All my life I had yearned for mediocrity. I had always wanted to quietly blend in with the crowd, live each day without pressure, and just freely go with the flow. I did not care whether I had my identity still intact as long as I was accepted. I was afraid to stand out and assert myself. I shunned responsibilities and evaded the limelight. I was willing to give up anything to become an ordinary person. It eventually reached a point when I deliberately avoided excellence. That turned out to be my breaking point.
Even as a child, I knew that I was a little different from other kids. While other children were gleefully playing outdoor games, I buried my head in thick encyclopedias and novels, haunted by their boisterous laughter and enthusiastic shrieks. Deep inside, I knew that I could never share their fun. While my classmates were playing video games, I was writing stories - dreaming up my own fantasy world. I felt isolated by the thick barrier between my lonely self and these happy children.
Throughout prep school and elementary, I was a consistent honor student and an all-around academic achiever. Yet with every contest I won I felt even more distanced from my classmates and friends. I was way ahead of my peers yet I felt left out. I wanted to give up everything I ever achieved to become a normal, carefree school kid. It made me so uneasy to be better than the rest that I almost felt ashamed to achieve greatness. Everyone else, though, expected highly of me since I had such an excellent track record in school. I detested it so much whenever my parents would remind me that God made me the first-born in our family because I was born to be a leader and destined to excel. My fragile self hated to be put under pressure. Eventually, I crumbled under all those high expectations.
When I reached Grade Six, I was determined to slack off and just enjoy life. I felt that all the effort I had poured into my studies were merely taken for granted so I decided to become a delinquent and happy-go-lucky student. I hung out with the laziest students in our class. I submitted my projects late since I used my study time to play and be merry. I was dleighted by my low scores and offenses against the school. My parents' worries and sermons and ramblings all fell on deaf ears. That same year, I almost got expelled for cheating in a science exam, the subject where I was a perennial contestant and medalist. It was supposed to be an embarrassing moment but I felt pride, pride that I had finally achieved mediocrity.
From that point on, it was a journey to the bottom for me. Every year, my situation worsened and I daresay that I was not even worthy of being a shadow of my former self. I went from top ten to bottom half of my batch. My newfound freedom quickly turned sour when I realized that I still could not enjoy life as an ordinary person could even when I gave up everything to be ordinary. Somehow, I felt even more isolated than I was before. I was in no man's land, and I had lost the little identity and aura of intelligence I had before. Subconsciously, mediocrity seeped into other aspects of my life as well. I had become mediocre in having fun and making friends. I was living everyday feigning a smile, a hollow expression that hid the lost child within me, a mask that pretended I was the happiest person when in fact it was covering up a faceless entity.
Life has a way of waking a person up if he is veered off his supposed track in life. In my fourth year in high school, life slapped me in the face thrice. It was the day of our report card distribution, and when it was my turn, my teacher failed to call out my name. I thought there must be some sort of mistake, but she later informed me that I... was not eligible of receiving my report card. She whispered to me that I had two failing marks. That moment turned the world upside down. I did not expect that I would stoop down to that level. It was even more heartbreaking when I met an old classmate afterwards. She asked me what rank I placed on the honor's list. My friend answered for me, "What honor's list? He did not even receive his report card." When I saw the stupefied reaction on my old classmate's face, I was drowned in a shame that was beyond words to describe. When I went home that day, my strict father asked me where my report card was,. I told him that I did not receive it, fully expecting him to drive me out of the house the next moment.
My father cried.
I clearly saw that those were tears of despair and shattered hopes - a desperate questioning of why his good son turned out to be like this. That was the lowest point in my life. That moment threw so many questions and sad thoughts at me, "Do I want to be stuck like this for the rest of my life?" I thought, "If I go on like this, wouldn't I have wasted everything God has blessed me with? Wouldn't I have thrown away all the time and effort my parents sacrifice to provide me with a good education?"
I willed myself to change for the better , but I found that all those years of slacking off had taken its toll on me. Laziness and cowardice had eaten away my aptitude to excel. No matter how hard I studied for some exams, I just got mediocre scores. That was the period of my life when I was painfully climbing back up to where I began. It was especially humbling and ironic for a person who once struggled to become mediocre, only to eventually struggle his way out of mediocrity.
In January of that school year, the entrance exam results were released. I passed the entrance examinations of the top four universities in the country - Ateneo, UP, La Salle, and UST. That was a big and momentous turning point for me. I realized that I still had it in me to be an achiever and that I truly cannot escape who I am destined to be. It was also the first time in so many years that I had been able to make my parents proud of me again. I had been blessed with a new opportunity to prove myself and what I am capable of achieving.
