Write here, write now
2023—a new year, brings with its chilly air newfound hope, a chance to start anew.
However, the dark side of the moon that few people see is that trailing after that hope is the shadow of the pressure to have the whole year mapped out, to have one’s life all figured out. This shadow was the reason I was unable to greet the new year with the same gusto as the fireworks briefly painting the sky with different colors. My peers are getting jobs and going to law school, and here I am agonizing over what I should do with my life.
There is an unspoken pressure to get a job and start earning money for the sake of helping my parents with our finances. Yet I wanted to postpone entering the workforce because I want to pursue postgraduate studies, which brings me to my dilemma of whether I should pursue law or a master’s degree in library science and information. I was stuck in trying to produce an answer to the question, “Now that I am free to be myself, who am I?” After welcoming the new year with my confused self, I met my former Kumon instructor to whom I divulged my predicament. She encouraged me to consider pursuing what I love—writing.
Writing has never been a full-time career option for me. Aside from the fact that it is difficult to make a living by a career in arts or humanities, Filipinos still tend to discount writers and artists because of economic considerations. Plus, I was apprehensive about entering an industry where novice writers without any prior connections find it difficult to thrive. I thought I ought to pursue law school instead because I took up philosophy in college and it is the most effective way of helping the country and serving the people. But in all honesty, I kept law school as an option only because my relatives were expressly supportive of the idea of finally having a lawyer in the family and that other people put lawyers on a pedestal compared to writers. Law was not something I was excited about. On the other hand, pursuing a master’s degree in library science would help me materialize my passion for books into something practical. I could become a licensed librarian and work with archives and books all day. However, it still was not the path that I was keen on treading.
Then it was suggested that I pursue what I love — an option I pushed to the farthest part of my shelf. It was almost as if I was cured of my astigmatism, and I was finally able to see clearly. I was so hung up on what others’ perception of me would be if I do this or that, thinking that I have such rigid shoes to fill. I was trying to be anyone but myself. As a Filipino and an Iska, it is my duty to serve the country. But who’s to forbid me from doing just that by doing what I love?
What the Philippines need are more people crazy and brave enough to demolish the stigma around careers in the arts and humanities, in order to enrich and enliven our culture. I wish to be a part of a future where Filipinos find unchartered waters where they can do what they love in such a way that it also helps others. My parents spare nothing when it comes to education, even putting off allowing themselves the smallest convenience in order to provide for us. They have sacrificed blood, sweat, and tears to give me the privilege to pursue whatever I set my heart to undertake.
I owe it not only to myself but also to those who will come after me who would love to write as well, to use my privilege in ensuring that others are empowered to pursue what they want. Sure, my years in school were full of failures in bringing home the bacon when it comes to winning awards for my compositions. But those failures did little to fetter my drive to write. I continued to paint images through words, vignette my loved ones’ characters through letters and poems, and recently, I authored my undergraduate thesis which was a love letter to teenage mothers.
I kept writing because seeing my thoughts on paper was enough to keep me going, and I want to keep writing because I have stories to tell. Being a writer in the Philippines is surely a rocky terrain, but I am resolved to be the person that I am.
2023 has already shifted its gears, without slowing down for anybody. But I do not believe that it’s too late to resolve myself toward a new conviction for this year. The future is scary and uncertain, but it can also be full of hope if you stay true to yourself. So, this 2023, as long as God gives me time, I choose to pursue my passion.
I shall write here, write now.
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Deborah Riogelon, 23, is a philosophy graduate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She is currently figuring out what notebook will she use for the first draft of her novel.
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