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To have a dream

/ 04:15 AM June 06, 2022

I dreamed of becoming a doctor when I was three. I wanted to be an architect when I was four, and when I turned five, I dreamed of becoming an artist like my father. At 22, I just want to have a dream.

At 22, I want to become a child again if only to understand the feeling of having a dream, and being motivated to reach it.

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Every day since I turned 22, the same question has been replaying in my mind — how can a person know everything at 18 but nothing at 22?

In my 22 years of existence, I have been surprised a lot of times. At home during birthdays, at school with my friends, in college when I get my blue book back, but nothing could have ever prepared me for the unwanted surprise that this coronavirus had been. The me from January 2020 really thought that a volcano erupting at the beginning of the year was the worst that could happen but no, March really said “hold my beer!” as if I haven’t already had enough from years worth of neoliberal education-provoked breakdowns and self-induced pressure from being an (ex-)gifted child in one of the top universities in the country.

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It was fine though, really, it is. Except it isn’t.

Because if I thought one “what’s your dream?” question from a yearbook during 10th grade was enough to make me question myself and my capabilities, I couldn’t have been any more wrong. Every day, I get to meet someone who always asks the same question: “ano, kaya ba today?” and every day, I answer her just the same, too: “kakayanin kasi wala naman akong choice.”

There are days when I can’t help but feel suffocated by the largeness of everything around me. Every person I meet seems to have their life put together, every single one of them pursuing something while I struggle to even find myself wanting to do anything. You know I used to bask in the attention of the world, soaking in both the good and the bad but now, there are some days when I feel like the universe drains me inside out if only to squeeze the remnants of dreams I once had at 10. Even then, all it manages to get out of me are fears, apprehensions, and insecurities out for the world to see.

But I still have dreams. The littlest ones peeking from the cracks between the nothings and somethings, in the middle of the worries and the slightest ray of hope. One that makes other people laugh at me whenever I speak of it. Whenever people ask me what that little dream is, I always say that my dream is to have a dream. Again. Because if there is one thing that I honestly, truly, completely want right now, it’s got to be a reason to keep myself going. My dream is to have a dream so that I can continue on even if I have to go through it one day at a time.

I wanted to take back what this pandemic took away from me again, just when I thought I was so close to having it once more—a future, a clear and certain future. Not because I didn’t have one then, but because it felt like I was robbed of it.

So I’m here to take it all back. I am here to look beyond the apprehensions that hold me back from giving myself what I’m worthy of. I am here to overcome the fears that mar the road toward a future I know I deserve. I am here to not just dream, but work toward achieving that dream, no matter if it was from when I was three, four, five, or 16. So to that someone who always asks me “kaya ba today?” I have my answer now, a little similar but also a little bit different than before—kakayanin. Because that is my choice.

At 22, I’m starting to learn again. The journey ahead will never cease to be scary and the future will always be a little bit unclear, always a little bit uncertain but I can always dream, and I will always dream however little those dreams may be.

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So life, come at me. I’m ready, because you know what? I’ll dream anyway. I’ll do it anyway.

* * *

Angel Diesta, 22, is a student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, taking up communication arts. She loves drinking coffee, scrolling through Twitter, and memorizing scientific names of snakes even though she’s afraid of them.

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