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 When I Grow Up

When I was younger, in elementary, I could not wait to grow up. I thought with every birthday that passed, I would be closer to being a grown up. Being a grown up meant independence, getting a part-time job and possibly falling in love; it meant becoming a dalaga [young lady] and having a debut; it meant being looked up to as a good role model, an ate. I was eager to start driving, earn my own money and graduate from high school. I had no idea that there was a lot more to growing up. Now at twenty-two, my prior view of being a grown up has evolved as I have surpassed my elementary days. But I have achieved my younger ambitions; I graduated from high school, worked part-time and I have even survived my first broken heart. I had my year of debuts, and have many kapatids that call me ate from the ANAK in-school mentorship program. I have learned that growing up is growing older, meaning many more responsibilities than finding a dress to where for my graduation.

I always thought growing up and becoming a young adult would become easier during the years but it is definitely no walk in the park. I did not know that when you made money, you had to save it or that after graduating from high school meant that I now had to graduate from university or if not school, find a full-time job. I did not know that falling in love would be an emotional roller coaster or that I would loose friends I thought I would have forever. Growing up meant gaining my own insight, my own opinion and finding my own beliefs. What was instilled in me as a child then was soon challenged by my peers, by media and what I was learning on my own through my experiences. I had to decide personally what was right from wrong and learn through trial and error. I would like to think however that I was raised well by my parents and that I am growing to the person they want me to be, making the right decisions and accepting responsibly whatever consequences develop.

As I am growing up however, the attitude I get is that sometimes people my age take growing up for granted; we have it easy, or all we think about is having a “good time” with our barkada and friends. The act of growing up is far less complicated than actually being grown up. This perspective also equivalents youth to inexperience and we therefore have no right to question or voice our “naive” opinion. From my own development, I have also learned that tradition often clashes with contemporary. There is mistrust between generations, an animosity that is difficult to overcome. This often leads to misunderstanding, as voicing out opinions backlashes as a sign of rebellion or disrespect. Personally, it is a daily struggle to find a balance between what was old and familiar to what is new and strange.

Although the struggle to grow up is a different experience for each generation, growing up is universal; everywhere, growing older means becoming a grown up. I may be naïve as I am young, but I am learning as I am aging. Friends are not bad influences, but the family we choose. Speaking up is not talking back, but is an attempt to explain and to reason out. Present choices are not bad decisions but rather lead to a pathway of experience, which in my opinion is the best teacher. Balancing school, part-time jobs and a social life is not bad concentration but preparation to the more extreme balancing acts of a family, full-time job and other grown up responsibilities that will be faced in the future. Yes, poor choices are made sometimes, but who doesn’t; we learn and outgrow careless behaviour and realize we are not immortal. Why? Because we are growing up.

Growing up, I expose myself to opportunities that I know will only come once such as travelling when I can; I take part of things I know will make a difference, which is why I am active with ANAK and as I learned from my high school motto at St. Mary’s Academy, “Carpe Diem” –I seize the day. As I grown, I know I am going to be pretty satisfied with my life. I heard in a song once by The Ataris, “Being grown up isn’t half as fun as growing up. These are the best days of lives.” I do not take for granted the time I have growing up; in fact, I believe I am taking advantage of it. Contact the author at


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