“I had to find the courage to see me through the day, and so I knelt in silence and began to softly pray.” -Catherine Janssen Irwin

WHILE most freshmen find themselves excited to enter college, I prove to be in a different crowd. Just when most of them seem to begin expanding their horizons, I then found myself still trapped in my shell, thinking that changing myself for a university setup is pernicious.

I am not a closed-minded person but changes in college once dreaded me. In high school, we were told that college is totally a different setup from what we have been accustomed with. But what made me reckon the change is the fact that I will definitely face a period of culture shock of which I am uncertain of surviving.

But change is inevitable. And so is my entry to college.

So, of the universities I shortlisted for my admission, I opted to enter UST, which I thought would offer a lesser degree of culture shock to a Catholic high school graduate like me. Still I did not put my guard down.

In fact, prior to my first day in the University, I already intended to save a seat at the back row so as to avoid much attention. Unfortunately, most of the professors preferred us to be arranged alphabetically.

Although I was stuck at the middle of the classroom during classes, I still managed to have my own world. If not listening to the lectures, I am asleep or even busy sending text messages to my high school friends.

Apart from being a care-free student, I likewise turned to be anti-social.

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I could remember denying myself of countless invitations from classmates to buy snacks at a nearest convenient store or even bother to chat with them during breaks.

Although I know I would appear snobbish and arrogant, I continued to isolate myself from the class.

As expected, my colleagues mistook me for that. I became uncomfortable to work with them in group projects, idle to participate in our organization’s activities, and hesitant to involve myself with simple class discussions.

I kept on detaching myself until I felt that something was lacking–fulfillment.

Realizing how my first semester in college turned out to be a complete waste has burdened me for the rest of my semestral break. Evidently, isolating myself did not work to my advantage, just like what my former teacher once told me.

After a Sunday mass where I purposely asked God for guidance regarding my problem, I happened to meet my mentor, who then spoke with me, perhaps sensing the bind I’m into as of late.

“UST has lots to offer you, and I know you have a lot to share with UST. You just have to be brave to carry on with your life,” he told me.

He likewise said that I may still be living in the memories of my high school that I forgot to think of college as an equally fulfilling experience. Only then did I finally realize that I’m already a college student who has to go through many hardships in order to grow.

From then on, I began to see the milieu of college life as an adventure to be enjoyed than a precarious situation to be avoided. I began participating in different activities and organizations to meet new acquaintances and to experience new undertakings. I started to enjoy the company of our class, the ambiance of the academic environment, and every event held in the University.

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I may have wasted five months protecting myself from what I thought was a dodgy atmosphere, but I am still thankful because I learned to acknowledge my mistakes. Thank God it is not yet late for me to realize that exposing myself does not necessarily mean making myself vulnerable. Rather, I am giving myself a chance to grow.

Prayer: Almighty Father, I thank You for giving me the opportunity to mature as a person, for my mistakes that taught me lessons, and for the people who always lead me back to You whenever I’m lost. Forgive me for taking Your blessings for granted in the past. May You always give us the wisdom and courage to face tough occasions which You permit to strengthen our character. All these I ask through Christ, our Lord. Amen. Levine Andro H. Lao

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