… and the grades are out. Should I tell Alan he is not alone? A colleague of mine broke out into tears when her son’s grades were faxed to the office this morning, and she realized that her son would not march in the schoolyear’s graduation. All I could do was give her a hug and tell her to take it all in and let it go.
Such heartache in parenthood. I look at my son and I wonder if 14 years from now, he will be talking to us like his half brother is talking back to his father. Whenever they have one of their exchanges, I dutifully take Angel away and entertain him because I don’t want him to hear nor see their arguments.
What is it about this generation which seems to be in the two extremes when it comes to ambition? While others are seemingly overly driven, others don’t seem to possess the motivation to aim for even just a stable life as a responsible adult. While it has been half my lifetime since I was in that age, I don’t remember myself not seeing where I wanted to be as an adult. Even when Math and Chemistry and Trigonometry were knocking me out senseless, I knew I had to go through college to go to Law School. I knew I wanted to work in Makati, and I wanted a nice-paying job. In my young adult life, I knew I had the edge coming from the schools I went to and I used those badges to my full advantage.
After going through college, taking up law at the Ateneo School of Law and passing the Philippine Bar Exam without a formal review in 1995, I ventured out into the corporate instead of legal field, pulling on my strengths in communication and the arts. As I achieved my personal goals, my ambitions because more earthy and brought me down to the ultimate goal in my life which was to find someone to spend my life with, and to establish a family by having a child I could help to be happy and complete.
At Age 39, I have managed to accomplish that goal — not without struggling through school, and not without the challenges of uprooting myself from my career and life back in Manila. But going back to my teen years, it was painful and difficult, but I was never rebellious. There was always a sense of acceptance of my parents’ having the last word. I was a good and obedient child. I was bright but I had my challenges in the sciences. I felt like it was me against the world, but I knew that if I wanted to, I could do more — and I strove to do more.
Not even a reversal of fortunes which forced me to work while tackling law school discouraged me from going after my dreams. I knew what I had to do to make them come true. I had to enter a good university and I landed in UP. In law school, UP said no but the Jesuits saw the unpolished gem in me and took me in — and I didn’t fail them because I became one of their passing statistics when I took the Bar exams. I took it all a step at a time, and even as I struggled through maturing into adulthood, I recognized the sacrifices that had to be made, and I gave it my best shot.
So I wonder if it is resignation that is hindering these underachieving youth. Or are we too blind to see that perhaps, they are not as intellectually gifted as our generation? Have we failed as their role models or as their parents and friends to establish the need to aim for something, and not just live from day to day?
Alan and I wonder if the 15 year old thinks his father will live forever and will always be there to catch him when he falls. At the same time, we know he refuses to have his father help him out — thinking he can do without us. Where is the logic in this generation’s nonchallance? The young are always daring and bold — we were there at one point in our lives. But I remember a generation that had the fire to work to make things happen.
Can you buy ambition? Unfortunately not. Even if you could, you couldn’t give it. It must be imbibed in one’s heart and soul — otherwise, it will ring empty and will never burn strong enough to become reality. If I could give it, I would. But sadly, it is something one has or doesn’t have.. and if one cannot find it, no one else can give it to those who are walking blind.