When was the last time you took a risk (big or small), and pushed your own boundaries — socially, professionally, or otherwise? Were you satisfied with the outcome?
When was the last time I took a big risk and pushed my own boundaries? Wow, that was almost two decades ago ! There are two things that comes to mind when I think of this question. First was deciding to migrate to the U.S. leaving my grandparents and culture I grew up in and second was moving to another state away from my family in the U.S. to pursue my education.
My father petitioned me to come to the U.S. when I was very young but my mother disagreed and so did I. However, I agreed to go after I turned eighteen. See, my parents separated when I was only two months old and I don’t really know my father although we did have communication through writing and sometimes telephone calls. But that’s a few letters within a year and once in a blue moon phone calls. There was no such thing as internet back then to make long-distance communication much easier. My father and I exchanged hand-written letters and I’d go to a pay phone to make collect calls to him because we didn’t have a phone at home.
Moving to the U.S. was one of the hardest decisions I’d ever had to make but I said I’ll give it a try since I wanted to get to know my father, my stepmom and siblings. I was bawling my eyes out the entire time that I was on the plane but I had to brave it.I had to be tough. I was about to start a life in a new country, new culture and with people I barely knew. I was already missing my cousins, friends and most especially my grandparents before the plane even took off. I was trying not to get emotional but it was tough. I had just turned eighteen, have never been away from my grandparents and certainly have never been anywhere far from home in my entire life. I was supposed to go to college but gave that up and decided to go to the U.S……the decision I made changed that changed the whole course of my life in many ways.
When I arrived in New York, I didn’t know exactly what to expect. I was in the immigration for about an hour waiting for my papers to be processed. I had been on a 24-hour flight but somehow I don’t feel tired. I was excited, nervous and sad at the same time. When I saw my father at the airport I felt a little better but I didn’t speak much although my thoughts were running wild. I had mixed feelings about everything. I kept thinking about my grandparents. The thought of being away from them breaks my heart because I already missed them so much and I’m afraid of not seeing them again. But like always, I try my very best to stay positive.
It was hard adjusting at first because everything was different but I was also happy to have the chance get to know my father, stepmom and siblings. I also started working after a month and that kept me busy and less lonely. Writing also helped a lot like it always had since I was a child. After eight months I went home to the Philippines for a vacation. I never told anyone that I was going home. I wanted to surprise my grandparents. My grandmother’s reaction was priceless and although my grandfather didn’t say much, his smile was enough for me. He was already bedridden at the time as a result of his heart attack that caused him to be paralyzed. He was also suffering from Alzheimer’s, diabetes and kidney problems.
For me, choosing to live in the U.S. was a risk that I took with pros and cons. Am I satisfied with the outcome? Yes and no. Yes, because living here has taught me a lot about myself. I learned a lot being on my own. I became independent. I put myself through college while working and still managed to graduate with honors. Something that I know my grandparents are proud of most especially my grandfather. But the bitter part of all that is not having the two most important people in my life with me, my grandparents who sacrificed so much for me. My grandfather passed away 10 days after I went back home for the first time. It was bittersweet and my grandmother said that it seems like my grandfather just waited for me to come home so he could say goodbye. That sort of had a negative impact on me and I resorted to not coming home for the next 13 years. Something that I will always regret because I missed out on the years that my grandmother was still strong. I also lost track of what’s important in life at some point. My personal goals and making more than enough took precedence over the value of spending time with the people who matter’s the most in my life. I think about that even more so since losing my grandmother a couple of months ago. I guess if I were to look at it in different aspects of my life, I can say that yes it was worth the risk but if I were to speak just from the heart, I wish I can take it all back and choose differently because now I realize that there will be times in our lives where we need to let the heart rule the mind.