Young Blood

Forever young

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“I want to be forever young.” This is a line from Alphaville’s famous song. The album was released in 1984, the year I was born. Fast-forward: After exactly 29 years, I found myself listening to this song in the midst of my anxiety.

I am starting to get nervous. I am 29. I do not have a good amount of savings. I am struggling to finish my graduate-school thesis. I am single. I still live with my parents. And I have no choice but to continue teaching because this is all I know and I think that this is what I do best.

I wonder what went wrong. After graduation from college, I worked in the call center industry for roughly four years and subsequently taught in high school for three years. I decided to teach college students last year, so this is my third semester of teaching. That is a total of eight years with three different companies and job descriptions. I guess this is just one of the perks of being young: You are not restricted as to where you want to go, and you have the liberty to spend your time any way you like.

I have learned that eight years can pass unnoticed, especially in my case when I was so busy and enmeshed in taking calls, dealing with different kinds of students, and accomplishing school deliverables.

It has dawned on me that I have not accomplished much in life. I feel inferior compared to my contemporaries who are now publishing their scholarly works or raising a family and holding down stable and good-paying jobs. Looking back, I feel like I lacked strategic planning and a sense of focus and direction.

I suddenly feel unsatisfied with how my life has unfolded. Worse, I have realized that I am getting older and still have so many things to prove and goals to achieve. Dissatisfaction and aging are two deadly things when combined; this is the point in one’s life when one starts to weigh priorities, calculate, and bargain.

It becomes an occasion for bargaining because you know that you can no longer do all the things you want to do. Thus, you need to narrow down your list based on two important questions: One, is it achievable? And two, will it provide maximum contentment, comfort, and sense of meaning? Compromising at this stage is dangerous because you lose an ounce of happiness whenever you let go of something.

One can claim that age is irrelevant, that it is nothing but a number and it does not necessarily define maturity. Or that it is not age but the attitude and the perspective that differentiate the young from the old. I argue that these are not completely true.

Youth is a fleeting and transitory stage which everyone is compelled to go through. It is not a relative concept at all. This is the critical moment that is not exclusively measured by the amount of fun and happy memories. This is the turning point where one dreams and decides to act in order to make a difference and live life meaningfully and productively. This has always been an open secret; we do not just have ample time to grasp it because we are so busy being and acting young.

I understand that there are many factors that disable and hinder the development of the Filipino youth today—corruption, drugs, unequal access to education and resources, too much influence from various forms of media, among many others. The playing field is also uneven because of discrimination in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Only a few are privileged to be born in a rich family, which generally guarantees them success and a good life in the future.

The picture is not so good and the future is not so bright. But the beauty in being young is that there is a certain sense of “agency”—meaning the youth can somehow defy deteriorating and ineffective systems and institutions. They can do this precisely because they are young, and this age propels them to make a difference because they are left with no other desirable alternative. “Being young” can be considered “capital” in itself. The youth can harness all the power and the promise of their age in order to become someone better.

I have so much faith in the youth, and that is why I will still hold on to my board marker and assign my students exciting and provocative readings. I want to inspire them, and in the process, motivate and help myself, too.

I guess that being single at 29, living with my parents, trying to finish graduate school, and working in the academe are not so bad. I have always been convinced that I am capable of accomplishing great things both for my personal satisfaction and for the advocacies that I uphold. I still do not doubt myself, but currently I am just desperately in need of more time. I do not regret the things that I did, but the only trouble is that it is too late for me to realize that time befriends no one.

I am writing this piece not to vent my anguish. I am sharing my thoughts and personal story in order to caution the young ones that they need to properly handle their youth and their precious time.

How do we get the message across about the importance of being young? How do we get to remind the youth that what they do today will affect their personal level of happiness (in particular) and society’s development (in general)? This article is insignificant; perhaps only a few people will read it. I doubt if the content is substantial enough or if the medium or style is even palatable to the young generation. For one, creative and influential artists can write more songs about the promises and dangers of being young. I don’t like Justin Bieber because his lyrics are filled with too much “baby ohh,” but I like the band Fun, particularly its song that has so much drive and passion: “Tonight, we are young/so let’s set the world on fire/we can burn brighter than the sun.”

We need to let the youth know that they have all the right to enjoy their young age. But, we also need to remind them that this stage is only temporary, and that it will make or break them. Youth is a capital but it is also ephemeral. We need to hold on to it and make the most out of it because we can never be forever young.

