Feminist Lens: What dreams are made of

I’m not the right person to talk about goal setting. I am just good at dreaming. I personally advocate to make your own dreams, follow your heart’s desire.

Dreams don’t only talk about the future but they also talk about our existing values, our interests, and our priorities.

I read an anecdote of a mother having a conversation with her son. Her son wrote in his homework that he wanted to be the driver of a train. The teacher corrected her son’s homework. She wrote : “To be a manager of the train station.”

Should the teacher correct the little boy’s dream? What if being a train operator is what the little boy really wanted to be?

I have heard many stories on how parents would like their children to be doctors, nurses, lawyers and how students struggle to finish a degree they don’t like.

If ever I become a mother, I will not insist my dreams to be my children’s dreams. They will be what they want to be.

This leaves me with a thought that we are not entitled to impose what people should aspire for. When people tell me what I should be and what I should want to have, I silently respond:
“Who are you to tell me what I should be?” “What do you know about my dreams.”

If I am not happy receiving unsolicited advice on how I should live my life, why should I do the same to others?

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A month ago, I facilitated a short activity for a group of women in the community. In our activity Buuin Natin Ang Ating Mga Pangarap, we ask each woman to make a vision board. The group was composed of full-time mothers living in Brgy. UP Campus. They cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers and put them all together in a cartolina. Some dreamed of having a business, owning a landline, and serving good food for their family. I take it as a sign of hope that somehow they have aspirations that will eventually make them entrepreneurs in their community. As expected, everyone mentioned having a good life for their family.

If you belong to the first wave of feminists, you would preach that you have the choice to work outside home. Do not let yourself be confined to the four corners of your home. You can be so much more than be a mother and a wife.

I was supposed to end the activity with the women by saying, “Have a dream outside home, outside family. Have a dream that you can call yours, not your husband’s dream, not your parents’ dream, not you family’s dream. “

But I just couldn’t remember if I really said it. Maybe I did not say it at all because deep down I questioned my position to encourage women to aim a little higher and “dream for yourself.” I had some introspection. Maybe these things are easy to say because I am young, single, childless, and middleclass.

I have enjoyed my single life and perhaps my motivation of the things I do is to reach self-actualization. Like other millennials, I constantly question my purpose in life. Sometimes, I subconsciously equate purpose with profession, paycheck, or any validation from the society. And again my formula is about me and my dreams.

But for some people, family is a strong motivation to keep a job, to get a promotion, to start a business, to take risks, to keep your momentum and zest in life. I rationalize this by saying,
“You make the most of your ability when you know that there are people around you who depend on you, like a captain of the ship, like a pilot, like a CEO.” For me, that is a form of empowerment. When you are able to produce milk for your child, when all the members of the house are well-fed, when you ensure accessibility and availability of resources not only for your family survival but for the development of their capacities, motherhood becomes a serious endeavor that requires management skills, with targets and deliverables.

If we ask most mothers what they dream of, the answers will always be about family. Should we as feminists, dream of enhancing and strengthening our personal relationships? Should it be part of our agenda to make better mothers and wives in the world?

Without being too theoretical, feminism wants women to be their best version of themselves and that covers many facets of a woman’s life

The purpose of the vision board activity is not to promote a new set of values but to find commonality in our dreams as a women’s organization. Because within these similarities, we draw strength from one another to reach great heights.

From a Ted Talk quote:

“Coming true is not the only purpose of a dream. Its most important purpose is to get us in touch with where dreams come from, where passion comes from, where happiness comes from. Even a shattered dream can do that for you.” – Lisa Bu

Why should we deprive ourselves from the joy of dreaming? Whether it’s small or big,for work or better life, whether it comes from a selfless notion of motherhood,  a dream is a reminder that we can be so much more than what we are today.

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To my 14-year-old Self

muni muni

To my 14-year-old self:

One day you will realize the things you believe important and attractive are trivial and superficial. Hence, take it easy. Forgive yourself when you can’t rewind, replace, redo. We are all unfinished products.

Find your own happiness. Your happiness should be independent from what your parents, your friends, or others think. It should be free from what society expects. Our capitalist culture has a way of reshaping our beliefs on happiness. Listen to your inner voice. It may not give you the best answers but it will give you the honest answers.

Fulfilling a childhood dream or a bucket list is more of an ego fulfillment than a calling. Ego fulfillment is all about yourself. It is a personal sense of accomplishment or sense of worth. Calling is not all about yourself. Calling is not unrequited love. It shouldn’t be I-love-music-but-music-hates-me. It means you want something that wants you back.

