WHILE I am a survivor, I learned long ago that I am also a quitter.

From the first time I experienced, at a young age, the taste of defeat, I have always believed that it is easier to be honest with myself and just give in when something far exceeds my capabilities.

As Socrates famously pointed out, “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” And I mistakenly thought myself wise not to venture into territories which make me weak, vulnerable and at a disadvantage. Instead, I, most often than not, painstakingly choose to dwell on my strengths and push my limitations to the wayside without even trying to better myself.

My justification is that if somehow the “gifts” I have outweigh my shortcomings then maybe none of my flaws and weak spots will show through the facade of fine grades, unblemished standing, and irreproachable deeds. What I have denied, time and time again, is my odd and seeming attraction to the idea of quitting when self-doubt and despair over unimproved results and countless failures are stacked up against me.

It may have stemmed from my restless childhood and early adolescence which were filled with my shifting interests from playing the guitar and piano to swimming, fencing and then writing. The hobbies may transfer from one to another after just a few months when I lose interest or get easily frustrated but one thing did not change and that was I effortlessly gave up.

I am admittedly not the kind of person to stick tenaciously to something in the long run and, according to my mother, that’s my worst weakness.

In my way of thinking, that was what the Varsitarian vigorously, while gently, changed in me.

When I applied for the position of literary writer back in 2013, I confidently wrote in my application form that I thrived and even pushed myself “in the face of pressure,” as asked of me. But was I utterly wrong.

When I was accepted, I was wholly unprepared to be part of a student publication which has lasted for decades with an impeccable reputation. There was no step-by-step formal training for the incoming staffers and from where I was standing, information came at lightning speed from different directions.

Coming from the discipline of pure science in the department of Physical Therapy of the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, I had no sufficient and prior background in journalism and it showed in the beginning when I floundered like a lost ship. But challenge after challenge made me cope and improved my self-confidence.

I experienced a lot of firsts in the “V”: first coverage, first interview, first article and later on column, first harsh criticisms outside family, first event as organizer and chairperson, first mental breakdown, first cry fest and first home away from home.

Most important, for the first time ever, I realized that in the convenient act of quitting, I will lose more than I could ever gain. I became conscious of the fact that what I feared in the unknown and uncertainty of my stay in V was what endeared it to me most. There is that exhilaration, for example, of getting your article published after slaving away for days and running after sources.

With all that that V has given me, I am most eternally grateful for the courage to step out of my comfort zone and the resiliency to keep on going even when the will to fight has deserted me.

Maybe there is a grain of truth in the saying from Henry Kissinger that a diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.

After being part of the V for three academic years, the things I would sooner not forget are times when I was at my breaking point and it was easier to not show up at the office again, relinquish my spot as a staffer and pass my resignation letter.

I owe my journey in the V to the people who stood by my side and served as my mentors, confidantes, support group system and dearest friends.

To my family, the advisers, the selection committee, the editorial board members and batch 2013, thank you for everything.

I thought that holding on to my dream of becoming a part of the rich history of the Varsitarian was difficult. But now that I am soon to depart the safe and familiar confines of the V, I found out that it was harder now, more than ever, to let go.

In the end, you can take a staffer out of the Varsitarian, but you cannot take the Varsitarian out of a staffer.


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