Michael Eduard L. Labayandoy, 29, is an instructor at Lyceum of the Philippines and a sociology graduate student at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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  • tra6Gpeche

    Already 29 and still living with your parents? My goodness! I was only 17 when I went to Manila to live on my own. If you stay with your parents, I don’t think you would have the courage to make your own decision and your success in life would be hindered. However, staying with your parents will definitely make your living a piece of cake.

    • Mamang Pulis

      ansakit mo naman magsalita…:D

      kumakapa pa yun writer

      • tra6Gpeche

        29 years old and still kumakapa? Pag binasa niya ang mga sinabi ko, matututo siyang piliting tumindig sa sariling paa. Kung may talino at sipag at kakayahan siya, iyan ang magiging daan ng kanyang tagumpay. Pasasalamatan niya ako sa mga darating na panahon. Sa ngayon, gaya ng sinabi mo, sasama ang loob niya sa akin!

      • parengtony

        Ang ibig mong sabihin mali ang writer at ang pananaw mo lang ang tama? Well, tatlo na kaming mali, di ba Mamang Pulis?

      • tra6Gpeche

        Hindi ko naman sinabing 100% na ako ay tama. Iyan naman ay pananaw at ayon sa aking karanasan. Malay mo, baka maging matagumpay siya kahit habang buhay siyang nakatira sa kanyang magulang. Isa pa ay tiyak na tutulungan siya nang kanyang magulang upang magtagumpay. Kaya lang ay hindi sa sarili niyang sikap at pagpupunyagi. Kung magkaganoon ako ang mali. Panahon lang ang makapagsasabi, kabayan.

      • Mamang Pulis

        …yes sir. copy

      • pam

        Sa tingin ko, kabayan, hindi ka niya pasasalamatan. Bakit? Kasi hindi mo maintindihan na kahit 29 o 37 anyos man siya o kung sinuman, ay may karapatang mangapa. Hindi dahil sa namuhay ka magisa simula 17anyos ka pa lamang, ay ganoon na rin dapat ang lahat. Living with parents is one of the things most of us take for granted. Well he might be starting to be afraid because he is 29 and such, but then again, at least he had the chance to live with his parents and be a part of their lives.

        Mike: 29 is not too late. Age is nothing but number. As long as you have the passion and desire to pursue your dreams and be successful in your chosen field, you will. :)

      • tra6Gpeche

        Kabayan, lahat ay may karapatang mangapa. Iyan ang gusto ko sa pagiging malaya sa kaisipan, pagsasalita at sa pagkilos. Maari ngang umasa ka na lang nang umasa sa iba, bakit hindi. Tama ka. Iba-iba ang uri ng ating karanasan at takbo ng buhay. Lahat tayo ay magkakaiba. Sa akin, habang bata pa, kailangang magsumikap at matutong mamuhay ng mag-isa upang lumago ang pag-iisip at matutong lutasin ang sariling suliranin. Ika nga ay tumitindig sa sariling paa. Hindi ako panig at hindi sang-ayon sa maraming Pilipino sa Pilipinas na laging nakasandal sa kani-kanilang magulang at laging hawak sa ilong (nang kani-kanilang magulang). Hindi tuloy nila magamit ang kanilang sariling utak. Halos wala silang kalayaang magpasiya ng tungkol sa sarili nila. Ang isa pang gusto ko ay umasenso sila sa sariling pagsisikap upang sa ganoon kapag matanda na ang kani-kanilang magulang at hindi na kayang mamuhay ng mag-isa, saka nila samahan o isama sa kanilang bahay upang maalagaan at magabayan ang mga mahihina at masasakiting magulang. Iyan ang wastong oras at tamang panahon para samahan at tangkilikin ang magulang!

      • tra6Gpeche

        I would think that realizing his dreams while living with his parents would not truly make him too proud of himself, kabayan!

      • elowpo

        Pam, naman, kahit papaano mo pag-bali-baliktarin, 29 living w/ parents talagang nakakahiya, parang walang matigas na buto kung baga, UP Diliman pa naman din nanggaling! The writer implicitly admitted that kaya nga binaggit nya yun sa simula self-reflection essay nya. Kahit nga sa nature yung mga batang ibon at some early age pag medyo kaya na pi-nu-push ng kanilang Mom na lumipad ng SARILI and spread their wings, it may be very tough at first pero kailangang gawin iyun for its own sake and sanity.

