THE UNIVERSE MOVES IN A CIRCLE
When I was a toddler in the Philippines, my sister and I would lock ourselves in our room after school and gather all our toys and stuffed toys on our double-bed. We would then create a community out of all our stuffed animals and have them interact with one another. It was around this same period that the Power Rangers series came out in the Philippines. Aside from catering to our stuffed animal community, all three of us (including our youngest brother) would spend afternoons in our backyard role-playing our favorite power ranger characters. Thus began our first foray into “make-believe” through stuffed animals and superheroes.
As I grew I eventually forgot about this period of make-believe up until pre-adolescence when the effects of darkness within the home and school would begin to creep into my being unheeded. By this time, I have already retreated deeply within myself and have come to live outside the circle of normal engagement with peers my age. It was during this dark period that the desire to become an ‘actor’ sprouted. I didn’t realize the degree to which I had been deprived of warmth and emotional support and how that seeped into my self-esteem and sense of worth. This cultivated the desire to become like the beautiful actresses on the red carpet I saw on TV. I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to be beautiful and I wanted to be loved and admired.
I learned through time that whatever gets you into any one thing can evolve when you decide to stay with it long enough. It has been a long walk from the girl who loved Power Rangers to the quiet girl who wanted to be beautiful to the Regina who is studying in Juilliard at the present. From child-like make-believe to varied periods of drought, anger, and rejection until finally deciding to leave home to carve a new life for myself. This current life phase feels like a return to child-like make-believe on a bigger and shared platform with fellow ‘adults’ who are making the journey back to child-like make believe themselves. It is surprising to rediscover that again in an institution which has been depicted in several films to be elitist and exclusive rather than grounded in human reality. The reality is I am rediscovering my childhood and humanity here at The Juilliard School.
Now that I am for the first time in my life within a community and a program that is not grooming its students to become any pre-conceived “thing” (i.e. As “stars” or to be “successful”), I am taking advantage of every opportunity to explore any questions that have long been hibernating within myself about who I am or the work itself. After nearly a quarter-life full of “goals,” I’ve wondered about how there must be more to life than goal-setting and meeting them. A number of these goals have left me feeling burned out and empty at the “finish line.” One of the things I am searching for in this 4-year journey is a “way of life” or a set of tools to have at my disposal that will allow me to live flexibly and to follow my curiosity and see where it leads me instead of molding my life according to a pre-determined place I have in my mind. Some words I often hear uttered in the classroom are:
Up and out
I cannot tell you who I will turn out to be at the end of my fourth year. Nor can I tell you what I plan to do with my life. I have begun to let go of working towards pre-decided places and found that going forward with curiosity, wonder, and openness allow more possibility, variety and surprise than molding my life according to what I think the world expects from me.
REGINA DE VERA