An Abundance of Optimistic Thinking


It would be fair to say that I was a pretty optimistic kid. While other elementary school children already had visions of them becoming the next doctors, lawyers, engineers, or perhaps the next big artist, all I wanted was to get a perfect score in the next test. For me, seeing a bright red 100 on my exam papers was enough prompt to feel a sense of pride and tell myself “We will be great.”

Does grade consciousness equate to greatness? No, not at all. But I had to be practical. It was not a lack dream, but an abundance of it that confused me. Some days I wake up decided to be a heart surgeon, other days I imagine a victorious day after a court trial on a pro bono case, sometimes I fantasize about being a famous celebrity on international tour. I had in mind a glorious future, but different versions of having it. I knew I wasn’t a prodigy. I was no genius at anything. I was an average kid who was willing to exert above average effort in whatever I resolve to do. If one day I suddenly changed my mind about what I wanted to become, it means I had to be good not only at one thing, but at everything. That was my ticket to making it big.

A few days ago, I turned 24. My birthday celebration was rather simple– I invited my close friends for dinner, and we did a good catching up over a hearty meal. One of them runs their family business, and one works as a manager for a movie theatre. There is someone on sales (I think), another on engineering, and two still finishing college.  As for me, I am on my second year of teaching in a university while I pursue my Master of Arts degree and do freelance writing work and public speaking workshop on the side.

People usually comment on how my load seems a handful. It is. But why am I doing everything I am doing? To be completely honest, I have no idea either. It’s as if one day I just woke up doing whatever it is I am doing now and I just allowed myself to go with the flow. None of these was planned. But in hindsight, I actually never had any plan. My ten-year-old self just wanted us to be great even if we were never sure of what great actually meant.

Are we supposed to be in the newspapers?
Well, I did publish articles in those.

Are we supposed to have fans?
Well, some former students would write me letters and give me presents to thank me for a wonderful semester.

Are we supposed to be rich?
Well, I have nothing much in my bank account, but I’m pretty sure I have more than enough, and I am happy with that.

I cannot say with finality that I turned out to be someone great. The flow still pushes me forward. And so in moments when I doubt, in moments when I break, I look back at my optimistic younger self and say:  “One day at a time, we will make this work.”