A Choice of Writing

December 29, 2009
Both my parents started their first jobs in Saudi Arabia after completing college in the Philippines. Both wanted to support their large families in the Philippines; both wanted to experience more than what their hometowns could offer them. My mother was a successful midwife and my father was a civil engineer working with a consulting firm. They met in the city of Jubail, bonding over their similar heritage and traditions in an unfamiliar world. After three years of dating, they were married, and nine months later my mother gave birth to my older sister. They moved back to the Philippines with my sister to immerse her in Filipino culture and values.

Seven years later, my parents craved yet another move. They longed for something once again, another challenge, another adventure. They wanted to give my sister the best opportunities possible. Knowing that nurses were in high demand in America, my mother applied for a work Visa overseas, in New Jersey. In the months of paperwork, budgeting, and saying goodbye, my mother conceived me. She moved to America alone to start her new job, waiting for the paperwork to clear my father and sister for coming to meet her. Six months later, my family was united, and in summer of that year, I was born.

My parents named me Dawn in celebration of their American Dream. They associated my birth with the beginning of their new adventure, one that involved giving my sister and me the best opportunities possible in a new country. America held many opportunities for both my mother as a nurse and my father as a land surveyor. For years nannies raised my sister and me, picking us up from our Catholic school, helping us with our homework, and making sure we ate breakfast and dinner every day.

When my parents were home, they often spoke to me about the future. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” they always asked. Each time I would respond, “I want to become a writer,” and each time my answer would infuriate my parents. “You want to be poor your whole life? Back Home, writers never get jobs. They aren't respected by their families,” they would say to me, expecting me to one day be an aspiring doctor or lawyer. Both professions evoked images of success and stability for my parents. Unfortunately, neither of those professions appealed to me. As a young girl, I knew I was destined to become a writer, regardless of what my parents imagined my future to be. I knew the consequences of my career choice early on in my life; I knew my family back in the Philippines would not approve of such a plan and I knew there was a risk of never getting published, but I also knew the consequences of investing myself into a profession in which I had no interest. I decided at age eight that I was going to do what I loved, rather than do what made money—a choice I have since upheld.
Though my parents may never understand my need for creation, writing is so important to me that I have chosen to defy my parents' wishes. Writing is something that nothing else compares to—nothing else makes me feel as whole as writing does; nothing else gives me as much hope or happiness.

This past summer, I was at a family party when my godmother had asked me what I wanted to do when I was older. “I want to write,” I proudly responded, to my parents' dismay. “I want to follow my passion.” Though my parents to this day advise me against writing, I continue to maintain that somehow I will make money—that the opportunity to make money will always be around, but that the opportunity to capture what inspires me now cannot wait. They remind me of their American Dream story often, but they are also beginning to realize that part of their American Dream included happiness for their children. They have accepted that I will not invest into the same professions that guaranteed them their American Dream, and will support me regardless of what career choice I make. I am satisfied knowing that I have their support as I venture into the world of writing, but it makes me even more happy to know that they accept me for who I am and for what I love.

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