I think you owe me an explanation. I think it was you, sir, who said that it was okay to not know what to do with your life “because the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives” in a “song” addressed to the ladies and gentlemen of the Class of ’99.
In 1999, I was 15, and I told myself, I’m going to be a sportscaster if only to be able interview a certain Ralph Rivera. He was the most charming professional basketball player here then, and I was so certain I would marry him someday. I didn’t marry him of course, but I didn’t get too depressed over it because after I admitted to myself that a five-footer standing side-by-side with a 6’1” man isn’t too flattering a camera framing for a wedding photo, I realized I didn’t want to be a sportscaster anymore. At 22, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was going to be a film director.
I’m now 26; I’m not a film director and I don’t know what to do with my life.
So sir, may I ask: Did the people you knew who didn’t know what to do with their lives at 22 still didn’t at 26? Or did they finally figure it out at 24 then go on to climb Mt. Everest, or become a lawyer of a celebrated case, or the best heart surgeon in the country, or a philanthropist who builds homes for the poor in the morning and takes M.B.A classes in Economics at night? If they did, especially if one of them became a sportscaster then married her high school celebrity crush, then great, I’m doomed.
You might say I’m being overly emotional over a song that’s not even half as popular as your Moulin Rouge and Romeo and Juliet, but I think I have some solid basis for panic after hearing your song again by chance today. I’ve listened to your song a number of times, but I feel like I’m hearing your advice on knowing what to do with your life for the first time today. When you know what to do with your life at 22, it’s understandable that I’d only remember the “don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours” part. It’s called selective memory, and being in love, sir.
I used to be so sure, sir, you’ll be proud of me. I was so sure, my friends were sure for me too. I was so sure that I didn’t care if it didn’t pay much, if it didn’t pay on time, if I’d have to look for other side jobs to earn while I wait for my actual paycheck, if I had to wake up at 3 o’clock in the morning then sleep at nine o’clock in the morning of the following day and do it for three days in a week, or if I’d be called “tanga” (“stupid”) or “ang tanga-tanga mo” (“you’re very stupid”) or “ang tanga mo, umalis ka sa harapan ko” (“stupid, get out of my face!”) because not being here is not an option. I was so sure, I didn’t have to ask for anybody else to assure me, because even if they won’t, I was still so sure. I was so sure that even I am perplexed why, and how it is possible to go from being that certain and passionate to now. When exactly did I begin to doubt myself? I’d say probably when I realized I already lost whatever brilliance I was told I had, but even that I’m not sure of.
I think I feel guilty because I feel I owe my passionate, hopeful 22-year old self a lot. I’ve always wanted to become a director, and I’ve pursued that for the longest time; having not even 1/100 of that passion now just doesn’t feel right. I know how feisty my 22-year old self can get; she could be berating me now. I’d berate her back, but I’m 26 now; I’ve learned to choose my battles. I know I’ll lose this one against her.
So I listen to your song again, sir, and I reach the part where you say, “Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum” and I feel like you’re virtually laughing at me at this moment. So are you saying, sir, that I have nothing to worry about at all? That it’s perfectly okay to be 26 and clueless about what I want? To be so sure at 22 then begin to doubt myself at 26? Sir?
Please say yes, sir.
Then I’ll promise to send you a copy of my first film, just don’t pressure me when.