Several weeks back, a friend of mine, author and editor Liana Smith Bautista (@liasbautista on Twitter), posted a question on Facebook for her female forty-something contacts:
What’s the one thing you wish you’d known when you were in your 30s?
It was for an article she was going to write for the Female Network, an online lifestyle and women’s magazine. I didn’t think twice about contributing my two cents. But I thought long and hard for which particular thing I can share. Something that wasn’t very dramatic, but enough to have possibly reshaped the path I had taken in life had I followed that particular road.
The article came out last February 9th and my contribution was featured along with 5 other women’s replies. Yay!
So here’s what I said:
“I wish I’d known I could have looked forward to more employment options as a performing artist than an office girl. I had a door open to me that could have led me to being a professional actress or singer but I turned down the opportunity because I believed the wiser decision was to work behind the desk. If I’d chosen the artist’s way, I could be performing in Disneyland right now and having such a great time. My life doesn’t suck, though, but you know what I mean.”
I was a thirty-year old newbie marketing and PR person for PETA at the time. That’s PETA, the Philippine theater company; not PeTA, the animal rights group. I auditioned for one of the plays we were producing for the season. The play was an original Filipino musical first staged in the Netherlands, IIRC, and it was debuting on the Philippine stage the first year our marketing and PR team became a solid unit.
I made it through, and was chosen to play The Little Match Girl, alternating with another theater actress. It was an exciting time because it was the stage! And I’d be singing and acting! And it was a professional theater company and not just a school/student production and there was a possibility of going on tour… But also I’d be doing theater simultaneously with office work…Could I make it work?
Doubted it. Or maybe I didn’t want it enough? But well, like I mentioned in my reply, I’d grown up thinking the way to go is to be an office girl. So I ditched the opportunity in favor of a desk, a work computer, clients, and long hours burning the proverbial midnight oil.
Years later, I auditioned again for another musicale but as an older person, I’d probably developed bigger insecurities and I guess it showed in my voice, in my movement. I didn’t make it through that time. And that was the end of it. And while there’d been events when I still got to perform on stage, that first opportunity still remained my one big TOTGA: The One That Got Away.
That’s water under the bridge now, and like I said in my reply, what I currently have in my life isn’t what I’d call fvcked up. I’m okay. My life is okay. My life is great! Because maybe if I had chosen to be an actress, there might have been people I’d never have met. And these people in my life right now make me happy.
And being happy makes up for everything else.