19 Years Old and the Most Important Thing I Learned in Life

The first memory I have of going in front and talking to a huge number of people traces back to the time when I was still in the first grade. At that moment, my teacher asked us to share to the class our “dream” in life. I was about six or seven years old back then.

My bestfriend in elementary who was a natural at talking to people and who seemed to have already decided what she wanted in life at such a young age told the class that she wanted to be an engineer, she was the smartest in class and the best at Math.

While my classmates were going in front to share their dreams, I was nervously sitting in my chair, rummaging my head for a possible dream. When it was my turn to talk, I still haven’t fixed my mind and I just sprouted the first thing that came to mind… I wanted to be a doctor.

Because I was a sickly kid, I admired doctors because they always made me feel better. I told the class that I wanted to help people feel better too. But deep down, the truth is, I wanted to become a doctor because their lab gowns are so nice to look at.

The following year, my second grade teacher asked us on the first day of class to introduce ourselves to her and to everybody, and to share to the whole class what we wanted to be when we grow up. Unfortunately, for me, even though almost a year has already passed, I still haven’t decided what I want to become when I grow up. But there was one thing that I was sure of, I didn’t anymore want to be a doctor. Prior to that event, me and my mother went to the hospital because I became sick. On that very incident, I discovered the hideous secret doctors cover behind the neatness of their lab gowns, injections, blood, needles, and many, many sharp objects. I was beyond mortified to see blood, my own blood, coming out from my veins and going to the syringe. On that day, I dropped my dream of becoming a medical practitioner.

Afterwards, my father bought me a drawing book and I discovered my fondness in drawing. When I got my drawing book, I would not anymore go out with my friends to play, but rather, I would spend the whole day drawing the animes I watch on TV. Of course, they looked terrible. But they weren’t that bad for a seven year old girl. So when my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I told her that I want to be an animator.

The next year, I got the Best in Science award in school and so I told myself that I wanted to become a scientist. But then, I read something about Neil Armstrong, he was the first man to walk in the moon. I told myself that I was going to be an astronaut and be the next Neil Armstrong. And up until now, I really think that that’s the boldest dream I’ve ever thought of, and the funniest too.

To make things short, every year my dream is inconsistent. When I was a kid, my mind changed a lot. I thought that I really didn’t know myself. When I entered high school, I fixed my mind on the one answer that I was going to tell people every time they asked me what I want to do when I grow up, “I want to become a lawyer.”

And for a very long time, it became a dream. In fact, studying legal related courses like Political Science became my first option when I entered college. But we didn’t have much money to afford so I chose to study Education instead with the hope to pursue Law after I finish my undergraduate degree. That time, in my mind, my future is settled.

But I began to question this decision when my father asked once on the summer before I entered college, “Why do you want to be a lawyer?”

For the past four years, I kept on telling myself that it was my dream. It was my dream. But deep down, I really didn’t have a genuine answer.

I wanted to become a lawyer because it’s one of the fastest ways to get rich in a country that is so poor. When I realized this, I became ashamed of myself.

I didn’t want to be that kind of person.

Now that I’m 19, I realized that my teachers are cruel for asking a kid like me to decide what my dream in life is at such a young age.

But they are more cruel for confusing a kid like me that a “dream” has to be a “profession.”

Now that I’m nineteen, I read too many books, experienced too many lives, heard too many stories, cried too many tears for people whom I don’t even know, thought so many thoughts, I got hurt too many times, and I have loved even more deeply that it hurt and it still hurts every time, but I guess that just how it is when you love, and really love, though it’s different kind of love that others may be aware of.

Now that I’m nineteen, I realized that life is fleeting. Too fleeting.

I am not a fool to say that now that I’m nineteen, I am wise. I am not. I only feel less helpless than I was when I was seven.

But now that I’m nineteen, I can finally answer the teachers that asked me what I want to be when I grow up, without any shade of pretense.

And when I meet them again, I want to tell them that when I grow up, “I want to be happy.”


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