This is a pretty long post. That’s probably because it’s been a long year. Beginning from April of last year and ending in March of this year, my college sophomore year put me through a lot of things. I’ve had my highs and lows in extremes, my favorite and least favorite parts.
Sure, I got lost several times, but sometimes I can even say that those were my favorite parts. Getting lost feels great because finding your way out feels even better. I went through a lot. And I learned a lot, too.
I started it off very sad. First year introduced me to depression, and parts of it carried on into second year. But this depression had brought me closer to Ara, so by June I could call her one of my best friends. My summer classes were highlighted by a group of girls I (secretly and lamely) called my summer sunshine: Ina, Mheanne, Danie and occasionally Pristine.
In June, I sparked a crush on a boy who never spoke to me but who inspired plenty of poetry and rosy paragraphs from me. This lasted until around August. Also in June, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday in advance. It was no perfect party, obviously, but I am happy with and grateful for it in all ways. My block-mates still make references to it from time to time as a party they enjoyed greatly. That made me very happy. June made me very happy.
I was happy until July and August, still carrying my crush as I turned eighteen, took a leap of faith, and joined a new org called the Ateneo Book Bench. The latter turns out to be one of the greatest things to ever happen to me. I made new friends, one special one in particular, and through him I found doorways to new experiences, stories and lenses for looking at life. To be frank about it, I fell in love.
September brought me another leap of faith, one that can and will affect the rest of my life. I look back on it from time to time and think about what would happen if I had chosen otherwise, but I never stay long on those questions. I’m just content with where I am going right now.
September, October, November and December brought me some changes I didn’t think I was ready for. They say love changes things. And decisions affect certain aspects in your life that you didn’t think it was connected to. All of that happened, and while it hurt miserably and I am still not completely over it, I know that there is something to be gained from all that pain and error. Often I struggle looking for it, but I know it is there.
January; I tried to start anew. I tried my Writing Project 365 for the third time, and less than a hundred days into it I failed for the third time. I tried drawing too. February and March were not very cooperative. I am still not very aggressive with owning my life. I still am not strong enough to own my days, my weeks, my months.
I took it upon myself to make February happy. We were greeted with a four-day weekend, and I put it to use in a way that caused me to be on a tight budget for the rest of the month. That was painful, but on most days, that shopping expedition comes out totally worth it.
I fell in love with the household name of Divisoria, a place I used to fear because of all its horror stories; and Logos Hope, the “floating bookstore” succeeding Doulos, the ship I had known as a curious child. I also fell in love with commutes: rediscovered my fascination for trains, train stations and train rides; felt the odd excitement of a public utility Jeepney; took in the skies and the air of not-so-new places I am visiting for the first time in a while.
Feb was adventure month.
March was designed to make me consider responsibility, to try to find out what I want, how badly I want it, and on that basis figure out if I should go for it. I was missing in some areas and all over the place in others, with a couple of nights lacking sleep and a few mornings sadder than I should be allowing myself to be. But I am here, I made it. I am an incoming college junior, Secretary-General for the org I have come to know as home, and a hopeful journalism-student-to-be.
Here’s the important part: What have I learned this year?
I learned that things can and will change. Sadness never lasts and, unfortunately, neither does happiness. But take that as you may, and no one can take it against you. I learned that I have to do what I believe is best, no matter how people see the situation. If I adjust myself to them, it will only leave me with nightmares and regrets.
Being the optimist, pessimist or realist is one’s own decision. I learned that there’s more to life than just surviving it, but surviving is still a much underrated skill for one to have.
I have learned the importance of learning. Sophomore year introduced me to two professors I will always remember as life-changing: Sir Ray for Theology 121 and Ma’am Gari for Psychology 101. They made me realize so many things and they affected me in so many ways, even if I first arrived in their classrooms with no idea what to expect. Lessons can come from the most surprising places.
And speaking of surprises, I learned the beauty of those too. Very often I get caught off guard in a bad way, but that doesn’t lose the beauty of it on me. Once in a while I am brave enough to say, “Life, surprise me!” and I think I will be saying that to my college junior year. I have plenty more to learn from it, and I cannot wait.
I think I learned a lot about people, the most important one being that I will never completely understand people. And yes, that includes myself. I learned that people are egocentric, that we remember our parts of the stories but we easily forget who was or wasn’t there. I still have difficulty remembering that people are different, but I learned that people forget that too. And I learned that some people just don’t know how to walk in each other’s shoes.
I learned that honesty is tragically underrated. That people put conclusions on relationships without trying out closure, that certain words are passed in thinking that no one can hear them. I heard a lot of painful things, but not from the people I should have heard them from. This is why I’m fragile. Because words affect me so easily, and people toss words around so easily. I’ve learned that a lot of people don’t mean what they say. A lot of people don’t know what they’re saying.
I learned that honesty is one of the best ways to fix misunderstandings, and I learned that misunderstandings happen and they feel like hell. I learned that honesty and explanations beat interpretations and assumptions. I’ve learned that some people actually don’t listen, especially at our age. I learned that certain things are important to me, but are so petty to others. I learned that people are actually really afraid of being honest. Because being honest involves admitting we are flawed.
I learned, and I will quote this from my favorite Sarah Kay, that
“this life will hit you hard in the face, wait for you to get back up just so it can kick you in the stomach. But getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.”
Honestly, I learned plenty of things from Sarah Kay; everything she wanted her daughter to know and remember, I now know and I will remember.
I learned that I am not as quiet as I always thought I was. In fact, my voice is bigger than my body. But life pummeled me till I was scared of being heard, and my voice hid inside of my throat. Still, it never stopped being big. And I learned that I actually love that big voice of mine. And I learned that I want it to be heard.
I don’t fully know what I want yet, but I learned some of them. I want to write─really really want to write─and I will never forget, doubt, or give up on my love for words. (Thank you to Pristine for this one. It meant a lot to share this with you.) I want to be a part of Book Bench history, and I will do my best to earn and deserve that role. I want to be important, I want to have my name remembered, even on just a page in a folio, and I want to be somebody. Somebody bigger than my body.
Lastly, I learned amidst all of this, that it takes a certain amount of effort to be okay, but I can be okay. That the harder jobs come with deeper lessons.
It isn’t junior year yet, but as it comes, I would say, Hey. Surprise me. And maybe, I will surprise you, too.
Thank you, Lord, for this valuable sophomore year.