Most people would equate responsibility to “waking up through every ever-darkening dark circles”, “having to feed 5 naughty children everyday”, “driving through the same street for a little less than 365 days”, “checking nonsense essays of students who are still learning how it is to fall in love and to be broken to pieces”, “deleting spams and other email junks”, “doing homework that is deemed unnecessary and a big burden in life”, or simply “being a slave five times a week and searching for life on Saturdays and Sundays”.
I always remember my more or less 6 year old self as that student who always hesitated. I NEVER RAISED MY HAND! And if ever I did in very few instances, that moment itself was the pride of the day. Just that moment. I grew up wanting to someday be at the front and center, leading people, giving commands, listening to suggestions and giving people my stamp of approval, appreciating and giving generous good remarks to encourage everyone. I always thought that such task is rewarding in a way that you grow as a person and people see it as if a gush of glitters flopped up from your back like wings. I always wanted that kind of moment for I was that girl watching the other girl looking like a queen as I was being that girl staring from behind, shy and so reserved yet dreaming of castles and kingdoms.
That was my childhood. My little snow globe. My secret.
And then growing up happened and the world showed me responsibility with a different face: it has not glittery wings but pangs, a tail and a whole lot of stress spells for every living person trying to live. People do not really like it. They like leadership and acquisition but not really responsibility. They get married then lose love after 365 days of feeding babies and shoving the English alphabet to their kid’s cute, little brains. They buy houses and cars then curse the bank, the company they are working at and the hideous government – sometimes, even their family. They wear their best outfit and smiles to the ultimate interview then take every medicine there is because each day they asked for is actually a stressful one.
But in the middle of some stressful days, there were a few changes in my life and for some reason, responsibility was getting pastel colors as its suit for the day. I realized that part of me – yes, probably that kid who always hesitated and never raised her hand – is in love with responsibility. It has to me, some meaning that gives my day the life that it is actually serving.
1.) It keeps me alive and going.
One whole year of vacation? SIGN ME UP!
The first few weeks and months would be glorious, full of taking pictures and leisurely walking by the seashore. There will be plenty of cocktails and exquisite hotel service. There will be hot air balloons blending with the clouds. And no, there won’t be the sound of an alarm clock.
But after probably 3 months of complete vacation, I’ll be seeing myself looking for a chance to be challenged. I will look for something to do. I will look for people who need my help. I will look for anything that can say “Dear, you have succeeded!” I will look for whatever there is to tell me that I am living each day with fruits growing and giving birth to more trees and rainforests. I will miss that face that says “You have worked so hard. Thank you!” I will miss the sense that I am being cooperative and meaningful. I will miss deadlines and to-do lists. And then, I will pack my things and return to life because I had a good vacation and in there, I realized how somehow, I am still whole, capable and sane. AND NEEDED!
2.) I am pushed and shaken and broken to do better than the best that I can already do now.
Sometimes, I want to hit people in the face and pull them towards the race they never won all because they never joined in it. I want to tell them how capable they are of multiple evolutions: one after learning “1 + 1”, another after realizing that school must be more of a place to learn about oneself than of academics, and another after every year, and decades and yes, even down to those little minutes of self-realizations. I wish I could tell people how they still have so much more to learn about themselves and what they are capable of. Growth doesn’t stop when puberty ended, when one has graduated, when one has retired, when one has heard the chart-topping songs of three generations. Growth keeps on growing. Aren’t we supposed to be the epitome of that?
3.) Because I can
There were times when I never knew I can until I threw that fishy doubt onto the trash bin and gave life a determined nod. I hesitated, many, many times but I learned something else: that after hesitating every time in a certain period of my life, I got tired of it that I easily wanted to try jumping off the Macau Tower just by seeing people do it on TV.
The thought that I will never be young again scared me! Now, I remember raising my hand, finally letting that hand be noticed in thin air: when I was chosen to be the leader in class, when I directed a school play, when I was appointed a position in the student council, when I decided to be the breadwinner of our family, when I agreed to be in charge while our senior is away, when I made some significant decisions for our family, when I danced for a Christmas presentation, when somebody asked me to make a “Happy Birthday” lettering for a colleague…
when I felt that in some way, I am in charge and that I have some kind of power bestowed upon me by Someone up there that can be used for something
4.) I have survived
I have survived and realized that I am actually very much alive despite living with inconsistencies; dreams that I still haven’t seen in their truest and brightest form; all levels of disappointment; nights when falling asleep was the easiest thing to do due to so much stress, ever looking forward to Fridays because tomorrow would be Saturday; people I dreaded the most; and struggles that I only know, where the battlefield is inside the very thoughts I ponder on.
I have survived. I am still alive and living. I am still moving forward. How could have I forgotten about that?
*photos are not mine