There you are walking through life with a smile, as if the load you carry isn’t heavy. You’ve been carrying it your whole life, that you’ve let it define you who you are, dictate you where you go, and stretch your lengths to what things you can do.
I know the depths of you.
You keep your lifeline, because you’re a lifeline for others. You hold your tears, because you don’t want to be seen crying. You’re tired, but you can’t afford to quit. You want to tell them it’s heavy, but you always choose not to. You always choose to provide even when there’s nothing left for you.
I know you, and can you please come through?
To that 9-year-old kid . . .
Your grandma held your hand and said, “Here’s our hope for a better future.” Your parents in full smile as they nodded in agreement. You believed them. You looked at them, and saw their eyes full of hope. Right there and then, you convinced yourself that you have to do well. You need to.
You walked hand-in-hand with your grandpa, he was showing you the vast farmlands that were no longer theirs. It was no longer surprising to you. You’ve known poverty ever since you can remember. He told you to grow up to be a professional so that you can take it all back. He patted your back. Someday, he said. Someday. These kinds of moments happened regularly before, but back then, you were full of hope. You felt like you had a super power, with your motivation overflowing from you. I wish I can hug you, kid. You have no idea what their words will put your through.
To that High School Senior . . .
Your eyes brawled in tears. You were so anxious. You crunched the College Admission Test reviewer tightly in your hand. Negative thoughts started swarming. What if you’re not that exceptional and you’ll fail? What if you pass and you won’t get a scholarship? What if your parents tell you they cannot afford anything? What if nobody would support your education? What if you’ll be forced to stay?
You snapped out it. You finally told yourself that you cannot afford to fail. You cannot afford to stop, because by then, to whom will your family look for hope? That time, you started to realize that you were alone, and you knew that despite that, you have to make it work, no matter what.
You were brave, but I wish you wouldn’t have to be.
To that College student . . .
You were on a ship taking you to a city faraway. You’ve decided to make it work, no matter what.
You busted tables. You worked in a clinic during your vacant periods. You wrote five long articles every night. You tutored younger students for a hundred peso per hour. You sang on events because of the shining 500 peso talent fee. You piled up stocks and orders in a warehouse during Summer. You hustled day and night so that you can comfort your parents by telling them that they don’t have to send their 600 pesos over every 2 weeks.
In return, you sent small amounts to them when you received your salaries. Everytime your semestral scholarship allowance arrived, you made sure you sent a percentage to them. Everytime the clothing apparels from your scholarship arrived, you made sure to choose and send small socks for your sister, that 31-waisted jeans for your father, and that pretty blouse for your mother.
You felt like it was a responsibility, and not a burden. You were happy to have been able to provide. You cared a lot. I wished you cared for yourself, too.
To that Working Professional . . .
You are miles away from home. The weight has become obviously heavy this time. You woke up everyday, worked yourself off, and went home to absolute silence. You endured loneliness, tiredness, a work that you no longer enjoy, just so you can earn that huge money to be able to continue to provide. Unfortunately, no matter how big the pay is, when it comes, nothing’s left for you.
You looked at your social media feed, your friends are traveling abroad, buying new phones, attending concerts, taking new academic degrees, or buying new books and clothes. You checked for things that you can do for yourself as well, the new shoes or clothes you wanted to buy or the new business you’d like to put up. You allowed your mind to wander and your heart to be happy daydreaming. Then reality sets back in. Your parents’ debts need to be paid. Their health deteriorating. Your siblings’ educational expenses. Your bills, their bills. Your family’s unfinished house. Your family’s chained farmlands. Your parents’ and grandparents’ favors.
There were times when you walked in to your apartment’s room fresh from work doing overtime. You couldn’t breathe. You sat in the corner of your empty room. Alone. You stared into nothing. There were just days when you really feel the whole weight of the burden you’ve always carried. There were just days when you want to call it all quits, when you want to not care anymore. You told yourself you are never going to do this to your own child. You regretted, blamed, got angry, and frustrated, but you also didn’t at the same time. Your heart is just tired. You’ve been incredibly strong for a very long time.
Cry. Pour it all out.
Tell yourself that you’ve done so well. That you’re proud of yourself for reaching this far. That your efforts aren’t in vain, and that you are appreciated. Finally, know the fact that you never deserved all of the pain and hardships.
Then heal. Take your time, and heal. When you’re ready, start loving yourself. Eradicate the guilt, and start thinking of yourself. Continue to love, to be kind, and passionate. At the same time, acknowledge the things that you deserve.
Better days will come, but for now, promise me. Can you please come through?