This whole week has been filled with a ton of self-reflection of how far I’ve come since the summer of 2012. It all started when I went back to church on Sunday and I encountered these lovely people that I’ve missed since moving to Oakland. Then when I saw my little freshman friends graduating from high school on Thursday, I started to think a lot about how fast three years can slide by. And then it all culminated today with a visit to UCLA with one of my old friends, Sarah, and a ton of talking about relationships and our futures once we settled down in the Santa Monica sands.
First and foremost, going back to church after skipping about three weeks has been the refresher that I needed. It made me meditate on my spiritual growth and I can say that I’m extremely happy with how far I’ve come, yet I know that there is so much to learn throughout the rest of my life. It also warms my heart how welcoming everybody has been even though I have not seen them in over a year. I know I say that SoCal has never felt like home to me, but being embraced by everybody again on Sunday was probably the closest that I’ve come to that feeling. It delights me how even though I know that a lot has occurred within the past year for everybody, nobody has really changed deep down in their kind characters and hearts.
I’ve also started to think about how it’s been three years since my very own graduation. I can still remember my anxiety as I prepared for my speech when I tried out for it… I think back to the moment when Mr. Ludlam stepped out of the room that the teachers were judging us in, and my heart started racing like it was on fire and he looked at me and said, “Congratulations, you are our commencement speaker,” and just instantly bursting into tears of joy and disbelief…. And that one crazy moment in the gymnasium right before we were going to walk out, and it all hit me, all fourteen years (there are two years of kindergarten in the Philippines) of homework, countless teachers, the priceless relationships that I’ve made with friends and faculty, the memories…… it all hit me, and I remember breaking down and turning to the person next to me and saying “This is it. I can’t believe it.” And all these feelings come rushing back to me, and it makes me wonder… Have I done enough the last three years ever since I left John A. Rowland? Have I been doing exactly what I sought out to do when I received my diploma? Would 18-year-old me have been proud of my current self? And the scarier questions arise: Do my former teachers remember me? Have I made enough of an impact to my schools to have changed at least one thing for the better? What is the legacy that I have left…. Did I do enough?
Walking around UCLA made matters in my mind much worse. I wondered what it would have been like had I gone to a huge university like the ones you see in the movies with typical college settings instead of tiny, little ol’ Holy Names. I have to admit, I was starting to doubt myself and everything that I’ve decided to do once I stepped foot on the majestic campus today. Relentless thoughts of “this could have been me” played incessantly in my head. But I snapped myself out of that stupid trance when I thought about this:
This was a post that I wrote in my old blog as a high school senior. Living in the bay had always been my dream, and it still does feel like a dream to think that I spend eight months out of the year there. It’s crazy that I actually did it. When I think about the fact that I never would have seen this becoming a reality, I remind myself that yes, I did do enough. Actually, I’ve done more than enough, especially in these past three years. I’ve got to give myself more credit than I normally do. I know I’ve made my parents proud with my ambition, and I plan to continue reaching for those constellations that haven’t been discovered yet, because the stars aren’t far enough.
Sarah and I also talked about relationships and it really made me reflect on the different frame of mind that I had a year ago as opposed to the present. After a bitter past, I convinced myself that I had never been in love and never known even the slightest taste of what it was. But after much thought, I’ve come to the realization that I was just being cynical; if I had never been in love before, then I wouldn’t be able to share such a profound love with those around me like I do. I wouldn’t have been able to discern what was from what wasn’t and I wouldn’t know what suffering felt like if I never lost the supple sweetness of love. But I was able to do all of those things, and more– so it was time to be true and honest with myself.
It’s days like these that make me feel nostalgic yet enthusiastic about the future. I’m looking forward to the days that I’ll reflect on these days of being 21, wild n’ out, with one foot on what I know I want my future to look like and the other on the unknown. I’m sure it’ll just get better from here.