Follow your dreams. I am pretty sure you have encountered this phrase more than once in your life. Remember when we were back in Grade school and our teacher would ask us: What is your dream when you grow up? “I want to be a Pilot”, “I want to be a Doctor”, “an Engineer”, “a Lawyer” – and the list goes on.
I want to be an Actress. I grew up watching telenovelas and I could easily memorize scenarios and dialogues. I was once a fangirl. I see Performers like Gods. Oh how beautiful they are, how amazing they are in their craft. But then, my mom would wake me in the middle of my daydreaming to ask me to wash the dishes and I am back to the reality that I am the eldest and I need to help my parents after graduating. During my time, everyone is getting BS Nursing as a course in College. Families have high hopes that this course will pull them out of poverty. My heart says ‘no’. I want to follow my dreams just like what Mrs. Silvestre said to me, my Grade school teacher. After endless arguments with my parents, I was able to convince them that I will follow my dreams. Of course, it was not easy. I was accused of being a rebellious daughter. Of how I could not sacrifice my dreams to help my family. “Para lang sa mayaman ang art” – these are the exact words my mom told me.
Should I follow my dream? But what if I didn’t make it? What if I stumble in the middle of it? I know that once I step my foot forward in reaching my dreams, I cannot back out anymore. Darn it! Why does it sound so easy to follow your dreams when you are in Grade school. Should I call Mrs. Silvestre and confront her? No, wait. I got this!
Why are there only limited schools offering arts? And why don’t people in my place take it seriously? Why does art sound more of a hobby than a profession? Nevertheless, I kept going. The pathway looks so long. Ugh. It is going to be one hell of a journey. I know what I did was not a piece of cake but I never thought it was a feast. I didn’t expect Performing Arts to be this exhausting. It feels like I am battling for a spot of relevance every single day. Time is fast, I need to learn this, to memorize, I need to make myself interesting, I need to audition, to attend workshops – woah! I don’t want to work 9 to 5 but I did not know that what I want would let me work 24/7. Literally anytime of the day. No holidays, doesn’t really matter if it is your birthday, work your arse off because the show must go on no matter what.
I got my first big break in 2015. It was three years after I graduated. Before 2015, everything feels pointless to me. I am rejected every day, as in every day. You’ll wake up sometimes with just a few bucks in your pocket enough to let you attend that one big shot audition in Makati with no assurance whether you’ll get the part. I close my eyes, breathe and say, follow your dreams.
Once you’re in, the industry will feel small. It is one small circle with a group of people probably following what their Grade school teacher says to them, “to follow that goddamn dream”. Each one struggling and starving but you will still see them tomorrow – working and creating.
To follow your dreams, you must be willing to take the risk. Unfortunately, there’s no spot waiting for you. Everyone is chasing, so chase if you must. No work is easy peasy. All of us have big sacks of struggles in our backs along the way. You may or may not reach it but it is better to fail than not to try at all. We are all just picking out our own taste of poison here. Make sure you pick what you truly like because one way or another it will kill you. I know it’s going to be a different story if I obeyed my parents and took Nursing instead; Different struggles, different realizations. But I wouldn’t trade it to where I am now.
Twenty years later, I followed my dream. There’s a certain type of happiness every time I say I’m an actress, I’m a performer. I don’t earn a lot but I can say I’m happy. And every time I feel lost, I close my eyes, breathe and say “follow your dreams”. The journey isn’t over yet. I feel the best things are just about to come. I got this!
You, yes you! You are not reading this by accident. I don’t know if you have a Mrs. Silverstre back in Grade school but I can be your Mrs. Silvestre now – Follow your dreams. It is easier said than done but I promise you, it feels great. It feels great to wake up each day not dragging yourself to do something you don’t want to do. No guarantees if you’ll make it. But believe me, you do not want to die regretting this. Do it! I, for one, believe in you.