MEAGAN, your first ambition at four was to become a makeup artist. You watched makeup videos every chance you got. I remember when we were at the Kuala Lumpur Airport, you asked if I could buy you a stippling brush. I had to go to a MAC counter to find out for myself what this brush was. One time, I had a product launch at Rockwell and didn’t have the time to put on my makeup in the salon because my hair was being fixed, so you volunteered to put my makeup on for me.
Later on, you wanted to be a fashion model, designer, then interior designer/entrepreneur. You even designed shoes and got featured in a popular TV show. When you were 11, you suddenly told me that you wanted to be a theoretical physicist and a Fields medalist. I had to look up what this was. Apparently, the Fields Medal is a prize awarded to two, three, or four mathematicians under 40 at the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union.
Even in school, you set your own goals then just tell mom what you need. When you were into basketball, you asked me to find you more lessons outside of school training. When you wanted to do better in math, you did the same. Today, I see how hard you have worked at fencing and finally qualified for the Junior National Team at 13.
I am even more proud when you venture into “unchartered grounds”. On your first year in your new school, you said you wanted to run for class president. Honestly, I felt it was impossible since you were a new student. You lost. Then during the second semester, you still ran—and you actually won. Two years you ago and this year, you joined the declamation contest in school and did not end up in the top 3 both times. Your dad and I were nonetheless amazed by how you worked hard on this despite your daily training in fencing.
Remember that day, when you topped your class for lower school graduation, Mom did not even know you were getting the award. I stood proud not because you got the gold but because I know you worked so hard to get there.
Marcus, ever since you were a baby, you’ve had a mind of your own. During your tummy time, you would make your angry tone if it lasted longer than you wanted. As a toddler, you would sit quietly playing and did not want to get disturbed. In school, you only spoke to one person in toddler school and only one person for three years in the big school. Mom had a hard time “reading” you because you never heeded my suggestions.
One time, Mom was trying to find the times when you spoke more and looked happy. I discovered you liked singing while showering. I enrolled you to voice class and eventually to violin lessons. You religiously went even if you were not playing full songs. I think it took two years before I heard a full piece. When you got asked in school what you wanted to be when you were five during career day, you told me you wanted to be a musician. Then you even got invited by your teacher to do an intermission number at a school program. When you were eight and I asked you if you wanted to stop, you said you wanted to continue it. When we saw you play the longest piece last Christmas, Dad and Mom felt so happy to see you perform something you love with so much ease.
Mom tried hard to follow your pace whether in school or in sports. Whatever grade you got, Mom would ask how you felt about it? If you were okay with it, then Mom was, too. I just always told you to remember the work you put in and the result you got from it. I always said a grade of “C” one worked hard for is more valuable than an “A” you merely winged. In your athletic pursuits, I introduced you to various sports like swimming, football and basketball when you were in preschool but nothing stuck to you.
This is why I am so amazed at how committed you are to basketball, futsal and fencing today. When you recently got chosen as the fourth grader to speak at the Open House for your school, you said this, “One of my favorite school experiences is when I didn’t get into the basketball varsity because it made me realize that I need to be more determined and work harder. Even this year, I still did not get in the varsity but now I go to the park near my house to practice basketball so hopefully I get in varsity next year. But even if I don’t make it, I still want to get better and will keep on trying.” I was almost in tears when you were delivering this speech. I am proudest because you put the thoughts, “favorite” and “failure,” into one good experience. Remember your number “9” boxes Mom asked you to put your dreams in when you turned nine? Meagan, you wrote, “Model/Fashion Designer” and “Entrepreneur.” Marcus, you wrote, “Actor,” “Musician” and “Business.”
Please remember that I am happy that both of you love to aim for something. Remember that it’s not the dream; it’s the inspiration from that dream. It is the strong will and hard work you are willing to put in. When you get old, the “I want to be” becomes part of your fond memories, but the values and experience you garnered from the strife will take you to your meaningful purpose.
Whatever you achieve or do not achieve, remember that your authentic success in life is a life you can proudly call your own.