On living a life that is driven strongly by curiosity than by fear
Before I came to Mexico, my sister’s boyfriend visited our home from the Czech Republic. He is doing his Masters in Biology and is majoring in spiders (yes, Spiderman as we call him) so he was so into our forest-like setting in Subic Bay. He was joined by a friend, who’s also doing bio studies in Malaysia, majoring in trees.
Yes, trees. My line of work is all about connecting to people. I am programmed to start conversations with people from every walk of life. I’ve spoken publicly in front of doctors, lawyers, businessmen, hotel managers, and even 12-year olds. Many of my friends wonder how I do it when I am not a master of any of these professions. In fact, more often than not, I know nothing about any of this. So, how do I start a conversation with someone I don’t have common grounds with?
It’s simple. I am eternally curious.
“Trees?” I asked him with a roaring curiosity echoing in my head. I’ve never met someone who specializes in trees. I mean, what do these people do? Plant them? Grow them? Observe them? How is it that you will go all the way from the Czech Republic to Malaysia just to study trees? I had the same question with spiders. I really haven’t met anyone in this “profession.”
So I asked. Eternally. While both were discussing biology, trees, spiders, I inserted footnotes in between. My sister finds it silly how I have the energy to be interested in a department that does not concern me but I brushed that off. I continued asking the boys about what they do.
My mom was sitting across me, listening to the many questions I was asking. “She’s always been like that. Ever since she was young, she likes to ask questions.”
My mother is the eldest of her family and somehow has become a breadwinner ever since she was 18. I only grew up having her and my siblings as she separated with my father when I was 5. She’s not from a rich family so I’ve seen her work her as*s off as I was growing up. Despite being a single mother, she raised me and my siblings with pride, perseverance, and hard work. We went to good schools and had all the things we asked for (as long as it’s reasonable). She never said no to the things we want to do, or who we want to be.
When I was 7, I told her I want to play lawn tennis. My sister and I both did. It was a hit sport in our school. Everyone was into it. The next day, she bought us new Prince tennis rackets (the best of its kind), tennis shoes from Nike, Wilson tennis balls, socks, and everything that we needed in order to learn how to play lawn tennis properly. We played the sport for four years until I had interests in learning football. I told her, once again, and just like that, I got all the gears I needed to start learning football.
I had no idea how she did this but I never felt I was lacking in something. She never made us feel she didn’t have the means for us to live a good life. We never could have guessed if she had the monetary resources or not. She just supported us in everything that we wanted to do.
I went to college at 17 and took International Studies major in Political Science. After 2 years, I moved to an art school where I took up Multimedia Arts. After one year, I shifted to Arts Management in the same school. After another year, I was accepted in a study abroad program in Italy, majoring in fashion.
I don’t mean to say this but I could have grown up with a mother who is a drug addict, not feeding her children, locking them up, and limiting their growth. But I didn’t get that kind of mother. I grew up with a mother who took care of her children with 3,000 times the effort. She really really really did it well.
That effort is the result of having strong women in our household. Believe me, if you see me, my sister, and my mom together, it’s a big party of hormones spiking all over the place. None of us will ever relent. Because of my mom, my sister and I learned not to fear anything. Ever since we were young, we were told that a life where you follow your dreams and accomplish them is possible. We never felt limited. We always thought we can do whatever we want. I never learned how to fear because of how I was raised. She also did not impose fear on us. We grew up telling her whatever we feel, saying things when we feel like it. There was never a language restriction. She wanted us to speak like adults and constantly treated us like one.
My mom is no visual artist but she wrote a lot. She had towers of journals at home that I attempted to read when I was 8. She wrote very honestly and beautifully. She was not apologetic in her writings. Because of her, my journey to creative living begun.
I started journaling when I was 9. I am pretty sure my mom read all of them but like her, I also have tons of journal hidden in the garage of my hometown. She kept them. Nothing special happens in the life of a 9-year old but I loved writing about my days. It could be as simple as sitting across my crush at the cafeteria or playing dodge ball in school. I descriptively wrote about what happened to me every day — even if I knew the events were not special. I wrote, wrote and wrote because its something I really liked to do. It’s for me. My siblings always made fun of me by reading my journals but I didn’t care. I wrote anyway.
And that was the beginning of my creative life. I wrote equally as I read. I read the first Harry Potter book when I was 10. I grew up with complete collections of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. I was inspired by Anne Frank’s Diary at 12. I got into reading because my mom made a reward system at home. For every book that we finish reading, we would get 50 pesos (about $1 USD) as a prize. At the time, a dollar was worth a lot to 9-year old kids, especially in the Philippines. I read as much as I can because I was driven by the monetary prize. After high school, it became a habit. I no longer needed monetary compensation in order to finish a book. I read, and that’s it.
