Corrupted

A previous blog entry that was deleted. Contains some excerpts from my previous entry, “Keep Moving, Keep Dreaming” 

To the younger generation (and even to my own),

This is not to say I no longer consider myself young. I am well under a quarter of a century. My whole life is ahead of me and I have many more goals I intend to achieve in this lifetime. Yet as I recognize my vibrant youth, I also acknowledge that many others have been born after me, those that may need guidance at this point in their lives. My wisdom may not be considered rich in years and experience, but think of it as some friendly advice from a big sister, the kind who cares enough to hope that you make better choices than she has.

I have always been passionate about the youth. I see a miracle every time a child is born, or when one takes the very first steps, or says the first few words. It’s fascinating to see them learn their first lessons, or to hear their endless questions. I am always inspired by the bright ideas of young minds, or the jaw-dropping talent they exhibit at a tender age.

Your generation never fails to amaze me, and I have always had faith in you. I still believe Dr. Jose Rizal was right when he identified the youth as the hope of this nation. I place a high premium in inspiring young minds and helping them reach their dreams. It crushes my heart to see children deprived of life, devoid of care, unable to go to school, robbed of good health, or exploited in child labor and abuse. It’s simply wrong to destroy the happiness that a child should be entitled to.

I believe being young is an exceptional time to discover who you are and who you want to become. I was a child myself, and thankfully, I enjoyed a wonderful childhood, one where I believe I received much opportunity to improve myself and to expand my potential. I am grateful for the people who have supported me, who have loved me, who have patiently waited on my tantrums and assisted me in my homework. I grew up having big dreams. I believed I could change the world. I wanted to excel in everything I did. I mapped out my future, and I never believed that anything was impossible. It must have been all the fairy tales, superhero films, or success stories that got me going, pushing me to go beyond my best. I wasn’t exactly a child wonder, rather, I was a child full of wonder.

Then, quite suddenly, I had to grow up, literally and figuratively. The former meant I had to deal with the sudden bodily changes of puberty, and more importantly that unbelievable surge of hormones, giving you mood swings, crushes and a rather impulsive, rebellious behavior. Even more challenging is the figurative part of growing up. Adolescence is a turbulent stage of self-discovery and experimentation, a time when we’re pressured to figure out who we really are and how we identify ourselves. Erik Erikson didn’t call it the struggle of identity versus role confusion for nothing. Interestingly, it’s a time when we want to grow up. We want to assert our independence and privacy, insisting that we be allowed in our own world without anyone interfering. At that time, it seemed like everyone was in the way, especially grown-ups. Every question of how I was doing, where I was going, or who I was going out with was marked off as an invasion of privacy and promptly replied with a “Leave me alone!” I must have been insufferable.

And yet those dreams were still lurking in my mind, albeit laid on the table as that difficult period passed me by. I was still the idealistic young woman, confident that nothing could stop me in my tracks. I had no idea exactly how I would do all that I dreamed to do, but I had faith that I would do them, anyway. Growing up was going to be fun and exciting. I had not the slightest idea why Peter Pan preferred Neverland.

It was not until recently that I finally understood why Peter Pan never wanted to grow up. That blurry phase between the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood was when I began seeing the world through wider and more transparent lenses; you see a world apart from your own selfish alcove, a world that wasn’t as perfect as it seemed. You start realizing that problems are real. All of history’s inspiring quotes could never prepare you for what failure feels like, for how heavy responsibility is, or for that intense feeling when you want to cry but are already too old to do so in public. You start to see a bigger environment, one that’s not always pretty and where everyone’s not always happy. Poverty, calamity, politics, crime, deceit, manipulation – just some of the villains that fairy tales didn’t teach us how to defeat. What’s worse is that these evils are real and, I daresay, more powerful. Sometimes, these villains come in the form of the would-be heroes we come to know, leaving us confused of the regular good and evil we used to know. What we used to see in black and white becomes an inconceivable sea of grey in what they call ‘the real world.’

Just like some twisted inverse proportion, the older we get, the more we know, the more experience we acquire, the smaller our dreams become. We begin including ‘impossible’ in our vocabulary. We begin to settle for whatever remains convenient and accessible. For some people, these dreams never changed, but they’ve been tucked away indefinitely, probably meant to come true someday, probably never. While you have bills to pay, a family to feed, and a job to do, those dreams will just have to wait.

Corrupted. That’s what those dreams have become. The once pristine, brimming-with-potential dreams have been smudged over by reality, by hardship, by failure. Whatever’s left is what we settle for. That’s when we start living by paycheck, working hours and hours without really getting much out of it. All because of corruption – political, economical, social, emotional, mental corruption – anything at all that distorts the bigger picture we had once painted. I think of corruption as angry little monsters nipping at your feet as you run. They’ll be chasing and biting you, little by little, and with each wound it gets harder and harder to go on. Eventually, it becomes too much that you slack off, you give up, you succumb to the pain. You stop running altogether, and just let them eat you up.

That’s what past generations have suffered and what my generation is beginning to realize. I know it’s not a pretty picture, and it’s a shame that those childhood dreams will forever remain dreams. What’s even more depressing is that we allow this to happen. Despite the brutality I’ve described corruption to be, I do believe those monsters can be outrun, defeated, vanquished. A wise classmate of mine once told me that there are no bad decisions, except the one where we choose not to decide, to just let everything flow as they are, to resign that there’s nothing we can do about it. I believe we can choose to defeat corruption.

And that is principally why I write this letter. My generation has caught but a glimpse of the corruption we are all bound to encounter. I regret to say that my mind has already been corrupted by where life has taken me so far, but I am thankful that I can be aware of it, that I can do something about it, and that I can warn others not to trip where I’ve fallen. Naive as it may sound, I still believe that dreams are worth translating to action, that they should not be confined to the mind of a child or left for the next generation to figure out. I salute the rare few who have been able to overcome corruption, who have encountered the same villains that exist today but have conquered them with their steadfast, determined spirits.

I implore you, therefore, to keep those dreams alive. Achieving them is a rough and dangerous terrain, and I don’t mean that only as a metaphor. Many others will tell you over and over again that it’s going to be hard, and even if you don’t believe so right now, you’re going to feel like giving up, you’re going to feel like screwing up your life. Some of you may have already faced reality from the beginning, with even your childhood corrupted by treacherous villains. I pray that whenever life hits you hard, you’ll have a good head on your shoulders, a good support system to keep you going, and a passion that refuses to retreat. I hope you prepare yourselves well. I hope you take opportunities that come to you and make ones when they don’t. Make choices for your dreams and stand by them. Don’t be afraid to choose, and never say you had no choice.

This offers only a morsel of all the advice I’ve ever heard or learned on my own. You’re going to need a whole lot more, and you’re going to need to learn how to use them. If anything at all, I just want you to be prepared. Be prepared for how much you’re going to be disappointed, without letting that disappointment get in the way of your goals. Believe me, had someone warned me that reality would bite so hard or that life would give you poisoned lemons, I would have chosen differently, for so many of the choices I’ve ever had to make. I envy you for your purity and idealism, and I hope you can preserve as much as you can.

And if you’re from my generation, or maybe even a generation older than my own, I ask you to keep living the dream if you’ve achieved them, and keep chasing those dreams if you haven’t. You may argue otherwise, but one way or another, it’s never too late. While time may be running out, dreams don’t deserve to be dormant forever. Or, at the very least, invest in the younger generation. Share the wisdom you have gained and inspire them to gain more. Take part in the optimism I have for the youth. Don’t corrupt their minds before they even have a chance to see the world on their own.

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