Childhood dreams | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Childhood dreams

When I was a child, I had no definite answer when people would ask me what I wanted to be. My report card during my kindergarten years made sure I always remember to this day what kind of toddler I was. “NI” was written on my report card. “NI” meant Needs Improvement in most of the basic skills. One of the skills listed was working without disturbing others—and most grading periods had a small “NI” written beside it. Surely, life comes full circle.

My elementary years groomed me to be a leader. In Grade 1, our class adviser asked me to write on the blackboard the names of classmates who were noisy and standing while she was away. It was a position of privilege, along with leading the morning and noon rosary. I imitated her in scolding classmates who were making crushed paper gear, ready for a fierce battle come recess time. In her remarks at the back of my report card from one grading period, my Grade 2 adviser noted that I was a natural-born leader or something to that effect. My Grade 3 adviser clearly remembers me whenever I visit my alma mater once in a while.

President of the worst section

The transition to Grade 4 was abrupt. Suddenly, we had to wear long pants. Ballpoint pens replaced pencils. The remarkable red lines between the blues disappeared from our pad papers. By this time, we elected class officers. Our teachers told us we were the worst section in our batch. I was elected president of the worst section. What a badge of honor!

For one school year, I knew and felt a bit about what it means to be the president of the Philippines. Karma came and our Grade 5 adviser was one of the strictest at that time. I was again president. But Grade 6 was different. In our school, all the bright kids were lumped under one “star” section. It was expected that the honor graduates would come from our section. It was there where I felt what it’s like to be swimming in a sea full of people better than me. For once, it felt strange not to be on top. It was my first humbling experience.

High school was when I showed my light. I excelled and made it to the top. But this still didn’t help me answer what my dream was. Not even filling out college application forms made me decide what I would become. On some occasions, I would say I wanted to be a political scientist as I was a vigorous follower of the national political drama. At times, I would say I wanted to be a broadcast journalist, as I was a sucker for the 24/7 news cycle. Some egged me on to be a lawyer because of my passion for argumentation, which only went as far as defending my position up to the point that I am proven wrong.

Even when I was in college taking up engineering, the answer to the question was vague in my mind. I would usually respond that I took up engineering because it was what my father took up decades ago.

Maybe it is not wrong at all to not give a straight answer to what one’s dreams are. In my mind, I thought of myself as an astronaut after looking at the photos of planets in our encyclopedia. I thought of myself as an architect after using so many bond papers while drawing my dream house. I thought of myself as a political scientist for giving my humble take on the day’s issues. I thought of myself as a broadcast journalist in the unrelenting pursuit of the truth. I thought of myself as a lawyer, using the law to defend the marginalized.

Little desires

But maybe in the process, I forget that each day we live a small bit of our childhood dreams. In the same manner that we are humbled, we cannot be all that we want to be all at once. The folly of a fast-paced world is that it tricks us with instant gratification. We work hard as we continue to dream.

Dreams are made up of little desires to grand ambitions. From satisfying the inner child to making the world a better place to live in. From breaking the chain of poverty to being able to give a helping hand. From self-fulfillment to living a passion that transcends beyond the boundaries of self-actualization. Dreams are the only free things in a commodified world. They are limitless, boundless, but still within reach of human imagination.

What are dreams made of? Of a thousand little thoughts that make us happy, give us stability and think of others beyond ourselves.

In the movie “Inception,” Cobb quips: “Dreams feel real while we’re in them. It’s only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

To dream is to be strange. —CONTRIBUTED

The author is a student and teacher at the University of the Philippines.

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