As children, we were raised to compete. We were raised to always brace for the war. We were told to be our best in school because it’s the right thing to do. Medals validated us as kids. It encouraged us, at the same time, it discouraged us.
“Why bother if you can’t be the best” was the reason why I moved from one sport to another as a child and why I shifted courses frequently that even my siblings couldn’t keep track. For many, being not good enough is something that hinders us to go after our dreams. It could also be comparing ourselves with other people whom we think have done it better than us. Personally, I couldn’t find the thing that will make me “the best” until I changed paths and traveled the world. As young as 21, I went around the world to explore the “best” in myself.
This traveling life made me lose faith with our educational system that seemed to be a social currency. “Trisha goes to La Salle” is what people knew about me because La Salle is the best and the most expensive school in the Philippines. I got in with a football varsity scholarship which added impact on my social CV. I was really happy about bringing home the gold to mama but my curiosity never fit in a classroom where I was limited to see what was beyond that box. I woke up one day feeling like I needed to learn about life in my own terms. And so, I left the University clique and never looked back. Of course, it wasn’t okay for everyone, most especially my mom who’s done everything to send me to the best schools I could attend. She didn’t agree when I decided to do this but she also did not oppose it. With that, I know I am supported and that I can start the journey I wanted to embark on.
I can never speak authoritatively about fear because I don’t know it. My mother has always been my role model and I never saw her be afraid of something. Even up to now that I am 30. When I left to travel the world, there was not a bit of fear that I felt. For most people embarking on an indefinite trip, it always starts with “will I make it?” “What about the money?” “What if I’m not good enough?” But for me, it was a resounding curiosity: what’s out there? What’s the food like? What’s language do they speak? For every time I will move to a new city, even if I didn’t know how the hell will I get there, curiosity always won over fear. I always needed to know. I can’t leave things hanging.
Along the way, I learned that I need to acknowledge fear even if I didn’t know how. You see, fear and curiosity come hand in hand. If we don’t fear, we will cross the road without looking. We will do stupid things if we’re not afraid. We can even drink poison if we don’t fear. I made a decision that if I am to continue doing what I do, I need to be a little scared. I managed to do that by putting it together with my curiosity. No, I’m not the one who thinks something bad will happen to me. That’s not the kind of fear that I want to learn.
I noticed that mastering round the world travel did not teach me how to fear. It just taught me that I can do it more. I’ve observed that this isn’t a good thing about living a creative life because, for the past 5 years since I started the blog in 2014, I did not do new things. Sure, my work was acknowledged. I was invited for interviews. I made a TV show on CNN. I spoke in many big conferences, just not in my home country but all parts of the world. I speak Spanish fluently. I know Hebrew and Portuguese. I believe I write well but sometimes I feel like I need to improve more. I never did anything to advance in these things because I don’t fear. With all these personal successes, I always believed that everyone and anyone admires me and that I shouldn’t work on being better at these things. Above all, I didn’t try to do something new. My creativity got tired of waiting. The world has somehow left me at this level of growth because I am not scared.
Fear came to me this year when I was inspired by my friends, Alyne and Nas to make my own video channel. I have written tons of journal entries in this blog but I couldn’t find my voice in the video platform. I kept thinking about what would make my channel different. I received a lot of feedback of support from the followers of this blog and I want to thank you all for the beautiful words of encouragement but “you can do it” didn’t cover it. I finally came up with an idea and together with my team, we worked on it on a 10-day trip to Brunei. I learned that ideas will keep you up every night unless you pay attention to it. You know ideas not coming to life never leaves you alone, right? We successfully filmed my concept and followed all the shot list. We all believed that it was something new. That nobody has done that type of video content before.
Despite the number of footages, I still don’t have the inspiration to publish it. The filming happened 3 months ago and up until now, I couldn’t find the energy to put it together. I always push it for later because I say I am busy but honestly, even if the video idea is cool and unique, I am not confident I can follow through. What if it will be a one hit wonder? More importantly, I feel like everybody’s doing it way better? Why should I be another noise in a big chunk of noise?
I know this isn’t one of those motivational blogs that I normally write but I am processing my thoughts out loud: when will I manage to put fear in my life so I can do better? I hope you are seeing the concept of fear and curiosity going hand in hand here. For now, I am realizing the obstacles of preventing me to live a more creative life and I am happy that I am able to share this freely with you.
In fact, I think by writing this, I have figured out what my fears are.