The deep voice of Uncle Ben resonates from nowhere, “Where there’s power comes great responsibility.”
I turn away from the door to run back to my bed that is now running away from me. I try to spin some spider webs while the ground gives way into the deep abyss. I scream but no voice comes out of my open throat. The alarm goes off.
My head spins as it hits the roof of the double decker bed while I reach for my phone. I was in my boarding house. I am on my own.
Welcome to the independent life. A life without Mom and her cooking. A life without my comfy bed and my hugging companion, Eeyore. A life where I have to stand alone and make my own decisions.
For the first time in my 31 years of existence, I have decided to move away from home.
Sounds ordinary, but it’s one of the dilemma of those who belong to the so-called Peter Pan generation. Going independent is a leap of faith to the likes of us.
Being in the Peter Pan generation sounds funny to some. According to social scientists, this is the new “adultescent” generation. We are the 25 to 40 year old age bracket people who are afraid to grow up. We change from one job to another. We don’t marry early. We don’t want to have children of our own. And we live with our parents.
Changing all that would mean bigger responsibilities.
I don’t really have a solid conclusion on how this Peter Pan generation came up to be. Living with parents until one gets old is embedded in the Asian culture. But it has gone way beyond exaggerated as most of us have become dependent on our loving parents whose hands were not made of iron just as their predecessors were.
I wonder if we have been too pampered by the generation ahead of us. If you would look back at the generation living in the 1950s (ever seen some flicks from Sampaguita Pictures, anyone?), parents are stricter and harsher. Some of them don’t give entitlements or even choices to their children. They have the authoritarian mindset which came straight from our Spanish predecessors. They got strict daily timelines and opposing them would mean punishment. Some parents would not prioritize their children’s education, more so their dreams. Yet, my Mom, living with such parents herself, would yearn for the simplicity of those ages. Radio and television were considered luxury. A short black and white episode of the Road Runner was enough to keep her entertained when she was in elementary. They didn’t have preservatives to worry about. Children could have nature as their playground. People can stroll safely under the moonlit night without fear of muggers (unless they were overly fed with a diet of aswang and capre stories). Choices in life were not so complicated and men lived in grand contentment.
Then come 1970s and 1980s. This is the generation who have been opened to more choices, more opportunities, and greater prospects of prosperity. This is the generation who did not want their children to experience the harshness and the poverty they have endured during their youthfulness. They have built more movie houses and added color to popular Darna flicks. The human palette wanted a boarder menu that’s why they added burger and fries to their diet. They wanted their children to play more dynamic toys by introducing Nintendo and G.I. Joe action figures. This is the generation who wanted to see grander horizons. This is the OFW generation. And that almost faded picture of your mustached dad wearing oddly-sized bellbottom pants and Ray Ban shades while proudly grinning in the middle of the empty, sandy background in Saudi Arabia is living proof of this generation.
Then the millennials were born.
If the OFW generation were given more choices, these choices doubled for the millennials. From schools, toys, malls, restaurants, movies, activities, and more stuff, our eyes ogled as we confuse ourselves by choosing which is the best for us (which would still depend on the budget). We are living in a world that has suddenly become fast paced, right after our OFW dads and moms have brought in the luxuries and competitiveness of the global market. We wanted to achieve more, that’s why we multitask (like watching TV with a burger in mouth while putting clothes in a running washing machine). We tend to move faster because we think everything is urgent (except for EDSA). And because of the vast list of choices given to us, we have a lifetime to choose which would match our passion, capability and needs. This is the reason we can’t settle down. And yet most of us are afraid of the more essential responsibilities in life.
I don’t mean this generation is lazy. In fact, we are active, sociable and passionate. By the time we reach 30, we continue to explore ourselves by travelling, learning new hobbies, or showcasing discovered talents. But we are afraid of deeper connections, higher promotions, or breaking off from the comfort zone. When one gets married, here comes bigger responsibility. When one becomes the boss of a company, here comes bigger responsibility. When one owns his own house and lives alone, here comes bigger responsibility. We are afraid of making mistakes. We are afraid of judgement when we screw up in our responsibilities. That’s why we’d shy away from them.
But that should not last forever.
One day, Peter Pan has to leave Neverland. The magic of childish freedom and fairy dreams did not keep Wendy and the Lost Boys in the island forever. Soon enough, the boy in green tights will realize that their wooden swords were nothing compared to an opponent bigger than Captain Hook – and its name is responsibility.
It’s not an enemy. It’s a friend. But most of us – the so-called Peter Pan generation – believe we are not worthy of it. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid it would turn against us and kill us completely if we don’t meet its criteria.
Wrong. It’s the mindset of perfectionism, which we don’t admit, that’s killing us.
Even Dr. Strange himself, a brilliant man, thought he has to be ready before taking up a bigger responsibility. Talking with the Ancient One for the last time, she told him she does not see his future but she sees in him a purpose.
“But I am not ready.” He admits.
“No one is ever ready.” She answers.
It does not take one to be ready to grow up. It does not take one to be ready to become more responsible. It just takes courage. Deciding to jump into it is death defying. Getting there is fulfillment.
And yes, I feel fulfilled when I could handle my own budget, do my own shopping, and finish washing my clothes. Getting into a whole new scenario in life is a leap of faith for me. Deciding to live alone is just one step into bigger destinies. And I have to take them one step at a time.
But still, I can’t wait for Saturday. No matter how I prepare food for myself, nothing beats Mom’s friend rice, hotdogs and eggs for breakfast.