Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Chose Poorly

I don't know why, but a past issue I've had has been on my mind again lately. When we were living in Shanghai last year, a good friend of mine came to visit with her parents. She's from a conservative Fil-Chi family. After they left, my friend told me her dad commented about my lifestyle as a direct result of the choices I have made in my life. Simply put, he felt I was living it tough and that I had made poor choices in life. She was quite upset when she heard it and I was glad to know she didn't agree with him.

I have to admit I grew up in a very sheltered society. I never worked until I graduated from college. And even then, my parents still subsidized my living. I never worried about money and was never given the lecture on saving and how hard it is out there in the real world. I never really knew just how sheltered I was until one day, years after I graduated from highschool I found out somehow that all those years at ICA, my dad went to enroll for me. It turned out many of my classmates went and enrolled themselves, but there was my dad, doing it all for me. It touched me deeply to know just how much of a softy my dad was, but it also upset me how he didn't make me do it myself. I realize now it was because of things like these that I had always expected people to work things out for me. If there was some difficult paperwork that had to be dealt with, or some complicated issues about a travel document or visa application, etc. that I could always find someone to sort it out for me. I knew my parents loved me, but I'm glad they didn't love me too much and finally allowed me to make my own mistakes and learn from it as I got older.

In the eyes of my friend's father I understand all he sees is the endless amount of chores I have to do each day. In Shanghai, we hired a part-timer to do the cleaning and dishwashing. I did all the grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and bringing up of my then 8 month old. He probably thought I was doing it tough and had no life. Granted it was tough at times, but darn it I managed. What my friend's father didn't see were the muscles that I had build up not only physically but mentally, emotionally and psychologically. I had turned from that girl that didn't know how to cook and fend for herself into a fully independent, can-do-it-all-no-nonsense-can-kick-you-in-the-butt super woman. Put me up against any girl living in Manila now and I'm sure I can wrestle her to the ground. I'm proud of the person I have become because of the challenges I have had to face. Yes its tough, but it can be done. I wanted him to know its nice to live like a princess, but you can only go so far and learn so little living in a castle all your life.

I want my children to live a comfortable life someday, but most of all I want them to have the capability and toughness if it will be required someday. It saddens me to know that many parents out there are so caught up "protecting" their children they've forgotten to teach them how to protect themselves. And then it angers me that they look down upon people like me that have chosen to live the way I do.

My mom told me many of her friends still give their almost 30 year old children midnight curfews. Then they pester them on why they're not married yet. Duh! So yeah, I may have chosen poorly, but thank god I was given the ability to choose.

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