You will like to hear a lot of inspiring quotes about life like these: “If you work hard, you will succeed. If you are persistent, you will get it. If you can conceive it, you can achieve it. If you are very passionate, you will excel. If you are nice to people, they will not do harm to you.” Sorry to burst your bubble, life has no formula. We keep on finding ways to make it perfect but no one writes his own life like an equation. It is a result of many drafts. We can only plan life to a certain extent but there will always be a hand of God pointing you to where you should be.

Here are four top life events you have to go through.

From the lyrics of  Fix You– Coldplay

  1. When you try your best but don’t succeed
  2. When you get what you want but not what you need
  3. When you lose something you can’t replace
  4. When you love someone but goes to waste

Thus, when things don’t work out in favor of you, you learn to reinvent yourself.

If you make a mistake, do it with dignity. Be a professional actor. Don’t let other people know your weakness unless you can no longer keep it to yourself. Hide the things that haunt you. Be a swan, struggling underneath but graceful on the surface. It takes time to master this craft.

Savor every feeling whether it’s good or bad. If someone cuts you, let it bleed. Laugh if it tickles. Be amused even if you are the only one who can appreciate it. If someone tricks you, good for you. You just witness magic. If you hate something, punch the wind.

Fight for what you love, even if you are not sure it is worth fighting for. The only time you know it’s not worth fighting for when you lose the battle. Hence, you don’t know if you don’t try. We call this 1st level bravery. The second level of bravery is when you give up the things you used to dream and love after fighting a hard battle. Warriors do not mention the word “surrender”. But there is victory in surrender. It is something both heroes and losers shared.

Lastly, don’t be in a hurry to grow up.

Yours truly,

The Aging Self

Pilgrim

I don’t have a good sense of direction. I cannot give clear instructions to a cab driver. When I was a kid, it took me a while to know where’s my left and my right. But in spite of not having a good sense of direction, I’m proud to say that I manage to visit a lot of places without a map.

People often describe me as “lost.” I am lost in every sense of the word. Lost in geography. Lost in thoughts. Lost of words. Lost…. My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations ( John Green, The Fault in Our Stars). Sometimes I cannot chase my own thoughts. I have to write them in my notebook because my mind skips from one idea to another. I think big. I like to keep my ideas vague and I always leave a grey area.

My sister tells me I am floater. I wander and wonder. I am a dreamer, one who spends a large portion of his/her life exploring and experimenting.  I spend a lot of my time in wonderland compared to my real world.  I dream a lot but I have no real goals.

I think  I surpass the three levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. I feel so lonely that I have no one to console me for my lack of ambition. I have no ambition to be rich. Of course, I want to have enough money to travel, to buy new clothes, to satisfy my appetites. But money itself is not my motivational force. When I think about security like most adults worry most, I  just have faith that God will provide. As written in Matthew 6: 25-34:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

This is not to say that we should not work and wait manna from heaven. But I don’t treat my life like a survival race.  We will survive no matter how much we are earning, how matter how big our family, no matter how limited are resources. If you think about animals, they don’t have money system of barter and trade. The birds just fly. The ants just crawl. And the street cats who have no pet owners have nine lives.

I don’t think that attaining the highest position in a multinational corporation can be one’s greatest achievement.  I do not envy those who have fancy business cards. I’m wondering how much time they devote in their corporate jobs, how much time they spend for hobbies, for culture, and for spirituality.

I once wrote an advice to my friend: to find a cause, to fall in love, to write a book. This is probably what I want to do or what I want to believe in. I interpret John Carter’s advice with metamorphic lenses. As what I said, I like to keep my ideas vague. That’s why I like metaphors. Finding a cause does not necessarily mean to stop global warming, to campaign against greedy politicians but to preach a principle that has life value. Falling in love for me does not have to be involved with a male figure. I want to fall in love with ideas. When an idea pops in my head, I want to nurture it and never leave it until it becomes a finished product. I might not publish a book at ll. All I want is to write my life and make it a masterpiece. I invent it and I make myself a heroic protagonist.

But for now, I’ll just dedicate my time to arts and humanity. Be a fan of artists. Seek and taste cuisines from different islands. Learn from people who excelled in their craft. Listen to different national anthems. Sing a new song with a different language. Travel and preserve memories in photographs and memoirs. Expand my reading list to reference books and niche magazines. Acquire a new set of skills. Discover hidden talents. Write a lot of letters and stories. Find romance and poetry in life. Love more people. Admire more people. Accept people as they are. Help people to be happier. Share what I already have. Glorify God. Claim that I am more than a statistic figure of human population. Take advantage of boredom because boredom calls a higher need.

