing. I wouldn’t need it, or so I’d like to think. I could only do my best writing a piece when we were tasked to do so like in our English and Literature class in which our professor asked us to review this documentary and I would remember watching the documentary over and over again in order to try to assure myself that I’ll be getting whatever I wanted to put in my papers. A few of them were praised but most of them were treated like a regular piece of paper. For the times they were praised I was thankful but I really wasn’t asking for much when submitting it knowing that it was just a task I needed to finish. As time passed by, I forgot the pleasant feeling of completing a poem or publishing a novel online. As time went on, even writing became a chore.
Years passed and I graduated from college and worked at our clinical laboratory as one of their official medical technologists. Of course, my family were happy for me and so am I; it’s just that sometimes when the roads were tough I ended up doubting if I really made the right choice. It gave me glimpses of what I might be doing if I pursued a career out of writing: would I be better then? And I would always brush off these kinds of thoughts because it always gave me headaches. Time passed by and I decided to pursue a degree in medicine and I was preparing for the NMAT examinations when the pandemic began. All schools and almost all establishments’ processes were halted by the government; everybody’s future were unsure. In the midst of all of that, I decided to fix my things I stacked at our spare room and I saw the writings that I did when I was younger. It gave me flashbacks and made me reminisce of the times where I was at my prime of writing things and I got all mushy thinking over that like a dumbass in the middle of cleaning. Anyway, I thought why not continue it now that we’re in quarantine? And I did. I had a professional license in hand, a job that gives me steady income every month, a plan to become a doctor in the future, and still a dream to one day publish my own book. It might be long however it might not be but there is one thing I know for sure, and that is: “Kung ayaw, may dahilan. Kung gusto, palaging merong paraan.”
One day, I had a dream but it will be going to be my decision for that dream to stop and end itself before it could even come to life. I don’t want that to happen. I couldn’t change my career now that I’ve sacrificed too much but I hope that in my future I could at least save one of my dreams from my childhood. Hoping that my younger self would be proud of who I’ve became right now, I hope she could also understand why I chose to not force those dreams to become my reality. Now that I am older, I really hoped I became wiser… and a little bit better at writing than before.