Flashback 2012, I was an eager teen waiting to become legal, to become an “adult.” Fast forward almost three years to now, I can proudly say I am a much, much better person, developing each day into a unique identity called myself.
I’m turning 20 in eight days. Most people would consider a person of that age a young adult. I said that I’ve grown to become a better person, and yet I feel like there’s still so much for me to learn, like there’s still so much in the world for me to experience. And it’s not just a feeling, it’s the reality.
Going back to my seventeen-year-old self, she thought life was going to be perfect. After all, she was going to a private college somewhere in Taft where she was going to study multimedia arts. Oh, she had her heart set on it for years. She knew it was her calling.
But unfortunate circumstances happened; financial problems that caused difficulties. My dad was receiving his pension in Japanese Yen and if you look at the trend, 2013 was also the year the currency was going downhill. So what we received, converted into Philippine Peso, suddenly did not become enough for me to be sent to a private school.
So what was the path I took, less taken?
It was the decision to go UP instead.
You see, for students in my high school, it wasn’t uncommon to admire private universities. ‘Yung tipong Ateneo, La Salle, Saint Louis University… Anything but state universities. Although until today, I’m not sure where that admiration stemmed from. It must be the fact that I was actually attending a private high school.
The truth is, I only know one other UP Diliman undergraduate student who came from my high school as of this academic year. That’s just how much preference there is to private universities.
But have I spent a milisecond regretting the decision? Never.
In UP, I founds friends I want to and will fight to keep for the rest of my life. In UP, I’ve attended 7AM classes every day at the Institute of Mathematics. In UP, I failed a class I neither understood nor appreciated.
In UP, I experienced so many new things.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
From once saying things like “walang magbabago,” I have become a person who stands up to say, “may magagawa ako para sa pagbabago.” I’ve become an advocate for change, something that was less likely to happen should I have gone to a private school. Just knowing the problems in our society, I decided to be part of that group who not only talked about the issues in society, but also did something about it. Sometimes it may be in the smallest form of spreading awareness through social media or sometimes as vocal as joining a rally.
And being away from my parents, I learned to appreciate them so much. If in high school, I only thought of them as people who financially supported and took care of me, now I think of them as the two irreplaceable people who will give their lives if that’s what they needed to do to see me live a good life. I think the most memorable thing my mom did for me since having gone to college is when I was spending summer at home and she made me a heart-shaped pancake. (Photo as seen in this article)
Since then, I’ve spent countless nights crying, homesick, and because I was now aware of how much I meant to them also. I cried, because at some point in my 17-year-old life, I said something like I wanted to die. I cried, because they were trying to do more than what they could just for me. And I cried, mostly because I missed them, I missed home, and I wanted to spend time with them now that I loved them more than ever.
And lastly, from the failure that I had depressed myself over for months, I eventually found hope and the strength to crawl back to walking a path I am truly passionate about. I realized that if you fail and let yourself fall into the pits of hopelessness, you won’t be able to do anything in life. If you don’t do anything after failing, you’re just wasting an opportunity towards self-improvement. You must find the power in yourself to move on and learn from what you’d gone through, hoping that your experience will not only help you, but for you to someday share to the world– and become an inspiration to others.
Right now, all I’m aiming to do is to keep becoming a better person, and to graduate– delayed ‘man so I can, even in the smallest ways, start paying my parents back for all they’ve done for me and more importantly, to keep advocating for change in the country so that one day (hopefully) I can see it become a better place.
So– you, over there. Don’t set your standards based on societal norms and remember that there’s still so much for you to see, whether you’re a 20-year-old like me or a 60-something like my dad.
Eventually, you’ll thank your past self for swimming against the current.