“The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.”
Susan Sontag

It’s funny and superficial to say that this is my purpose in life but it can be profound at times.  There are many people who left earth without spending a single moment to question what is their purpose in life.

When you choose the road less traveled, you will get lost. There is no map for a road less known to others. But just like every destination, I manage to get there without a map.

Gotta go on my way *emote

God reads your bucket list

I always encourage people to have a bucket list. It serves as a guide on the things they should and should not invest. If owning car is not included in your bucket list, then why save to buy one? If you have no dream of becoming a manager in the corporate world, why work more than what is required? If learning how to paint is included in your bucket list, why not put some time and money for an art workshop? If you want to have your business, then take time to read and research. You see,  a bucket list can simplify life. At the same time, it pushes you to achieve what you want. Perhaps, when something is written, it becomes permanent. And when it’s permanent, you always remember your small goals. For the purpose of discussing the importance of bucket list, let me share you some I have accomplished in my bucket list and forgive me for bragging.

Let me share you some included in my bucket list:

To lose weight

I was a chubby girl when I was in high school. I was really fat not ‘feeling fat.’ Every school year, I wrote in my diary, “need to lose weight.” Like most girls, I just wanted to improve my appearance. I started losing weight without diet and exercise when I was in college. But I realized weight cannot make you beautiful or in my own words ‘sellable.’ I lost a few pounds but there was no increase or decrease of people who like and dislike me.

To get published

I wrote this in my bucket list when I was in college and brought it to life when I already had my first job. It did happen but I had to be robbed. I had to have a traumatic experience to come up something worth publishing.

To graduate with honors

When we were all kids, we probably wanted to graduate with honors.  I wasn’t an A plus student. There were only two periods in my life that I graduated with honors, my first school year  and my last school year. I did ask God for it but I did not include in my prayer that I wanted to graduate on time. I almost did not graduate college because of my thesis. But thank God for the miracle.

To perform in theater

When I talk to myself, I also talk to God. It’s like talking two people at the same time. I said, “God, I want to perform in theater even if I don’t have a talent fee, even if I’m just part of a chorus.”  Then, God gave exactly what I requested. I joined the cast of a non profit theater as an ensemble member. It was a wonderful experience but it was not a eureka moment for me as what I expected.

These are some of the few things  that could not have happened if I did not have a bucket list. Of course, I have a lot in my list that have failed. I did not pass the entrance exam for Masters Degree in Creative Writing. I don’t have my dream job. My goal last year was to read 40 books but I only read 19.  And the list goes on.

A bucket list is helpful. It gives some sense of fulfillment. As I look back some of the things I wrote, I thought  achieving one by one, I could be happy and die with contentment. But there’s so much unwritten truth sealed in every wish. As what they say, “Be careful what you wish for.” A wish fulfilled gratifies you but it does not necessarily complete you, as what I wrote: Dreams change as you grow old. Your fantasies when you were younger no longer apply. Reality bites and you need to make a detour. But sometimes reality is more beautiful than a dream or perhaps the reality I created in my head is far more beautiful. I never wrote in my bucket list that I wanted an easy life. Sometimes the things I wished for are the things that brought me stress, tears, and frustration. If there’s one thing I learn from keeping a bucket list, it makes me  realize that I still have control over my life.  Happiness is not confined in a  list but freedom means everything.  And freedom is  a gift from God.   God let us have what we want even if we don’t deserve it and even if we don’t need it. He just wants to satisfy us and tell us, “You thought you know what’s best for you. But wait, I have better plans for you.”

Dreams Change

Your dreams change as you grow old.

You probably realize that when you are already done with college or have been working about two to three years like me.

I was reminded of my childhood dream when the buzz of Ms. Saigon audition was spreading all over the news and social media. God knows, I’ve been wanting to be in Ms. Saigon and be Ms. Saigon. After having performance-related subjects in college, theater workshops, meeting theater artists, auditions, and snippets of theater performance, my theater dream blossomed and blossomed until it shrank ironically. I got to know myself. I discovered my strengths and bitterly accepted my weaknesses.

I questioned if it was a dream worth fighting for. I can deliver a line, fill the stage with the decibel of my voice. But I don’t have outstanding looks that can compensate my mediocre talent. I can sing the right notes, but not stellar enough for a country that has a lot of singing talents planted everywhere like coconut trees. And as I met a lot of people who were also into musical theater, I found out that there were a lot of girls who sounded like Lea Salonga. They didn’t intentionally imitate Lea but her voice and her songs had become the template, the way Whitney became the standard for pop singers. And did I mention to you that I have two left feet? I have poor body coordination. I’m not a dancer. Not only that, there are so many things in theater that I don’t think I can handle such as the pressure on stage, the number of  thank-you auditions,  to open yourself more to rejection, correction, intimidating personalities. Sometimes, it’s only beautiful when it’s a dream. Sometimes it’s enchanting when these things only happen in your head. Having said all of this, I knew I had my limitation. And if you want to survive in this competitive industry, you have to be versatile. Apparently, I’m not.

