Thursday, August 16, 2007


We identify ourselves consciously by our location at the present and also by our location in our past. But what others see in us (but which they often do not articulate, even to themselves) and what we more often than not do not consciously recognize in ourselves is the likely trajectory that our past and present social location and actions bodes for us in the future.

When others look at us, they get a sense of whether or not we will “go places”. They (think they) can tell our future by the way we carry ourselves (by our accent, by our “presence”, by our ability to interact with them, by our level of comfort with social situations, in the words that we say and the manner that we speak, by the things that we wear) and in doing so they decide (unconsciously) whether or not we are to be taken seriously.

To some extent, our past does not really matter in their assessment of our trajectories unless our deportment places us in locations where we would not be expected, either because we are too high for somebody with such a deportment (in which we would be a puzzle bordering on a mistake) or too low (which is rarely the case but if it were the case, then we would be considered a waste, sayang siya). The past matters only in assessing whether or not they can be comfortable with us.

To some extent, our disposition towards the future matters much more than the past, the question being how we intend to spend the capital we have accumulated in order to accumulate more capital. Those who have little capital are not expected to go very far and oftentimes they are blamed for having little capital to begin with. Those who have more capital are expected to have steeper trajectories and for them to choose not to maximize their capital would be considered foolish in the eyes of the world.

[I remember telling my father, who was at some point a small farmer, a jeepney driver and a gasoline boy that I was considering helping in the agrarian reform effort (inspired by my degree in Development Studies) and he said, Nagpakahirap akong pag-aralin kayo tapos babalik ka lang sa pinanggalingan ko. I eventually ended up teaching and he talked to my sister about me and told her that there's no money in teaching. It is only now that I understand where he was coming from. From his point of view, I was squandering accumulated labor. Parents know (unconsciously) that accumulation is the name of the game (To his credit, I knew I could count on him no matter what I decided to do. I did take Development Studies and I did teach and aside from those small pitiks, he did not really let me hear about it)]

Next Post: Friday, August 24


Omi said...

Are you certain that the past doesn't matter when assessing ones trajectory? I have been assessing my trajectory for some time, most especially during my 1st three years in college. I always say "sayang" since I always wanted to "be somebody" in college just as how I was "somebody" in high school and in elementary.

I live in a dorm with former highschool classmates. We often share moments wherein we evaluate each other's current life paths and say "sayang" since they (the life paths) pale in comparison to what we had during our high school heydays.

But for those who know me less intimately - college friends and acquaintances, would always say that I have a promising future. Their evaluation may well be based on my "presence". Thus, what you wrote may contain grains of truth. It may only apply to those who we haven't met before a transition in our lives (e.g. transition from high school to college, college to getting a job, getting married, etc.)

Leland said...

Am I certain? No. None of what I write here are certainties. Fr all you know, they are all false.

But my intuition is: yes, it doesn't matter. Remember I am talking about other people's perception of your trajectory.

If other's expectations of you are higher than your own expectations of yourself (or your perceived trajectory) then that means they see something that you don't. You have "kapital" that you don't value as much as they do.