I’m first and foremost an Irishman, by birth, by nature, by soul, but an American citizen through and through as well. – Pierce Brosnan
When I was in in high school & college we were asked to write an essay that was titled “Who Am I?” With very little experience I can only identify myself as a daughter, a sister, a niece, a friend and a stranger. With the very small and intimate group that I have i know life was as easy as obeying and respecting my parents, be generous to my siblings, nice to my relatives, loyal to my friends, kind to strangers and stay away from bad people. Life was easy and simple when we are kids dependent on the adults to be our pre-frontal cortex or our decision maker, like everything is laid out for us, they do the worrying and we just need to show up. Until the times come when you go out into the real world handed with responsibilities to make decisions on your own.
What defines a person?
- Beliefs – are formed from what you see or hear around you as you grow. You may not experience these beliefs but with the close relationships and trust that you have with the people around you, these beliefs become strong and is your base for your values.
- Values – are what you deem as important from all of these beliefs and can lead to how you behave.
- Dreams – creates your roadmap to where you want to go. It inspires you to give your best and and motivates to keep going in the journey. Dream comes in stages and phases.
- Priorities – as dreams come in stages and phases whatever is your current situation let’s you set what your priories will be at the present. No matter how far our dreams can go and how big it can be you must not forget to consider that you also need to live in the moment and deal with what is real right in front of you.
- Purpose – drives you to dream and dream really big even the impossible. It is what inspires you to be the best that you can be, to look forward to the future with bravery and courage. It can be a goal or something or someone you love with all your heart, all your soul and all your life.
These five things are ever changing because you have the will power to change them. As you make your journey through life you will always want to check in on these as it tells much about you and what you want out of life. When you know who you are, what you want and how to get there, it makes it easy to go through life with happiness and contentment. You are capable of many things and you can go far beyond than what you can imagine.
Let me tell you a story of how I came to America.
The simple little brown girl in her simple little world… Back in my hometown south of the Philippine Islands when I was a a little kid most Filipinos dream to come to America to live better lives financially. It was like the land of milk and honey where we can hope to have the fine things in life. But like most things in life in order to achieve something some sacrifices has to be made. You have to leave the people you love, endure loneliness, work doubly hard or more and wait for years to get reunited with them then together you all savor the fruits of your labor and sacrifices. In my young mind I told myself I will never go to America without the people I love. I don’t want to be lonely and cold, and I don’t want to work my body to death just to send money home. I’d rather live the simple life where everything felt safe and familiar.
When someone creates a path for you… Until someone tried to change the course of my journey. A very good old friend of mine who was already in the United States for a couple of years tried to find a way to get me to the USA because at that time having someone familiar close by makes living in a foreign land less lonelier. She created a profile for me on a dating website without my knowledge. Indeed to my surprise I have received these emails from strangers and that is how I met my first husband, another Filipino from the US. Now do you think the reason I am in the USA was because my friend? Not really, because I could have chosen to ignore those emails and choose to happily live in the comfort of my own home surrounded by familiar faces and places. But I chose to take the risk of the unknown and the uncertain because love made me do it. My first husband was my purpose at that time and together we had a dream. What brought us together was we have the same beliefs and values in most aspects in life.
Failures, heartbreaks and losses, are opportunities too… It wasn’t easy though we had been married for 8 years but 90% of the time was spent apart, him in the USA and I on the Philippines. We have a long story but most of it was basically about waiting. Until the waiting was over which turned into a tragic end. He passed away a few days after I arrived in the USA due to stroke, his passing meant our dreams together ended. That is how stages and phases happens in life, sometimes it ends in a grand way as how you might have imagined or more. Sometimes in such a way that’s incomprehensible you could imagine it will only happen in the movies. It doesn’t mean life is over it just means you need to make a pivot or you morph into something better out of the end of that experience. That would mean making new dreams or enhancing it in a way that makes it easier to adapt to the changes.
