Dream On, Dreamer
The first stanza of the song Don't Stop Believing by The Journey can very well be the story of our lives. I came from a little big city down south - charming, comfortable, familiar. Safe. I grew up surrounded by a big, extended family, loving and crazy, but pretty much the standard. Growing up, I thought there was no other way to live. While I was encouraged to excel and challenge myself, I always assumed that it was under the premise of certain limits. My parents are pragmatic people. They would caution me against wanting too much. Maybe it was from wisdom that came with age and experience with no other intention but to protect me from disappointment and heartbreak. Yes, I can have goals but not too ambitious. I can dream, but not too lofty. Then, I knew only of two goals 1) To wear stilettos to work 2) To ride an airplane as often as I can.
As some of you may know, I love reading. It allows me to dream as high and as far as my imagination can take me. There are no limits. The possibilities are endless and stereotypes are waiting to be broken. Then, I started to question my purpose in the world. I started wanting more. Every time I entertain such thoughts, I would feel guilty. It's as if I am being selfish. How dare I want more?! Can I not be content with what I have? It tortured me to think that that was all there was to my life. Little by little, I started to move out of my comfort zone.
When I turned 25, I decided I wanted to live on my own. I wanted to know how it is to be totally independent. Moving out of the house for no reason was out of the question. In our part of the world, that is almost equivalent to burning bridges. So, I applied for a role in the company I work for that would be based in Manila. When I got the position, I packed my bags and gave my parents one week's notice. In the whirlwind of packing, there was no time for melodrama. Just the way I like it. That was more than 10 years ago and I never looked back.
If there is one advice I can give someone who looking for direction, it is to live independently. I cannot count the times I have surprised myself with what I am capable to doing. The experience taught me resolve, humor, and strength of character. I am proud to say that I can "build" my own bed, live without TV, and bring myself to the ER. I can also survive on a cereals diet because I'm too lazy to cook. :)
At this time, I also decided to be more active in shaping my career. I applied for posts that interested me. Those endeavors may not always be successful, in fact they can be downright disappointing. But it taught me valuable lessons: 1) Failure will not break me 2) There's no shame in trying again 3) Nobody will give it to you until you ask for it. Culturally, I was not brought up to ask for what I want and assert myself. Being assertive is frowned on and equated to being aggressive. As a girl, meekness is a considered a virtue and one is expected to wait until something is offered. But then, the Bible said: Ask and it will be given to you. No word on the timelines though, but hey. :) Personally, I'd choose rejection over regret any day.
I have also learned the importance of visualization. At 25, I told myself I will get married by the time I turn 27. I had no boyfriend at that time. Despite that, I pasted a clipping of a beautiful wedding gown on my 2015 planner and I imagined exactly how I would look like on my wedding day. I got married three years later, few days after turning 28. Not quite 27, but close enough. As a young couple, we resolved to live independently. For a few years, we rented a house which we called home. But we knew we wanted the stability of owning our home. I would collect real estate flyers handed out in malls and would stick it on our fridge. I would book viewing trips even when I knew there was no way we could afford it at that time. We dreamed, planned, saved, and prayed even more. In less than four years, we were able to move in to our home.
We always knew we wanted to travel. But it was beyond our wildest dreams that we will be able to visit more than a dozen countries in five years. My mother-in-law gifted us with plane tickets to Paris for our honeymoon and we just kept going. We would have a random list of places we plan to visit, and plan as we go. We would save up for our next trip and scour the internet for cheap deals. This is the best time to travel. Stiff competition among airlines drive prices down and alternative options for accommodation make traveling all the more affordable.
Although we have shared dreams, it is important to have individual ones. For one, I would like to experience living and working abroad. Jaysen wants to see his start-up business become the leading supplier in its market. It is important to us to pursue individual goals. While they are different, we support each other in achieving them. These separate goals help us keep our identity. This is especially important for me as a woman. I would like to be defined to be more than a mere extension of my husband. That my role and impact is beyond our household. I believe this helps keep our marriage interesting and fresh. It gives us different perspectives and keeps us engaged emotionally and intellectually. We may or may not achieve all our grand dreams and that's okay. What is more valuable are the lessons we've learned along the journey. We are able to test our faith, our strength, our resilience, and our courage to dream some more.