Exactly 20 years ago, you were a picture of a wide eyed college student who took her role to heart as a student. You took the straight, albeit boring path, gave up the time to socialize and just buried yourself in the academic maze you found yourself in. Hurrah for that.
Specifically, let me recount the things you did that deserve a pat in the back. Here they are:
First, you made the best and most important decision you could ever do: Acknowledge your need for a savior and submit to His Lordship; You surrounded yourself with like-minded people who loved the Lord with fervor and from whom you learned to exercise love in action, to exhibit tough love as your lived together under one roof, along the way, smoothing one another’s rough edges. You learned the value of quiet time, fellowship, prayer and Bible studies. You realized early on that you that earthly pursuits were temporary and eternity belonged to those who believed in it, more specifically to those who entrusted their life to the Lord Jesus –yes, He who gave up his divine privileges and stretched his spent, battered and blood stained limbs in a most ignominious manner on Mt. Calvary.
Second, you did not get emotionally involved and thus saved yourself form the pain of botched, impulsive relationships. Of this, you have your misfortunes in matters of the heart, to thank for. Nope, you certainly were not a prude. You were as warm-blooded (probably, even more) as any late teen could be. Only that, you had a good head on your shoulders and you were afraid of the possible consequences of your follies. So being the prim and proper that you were, you did not end up like your batchmate Karen who got pregnant and opted out of college before hitting her junior year. Not once did it ever occur to you to have “fun” in college, fun being on a little wild streak (like skipping classes, trying something illicit, whatever it may be).
Third, in your desire to complete your academic responsibilities, you indeed burned the midnight oil, and was aptly rewarded for it. You were an academic scholar for a few semesters, and though you did not sustain being in the honor roll until your graduation (thanks to your cliff-hanger grade in History whose professor favored handsome boys over smart girls), you did quite well.
But while you thrived in your boring life as a student, there were lots of lessons that you missed nonetheless. I do not mean here classroom lessons, for you had an overload of them. I mean, real-life lessons which you had, much later when you already had a taste of life’s bitter pill.
Had you learned the following lessons way ahead, you could have saved yourself from the pain and heartache you experienced after stepping out of the university.
1. Naivete will get you into trouble.
You were duped by a gay when he was able to extract 500 peso bill from you. He made you believe it was in payment for your telephone bill, only to find out later from the telephone company that they never authorized anyone to collect for bill payments. What? You, a master’s degree holder in Business Management being duped/swindled by one who only completed junior high?
2. Campus life is way, way different from the real world
You certainly have known it by now. They are poles apart. In the campus, you got to hang out with friends of your choice. In the real world, especially in the workplace, you had to deal with people of different hides, whether you like them or not. Campus life, you later learned was a controlled, phony experience that wasn’t meant to last. Yet you acted as though it were. In short, you were not prepared for what was to come to you once you put on the heels and trot your way to chart your career.
3. High grades or even honors do not make you wise, astute, street smart
You were stumped when reality hit you in the face that your grades mattered no more in the negotiation table. It is the ability to think critically, express yourself clearly, and turn the scales to your favor that will get you the plus points to succeed. The classroom as you found out, never made you confident, wise, and street smart. You had to learn all these, the hard way—that is by being duped a number of times, even as you had two degrees tucked under your belt.
4. Socialization with peers while important is not the be all and end all of college
Being with people who only think of the now and not of the future blurs or inhibits your vision to look into the future.
When you were with friends back in college, you thought time was at a standstill. You enjoyed their company and had wholesome fun. Sometimes you thought college life would not end. It did. As soon as you started working, even the friendship, no matter how deep it had been back in campus, lost its grip. Then you realized it is time to move on, and get a real life.
5. Begin with the end in mind; Oh, girl, you did live for the moment, didn’t you? You never thought there was more than what met the eye. You should realize that before you ever do anything, you’ve got to know what it is you specifically want to achieve and why it is important it gets done. Have a huge, hairy and audacious goal. Foresee a bright future and take little steps onward until you live your dream.
6. Get to know your date; enjoy courtship long enough to determine whether you have found the one. Get to know your future spouse; It would save you from unnecessary tears. Remember the sweet tongue loses its potency once the ring has settled, and the spark of romance fizzles out fast – and that can happen within the supposedly honeymoon period. In short, do not rush into any commitment without ensuring that you can handle the emotional entanglements that accompany it. Otherwise, you’ll end up a cry-baby—feeling rotten most of the time.
7. Develop discernment; you trust only those who are worthy of it. Remember, do not give pearls to swine; they do not know the difference between a stinky mire and a perfumed bubble bath.
8. Achieve balance in important areas of your life — develop skills (people, communication, anything that would prove useful over the long haul. Yep, you had a good start when you learned to drive while taking your OJT but your skill never took off after side sweeping the posts near your office flagpole.
9. Explore the world; travel and learn new language along the way. Meet different people, learning from your interaction or relationship with them;
No need to elaborate on this. Spice up your life with that desire for wholesome adventure. Keep that wide-eyed wonder bursting inside you.
Now here are your blunders, girl:
You made decisions under the cloak of “spiritual convictions” when in reality some were borne out of fear, while others were simply manifestations of que sera sera and bahala na(leave-it-to-chance) mentality. Yes, you simply lacked foresight. Remember the time you backed off from your employment at PLDT? You resolved not to push through with it because of the tiger-posing supervisor who would handle you. You justified your fear by saying it wasn’t really for you as you would have to prepare for mass rituals that were way out of your convictions. (You did not acknowledge though, that it was probably just a test and you were not meant to do that permanently.)
You were not passionate enough to make a go in your career; you coasted along. You did not plan and never thought of the morrow. You stayed in a rut for more than a decade. It was good you woke up and shifted your gears—to follow your inner passions and tread the path only a few dare enter (writing, what else?).
You went through life keeping things brewing inside of you. Being an internal thinker that you are, you have allowed so many assumptions, prejudgments, and drama, most of which were unnecessary, to shape how you respond to situations. Instead of focusing on what lies ahead, you have relished on things of the past, things long gone and never to return. As a consequence, your growth was stunted because instead of pushing on, being better, productive and thriving, you always looked back.
While there are still some more blunders I know I can throw at your face, I will stop here. It is time to move forward. While you may have missed being the best version of you in the prime of your youth, there is no reason to sulk. As long as your faculties are still intact, and you have the Lord’s grace fully at work in you, you can still be who you are designed to be. Remember, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
In closing, be reminded always of the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 12. Pay particular attention to the last two verses (verses 12 and 13). Run the race. Never let up. Keep the faith through and through regardless of whatever situations you may face. Be joyful, prayerful and thankful… at ALL times. Remember what awaits you once you hurdle it all: the inexplicable joy of fellowship with God your Father and Jesus your Savior.
That is the be-all and end-all of your life.
Nothing else matters.