Sunday, July 17, 2005

Reconnecting to the Teenager Within

I wrote in a previous post about my experience serving the youth of a particular course in a particular campus, and how much I hated it. Just when I was about to write off the youth as an unappreciative audience, I found myself serving in a Life in the Spirit Seminar because I couldn't say no to my parish priests. Even though I highly doubted my capacity to connect to teenagers and to even be remotely helpful, let alone inspiring, I had to go every Sunday at 7 p.m. to be with them.

On the third Sunday when I had to give a talk in Tagalog and English and to help a seminarian to translate his sharing into Tagalog, a group of teenagers from a chapel located at the other side of Commonwealth Ave. made their first visit to the LSS at Don Antonio. We were assigned to lead that discussion group. I was way out of my comfort zone as I was no longer used to mixed girls/boys in a DG. I also had to adjust to an LSS team and audience that was so diverse in age (14 to 55 years old!), race (Filipino, Australian and African), occupation and social status, but soon after that night I realized that we all had one thing in common and that was enough - the love of Jesus Christ. It was an opening for me to an area of Christian service outside of Lingkod which basically catered to single young professionals. It was not part of my plan to serve outside my comfort zone but God, as always, saw something more and wanted to reveal more of Himself to me.

After spending time with the kids I realized how much teenagers are looking for role models. They express love and appreciation to me now so openly, but come to think of it, all I ever did for them after that LSS talk was to treat them to some pizza. They said they told their classmates and friends about me, that I'm a lawyer to whom they could talk to about God, and that I'm a Catholic lawyer, which they have made to sound like an oxymoron. This shouldn't be. There are a lot of good lawyers out there, like the handsome and good looking members of the Christian Lawyers Association, to which I partly belong. Perhaps the kids just don't have much access to them.

Even though I'm no longer practicing my profession, it still marks and labels me. I'm still adjusting how to handle it now. People still consult me for legal advice and I help them out of a sense of duty rather than a certainty that I know what I'm doing. The thing with free legal advice coming from a missionary, from my point of view, is that I no longer have to pretend as if I knew the law like the back of my hand. I could tell people that I'm not too sure about recent case law anymore and that I can't represent them in their cases so they should consult somebody else. And then I'm free. That shouldn't give me the title "attorney" anymore. I know hundreds of people who deserve to be given that label, but not me. I wonder why people insist on using that still. Maybe I still have remnants of the Legally Blonde/Ally McBeal look. Haha. Don't get me started on the six months when I went blonde! Well, it was light brown. ;)

These four teenagers have also reminded me of how I was when I was their age, and all my vows then to never grow up. When I graduated from high school, I cried so hard that I couldn't sing the graduation song properly. In college, I stayed in the tambayan of my high school batch, which was really encroaching upon the tambayan of an org and a fraternity, for two whole years before choosing to stay in the School of Economics during my free time. I never wanted to let go of my high school life. I thought I would be a MaScian through and through.

Something happened somewhere. I committed the inconceivable crime of growing up, to some extent. The Laura of my teenage years gradually transformed into Ella, the law student, and then lawyer, and then Lingkod active member, and then BWM. All those transformations were for my own good, I know, but still there was a part of me that seemed to have been left behind. I have been told that I look freer, prettier, and happier now. But still I have to ask: How did I become so serious about life all of a sudden? What happened to the girl who made jeepney drivers turn off their radios because she, together with her equally gregarious barkada, could out-talk and out-sing the radio programs? What happened to the girl in uniform who could sit anywhere - at the city hall, at SM City - and not be conscious? What happened to the student who could write formal themes in straight Filipino and get high marks for them?

It's July, my month of rebirth, so maybe I'm just reconnecting with significant parts of me in order to become the best person I could be when I do enter Lingkod Office full-time this coming August. I know my desire is to live life to the full, and if it means singing Broadway musicals and Disney soundtracks once more, dancing "Chocolate" and "Following the Leader" at Greenwich with gusto, and laughing at impersonations while recalling my own CCP Teen Theater days, then I'm thankful for this chance. Growing up and moving on does not have to mean growing old and becoming boring.

As the posh (pasaway) kids would say, Ajah!

No comments: