May 7


Regret #1: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself.”

By Odyssa

May 7, 2023

I have a friend named Colleen. She's in her 20s, dedicated to her job, diligent. 

As a result of her parents' encouragement, she took Engineering in one of the top universities in the Philippines because, as she was told, that's where the money is.

Currently, she works in Human Resources. The engineering degree is not put to use at all. But last time we talked, she is planning on taking the board exam for engineers and she dreads it.

What she really wanted to take was a degree in design. She's a creative, loves to draw and paint.

Painting a landscape

Colleen is one of the many students in the Philippines (and all over the world) who, out of love and gratitude, followed her parents' wishes over their own. 

They wanted Colleen to have the good life that offers better opportunities, together with professional and financial stability parents wish for their children.  

Graduation ceremony

Now what?

Now that she has fulfilled what her parents wanted for her, an adult earning monthly salary, she's at that time when she can choose a career for herself. 

The key is to know when and how to PIVOT. To pivot means to turn. To work towards a completely different direction. 

Before she can pivot, she has to find courage.

Being brave will help her go back to making art, whether she likes what she makes or not.

Deep into her being, there is a need for her to create.Whether she earns money from her creations or not, whether she receives recognition or not, she would still do it. 

Brene Brown defines integrity as "choosing courage over comfort". 

Every person you admire and respect has courage. 

Your favorite teacher, friend, relative - they all have one thing in common. They had the courage to show their weaknesses, and through being vulnerable, showed their true selves. That made you respond with YOUR true self.

Choosing courage can be disappointing, dangerous, and terrifying.  

It  can bring you closer to that core self that gets lost through the noise of everything else. It is worth the risk and the terror. 

I recommend Brene Brown's Netflix special The Call to Courage.

My hopes

I hope that my friend, Colleen, can finally lift that lid and let her creative spirit soar with the childlike wonder to make art again. To play with colors, to visit an art store, to make illustrations. 

I hope she nurtures the gratitude she has for her parents' hard work, and while doing so, chasing or making the things that bring her joy.

And to you, I hope you find the courage to step out there and be seen. Our one job is to live a life that is true to ourselves, not a life that others expect of us.

This is the first out of a series of posts based on Bronnie Ware's "The Top Five Regrets of the Dying"

If you are reading this, your heart is still beating. Where are putting the rest of your heartbeats? I wrote about it here

Time is an ally if you see it as something that comes to you with an open hand, granting you more of its essence. Read more about my thoughts on the speed of time here


About the author

Odyssa is a writer from the Philippines. She is the author of Like A New Sun Rising: A Collection of Poems on Love. When not working or writing at home, she's out walking their dogs. She enjoys traveling, practices yoga, gets lost in books and Korean drama. To her, making time for a daily practice or ritual is the best gift to one's self.

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