By Rachel Arandilla
I LOOKED at my inbox seeing that the texts were from my close friend Honey, I smiled. Honey can be so endearingly random, that I no longer ask her why. She’s just the type of person who would ask these kinds of questions out of the blue.
I replied: “Give me a sec. I’m driving to a meeting with my publisher. BTW, good news: publishing a book soon!” (2:42pm).
I thought about my friend’s question while driving behind the wheel. My first instantaneous reaction was to type “Follow your passion” before I stopped myself and realized the absurdity of that.
“Follow your passion.” Come on — what was I thinking? That sentence is so cliché, it’s something you would see on a $4 motivational poster hanging on an office cubicle, or something you would get inside a fortune cookie.
“Follow your passion” is the last thing you would say to a 15 year old. What would a 15 year old know about passion in the first place? My crushes in my adolescent era were enough proof that I did not know any better.
At 27, “follow your passion” is something I could already say to myself. I had finally known what I was passionate about: stories. I wanted nothing else than to make the stories and lessons immortal.
After my adult chameleon life that had led me to different worlds and domains; in between graduate schools and midnight train rides; who would’ve known I’d come full circle and end up finding fulfillment in becoming a writer, finally publishing a book?
I mean, I hadn’t written anything for a while already; instead busied myself dabbling in other affairs, such as spreadsheets and surfboards. How can literature take me back after abandoning her like a side hoe?
Yet here I was, sat across my publisher, finalizing our book deal.
“You know, people have gotten the whole thing about passion wrong,” said my publisher, Donald. I asked him what his passion was. “Nowadays, people think ‘passion’ means something you love and enjoy doing. In fact, it’s the other way around.’ Passion comes from the latin word ‘passio,’ which means ‘suffering.’ Passion is something you are willing to suffer for, something you’re willing to slave for.”
“I didn’t know that. That’s an interesting tangent,” I admitted, profusely thanking him for the newfound knowledge.
I had done too many hobbies and put myself in too many domains, labeling my many interests as “passions” only to end up having love-hate affairs with them, alternating between blinding obsession and aversion, where I end up abandoning projects and then feverishly coming back.
All this time, we had put too much emphasis too much on finding what we love doing. But as we get older, we realize that it wasn’t “Find Your Passion,” but it was really the deeper “Find Your Problem.” What problem do you want to tackle for the rest of your life, inconsequential of how and by what means?
Nonetheless, “follow your passion” is something I still could not, would not, say to my 15-year-old self, who would probably be too dumb to know what she would “suffer” for, in any case.
A few weeks after signing the book deal with my publisher, I visited our first house to dig through my past, hoping to find some substantial content and inspiration for my book.
While rummaging through my stuff in a cardboard box in my bedroom, I found a box that held my time capsule. Inside was my high school diary: a blue Corona sketchpad designed with glitter, stickers and Scrapbook accessories you buy from National Bookstore.
There is always that feeling of equal parts awe and cringe when you encounter articles from your past self. I carefully lifted the dusty first pages, which was filled with pictures cut and pasted from magazines, cringing as I scrutinized the thoughts of my 15-year-old self.
When I got to the fourth page, that’s where I stopped myself. I saw a picture I had drawn on the left page, portraying myself as an author, and in the right page I had pasted pictures of luggage and airplanes, indicating my dreams to travel the world and write about it.
I sat staring at the page for a while: it was like the 15-year-old me had predicted my future.
I groaned at the irony of life. If only I had found my high school diary years earlier, I probably would’ve wasted less time and cut short my roller-coaster journey of finding myself and finding my purpose.
The 27-year-old me had completely forgotten what the 15-year-old me knew all along.