4 years ago today, I was about to take on the last stand of my high school years. I told myself that I’m gonna do my best to make my parents proud. “When I go up to the stage to get my diploma and medal, I want them to be telling their friends: “That’s my kid right there.” I want to be someone who they can boast of. I want them to be proud of who I am,” I said. Sadly, as the last year of my high school years ended, it didn’t happen as I wanted it to be.
I remembered during our high school recollection. I cried so hard not because that I’m gonna miss the people around me, because that’s a given already, but because one of my friends screamed my name with a face bursting with tears like it was a dam that just got broken. At that moment, I thought, for the past years that I’ve been around with these people, I thought it was all a facade, but because of that, no, I was wrong about them. They made me feel that I belonged. They made me feel that I wasn’t a nobody. They made me feel human.
But it wasn’t just the crying and sharing of experiences that made my recollection eventful, it was also what our class adviser told me. Everyone got a piece of paper with their names on it and it was passed around the group. We would all write our memorable experiences with the person and what we think about him/her. Our adviser was taking part of the activity as well. When everyone received back their papers, I looked at mine and read what everyone has to say to me. What struck me the most were the words: “Cum Laude, no less.” I stared at those words for minutes as if something just happened right in front of me. Well actually, something did. Our adviser believed in me. She believed that I could do it. She believed in my capabilities and that not being able to be an honor graduate should stop me from my goals. I folded the paper and placed it in my shirt pocket, near to where my heart is.
3 years ago today, I got in to college with a mantra that I started to carry with me all the time wherever I go: “Cum Laude, no less.”
College was okay. In fact, I was even very excited to go to one. I attended all the activities of the organizations because I didn’t want to get lost and be left out of the news. I imagined myself, as I would pass every year of this 4-year program, as a consistent Dean’s Lister, an officer of the co-curricular organization of my program, an active student leader, and of course, having proud parents, by turning my mantra into reality. Fresh, young, naive, and full of thoughts I was. But this was only the start. It had yet to begin.
After finishing my first semester in college, I was quite disappointed. “Almost,” I said. I was just an “almost.” “You almost made it.” “You almost did it.” “You were almost there. Don’t give up, man. It’s just the start. You’ll be fine.” My grades were fairly good. Not that terrible, not that awesome either. Average, as I would call it. But I guess it wasn’t enough for me to rocket my way out from a zone that I like to call, the “Almost Is Never Enough” Zone. But then again, it’s still the start. I was still qualified to achieve the goals that I’ve set for myself, I just had to do better next time. And as always, “Cum Laude, no less,” I said.
Second semester was when I could probably say it all started. Computer Science wasn’t my choice. I was forced to take it up due to being undecided before getting in to college and because of the opportunities it would have to offer me after I graduate. In the middle of the semester, I broke down. I was paranoid of the thought that I only had the other half of the semester to prove myself that I can pass the course, to prove myself that I wasn’t just an “almost,” to prove myself that I can turn my mantra into reality. The semester ended, but I was only able to prove myself only one out of three. Grades were released and, yet again, “Almost,” I said. This time, I kinda lost hope. I wanted to shift programs because I know that I wouldn’t be able to do it in the following semesters, but my mom told me to just do harder next time. I thought, “Cum Laude, no less.” I failed my adviser, my parents, and myself. I couldn’t attain my goals because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, I wasn’t enough. I was always gonna be an “almost” and that will never change. Nevertheless, I was still able to keep my head high despite the circumstances. But I wasn’t bringing any mantra with me anymore. That time, I just wanted to graduate already.
2 years ago today, I was a 2nd Year, ready to take on the challenges ahead. I also joined the co-curricular organization of my program and it was probably the best thing I ever did back then. As the semester went on, I wasn’t only avoiding people, but also I was losing hope in everything. I changed. I repeatedly told myself that I can still do this and I will be able to. While the semester was about to end, there was a time when I couldn’t handle it anymore. I cried inside my room countless of times and all I could think of every time was that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t smart enough, that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t enough to fulfill my mantra. I wasn’t enough to make my parents proud of me. I wasn’t enough to be a human being. My perception of life was constricted to the point that I felt I didn’t deserve to be here. I was barely a teenager, the first time I tried to kill myself. I didn’t deserve all the things that I had, my parents, my friends, everything. But I told myself: “Maybe I should hang on for a little more, maybe things will be back to the way it was before.” My thoughts came to a consensus and I accepted everything that has happened and went on.
A year ago today, I already shifted to another program: Fine Arts, majoring in Advertising Arts. This was my second semester as a Fine Arts student already. Everything was going well. Major classes were once a week. I never really had to study the minor courses (aside from Filipino because seriously, Filipino is just so hard to understand I don’t know why some people find it quite easy for them). One word: “Chill.” My only problem were my plates. I took up Fine Arts because I had a thing for drawing, and that was it. My plates were quite terrible to look at. It wasn’t amazing. Looked more like a hurricane went across it and came back because it needed to destroy it even more. The struggle was real. But then, “It’s back,” I said. I thought I didn’t belong to the college. I thought I was just an embarrassment to everyone who took up Fine Arts. I thought I wasn’t creative enough to be an artist. And again, I wasn’t enough. But despite the fact that I actually passed everything, the thoughts lingered. I couldn’t escape all my thoughts no matter how much I preoccupy myself with work like it were my favorite song that I would hit replay on.
Second semester of my 3rd year in college, I shifted once again to another program: Industrial Engineering. Aside from the thoughts that were inside my mind last semester, I kinda felt something was lacking with Fine Arts. I was craving for calculations. I wasn’t that good with mathematics, but it was something that I would always look forward to in college. The start of the semester went well, as per usual. Until, a number of homework, quizzes, and examinations were given, seeing my results in everything, I broke down. All I could think of was, that I wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t smart enough, that I wasn’t enough. I still had the chance to regain myself, but I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t study because I couldn’t concentrate with all the negativity in my mind. I would be lax about everything because I thought I could manage all my studies in one night. I didn’t want to study because my perception was already darkened in a way that I didn’t see the importance of education and life itself. I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t see the purpose of my existence. I was tired of myself. After everything, I continued with the same program, but with another curriculum. They had to transfer me to the bridged curriculum because they said that I wasn’t capable enough to pass and survive the regular curriculum. I did my best to remain, but I guess it wasn’t enough.
And now, the end is what I wish for to happen. From time to time, I just sit back on a bench at school and remember all the memories and moments I had back when I wasn’t experiencing any of these, back when I can really say that I was truly happy. I can’t count how many times I’ve just been sitting on this particular bench, thinking of what I’ve been doing with my life, replaying all the tragedies that had ever happened to me, regretting all the actions that I had done, rewriting all the things that I wished I did, and wishing my life wasn’t like this right now and that everything had gone differently. This doesn’t apply only to my academic life, but to my life in general.