If there’s one word that describes who I am in the family, it would be “panganay,” a Filipino term that basically means “the firstborn child.”
Our family contains four members – my mother, my father, me, and my younger brother. They say that girls in the family should be considered a princess. Sure, that is somewhat true. However, if you add in the fact that I was a girl… and the eldest child, I had to carry a lot of pressure.
Being the eldest has its ups and downs – sweet, and at the same time, sour. Although I think a lot of people can relate to this, things might be different in every family’s culture. Consequently, Filipinos are naturally family-oriented. We tend to maintain a connection with relatives. We also tend to maintain it even when we reach adulthood.
The emotional baggage of being “panganay” caused an early burnout
They say no matter what position you have in the family, you have struggles that will cause burnout. Growing up, I have always heard my relatives say, “Malaki na pala ‘yung panganay mo” or “Malapit na magtapos ng college.” When they would as what program I am taking, they would say these lines after hearing my reply, “Galingan mo para makahanap ka ng trabaho at makatulong sa magulang mo.”
I know that it usually connotes a positive encouragement for me to be a good student and have better grades. But, my mind wanders and it asks, “Why is it always about my family? Am I not doing this for my dreams? How about the personal goals I want to achieve?” For some reason, I had to prioritize my family’s situation instead of looking forward to my goals. I had to keep reminding myself to finish my studies and have a decent job just to help my parents and my younger brother.
Sometimes, I feel lost with the decisions I have to make in life. I always have to question if I am living for myself or just following the way that it has given me. For a family like mine who also struggles financially, I understand that life is difficult as it is. You have to fight for it and challenge yourself to become better. I know it’s complicated. But, I hope it does not last long.
Afraid of Failures
In every decision, obstacle, and challenge that I experience, I always have this moment of being afraid to be a failure. When I was in high school, I kept having good grades and even landed honors and a ranking list. My mother used to check on my grades and ask about my day. It’s very heart-fluttering since my mom feels so proud that her child ranks high among her classmates. Her smile and laughter when she tells the news to my aunts encourage me to do well in school.
Although those moments are a dream, it has its nightmare. I remember the time when I almost got a low grade. I was so afraid that time my naïve mind keeps thinking that I will disappoint my parents. Cliché right? But that moment of my life still hangs onto me and I don’t why. Maybe, because they are the ones who support me in my education. As time goes by, reaching young adulthood I learned that failure comes in every people’s life and it leaves a scar of lessons. Lessons that make you strong and brave enough to face a much bigger wave of obstacles.
Every one of us has a dream to achieve. Some might want to become a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer, etc. At the age of twelve, I am sure that I want to be a flight attendant. To travel the world, explore every country, and bring my parents to France. That’s so sweet, right? That’s my dream and I always look up into the sky even if it seems too far to reach.
After my senior high graduation, I kept that program, the school, and the course in my mind. However, it seemed that not everything you want will be given to you. I have decided to be practical when it comes to my college program. I remember that time when I decided to take a course than pursue my dreams. The goal is to graduate and have a decent job, that’s it! But, my flying dreams always haunt me that sometimes I regret not taking up Tourism.
Despite everything, I still see the good side of being the eldest. It leads me to become a tough fighter in life and teaches me lessons to be responsible enough for everything that I do.
Maedelyn is a journalism student from Cavite State University. She is a passionate girl whose dream is to travel the world and write stories about it. She likes photography and is interested in fashion. She also likes to watch classic movies.