We have artistic ways of answering questions.
‘Kumain ka na?’ (Have you eaten?) – ‘Busog na ako.’ (I’m already full.)
‘Sasama ka ba?’ (Are you joining us?) – ‘Tignan ko.’ (Let me see.)
‘Saan ka na?’ (Where are you?) – ‘Malapit na!’ (Almost there!)
Let me ask you, ‘Where are you?’ You respond, ‘Almost there!’
It was June 1994. I just graduated from a year of schooling at the barangay day care center and I was ready to face the world. That morning, as the beaming sun rises to show its face from the mountain summit, my mother and I put on our confidence and pride and walked to Kibungan Elementary School to finally enroll myself in Grade 1.
I was excited. Just a couple of months ago, I received an award during the recognition ceremony. I was awarded the ‘Most Behave.’ As a six-year old boy, I felt like I was given the award cum laude. I felt like I was the top student. Besides, they only gave two awards to two pairs of students – ‘Best in Attendance’ and ‘Most Behave.’
We approached the admission officer. She looked at my mother and asked, “How old is your son?”
(I thought that was rude. Can’t she see I am not old? J )
My mother replied, “Six years old.”
And the next words from the admission officer sank me to sadness as it stole the excitement I have in my heart.
“I’m sorry, Mrs. Dao-anis. For Grade 1 pupils, we only accept those who are at least seven years of age.”
I looked at my mother, she was lost for words. I whispered to myself, “But I am ready for this. Besides, I also already know how to legibly write my complete name appropriately on the lines of the prescribed sheet of paper for Grade 1.”
I was ready to make my case and argue with the admission officer when my mother started counting her fingers and said, “He is almost there. Technically, his age is 6.5!”
I thought that would clinch and close the case but all the more, she told my mother, “Your son is too young. He is not ready for Grade 1. Kaasin to isuna. It will be difficult for him for his age.”
Those words sent us home discouraged and disappointed.
As we rushed home, I was silently fuming with arguments, “How dare they dictate if I were ready for this? How can age precisely predict the performance of a person? How dare they say it will be difficult if they have not determined yet what I am capable of?”
But those questions seemed to have set with the sun in the west in the afternoon that day.
The next day, I was told to take care of the goats of my father since I am not going to school anyway. That became my job description for the next 12 months. Yes, I had tough tasks early on that probably made me look older than my age up to this day. But that’s ok, some fools and fans say that I am charming.
Twelve months ran quickly like hungry goats ran away to the graze land.
‘Now it was June 1995 and I am now more than the required age of seven. I’m 7.5.’
I went to school and enrolled in Grade 1. I was overjoyed! I wasn’t bitter and bothered that during that year, they started accepting even those six years of age to enroll in Grade 1.
I thought, “It took them a year to make sense of their mind.” I chuckled and then moved on.
My teacher was kind and our classes were enthralling. My classmates were friendly and fun to be with. I met my first crush who was seated close to me. And that year ended with me being awarded First Honor.
I don’t know if that same award was given to me if I were enrolled the year earlier. I didn’t know. But this I know: I was an honor student since then all the way up to college.
This I know: something has been developed during those months of waiting and working. This I know: some seeds of character, grit and resilience were planted those days, those months, and through all these years.
It dawned on me what Joel Osteen said, “Life does not happen to you. It happens for you.”
My friend: What we thought are denials are simple delays. What we thought are dream-destroyers are actually dream-developers. What we thought are destiny-disruptors are destiny-deliverers.
So don’t give up. If you think you were denied, this is just a delay that is meant to develop you even more and it is meant to deliver you to your dream, to your destiny.
Remember, if life gets tough and rough times ask you, “Where are you?”
I hope you will answer, “Almost there!”
(Chris Dao-anis, CPA, DTM is a coach, speaker and trainer on public speaking and personal development. His latest book ‘Living Large in the Little Things’ is available at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City. For talks and trainings, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.chrisdaoanis.com. Like his page at www.fb.com/chrisdaoanis.)