American author Napoleon Hill once said, “Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” While I strongly agree with him, I have to make an exemption when the situation involves asking my parents permission to do something that I don’t normally do. Timing is everything. It’s about catching them in a good mood at a good time, and then attacking.
Before you make snap judgments about my folks, let me make clear that they aren’t your stereotypical—strict, indifferent, and overprotective—Asian parents that the Internet is fond of perpetuating. I’m not going to say that they’re the opposite either, because they’re not. But they’re pretty open-minded for an old school, old-fashioned pair.
Mid last year, I decided that I wanted to try solo travel and so did what any traveler would have done. I selected my destination, read up on safety concerns surrounding the place, and researched on the basic costs to help me budget accordingly. I was all set, but had yet to do the most challenging part: telling my parents and getting their sincere yes.
I’ve had countless people tell me that I’m old enough to make my own decisions without my parents’ approval. Yes, I’m past my mid twenties, but I grew up following this one important saying: “As long as you live under my roof, you live by my rules.” Furthermore, I handle the finances of our business, so taking time off from work isn’t as simple as it sounds.
I organized my thoughts and mentally rehearsed what I was going to say, how I’d say it, and how I’d plead my case were they to reply in the negative. I gave myself until the end of August to talk to my parents about my plans, but then August came and went—as did September, October, November, and December. I had made zero progress. When January came, I put my foot down. I told myself “You’re leaving in three months. You’ve gotta do it now. They’ve never said no before, so what are you anxious of?”
As expected, things didn’t go as I’d planned in my head.
“Dad, I’m going to Thailand in April.”
“With who? How long? For what?”
“With nobody. I’m going alone, and I am staying there for 10 days doing nothing.”
I could hear the crickets chirping in the garden. Water was dripping steadily somewhere. A crow squawked. It was awkward. My dad looked at me, I looked at my sister, and my sister looked at us. My mom, during that time, was busy cleaning the kitchen. He lightly scratched his head in disbelief.
“Ah, you’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Tell me, is this about your blog? Are you planning to turn it into a career? You know, you don’t have to do all of this. Why don’t you focus on fixing the problems in the company, and when all is stable, I’ll gladly finance your trips. You and Colleen can choose any place and even go away for a month if you want.”
“No dad, this isn’t about my blog or professionalising it. It’s just one of those things that I want to try and experience while I’m young, single, and able. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while now. About the company, as long as the business is alive, then there will be problems. If I wait for the time to be happy when there are no problems left, then I will be waiting forever. I want to live a little, dad. Rest assured, I know my responsibilities and priorities.”
“Ten days is too long. A lot can happen in ten days. Cut it down to seven.”
And the rest, as they say, is history. I may not have gotten what I originally had in mind, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be. Because guess what? It’s 6 o’clock in the morning and my plane is leaving in thirty minutes!
As I embark on my first solo trip, I want to take this opportunity to thank my parents for understanding and allowing me to follow my heart’s desire even if they’re clouded by worries. Thank you for introducing me to this thing called travel, for sparking a sense of adventure in me. I am, indeed, very privileged and fortunate.
To my papito—who doesn’t use Facebook or social media—but manages to read every single post that I publish, thank you for remaining my biggest fan. You may not know it, but it makes all the difference in the world to me. I will never get tired of sending you links of my articles via Viber.
To my sister and crazy friends who are always ecstatic to see me do my thing, thank you for being my backbone and for always pushing me to “do it!” I could never ask for a better set of friends. I’ll keep you updated in our crazy Whatsapp chat room.
Lastly, I want to thank you. Yes, you, for being a part of this exciting journey by simply being here. I may not know who you are or what you do, but I hope this encourages you to do more of what makes you feel alive. Life is short, and time is fast, but it’s never too late to be that guy or girl who decided to go for it.