Author: Kaisa Aquino (Online Moderator)

My father is a gamer, a computer geek and a rocket-stove enthusiast. He is not what one would normally expect of a father: someone strict, snooty and pressuring. He believes in the importance of having a passion and taking things slow.

When I told him about what I wanted to be, he smiled his champion smile and told me he’s sure I’d get there. This was when I was still in college and under the illusion of a world earnest for fresh produce and new talents. This was during the time when disillusionment was comfortable and dreams and goals were encouraged and listed down into an embarrassingly lengthy collection of what would later be mere marks of how much of a dreamer you used to be.

Outside the confines of the university and exposed to the hazards and responsibilities of being an adult, everything is reduced to numbers and sharp little shards that are too difficult to swallow. I’m not sure how the dynamics of existing in a society were during my father’s time but I knew he was a dreamer; heck, he believed in the Revolution.

Society today is very difficult to impress. If society were a person I bet he would be someone with eyebrows perpetually raised and with incomprehensible expectations. He would be someone in a suit, with a shiny smartphone, someone you would avoid at all costs. But he is smart and he is everywhere, he watches you closely and rolls his eyes at every disappointment. He would be a horrible person to please.

Burdened by the society’s constant hiss of disapproval, I cried ugly one day while talking to my father. I felt like I was becoming too distant from who I wanted to be, felt like I was becoming nothing more than a small ball of unrealized dreams and ideals dense enough to just exist. The world was becoming bigger and I was shrinking.

During times of distress, all you need is the cold froth of beer and a good piece of advice to weigh you back to Earth. Sleepy and intoxicated, my father told me it was alright to not have my shit together yet. We are only made to believe that we have to have achieved this at a certain age, expected to already have had a taste of this, have been to this place, have been somewhere by this age. And with the wisdom I wish to possess one day he added, “as if merely being isn’t pressure enough.”

I guess of all the things I learned from my father, what is ultimately resonating to me now is how he looks at people, not as deadlines or numbers or a list of achievements but flesh and beating heart, human beings with feelings and dreams and potentials that will one day, with the right time and right opportunity, be realized in full. I am lucky to have parents who never made me feel pressured. It saddens me that some don’t. When my father was young, he followed the songs of the mountains and became one of the types the society have always had difficulty of approving. And when he was up there, surrounded by mountains and the burning passion for the Revolution, he found he was truly happy.

This goes out to all the kids out there who grew up with the weight of the world in their shoulders, coming from my father and I, it’s okay to not have your shit together yet. It is never your job to satisfy others’ expectations nor is it your obligation to live up to their ideals. Your only job, and I quote from one of the best films ever, Rushmore is: “find something you love and do it for the rest of your life.” It will take time and you will end up in ugly places some days but remember, you are young, you are here and you still got a long way to go.

Instead of the usual Ode To My Father or Happy Father’s Day, I Love You spill, this will do. This was what I loved most about my father, this is why I love him. And maybe, this is what your father should have told you but didn’t, or if you are a father, then this is what you should tell your children to save them from shrinking. And you – you, this might just be what you need to hear to get it through today.