I was an early bloomer, courtesy of an eternally supportive mother and a school director who taught me how to spell ‘necessary’ at age six. High school wasn’t hell for me, as it seems to be for most adolescents in most television shows. For the most part, I loved being in Pisay, despite the fact that I was one of those people who looked like they knew more than they actually did. Contrary to popular opinion, I never made it to the Dean’s List. I merely mimicked the study habits of whomever was around me at the time, and I passed all three years of physics by the skin of my teeth. It was, however, one of my better periods in terms of emotional growth. I more or less settled into the kind of person that I liked, and had a more or less coherent idea of the kind of person that I wanted to be.
I entered college optimistically, albeit somewhat restrainedly. I maintained grades high enough to save face in the regular trimestral scholars’ meetings, and extracurriculars which were the bare minimum for an acceptable resume. I was trying, ineptly and foolishly, to contain my uncool, eager side for reasons that I mentally shot myself for three to four years later. Suffice it to say, college was my plateau; any growth was limitedly horizontal.
Then came the Dark Ages, during which I became the worst version of myself yet. I won’t go into detail, but I’d like to ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt here. One of the things that kept me in this pity party of one was the idea that I peaked in high school. It has constantly nagged me since, leading to days when I felt frustrated, overwhelmed, confused, and exhausted about the direction my life was going (downwards, in case that wasn’t clear). You say I exaggerate, I say I hope that was the end of it. Convalescence took years. I can’t say it conclusively, but I like to think that I’m better now.
In August, I will be starting the next phase of my medical career, which is residency. I like to think of it as a chance to start over. I’ve been trying to develop a better relationship with God over the past two years, and one of the things I have learned is that God is generous with chances. All the limitations, constraints, and demarcations were of my own construction. Someone once told me that God loves us so much, that even if we take a wrecking ball to his carefully crafted plans, he just makes new ones all over again. Today, I was reminded of that, as I watched Bo Sanchez in Preacher in Blue Jeans.
I wrote this at the risk of sounding self-serving, maybe slightly arrogant, maybe overtly paranoid. Because the point is not that I was good, but that when I fell far below the standards of self and society, it wasn’t the end all and be all. None of it was. The point is to learn the lessons, and to keep on keeping on. It is to understand that there will be peaks and valleys, and that you have to learn as much as you can in every landscape. It is to keep swimming. It is to believe in God’s promise of redemption, forgiveness, and love. And so I hope, if you are reading this, and if you are in a bad place, I hope you remember, that it is not yet over.