Looking back, I can see how selfish and cowardly I was when I was young. I used to live life on the basis of instant gratification. I did not care about the implications my actions would bring about as long as they made me happy. Despite everything I've been through, I do not regret about anything that happened to me. Had I not decided to become mediocre, I would have gone crazy by now still trying to live up to the expectations of everyone around me. I would not have as colorful a teenage life as I had experienced. My fall to mediocrity gave me a clean slate to start all over again. It has given me the happiness and contentment I am experiencing today.
I believe that I was destined to fall then rise once more because it was the only way I can realize a lesson about success. Success cannot be attained if it is motivated by selfish reasons. True success is all about fulfilling a purpose higher than ourselves. I view the pinnacle of success as being able to share my achievements with the people I care about. When teachers can exclaim with pride that I had once been their student, when my classmates can feel honored that I had once shared a fun-filled youth with them, when my parents can feel thankful in having me as their son, those are the greatest manifestations of success for me.
I am so lucky to have met a synergistic combination of events that have brought me to where I am today. I was born blessed with so much potential and embraced by so much love, but I have already wasted half my young life wasting them. I am happy that I still have the rest of my life to make up and transcend my past mistakes. I may never go back to my studious and responsible old self, but my roller coaster ride to and from mediocrity has given me so much more. Now, my life has purpose and direction. Rising out of mediocrity has instilled in me the heart to dream, the spirit to achieve, and the drive to excel. Mediocrity was supposed to be my passion, thankfully it turned out to be my salvation.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
This will be a long post. At this point, there are so many things I am in love with. I feel so much hope and enthusiasm weeling up within me. I feel that I am within an arm's length of reaching my dreams, of achieving so many possibilities. So here it is, all the things that has driven me and will continue to drive me to living a fulfilled life, compressed in a blog.
I am so thankful to the Lord for this year, 2006.
It has been a breakthrough year for me. I believe that I have seen more, laughed more, and experienced more, and loved more in this year than the rest of the seventeen years put together. I feel so thankful to everyone around me: to God for making the magic of life possible, for breathing inspiration unto my soul, for blessing me with love and friendship from people, and for opening my mind to the rich mysteries of the cosmos. I am also thankful to my near-perfect family, where I can be myself, and feel secure and comfortable in their midst, for they are always there to provide fun and passion to life. This year, I have also made more friends than ever before, since I had been more involved in various activities. I realize how beautiful friendship is, how spirited camaraderie can be, and how wildly profound life can be. I am filled with so much pride and confidence with the knowledge that people are starting to recognize me, and maybe even love me. I am happy to say that I have been invited to and attended more or less eighteen debuts. And that's a big deal for me because it gives me such comfort to know that I am recognized by these people as someone who somehow made an impact in their lives. This is one of the many emerging reasons why I am beginning to believe in myself, starting to have a higher self-esteem, and taking pride in the things I am doing without feeling insecure anymore. The main reason why I am feeling so fulfilled lately is because I know that I have outgrown that awkward, insecure, antisocial stage, where I was locked in the prison of shyness and fears. I now feel that I am gradually maturing into someone who has a sense of purpose and a drive to reach my dreams. If before, I was a pure dreamer, now I have started to become a dreamer and a doer. Most importantly, I am beginning to have the guts and the strength to stand up for myself, to fight for what I believe, and not just go with the flow all the time. Also, due to my experiences the past year, I am beginning to realize what I am capable of given the adequate push to the right path. I am starting to know myself better, and in effect, know others better. All this because I have had a stronger belief in God. Of course, I still have my bad habits, most of my weaknesses are still here, yet I have come to terms with myself, and in effect, feel a wholeness in my being.
OK, enough of that maturity of self talk. The past year had also been fun, and here are the reasons why:
1. Last three months of being a Judenite - Those three months were definitely a blast! It was like all the fun and happiness and friendship I experienced in my entire high school life were compressed into these three months. I felt happy-go-lucky. I always had fun and funny chats with my 4C classmates. And, I became close to nearly all of them. It was the best year of my Saint Jude life mainly because I was surrounded by classmates I came to profoundly know in our September recollection and eventually came to love in the school year. I was a carefree, basketball-loving, rule-breaking Judenite student who was addicted to DoTA and committing offenses. I was tasked with our class story for the Chimes, which I felt so honored to do, considering my academic standing. Yet, I felt people still believed in my intellect and talents, and only now do I feel remorse and shame in letting so may people down with my laziness.
