by Ivan Anthony A. Adaro | March 5, 2022
Just a few weeks ago, as I was passing by Rizal Boulevard, memories from my childhood came instantly rushing into my mind like a distant friend longing to meet me after so many years of not seeing each other. The scenery of the boulevard, intermingled with the sea that reflected the faint afterglow of the sky, the sundry lights from restaurants flickering to life, and the shine coming off from the evenly spaced street lights, all felt so liberating. But at the same time, it was also so vast that I felt so small – small not because I felt like I was just another miniscule being in the crowd, but because the scenery was so beautiful and huge that I was glad to be a small part of it.
A long time ago, back when I was just about five years old, people told me that there used to be fireflies that gleamed in the night, here and there, by the grass and trees that used to be greener and by the sea and skies that used to be bluer – all without the many buildings, boats, and vehicles distorting the view. They’d say that back then, everything used to be much more peaceful, beautiful, and simple. As I recalled what they had told me, I snuck a glance over the seas, thinking maybe I would see a glow from a firefly. But I didn’t see one; there weren’t any.
Why is it that nostalgia has such a strong hold on people? People, even I, would claim, “It used to be better back then.”, or “Missing the good old days.”, or “Oh! This reminds me of my awesome childhood!”. It’s almost so strange that the older something is, the more people are likely to regard it in a favorable light. We think fondly of our past and long to experience the sweet memories we have back then, or we lament on the things that have changed and what has been changed. Wouldn’t that mean change is a bad thing and essentially, a cause of pain? Is change the reason why we are so desperate to chase after the petals in the winds because we fear being left behind? Nonetheless, even if you don’t change, the world and everything around you will.
In elementary, we were taught to make friends with the other kids and establish a good relationship with them. Teachers encouraged us to play games with our classmates and enjoy each other’s company at school. Frankly, this has been the most common reason why kids enjoy going to school and would enthusiastically get ready to pack their school supplies. From the perspective of a kid that is yet to explore the wonders of the world, the idea of creating friendships with other kids and learning from them is just as sweet as the orange juice that their mothers would prepare for them for breakfast. Maybe that is the reason why we, back in our elementary days, feel left out whenever our friends and other kids won’t invite us to play a game of tag or hide-and-seek with them.
Slowly, as we enter high school and our teenage years, we will come to realize that there’s more to life than the need for belongingness. We start seeing changes in our bodies and in the way we act around people – we try to be more mindful about how we look and how others might perceive our presence. New and bigger responsibilities will fill up our plates, higher and heavier expectations will weigh down on our shoulders, meticulous and anxious thoughts will cloud our minds as our future comes looming within our midst. Even if we try to listen to the nagging voice in our heads urging us to simply act and be ourselves, the pressure to conform to the standards of a thousand pairs of eyes that’s ready to judge tempts us to neglect that voice.
Still, those are just unproven assumptions and testaments in our minds. The idea that if you change yourself to please others, the whole world will also change and adore you – all those, it’s simply just untrue. Your preexisting reputation and relationships do not magically transform from bad to good overnight. Additive and subtractive qualities hampered upon the mask you’re trying to put up for people won’t be used to evaluate you, and at the very most, won’t help yourself. Because in reality, people only perceive the picture produced by their own prejudices and judgments, and not the actual situation. Don’t get me wrong but I’m not trying to say that the world is evil and that a little bit of judgement and criticism is bad. However, sugar-coating things and distorting the truth to lessen and compensate for the blow isn’t good either – in fact, for me, it is pointless and counterproductive.
In my own point of view, some people might say that preventing the birth of something negative has serious advantages, even if it means nothing is born at all. But wouldn’t it be much more fulfilling if you have tried to pursue something different and see what you’re truly capable of? Change is, ultimately, about running away from your current situation and taking risks. If you choose not to run, you stay the same; you stand firm at where you are right now and play it safe. There are things to be gained from not changing, but there’s also a bountiful amount of harvest, learning, and growth that’s waiting for you should you try out a different path and take the courage to journey into a world where your true potential and self might be discovered, even if others might judge you.
As we grow up, our surroundings will also change. Some people will come and go, our circle of friends will become smaller in numbers, and only a few might actually stay and be there for us at the darkest moments of our lives. And I believe there’s nothing wrong with that type of change. In fact, it is rather beautiful as we will truly see who the real and genuine people are in our lives that’s willing to go through life with us through thick and thin. Perhaps by now, maybe you’ve already accepted that and understood that at some point in our lives, we’ll have to accept change and let go of the ideals and principles that no longer serve us. Maybe you haven’t yet, and that is ok. Once we are able to realize and experience that in our lives, we might be able to see that, indeed, there is growth in letting go of the things that no longer serve us and beauty in learning to accept the happenings that have greatly changed and evolved around us.
I have no intention of denying who I was in the past or who I am in the present, but one thing is definite for sure: I am the master of my own boat. That is why I won’t rule out the option of changing course, even if it means that I’ll be steering towards a different path.