The Blank Wall

How I see myself in five years (or how to existentialize a harmless question)

by Harmony Valdoz |

When I was around ten years old, I participated in a program of the local city government of Muntinlupa for elementary students in both public and private schools. The program was called “Boys and Girls Week” and basically the students get to be little local government politicians for a couple of days. Through this, we were able to campaign for ourselves, come up with platforms of things we want to do if we land the plum position of mayor, and have discussions on the goings-on of Muntinlupa city.

In theory, we were given the powers of the positions we would be taking over for a day, and so came the grand plans of building libraries and providing better education. However, in reality, all we got to do was hang around their posh offices and take a look at paper works.

In one of the discussions, we were prodded to imagine how our lives are going to be in the year 2020. That was 14 years into the future then. This question was brought on by the Vision 2020 program of the local government under Mayor Jaime Fresnedi. Vision 2020 is reminiscent of former President Fidel Ramos’ Philippines 2000. It aimed to put Muntinlupa city at the top in terms of business and investment in the whole country come year 2020.

After a bit of mental calculation, my 10-year-old self figured that I was to imagine the life of 24-year-old Harmony. What I saw myself becoming then is entirely different from the path I’m taking now. At 10, I somehow believed I would become a pediatrician. I thought that at 24, I would be done with pre-med and would still be pursuing higher studies by 2020. I can only laugh and cringe in horror now at the thought of remaining in college for five more years.

In those eight years that has passed since I was elected City Planning Officer of Muntinlupa city for the Boys and Girls Week, and was prodded to think of what I then regarded as an extremely long time into the future, nothing has changed and yet everything has. The mayor of Muntinlupa remains to be Fresnedi, after being unseated for two terms following a failed attempt to put his wife into power. The million-dollar plans for structures that I saw under Vision 2020 remained just that, plans. Sure, they have five more years realize the vision, but they are about as close to achieving their goals as I am to becoming a pediatrician.

Reflecting on the past made me realize that time flies faster as you grow older, as things become less of a discovery and more of a cycle. Where I am now is a product of chance mixed with a little decision-making. If dreams did come true, I know that I wouldn’t be in journalism school. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate where I ended up. It’s the closest I can get to my true heart’s desire, creative writing, which had an uncanny way of only turning up when I was already out of options.

Perhaps it is disillusionment, acceptance of defeat, or on a bright side, maturity, but I have learned to narrow my dreams and expectations down to the most achievable levels. This puts me in a weird position when looking forward to the future as I don’t have much of an enthusiasm anymore in making things happen, as I am more inclined to let them happen. I have adapted a come-what-may, que sera sera attitude – for worse or for better. Because whatever you plan to do, life happens anyway and it is always going to put you in a position of where you bargain just to save some for yourself. I think it is better if you were just waiting for what life gives you instead of having an armful of expectations and dreams only to hand them over to fate as they are not suited for you after all.

So, how do I see myself in the future, say, five years from now? I could have spared you the drama and listed down my modest career plans after graduation, but I like to tell stories. I revel in  finding humor out of misery through writing, and that is how I hope it is always going to be. I see myself working for magazines and living frugally off of the salary I get from feature articles that I write. Most of the money I earn will be put away for travel funds.

Although it scares the hell out of me to be somewhere foreign, I think travelling will help me greatly with my biggest dream; to be a fiction novelist. I see fiction-writing as my only way to outsmart the cunning and cruel realities of life. If I get to be an author, I get to live off of the fantastic worlds in my head that this very limited life could not offer me.

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