Last September 2012, Sister Linda Coronel of the JHS Chaplet invited me to do a short talk at the 34th Solemn Prayer Overnight Vigil which was held last night (January 26, 2013) at the San Nicolas Parish. Of course it's such an honor to speak before the youth. But my dilemma was what will be my topic in my talk? I asked Sister Linda what she'd like me to talk about. She said "your life story". At first I was hesitant to talk about my life in front of a big crowd because it's something personal plus I'm such a cry baby. I cry easily. I am not used to sharing it in a big group, it would be better if I just write it or share it in a small group or in a one on one conversation. Then again, I told myself that if this is a means to inspire people and learn from my experiences, why not? I should give it a shot.
During the talk, I shared part and parcel of my life - major turning point, crucial stages, hardest moment and my most rewarding experience. I wouldn't talk about it here in detail. Anyway, I would just like to share the things I learned after everything I've been through. Definitely, I learned a lot but I summarized my learning into four. So here it goes.
1. The value of independence
As early as 16, I learned to be independent. This was the time when my Tita Hilda (who was my immediate guardian then) left for the US. My father was overseas too and my mom died when I was still 7 years old. Basically, I lived a life with minimal guidance. It was also the crucial stage in my life because I was heading to college then; another period of adjustment.
I had to do the following: look for a place to stay in Manila, undergo medical and dental examinations, college enrollment, and move some of my things to Manila. All these I had to handle and manage on my own. On a side note, some relatives were kind enough to accompany and guide me.
Back then, I thought it was too early for me to experience those things but I guess it's something that I should be thankful for at some extent. However, even if I learned to be independent, I kept in my mind not to abuse my independence. If I abused my independence, maybe I became a rebel child, I got pregnant at an early age, or I didn't finish college if these are the norms.
2. Instead of focusing on what I don't have, why don't I focus on what I do have?
Yes, I lost my mother at an early age but I have a guardian angel now. My father may not be physically present but he never forgot his responsibilities. He's such a good provider and a responsible one. Other important family members may have departed but I know they are watching over me. Lastly, most of my loved ones were already in US but they never failed to show their love and concern for me.
Rather than considering the aforementioned instances as my weak points or as a form of discouragement, I used them as my strengths to be stronger and go on with life. I did not dwell on what's missing in my life because if I do so, I wouldn't be where I am now.
3. Do not be afraid of failure.
It was in college when I first experienced to fail in an exam. I got sad and depressed. I cried over that exam for days. I kept asking myself then "Am I a stupid idiot? Am I a borderline brain-dead moron? (italicized words I got from Damon Salvatore's hahaha)". What I meant was, I never failed way back grade school and high school, only in college. I guess some people could empathize with me especially those who were on top of the class during their GS and HS years.
Then I realized, if I didn't fail that time, I wouldn't be able to stand up from where I tumbled. That experience wasn't my first and last failure. I failed several times as I go along the way but I did not allow failures to ruin my composure and optimism. Failures molded me to be stronger and made me prove that I can be so much better than that.
4. Never stop learning.
Learning inside the classroom? That's given. In the future, if you don't already remember the equations, formulas or theories you learned inside the classroom, it's okay. If you will give me a mathematical or scientific problem right now, it will take me minutes or even hours to solve that problem (not unless it's a very basic problem like addition, subtraction, etc. I still know those. hahaha). On the other hand, if you will ask me to name a person/s who inculcated many values and lessons in me, I'll be very quick to answer it.
What I'm trying to say, learning has different contexts. It can be in the form of learning from your own mistakes, learning from other's mistakes or learning from each other's experiences.
Finally, if you are to ask me my most rewarding experience so far, it would be finishing college despite all the hurdles that I encountered. Where I am right now, a lot of that I credit to God, to people I love and people who love me back.
|Photo taken by Loren Zarate. (sorry for the poor quality hahaha)|