2. I passed all four schools that I had taken the college entrance tests. And those were the top four universities in the country: UP, ADMU, DLSU, and UST. Up to now, I still think that it was either some sort of a miracle or some kind of a mistake that made it possible. With La Salle's results, which came early January, I was like "Oh yeah! I passed the brain-numbing exams!" Next came Ateneo. My initial reaction was "Wow... the school of my dreams... Did I really, I passed it!!!" Yet the pride I had inside was nothing compared to the relief and pride and joy that my Dad felt, since he is THE Number One Ateneo fanatic, having graduated from Ateneo himself. Next came UST. "My dream course... Architecture! I love this." Of course, I was never expecting to pass UP since I was informed that usually, only the top ten of the batch are accepted, and I was, errr, Rank118. I was happy enough to pass three schools, but, when the results came, I was like, "No, no, no, that can't be. It must have surely been sent to the wrong Scott." I was in an ecstatic bout of self-denial. Wake up, this is just a dream. But when I confirmed for myself that I really got accepted... "What did I do to receive such a wonderful blessing?" Wow. I was speechless, and I beamed with so much pride, my heart was filled with indescribable sense of fulfillment, that finally, I have exceeded expectations, and exceeded what I believed I was capable of doing. That was a priceless moment in my life.
3. The carefree days of the graduation practices were the most fun I ever had since, well, maybe when I became a teen. It was all fun and chats and jokes and laughter with my classmates. And after a few hours of practice, we're out. DOTA TIME! Oh yeah! We played for hours on end. We played as if there was no tomorrow, we had fun like never before. We were free form the shackles of Judenite life. We had all the perks of Judenite life without the restrictions of assignments and Chinese tests, so it was pure, unrestrained fun for those three weeks.
Finally, it was graduation time. My batch mates were really bonded in deep friendship, dating back to when we were four years old. And Graduation Day is a celebration of the end of a thirteen year chapter, the beginning of a new one. Graduation Day in high school is a turning point of life where things would never be the same again. It was a happy moment to savor, yet a heart-tugging moment to shed tears over. We were bonded together by destiny, by thirteen years of the roller coaster that is Judenite Life. After it, we would never be the one complete batch again, since many would go their own ways. We would never have those crazy moments during Math class, or the eating sessions during Chinese class, or late-night practices for the passion play. But, the knowledge learned, friendships formed, and experiences shared will continue to live on in each of our hearts, and that is what makes the bittersweet event of graduation so meaningful and cherished.
4. About a week after our graduation, my mom enrolled me into a week-long summer camp sponsored by Grace Gospel Church. The camp was to be held in Baguio. Initially, I dreaded it. I felt that my mom did not even give me the chance to enjoy my first summer vacation out of SJCS in my own terms. Also, I did not know anyone from GGC. I planned on not going to the summer camp, but my curiosity and passion for adventure go the better of me.
It turned out to be one of my life's greatest surprises. The enjoyment and fulfillment factor of the Summer Camp experience can probably rival my two most meaningful experiences - Beijing Tour and 4C Recollection. It was just so amazing to have all the people around you with so much faith in the Lord. It was so refreshingly uplifting, especially today when more and more people are ashamed of their Catholic faith. That one week summer camp, aptly named "Exposed", exposed me to a wonderful community I never knew could exist. Everywhere you turn it was all smiles. Every single person out of the three hundred or so people who attended were all so friendly and approachable. I met so many new friends, and they were all true and sincere. The activities we did made me know Christ more profoundly. The many speakers shed new light on how to properly view and practice my faith. Also, the place was really nice - a spacious seminary made of glass and log overlooking a valley in Baguio. We had activities ranging from water-gun games, Bible Study sessions, singing of praise and worship songs, listening to inspiring and mind-opening talks, basketball pick-up games, and even DOTA haha! The whole summer camp was a process of rediscovery and enlightenment about oneself, others, and God. When I came back home from Baguio, I can say that the one week I spent in the Xposed summer camp made me a whole lot richer in fun, friendship, hope, faith, and love!
5. One fateful day, while eating in Edsa Shang with my dad, I received a life-changing call from... the Ateneo Office of Admission and Aid, my request for change of course had been approved! Yeah! Once my dad saw the big smile on my face after that call, he knew who had called and immediately congratulated me. That call made me feel like I was on top of the world. That call relieved a heavy burden I had been carrying ever since I received my acceptance letter from Ateneo. Finally, I had no qualms about studying in Ateneo anymore since I knew that I did not give up my slot in BS Architecture in UP for AB Humanities. I had been accepted into BS Management!
