As a child, I was fond of declarative statements. While it is understandably frustrating for some to listen to declarations from such a fickle child, I had parents who knew just when to take things with a proper grain of salt and when to take me seriously.
When I was seven, I said I wanted to be a teacher. In candid honesty, it was more because I aspired to be as tall and pretty as my teacher who seemed to have a good amount of laughter throughout her daily routine, and less because of its noble cause of educating the future generation. But, one day, I woke up one day to see a chalkboard about my size propped up against my bedroom wall. On my study table were assorted colored chalk molded into fun shapes that a seven year old like myself would find too pretty to use. This incident wasn’t the first (nor the last) time my parents quietly made the executive decision to put an effort into turning simple words I spoke into little realities.
When I was eight, I said I wanted to paint. My parents found classes my brother Ethan and I could attend on weekends. The biggest struggle during those days wasn’t achieving a new technique— it was cleaning our mixing trays and brushes after each session. At nine, I developed a growing obsession for reading. It was an expensive hobby, especially when you have a habit of finishing a book the same day you make the purchase. “Pace yourself,” my dad would beg of me. (Spoiler alert: I never learned how).
At 10, I spoke of becoming a baker. My dad included Pillsbury cake and cookie mixes into our grocery lists while my mom enrolled me into baking classes. At 11, I found myself spending most afternoons in front of our Yamaha keyboard playing songs by ear, freshly baked cookies resting atop. It was important I learned the value of reading notes, they said, while driving me to piano lessons every MWF.
Then, in my angsty alternative rock phase (incidentally the time I was at the cusp of typical teenage rebellion), I said I wanted to learn the guitar. I went ahead and signed myself up for some classes available in school. My dad was quietly disappointed that my love affair with the piano turned out to be brief (Fickle, remember?). But one day, he drove me all the way to Mactan so I could choose what would become my first guitar. A year after that, I came home from school with an electric guitar waiting for me in my room— a surprise from him, to a thirteen year old who, at that time, wanted so badly to be the next big thing.
Come high school, I fell in love with soccer. 4PM dismissal times became 8PM because of practice. My dad waited at the gate until I finished and we went home each night more tired than we expected. And, when the time came for me to think about entrance tests and face the then-daunting thought of university, I nervously said I wanted to study away. They looked at me, holding a chuckle, and asked if I really believed there was a chance they would refuse.
The truth is, they could have. After all, I was historically fickle, and time coupled with experience gave them the all-immune pass of ripened wisdom. But perhaps they understood that the only remedy to a heart that carelessly wishes are pillars of support.
Support doesn’t pause and ask for a logical rundown of whys and hows. Support pairs itself with ambition because it knows that these baby steps we call dreams seldom happen on their own. Support knows that aspirations thrive when they are shared, that encouragement springs from knowing the smallest triumphs or the biggest let downs are experiences we can break into pieces and give away just as much as we take them. Support understands that starting over is not always a setback and instead sees onward to tread. My parents’ idea of taming my wild ambitions was allowing me enough room to give each one a shot. Most of the time, it is simply the best way to discover.
As we grow older, we shed a portion of our innocence that once believed the world was our playground. We find ourselves increasingly cautious with our actions from fear of wasting time and energy. Perhaps we’ve learned that matching opportunities with capabilities gives us more calculated results compared to wild ambition and valiant support. The way I see it, as far as pairings go, ambition and support get your foot through the door; opportunities and capabilities are what ground you.
From the chalk board and the art classes to the growing library and cake mixes, I’ve received yeses despite chances to utter definitive nos. It’s a lesson I carry with me, that staying cautious won’t ever be as enlightening as finding out.