    • pam

      I just think your original statement and the third follow up comment are contradicting. For one, you said living with the writer’s parents would hinder his success in life, and yet, on your follow up you said baka maging matagumpay siya kahit habang buhay siyang nakatira sa kanyang mga magulang.

      Well, not everyone lives in the same pace as you are. And if by all means your maturity is way above than most of us, which, I think, is what you are trying to imply, then you would do well to understand that living with parents at the age of 29 is not something to be looked-down at. Being able to live by oneself is not the standard of maturity, and success. There are still other things to consider.

      And frankly, you do not know if the writer is the one supporting his parents so why say living with them will make his living “definitely” a piece of cake?

      • tra6Gpeche

        There is no contradiction kabayan. Yes, living with his parent’s house, might also give him success but success with the help of his parent. Please note the word I used: “might.” This is because nobody is 100% sure of anything. He could also be successful by living by himself. This time without the help of his parent. However, as far as I know, no one become truly successful if a person lives with his parent all his life. I believe I did not look down on this person by living with his parent. I did not chastise him for that. All I am saying is his success through his own sweat and hard work would be hindered. That is based on my experience and seeing other very successful people. If your standard of success and maturity is different from mine, I respect that. However, I really don’t know if a person can be matured and truly can say that he/she is successful while living with his/her parent. And as for me not knowing If the writer is the one supporting his parents, the writer says he is living with his parents and not the other way around. Besides, the writer says he is still struggling to finish his graduate-school thesis. In eight years, he was with 3 different companies, et cetera. How could you be sure that he is supporting his parents? Sorry, it took for me a day to reply because I did not see your reply in my e-mail. I just see this reply today.

  • Mamang Pulis

    …maybe, someday, you’ll be save by zero…

    …why not try to be big in japan?…or any green patch of earth

    ok lang yan—it’s not the end of the world …yet…

  • buninay1

    This is pretty normal for young single pinoy to live with his or her parents but I think that the general drift of this article is one towards anguish. I will not state that this is unbecoming of a university instructor to hold dimmed view of the world but would rather caution him not to overdo it as to corrupt his impressionable students who are looking up to him. It is one thing to lament his being stranded in a plateau of life and another to project optimism with which to inspire the youth who hold the professor in high esteem.

    The aggressiveness and the impatience of the youth with the status quo are what makes this world an exciting place. But Father time should not be nudged out to the sideline for he it is who has the power to distill and purify that boldness into wisdom, wisdom that restrains one from committing irreparable mistakes and wisdom that teaches him to judge and do things right.

  • galamalama

    A piece of advice: Stop judging yourself by comparing yourself with other people and count the small blessings you receive daily:

    1. You should be grateful that you still live with your parents.
    2. As a teacher, you are part of the lives of your students.
    3. Graduate school is an opportunity that few people received. Yung iba nga hanggang Grade 3 lang ang natapos.
    4. I’m sure somebody wakes up at 4 AM to prepare your breakfast.

  • perpetual7

    At his present age, he has his complete pair of parents, educated from the best university in the country, making a living in one of the noblest profesion a person could ever have. And, while enjoying his work as a teacher he’s got that rare chance few could ever have as an advanced student. Isn’t it delightful to witness your trade as practiced by your mentors while your future investment builds up? Yet he whines and mulls and compares himself miserably to others who happened to be in better spot than his.

    He could have compaired himself to so many people of his age in slums where if there’s by chance food to eat, the imediate problem is not only where to get the next meal but still where to dispose the used food?

    Either he needs a screw driver or a wrench if it’s a nut. I didn’t say he’s a nut.

  • erfel mae

    rest assured that your not the only one… im also 29, living with my mother, taking my masters, working in a private company and yet sometimes i still feel empty.. probably its our human nature not to be contented but i think it is a good sign. we wanted to live more and wanting to live more means we appreciate the gift of LIFE… things may have not been so good but i just learned to live LIFE without regrets even with the time that passed..living with the choices we made i think would lessen our regrets….

  • Yanno

    Yeah, you’re not alone. I’m also at lost , I’m 26 but still wandering in the corporate world for a perfect job…I’m been looking for a job that is satisfying and fulfilling. I’ve been fortunate to have a job that pays a higher salary but at the end of the I feel unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Hope someday I get to know where to direct the rudder and I hope when its comes it will not at the twilight of my life. God Bless us All!

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