Have you ever felt like you missed something important while growing up?

I did.

When I was in kindergarten I was always told that I was too active. That I needed to sit down and to behave. In my young mind I didn’t know how, I had a mind full of ideas and adventures. I simply couldn’t sit down and the reason was, while everyone else saw the blackboard and chalk, I saw a universe full of wonder.

The fact was, I wanted to have my own laboratory where I can be a scientist and explore new things! I wanted to become an inventor.

Then comes grade 1, I was into robots back then and somehow I found myself pushed out from the normal crowd since everyone else was talking about their crushes or basketball or something else that was “cool”. Even back then I questioned myself, was it really a weird thing being obsessed with something like robots? Everyone seemed to think that it was just child’s play and that it wouldn’t be possible. I didn’t have a lot of friends to play with back then. But that was not the sad part, the sad part was…

Everyone was in a hurry to grow up.

Fast-forward to highschool, I experienced the different pull of hormones and being attracted to the female species. It was as if that was the main point of life, to find someone and fall in love and be completed by one another. I forgot about the robots, but I delved into the arts. I wrote poems and I drew! I painted and I danced. I loved highschool life in the province mainly because it was simple and people were more accepting of one another.

Then I had to go back to the big city. I went to study at the University of Santo Tomas for my college degree. Learning from highschool, the more cool you are the more accepted you become. So I conformed with the way people handle each other, I acted though and cool, I told green jokes and acted like I didn’t care. I was so good at pretending that I almost believed it.

By then I wanted the safe life or rather, I was taught to have it. I had become part of the system.

Almost.

By then I had also figured out what that important thing was, that thing that was being taken from me piece by piece without me knowing it. It was my dreams.

Then I realized that whatever I did, I was going to die anyway. Was I really placed here in this world to just build myself up? Live a happy life and die a peaceful death?

I started building a company right out of college, we created websites, mobile apps and now we’re researching on how to make 3d printers accessible for the average Juan.

I believe that if we don’t do something now, we’ll never be able to leave the safety of our comfort zone as a nation and that might be one of the scariest things that can happen to us. We were taught to settle and if I had this experience, I thought a lot of Filipino children might be having the same experience, or worse.

Why can’t we enable our children to dream again? Why should we take their happiness and joy away from learning for the pretense that we care for their future, when it is our convenience that we really want. Instead of pushing boundaries for them, we would rather that we stay silent and seek the easy life.

Don’t you see, we’re being defined by numbers! Our grades and our salaries. We have forgotten how to look at one another as human beings and all we see now are the numbers and how a higher number can give us an easier life. We’ve forgotten the values of character and humility, about kindness and love, and appreciation.

Why should we label a child as just a nurse, or just a doctor, or just an engineer? Why should we limit the potential of our children like this?

We should innovate and show our children that the universe is not a 3-dimensional model waiting to be learnd at school, that it is actually a living-breathing universe to be felt, to be explored and to be discovered. That experience is still the greatest teacher and instead of sheltering them, we must do our part in making sure that they explore the world.

I was almost drowned out, my dreams almost forgotten. I believed that God still has his plans for me and that He will not allow me to be shut down by the noise of the world. Today, we are creating communities like the UST Startup Community that pushes for innovation and learning, to not settle with what we know and to light the way so others can follow.

We should start asking ourselves more often. Are we still the master of our fate? Are we still the captain of our soul? Or is it being handed to us, instantly, ready-made and gift-wrapped with a high price tag?

If it’s true that our children are the future, then if we let them forget what it means to truly dream aren’t we throwing away the future? For what is the future without possibilities? What is a genius without a dream? I just pray and hope that more of us realize the value of our children’s potential and that we should not let them forget how it is to dream.

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