Since I was a kid, people have a lot of expectations on me. I’ve been known by many as the good boy with high grades and right manners. I always top the examinations. I’m active in extracurricular activities. I have a commendable attitude in my religious organization. I used to be the ideal boy: smart, kind and religious.
As I carry that image, people threw high expectations on me. My teachers and classmates assumed that I will always be the top in the class and I will engage in every extracurricular activity that is available. My relatives thought that there will be some skyrocketing that will happen in my growth in our religious organization. I was pressured. I was pushed beyond my limits up to the point that I don’t even know why I’m doing those things in my life. I did a lot of things that I don’t want to do but I just don’t have a choice but to keep up with their expectations. My life became a toxic routine of following what people says I must do, of trying to prove that I’m still their golden boy and of doing my best to never disappoint.
I was broken and lost and I never felt like I’m living my life the way I wanted it to be. I felt like a puppet in a show orchestrated by my relatives, peers and teachers. For several years, I let it be that way. I complained several times and even tried to open up to some people but I still let those expectations affect my way of thinking. Fear grew larger during those moments in my life where I failed, and people talked about me as if I was an irresponsible guy or someone who doesn’t have the right to lose or to be wrong. After that, I blamed myself for being not enough. I blamed myself for being imperfect and incapable of doing great things.
During my last two years in highschool, I became depressed. The pressure and the feeling of being a failure opened my mind to ideas of self hurt and suicide. I thought that I can’t go on anymore. My life had been a cycle of finding myself, proving myself, and losing myself. I reached the point where I want everything to end. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want them to be disappointed. That’s why for a long time, I chose to hurt myself instead. I chose to be disappointed with myself everytime I do something that will only please others. But in the end, I can never be their golden boy. I’m just another guy with demons of his own. I’m just a teenager fighting the darkness that tries to corrupt me. That alone is a struggle and people’s expectations are just too much too bear. Too much, that I almost lost hope that things can go well in my life.
I entered college with questions. How can I live with the fact that I can never be who they wanted me to be? How can I please people now that I am aware of that fact? How long can I keep that image? These questions played in my mind, and for three years, I’ve been trying to search for answers. As much as I wanted to act like everything is easy and going well, the truth always slaps me in the face. There are these moments where I want to give up. However, there are these days where I think that I already got answers. Yet, I’m not that brave enough to face it. I’m not prepared for what’s coming and for what will be revealed. I waited for a long time and tried to get the courage that I need. I listened to people’s stories, I read books, I listened to music, I watched movies and TV series, I prayed and I talked to myself more often. It’s a long story but what’s important is what I achieved after that long journey. I found peace. I saw light.
One night, while chatting with my best friend, I realized that I must let go of that fear. The fear that people will be upset and disappointed. The fear that I might not be good enough. The fear that people will judge me if I fail. I must get out of the prison I created. I must live based on what I wanted and not because of what people says that I must be.
On Sia’s song “Bird Set Free” she wrote:
“And I don’t care if I sing off key
I find myself in my melodies
I sing for love, I sing for me
I shout it out like a bird set free.”
It’s the exact realization that I had. I don’t want to walk on the path that they think is perfect. I have my own way. I don’t need to follow the tune that they set for me. I want to live out of the tune. I don’t care if people will think that I’m on the wrong path. I’m old enough to decide for myself and I know that I’m always going to choose what’s right and what makes me happy. I’ve been lost my entire life because I’m following a melody that isn’t mine. Now, now is the time to hear my own voice singing its own melody.
In addition to that, Alessia Cara on her song “My Song” wrote:
“I may never be what you assume
Don’t want your hooks or auto-tune
If I’m off-key
Then that’s alright with me.”
“Oh, I’m human after all
I’m not your expectations”
Like Alessia, I finally learned this important lesson in life. I’m just a human and I can’t please everyone. I should avoid the thought that I’m not enough because I am more than what they think I am. I don’t need to be sculpted by their sharp chisels because I have my own form and style. I am the only painter of my life and I won’t let anyone stain this masterpiece that I’m creating. Yes, I may fail but I don’t care because these failures define how strong I am and how resilient I am. People can say what they want, tell me what they want for me or pressure me to do something I don’t want, but in the end, it’s my story and I’m going to be the one who’s going to fill every chapter of it.
As I look back on my life, I saw a beautiful journey of being lost and being found. But I’m not going back and I’m not going to sing the same song again. I have my own lyrics. I have my own sound, own melody and own tune. People may raise their brows on me but who cares, I’m living out of tune and I’m starting to love it.