I know you too well and I’m pretty sure you’re on the phone right now. Hang up and read this. Don’t roll your eyes.
If it hasn’t happened yet, it will happen soon: After telling your class that you are all graduating, your English teacher, your favorite teacher, will take you by the arm, pull you away from your classmates and tell you that the faculty is disappointed in you.
“We expected so much more,” she’d say. “We knew you could have done so much better.” It will sting but you deserve it.
This will be your much-needed wake-up call. You did spend your entire high school life slacking off. You never took your classes seriously. You always crammed.
Just because you can ace your “El Filibusterismo” exam without ever reading the book doesn’t mean you should never study.
If you studied, maybe you would have known the symbol for potassium when Ms San Jose asked. Then you wouldn’t have made a fool of us by trying to guess. It’s K, not Pt, not Ps, not Po.
But that’s okay. Because you have the rest of your life to make up for that. And you will.
You don’t know this yet, but next year, you will start working. And guess what? You will never stop. And you will relish going the extra mile. Maybe it was because of Ms Castro, maybe it was you, but you will leave your slacker self behind and be surprised at how hard you can work your ass off.
This will be one of your first big lessons in growing up: Who you were in high school doesn’t have to be who you are as an adult.
Your parents—our parents—have been separated for a few years now. Every year, during retreats and recollections, this comes as a surprise to your classmates. “We didn’t know.” “But you seem so happy.” “But you’re always laughing.”
And that is good. Always remember what Tita Aggie said: Their problems aren’t your problems. It’s true. A broken home is not an excuse to become a broken person.
Sense of humor
Treasure your sense of humor. Things will get messier and you will need it for years to come.
We lost Tita Aggie to cancer last year. It hurts, I know, and you will never really get over that loss. I still haven’t, I’m sorry to tell you. But just realize that we were so lucky to have her, even for that short time.
There will always be losses in life—some we can easily shrug off while others are harder to take. But never be so afraid of loss that you hold back on loving.
You’re probably still fighting with your brother but that will soon stop. (You’ve been warned: Your last fight ever will be about an Incubus VHS tape.) In fact, he will become one of your all-time favorite people. I know you’re sick of hearing your mom say this, but love Powie and take care of him. Be a good ate. You are lucky to have a sibling—you were blessed with a constant kakampi.
Do not worry about that letter from that boy which your yaya tore up and threw away before you even read it. Next year, you will fall in love and you will keep falling in love and you will get wiser each time—wiser but not cynical, wiser but never bitter. Those are different things.
This may come as a shock but you will not finish college in four years. It will take you a little longer than that—you will get good grades but you will need to take a break (close that mouth, it’s not because you got pregnant), keep working and switch majors but everything will be okay. Great, even.
And law school? It’s not gonna pan out. It turns out that this writing thing, which was what we originally wanted to do anyway, was something we can do full-time and not just on the side.
Remember, make plans but don’t freak out when they get derailed. That’s when magic happens.
I will not warn you about boys who will break your heart (I promise you, they’ve been dealt with properly) or stupid decisions you will make. I will not take those mistakes away from you—they will give you valuable lessons.
But I do have a few more tips:
There is no such thing as too young when it comes to pursuing your passions—write, sing, cook your heart out. Do what you love, do it with fervor and the money will come. It may not make you rich but you will make enough to have new experiences, to see the world bit by bit and to enjoy and embrace life.
Spend your days creating, not destroying. Use your words wisely.
Keep reading. Read anything and everything you can. One day, you will pick up a newspaper, you will see an ad and it will change your life.
Learn the fine line between taking care of yourself and being super vain. I know, I know, you go for days without looking in a mirror. You’re still the same today.
Take intelligent risks. We have the tendency to be careless, to jump into things without thinking them through—sometimes it’s a good thing but not always.
Never lose your optimism, no matter how hard the world tries to crush it. It’s a big part of who we are.
Do not smoke (don’t worry, I still haven’t touched a cigarette), do not do drugs. You can drink, with friends, when it’s legal, but not to the point of embarrassing intoxication. Drunk doesn’t look good on anyone.
We’ve always been stubborn, but know which rules you can break.
Find friends who feel more like family. Surround yourself with positive people, happy people. Life is too short for drama.
Be kind—to others and to yourself.
Realize that the world is so much bigger than you. There is so much going on outside of your little space. Those things that you think are a big deal, the things you worry about—they’re just a tiny dot in the universe. But the world isn’t so big that you can’t make a difference.
Be wiser with your money. Do not spend them all on nail polish and shoes. (But sometimes, I still do. Sorry.)
Stop complaining about your parents being too strict. Not being allowed to go to the mall unchaperoned is not the end of the world. One day, you will earn your independence and you will be surprised to discover that on a lot of days, you will actually prefer staying at home.
Let yourself become the person you’re meant to be—but slowly. Do not be in such a hurry to grow up. You have the rest of your life to be an adult. Cherish your youth. Have fun.
This telebabad thing, enjoy it while it lasts. Trust me, things are about to get cooler. You think your transparent little pager is awesome? Just wait. One day, you will own a phone that’s more like a tiny computer and you will have Internet access 24/7 (and no, it wouldn’t disconnect if Lola Charit decides to use the landline).
I know getting rich has never been our priority but if you’ve changed your mind, write me back and I’ll tell you how to invent this crazy thing called Facebook. Or you can write about boy wizards or sullen girls and sparkly vampires. Your choice.
One day, you will get to meet Moonpools and Caterpillars. And talk to Leonardo DiCaprio. How insane is that?!
Unilever Philippines is hosting #TeenWeekPH from Sept. 22 to 26 at more than 250 schools nationwide. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/teenweekph.