21 but still a preschooler

15 years ago, the only problems I had were how to get more than three very good star stamps at the back part of my hand and how to pass time pretending to sleep during afternoon siestas. But now I’d exchange important things in my life to be back and stuck in those days.

Ever since I was in elementary, I hated the idea of waking up early to go to school every. single. day. All my life then, I felt I was wasting time pretending to listen to teachers who knew nothing about how a child feels. I just want to go home and watch recorded episodes of Popeye and Tom and Jerry with our VHS player, and be lazy in front of the television. I even earned my first pair of eyeglasses at an early age of 7 years old through those routine. But then, I even have my own yaya to treat me with candies and get me to school or fix up boo-boo’s I get when I fall. Easy life.

I have had my first crush in first grade, a tall, cute guy, I’d like to call Chris. A crush that lasted till I was in high school. I thought, so this is what they call “first love never dies.” I let out a chuckle with the idea.

In my late elementary days, I remember I was continuously complaining why I only had a cellphone when I reached grade 6, and it was just a Nokia 3310 when my classmates had colored phones. Have had a few arguments with my classmates who I knew were just in the state of feeling magaling. I thought I understood what that meant then.

Having a 200-peso allowance per week when you’re already in high school was surely one of the things I hated. We still didn’t have a DSL connection so imagine me playing Ragnarok Online with ISP Bonanza that costs 100php for a few hours. To top it off is getting disconnected whenever one of my mother’s clients decides it was necessary to call at home. Seriously, I was not skipping recess and breaks to get disconnected while I was leveling my characters in Payon Dungeon. I almost hated my parents on how my allowance was so little when they had not much to spend on except for schooling and food at home.

It was also the time I first fell in love. You meet people who you can jive with and all you have to do is make each other happy and contented. Life was simple.

I had consecutive failing grades in Math from my first to fourth year in high school. I was My parents were required to pay 5-10 thousand pesos just for me to reach the next year through Summer Classes. I heard constant sermons on how I was not doing well, but still end up the same every single year. I even added another subject, Science, to my Summer classes during my third and fourth year. And yet, another of those sermons I hear. I always complained that I did my best but was just not lucky enough to pass due to unskilled teachers I had.

I remember how I disliked the idea that my parents didn’t want me to go to prom because it was expensive. But 3000php isn’t much, right?

I realized, life is not as simple as it is. Because it’s not easy to make your partner happy and contented. Hearts break and they’re not as easy to mend like a boo-boo.

When I finally graduated, I felt slightly encouraged. I was only 4 years away from working. I can finally go independent, save up, marry, and waste money on a European tour.

During my first year, it was the time that all my infantile thinking sink in. Spending 20-pesos for one plate in Fine Arts was not so much, but we had multiple plates, with multiple subjects, each with different requirements. It felt as if I was begging for money from my mother for the supplies. But then I thought, it was almost always less than 1000 a month. It’s not that heavy like how my mother complains.

I still had my childish ways then, though. I cut classes when I want, and had a dazzling 5.0 on a minor subject I wasn’t attending. It reminded me of my high school days.

In my second year, I met people who influenced me to study better. I knew it was a good start as I was starting to realize I should and could be doing better than four 3.0’s on major subjects like my second semester in first year. I exerted a little effort in studying and together with that was the start of my online boutique.

It was a tough ride, yes. When you have no clients or just one for months. Doing business was not as easy as I thought it would be. But I realized, having one was at least, a start, right? But earning 300 pesos for going to and from Divisoria to QC was not worth it. I realized, the time and effort I put in is not enough. I even had to shoulder one of my first orders due to the fact I miscalculated expenses. But then, 200php to shoulder wasn’t that big, right?

One time during my third year, my mother asked me to come with her as she goes to find new clients. I wanted to complain why I had to, but knew I was going to end up with a mouthful of sermon, so I came with her.

During the time, when my mom was conversing with people and got rejected for her offers, I felt a tear trying to escape my eyes. I never had the idea my mom had to put so much effort just to get clients and I thought her stories were exaggerated to get me to be a kinder daughter.

But of course that was not enough for the immature me not to feel extremely selfish. I honestly have had a few kickbacks whenever I ask for money for school projects. I wanted to eat a lot and buy things I like, of course. It wasn’t so much since I don’t want to be too obvious, but I did those quite a few times.

In my fourth year, I was honestly feeling the burden of everything. From stress levels going on maximum, and spending a lot for the completion of the thesis. My mom still complained, but I always told her at the back of my mind, “Last na to, gagraduate na ko, ‘wag ka na magreklamo.”

During the time, I felt I needed all the time in the world. My orders were piling up and due to thesis and personal expenses, I was already spending money from my shop. I was already very late with order deadlines, and had to settle for a few refunds instead. I had to collect over 7000php to pay up for things. I didn’t ask for help from my mom because I knew I’d just get another sermon.

3 months before graduation, in January, I was already in search for my first full time job. Thought to myself, it’s easy. Diskarte lang ‘yan. But when I reached March and still no replies from possible employers, I felt I was a lonely piece of useless trash. But then, no worries, I still had time and hooray because I’ll be able to buy all the things I want. Ha!

When I had my first full time job, I was excited. I was already making a mental list of where to spend it. Then realized the 7000php debt to people I needed to pay. That was when it hit me. My first pay check flew away and my month’s worth of effort were thrown to waste. But it didn’t matter, because I still have the next month for myself.

At a later time, I knew I needed to help with house expenses. I give 30% from my net income for house expenses. I knew that was already enough since we were all sharing with expenses.

Shortly after that, the bad news came. All of us had to put double, triple efforts to pay house expenses that I never knew would be so much. Electricity bills, house rent, monthly groceries and sorts. Who knew we had those when as a child, I knew we only needed food and the others do not cost so much.

200php miscalculated waste of money is not so much, but when efforts I put up to earn are being sent to pay for bills is a different story. It makes me sad, but I can’t imagine the effort my parents, especially my mom has to put up to every single day for our daily expenses.

I realized, eyeglasses are not cheap, and I had one when I was 7 and several pairs up until this day. Love doesn’t come as easy as sleeping princesses or when the clock strikes 12. The 200 peso allowance I had was actually still generous. And the prom fee would have been enough rice sustenance for 5 months and kickbacks I had would have been a day’s worth of food. Those disconnected internet connections were important to sustain us and those wasted five to tens of thousands on my Summer classes would have been enough for a semester’s tuition fee.

To be honest, the idea of responsibility has not completely sink in with me yet but I surely I fear if I couldn’t be a super mom like my mother is, able to handle stress on all levels yet put a smile on her face like there’s not much to do. I am scared, that everything will be too late before I realize what I need to do.

There were so many things that we thought was easy, uncomplicated when we were little. But as much as we want to go back to the days when all we had to care about are ourselves, it’s different- way different. My excitement during college years wanting to finally work and buy things I want is not as amusing and realistic as it can be. You won’t be able to convince your boss that you can’t do the project because you have another project with another subject going on nor tell yourself that you’re too lazy to work and expect to get paid like how it used to when we were studying.

Responsibilities will surely catch right up with you. If you’re not ready, you might end up getting boo-boo’s that won’t get treated with a yaya but rather mails for disconnection notices or a million heart breaks rolled in one day.

Reality is way way scarier than it really is and I fear to be too late before I realize what is really happening.

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