Remember to remember yourself
by Imee Advincula
After four grueling years, my college days have come to an end. My stay in the University of Santo Tomas has concluded, and with a heavy heart, I bid my home goodbye. If anything, this has a personal touch. I am writing this piece for Thomasians I will be leaving behind because there is so much that I want to impart.
Having graduated as an achiever in elementary, I entered high school with a head held high. I was enrolled in one with a science curriculum, so I felt highly and remarkable. I thought I was invincible, that I can do anything. Two months in, however, and I knew I was wrong. Suddenly I was slapped with the brutal reality that I cannot do and process a lot of things. I’m not wholly good in Physics, my brain isn’t wired for Biology, and General Chemistry is Greek to me. I was failing my math subjects, and my sciences started to look grim. Because of these, the way I looked at myself changed — I felt dumb, and I often compared myself with others. How did they get a 95, when all I got was 70? I then developed a habit of always looking down on myself. I never expected that I will be able to achieve something, let alone be enough for anything. I started hating myself for the things I couldn’t do.
I brought this negativity with me in college. Because I met new people, I had to set up the pretentious façade of happiness. Don’t we all? We engage in the thought of setting up a new persona just because we entered a new stage in life. Unfortunately, the thought backfired. On the outside, I was happy and carefree. In actuality, however, I grew more emotionally distant, and more dangerously comparing. On the other hand, the expectations people had for me stuck, and I dragged each of them as if they’re heavy weights.
As both a motivation and an inspiration to work harder, I used my self-disappointment and others’ expectations to propel myself forward. I engulfed myself with the reassuring thought of doing things for those who believed in me. In my journey towards my erroneous notion of success, I experienced testing not my mental and emotional limits, but my physical health. I came to know the feeling of being awake for 52 hours, the palpitations that come after consuming three Red Bulls and five coffees, the hellish pain of having consecutive episodes of tension headaches. I reached my breaking point, and I even stood on top of it. I gave my all, hoping that the negativity will leave my mind.
Guess what? They didn’t.
Pressure flashed through me. Self-doubt creeped in. Disappointment came in waves. Fun fact: I can’t swim. I sank even lower, and I drowned.
And maybe, just maybe, that is my biggest mistake. I focused on all the wrong things. I got so lost in the cycle that I forgot what truly mattered. Don’t get me wrong — education matters. Experience matters. Success obviously matters. But I became too obsessed with all the “important” stuff that I lost sight of myself. I became too committed to being competent and compassionate for others that I disregarded any compassion I should have for myself. I traded my peace for anxiety, my calm for distress.
As I entered Senior year, I concentrated in healing myself. I let go of all my worries, and I positively accepted everything that came my way. I returned the value, confidence, and self-respect I denied myself for three college years. It’s hard, and I haven’t fully recovered yet. I am recuperating, and I am having better days.
Thus, I say this to you who will be left behind: please do remember to value yourself. Your worth as a human being is not tantamount to the numbers they use to evaluate you, and your success as a person is not dependent on the number of expectations you meet. It feels good to be committed, competent, and compassionate, but it’s completely alright if the person you are wholeheartedly compassionate for is yourself. Just enjoy the process, study carefree, and do not mind what others think, as long as you’re not doing anything wrong.
The world is vast, and much lie beyond. There will be harder times. Remember yourself, and do not get lost.