I thought of this while I was controlling my left leg from moving during our rehearsal for a play. I just realize that this is not something I can claim as my own. Don’t get me wrong. I still like theater but it is now just a dream I dreamed. I kept the lyrics of “I still believe” in my music sheet folder and decided not to go to Opera House for auditions.

It’s not that I’m frustrated. I’m just enlightened? Reality pinched me in a harmless way. Perhaps what I want in life is to shine, to be at my best. And theater is not exactly the place I can say I belong. Everyday, life gives me more questions. Where do I belong? What other dreams are there for me? Can I create another dream? Is it too late?

I find comfort from this quote of C.S. Lewis.

dreams change

Part of My World

One of my favorite hobbies is daydreaming. Sometimes I’m trapped with my own world, that I am shocked when someone calls me out of nowhere. The world in me is so beautiful that I’d rather live there than be on the real world. The things I do every day, the plans I have for my future are for my physical self but my mind, my heart is somewhere else. It is easy for me to fake happiness or to lament on nothing. For me, my reality is fiction and the reality we know is superficial. Okay, I sound creepy.

My favorite hobby led me to a long list of impossible wishes. Here are some things I wish I  could do if there were no boundaries in this world we live.

I wish I could perform on a train

Every time I ride a train, I keep wishing that I can sing loud especially, when I’m suffering from last long syndrome. The lyrics are on the tip of my tongue. I wish I can throw them out. I want to wear a 40s dress and move from one side to the other side of the train. The scene flashes on my head like an old musical movie or something that appeared like Broadway. The closest thing I have done is to do pole dancing on the train. I have no intention of doing pole dancing in the train. But my friends who witnessed and were embarrassed at my presence said so. I just glide around the train’s pole except that my hair swayed and it was gracefully executed. (lol)

I wish I could do storytelling in a bookstore

 

I got this idea from my Oral Interpretation class in college. My teacher said that  for our finals, we could do something like her students of Interpretation of Children Literature did. They performed in National Book Store. I really like the ambiance of specialty bookstore. It’s quiet. It gives you moment to contemplate and to relax. I thought a bookstore would be a nice place for performance. Take note: I don’t just want to read a book in front of the kids. I want performance level. (hehe) I want to wear a costume and do some little effects. I am always fascinated with costumes and masks. I wear my tutu skirt even if people stare at me and ask me, “What are you wearing?”

I wish I could make a storyboard

Before I dreamed of becoming a rock star and pursued so many absurd dreams, I wanted to be an artist. I mean a visual artist, one who draws and colors. In grade school, I was never elected nor nominated as one of the class officers. Eventually I became a class officer, as the class artist because I was the favorite of my English teacher (Art = English?) I think I joined a poster making contest. I think I landed third place (Yah, I know I’m bragging). The little things I did in grade school made me dream to work on Walt Disney. I wanted to work behind the scenes of Disney films. I wanted to be one of those guys who was responsible for the film’s storyboard. But as I grew up, that dream died out. When I was in high school, I felt I lacked talent and practice to pursue it. My childhood ambition to take Fine Arts in college remained in my childhood. How could I possibly survive the course when I could not make an origami or draw a straight line? But my hope of making a storyboard is still there. Besides it’s not a drawing board, it’s a storyboard.

I wish I could meet life-changing strangers

From the movie Eat Pray Love

I find this funny because it’s one way or the other of telling you want to find true love somewhere. No matter how hermit-like I am, I love people. Even if it’s so hard to socialize and to agree upon something, I still like to meet new people. Meeting people widens your perspective in life. I gain wisdom as I meet new people. As I travel from different parts of the country, I met strangers who were quite unforgettable. It makes me happy to know that a stranger shares a few bits of his life with me. There was one I met on the barge going from Visayas to Mindanao. He was from a seminary. The funny thing about him is he did everything I asked him to do. He sang. He delivered a declamation piece. He showed a picture of his girlfriend. When I was 11 years old, I was strolling around the park with my three-year old nephew, I met a man. He talked about his family. He was separated with his wife and son. He showed me a picture of his son. He told me his son was about my age. These rare occasions warm my heart knowing that you lend them your ear and in return, they share you stories.

These are the thoughts running in my head in moments when someone tells me, “Jacklyn, may sarili kang mundo”(You have your own world.)

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