6. The rest of my fabulous summer was spent taking up Dale Carnegie lessons in Ortigas, driving lessons in A1, lounging around in malls, and playing basketball and DOTA. It was the most relaxing summer ever since I was experiencing ultimate freedom. There was nothing to trouble me, only exciting events to look forward to one after the other. There were debut parties of my batch mates, basketball in Acropolis, DotA either in First Street, in Bacood, or Hamachi :) There were sleepless nights at Aldrin's house with my Third year and Fourth year classmates playing XBox, PC, or PS2! There were lazy afternoons spent lounging around SM Centerpont, Robinson's Galleria, Greenbelt, and Powerplant. By the second or third week of May though, I began to feel bored. I kind of missed school, and I was excitedly looking forward to college life in Ateneo - with a whole new environment and a set of new faces.
7. My first semester in Ateneo can be described as - an uneventful adjustment period. On a positive note, it was probably the easiest semester I've experienced in a long, long time. Thirteen years of burning the midnight oil as a Judenite can do that to you. It was easy mainly because of the short hours in the classroom and the freedom from the perpetually stress-inducing Hwa Wen and Li Shi subjects. It also felt easy because our workload was significantly less than what we had in highschool. It was refreshing to get decent grades again. It felt even better to do that amid highly motivated and intellectually gifted individuals, the norm in Ateneo. However, something was missing. The friendship and camraderie I encountered felt nothing like highschool. The people were great but it required much more effort to click with them. Because of this, my first semester in Ateneo had nothing of those wild moments and exciting escapades that I had grown accustomed to in highschool. (probably with the exception of me witnessing Doug Kramer's last-second shot at Araneta Coliseum, hehe) Nothing to complain though, my initiation to college life is as smooth as it gets. Better yet, it could only get better with second sem and beyond. For me, my upcoming years in Ateneo is a whole new chapter of life to experience, a new jewel chest of knowledge to mine, and a new treasure trove of memories to build. I could only face the future armed with the values I gained from my fun-filled reminiscence of the past - faith, inspiration and hope - as my best tools to carve out another beautiful journey.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
All my life I hated math, I hated it so much in highschool that I was considering an art or writing course for college. Math is just...not me. Math requires organized ideas, logical sequence of thought, and a step-by-step approach in solving. I am disorganized, I prefer random thinking, and I like short cuts and free flow of thought. All my life I sucked in Math. Math was constantly my lowest score in the report card. I get bored and sleepy with just staring at numbers for a few minutes. I also remember taking five or six advanced summer classes in Math, going back to elementary, so that I will be able to keep up with my classmates the following school year. So, it came as a pleasant surprise that gradually, since studying in Ateneo, I am beginning to love math. The little bits and pieces of theorems and properties are starting to fall into place. I am beginning to see the big picture. I now appreciate the meaningful consistency and beautiful logic of mathematics. Possibly, I was inspired by my B+ in Math 11 during the first semester. And now, with six units of Calculus, I am psyching myself to do well in it. With this, I realized that as we grow, our perceptions about things change. My relationship with math transformed from hate into love. As our perceptions change, we start to realize that what was impossible before slowly becomes a possibility, as long as there is the desire to change.
No sign of rains, not even a drizzle, but when I got home at about 5:00 in the afternoon, I was treated to great news! No classes tomorrow!!! Tomorrow would have been a busy day. To put it more dramatically, tomorrow is potentially the busiest day of my Ateneo life, and God saved me. I am hardly prepared for my two hour tennis session, consultation about the GMO research paper, and Calculus long test tomorrow. yeah! FOUR straight days of no classes and freedom! Now, I can take my time to study my lessons one by one. Or will I really study? hehehe... With so many fun things that I can do, it'll take real discipline and strength of will to study. Yet, I should since I'm not in happy-go-lucky highschool mode anymore, and I should aim for the Dean's List!
I am the secretive type of person, never an open book. I am the type of person who keeps everyone guessing about my motives, desires, and emotions. In short, I do not seem to be a person who would ever resort to blogging since writing a blog is about sharing your thoughts to the world. So, what pushed or inspired me to blog? Several factors, but the main reason is that I really love writing, and I realized what a waste it would be if I kept all my writings to myself without sharing them with others. Blogging is the gateway of the world to an individual's innermost thoughts, and that really intrigues me. Also, I think that blogging can serve as an outlet of one's emotions, and an apen notebook of one's ideas and musings. So here I am, new to the exciting world of blogging, and getting ready to share with the world a piece of my mind and a glimpse into my soul.