I went to mass for the first time in a long while last night. My sister and I wanted to stay outside the church because it was so hot. My mom, however, insisted that we sit inside, and went on without us. We didn’t want to feel like total heels, so we followed her in. We found a spot that was mercifully close to an electric fan, so it wasn’t as bad as we thought.
Unfortunately, we sat behind something that, for some strange reason, shook me on that night. It was the following scene:
There was a family in front of us. Dad and Mom were a little overweight and dressed in his and her collared t-shirts. They had two hyperactive little boys with them who insisted on making a racket with a couple of five-peso coins. Neither of them would stop until Dad picked one up and carried him. The eldest, in particular, was a handful. He must have been four years old, at most, and was prone to tantrums. He threw his shoes around, stamped his feet, yelled, and punched Dad on the ass if he wasn’t being carried. The nanny they brought with them didn’t do much. She didn’t look much older than 16, either.
I watched them the entire time with a feeling of dread. It was as if what I saw was a version of my future gone wrong. The parents didn’t seem like they were ready for their kids (you can’t expect a four-year-old boy to behave in mass, can you?), and yet they were all too happy to have two in rapid succession. The kids were nightmares. The maid was way too young to be working, but they didn’t get any flack for hiring her because that’s how domestic help works in this country. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t get much pay, either.
I know I’m being a little too judgmental, and for all I know these could be the happiest bunch of people on Earth, but what I saw and how I saw it terrified me. It wasn’t because I feel I’m too young to start a family or anything like that. It scared me because it was all so typical.
I can’t imagine myself living like that, and yet, in this society, this sort of scene is the norm. It often feels inevitable that I’ll someday wear pastel shirts and khaki pants, having more kids than I can handle, and maybe even practicing my golf swing on my free time. It scares me because it all sounds so goddamn boring, yet inescapable.
Maybe this is why I’m so resistant to my parents’ advice. Everything they tell me to do conforms to the norms of Philippine life, and the prospect of that genuinely frightens me. I try to find success in my unconventionality, yet I see friends earning more doing the humdrum things. It makes me wonder sometimes if adhering to the norm is the only way to guarantee a good future; that being boring is the best way to being wealthy.
Is it wrong to try to find success in the things we’re passionate about? Is it wrong to try to pursue a life that both excites and fulfills?
I’m never really sure about anything in life, but I’m going to stick with my gut on this one. There has to be a way to happy without living a cookie-cutter lifestyle.