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.

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