Shoulder taps

My Lola once told me about her childhood and how she used to play with her friends—they climbed trees and liked the midday air on their farm in a barrio in Zambales. She was also enthused about her skill at games such as hide and seek and tumbang preso. Lola also told me how strict her parents were. Life was simple throughout her lifetime, and she wanted me to spend my life like she did. With this, she made me a dreamer. And I dreamed of simple things in life.

As I grew older, it became clear that I would never be able to live the way Lola wanted me to because the world she lived in was not the same as the one I now live in. Before, life was simple due to the limited number of options available to them. They were unable to travel to distant places. They were unable to meet and get to know individuals over the internet. Lola is 90 years old, and I am in my 20s. The notion of leisure in their generation is very different from the millennials’ idea of leisure. Unlike Lola, who lived in a world of simplicity and calm, I live in a sophisticated but unsatisfying world.

Lola belongs to a generation that witnessed the world transform from black and white to vibrant hues, while I, a proud member of Generation Z, am still discovering the shades that make up our ever-evolving world. As a millennial, I stand at the crossroads of generations, inheriting a world brimming with possibilities yet burdened by countless choices.

The abundance of options, once a beacon of hope, has become a double-edged sword. I am constantly bombarded with decisions, from the mundane to the life-altering, leaving me teetering on the precipice of uncertainty. Should I pursue a career in nursing, accounting, or engineering? Should I embrace the convenience of online classes or the social interaction of traditional learning? Should I share my thoughts and moments on social media or guard my privacy like a precious treasure?

Every morning, I wake up not to the comforting rhythm of routine but to the discordant symphony of choices. I navigate through the day, each decision a step further into life’s confusing maze. Being a millennial is like being an orchestra conductor, with every instrument competing for our attention, every note threatening to throw the entire piece into disharmony. It’s a constant struggle to find the right balance, silence the cacophony of options, and hear the melody of our desires.

Perhaps, when I was younger, I also once thought that living a simple life would be possible. But as I got older, the world’s harsh realities gradually chipped away at this utopic vision, revealing a world that seemed determined to dictate my path, leaving me feeling trapped in a web of societal expectations.

A pang of longing strikes me sometimes, a yearning to reclaim the carefree innocence of my childhood. I wanted to see myself as that 10-year-old boy, clad in my favorite white T-shirt and well-worn slippers, blissfully unaware of life’s inevitable curveballs.

I wanted to go back to those untroubled days when laughter flowed freely, fueled by silly jokes rather than the weight of books because those were the days when I believed that the world was a canvas of endless possibilities, untainted by the gravity of responsibilities.

There were times when I wanted to relive those high school days when my only concern was the next impromptu adventure with friends because that’s when I believed that people are destined to be in many places throughout their lifetimes, a journey of constant arrivals and departures, a dance of encounters and farewells. For me, the world was just too huge for us to stay in place.

I’m still discovering life’s intricate map, still curious where it might lead. Yet, I hold onto the hope that someday, someone will rekindle that childlike belief that life will take me to a place where I can continue to live my life, to create purpose, to dream, and to dream some more and chase after them with the same unbridled enthusiasm I possessed as a boy. The dreamer in me never fades, constantly yearning for the next chapter in the grand story of life.

The world has often painted millennials with a broad brush of arrogance, labeling us self-absorbed and entitled. But beneath this superficial stereotype lies a generation driven by a deep-seated desire for connection and guidance. We may be the first to have grown up in the digital age, but we are not blinded by technology’s allure. We recognize the immense wisdom and experience held by our elders, who have navigated the complexities of life before us.

Our world moves unprecedentedly, demanding constant decisions. In this whirlwind of choices, we sometimes stumble, our youthful inexperience leading us down paths less traveled. In these moments of uncertainty, we yearn for the steady hand of experience, the gentle nudge in the right direction.

To our beloved teachers, Titas and Titos, and wise grandparents, I humbly extend my plea for continued guidance. Your life stories and hard-earned lessons are invaluable treasures we long to inherit. Please share your insights, not as mere lectures or admonishments, but as heartfelt conversations, as shared experiences that bridge the generational gap.

A soft tap on the shoulder would be nice, too.


Ian Joseph Angel, 24, is a third-year civil engineering student at the National University, Baliwag. He believes everyone deserves a shoulder tap.