Don’t lose sight of what is in front of you, you may already be living your dream… During my time of grief I felt immense care by the people who surrounded me and career growth came at the most opportune time. I really didn’t have a dream at that time, my dream died with him or so i let it. You can say I was just living each day nursing my brokenness while serving others. I never cared about the future I just enjoyed the day as it comes thinking that what happened to him at 41, my borrowed life can be taken anytime too. Might as well not make long term plans. Losing someone changed my belief somehow of looking forward to the future with patience and hope to just living in the moment, though not recklessly. My priorities changed from having a family of my own to just serving families who are still around for me. Somehow, what i dread to happen when I was young that I don’t want to be in America, lonely and cold just happened. Nevertheless, during those times without realizing I was also living a dream, I traveled to places I never imagined I could go one day. I have a career that let me live my dreams and help the people who I love the most. I was living the American dream. I never acknowledged I was already there because I stayed focus on the loss that I had. I was living but without a purpose. I believe that life is a balance of light and darkness, it is hard to understand but in every phase in our life that leads to a crossroad there is always something taken away in order for you to receive something. Sacrifices are made for blessings and gifts to be abundant. Like yin and yang, everything happens for a reason and it depends on us how we react, in anger, with hate or with peace. We are all responsible to keep that balance.
Life can keep getting better and better if you want it to… Then I met David who is now my husband, together for 3.5 years and married for over a year. It was during our 2nd year together as a couple that I became a US citizen and months before I took my pledge of allegiance I studied a little bit of American history and the Constitution. Not that I was trying to earn a doctorate but more than that earning my right as an American. David being born American and who happens to be a book freak and a sponge for information on history, health, survival, current events and almost everything under the sun, shared his love for America and it rubbed on me. He would at times during my study tell me stories of American history and that he can’t wait to see me take my oath and do my part as an American to be proud of this country.
Becoming an American… When I took oath and did the pledge of allegiance I got emotional and proud for the journey that lead me here. It took blood, sweat, years of waiting, hard work and tears but I have no regrets for it is all worth it. I know many have tread this path and I am sure we can all relate in each other’s journey no matter how different and unique each of our story is. Many people dream to come to America and I am thankful for the privilege to be here and for given the rights of an American citizen. I hope to make her proud in return for as long as i live. It makes me sad some people hate it, probably because they didn’t have to go through hardship and proof to earn it because they already had it in a silver platter when they were born. Or they really just don’t know any better. Sometimes people take things for granted for what great blessing is right in front of them, that thing is someone’s dream in other parts of the world who can only imagine of having it. And then there are those who came here, took their oath but later hate it and want to destroy it because they want to change it. I came here not to change America so it can feel like it’s my old hometown. If that was the case I should have just stayed in the Philippines. Just like when foreigners go to the Philippines they don’t change it to how they want it to be but they adapt and respect the culture. The culture may change them or give them insight or enlightenment that can help them when they return to their homes to improve their own and vise versa. The Philippines has its unique culture and so does America. I love them both in each of their own unique character that made them who they are best known for. You can change something without destroying it. It may be broken but its core is still whole because its strong values and beliefs are deeply rooted. If you destroy all of it, it is as good as dead.
So who am I at this point in my life? I am born Filipino whose values and beliefs are deeply rooted. With those values it helped me to survive, adapt and succeed whatever hurdles are placed before me and how i behave around every human that crosses my path. I am a wife who shares a dream with my husband and together we make this journey worthwhile. I am daughter, a sister, an aunt, a stepmom, who will always be there for them. I am a hardworking person who dreams and pursues them and that lead me to this American dream and American heart & soul. I am a unique creation of God’s miracle of love, and like you and every human race we exist because we have a purpose, we matter because we are all one. My past does not define me nor does it predicts my destiny. I make my destiny as I keep moving forward. In all these I continue to be a work in progress, i keep changing and evolving as I journey but I never forget where I came from and how i got to where I am. Always grateful.