To the younger readers out there.
At a young age you won’t know/realize it, but no matter how much you deny it, you’re not as open-minded as you think. You’re fresh and new to this world and you don’t know what’s out there for you. And you know what? That’s okay. I, too, don’t really know yet what’s out there for me.
We’re forced to go to school every year until we get our associate degrees and then our bachelor’s and then our masters (and for some of us, PhDs). We see the same or similar faces. We learn from the same or similar teachers. We join a club, or two. We pass exams or, we fail. Eat, sleep, read, repeat until we’re too certified to have a social life.
We’re stuck with this routine to which we didn’t quite choose to be in and which leads to us being so excluded from the real world. We lack experience is what it is. You think that you only have one path to follow, and all you know is sticking to that path is the only way to do life.
But here’s the good news - it’s merely just the beginning.
At the age of 16, I had a huge road block. My plans were disrupted, I felt like I disappointed my parents, and most of all - I was disappointed at me. Because my brain was so wired to think that I had only one way out, I felt stuck. It was as if this huge tree fell right in the middle of the road and I had no way around it. It was as if everyone had finished the race and I was still at the starting line, and I couldn't move. I was selling myself short.
I was honestly so ashamed of myself. When I had to tell people what I was doing or where I ended up, I dreaded explaining my story to them. The fact was, it wasn’t much of a story. I didn’t take myself seriously, I didn't take my situation seriously and eventually, I hit rock bottom.
Growing up, I used to always be the best. I then started losing my self-motivation and I started to settle. I settled for average. I settled for the fact that I wasn’t on top anymore, and I convinced myself that I was content with that. But listen, never settle for less. You deserve the best of the best, and only that. You deserve to live up to your full potential. You deserve to be recognized. You deserve to win. Always aim for excellence, no matter how hard you think it'll be to get there because you’ll never really know until you take the steps to actually try.
I admit that I was depressed, and I hid it well. I thought to myself that my friends had it better than me and I was going nowhere in life. I really brought myself down to the point that I felt sorry for myself; pitied myself, and the worst part: I made myself a victim.
It was at that very moment - right then and there - that I decided to make a choice.
It was time to stop being content with the things that I merely settled for. Back then, without a doubt, I would say that I was very shy and timid. I stayed in my comfort zone and stuck with only two friends because I was comfortable - that was my comfort zone. And you know what? Based on experience, staying in your comfort zone won’t get you anywhere.
When I decided to go out of my comfort zone and became "uncomfortable", it opened up all kinds of opportunities for me. It got me to work for companies I never even imagined working for. It got me to discover new talents and enhance current ones. Getting paid to do what you love? Why not?! There IS such a thing!
I chose to explore my options, connect with other people and basically, break down that wall that I’ve been hiding behind all these years. In doing so, I became the person that I am today. I wouldn’t have met the best group of friends who have been within arms reach if I hadn't. I wouldn’t have met the person who made me trust again. I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunities and experiences I have today. I wouldn’t have discovered my love for writing again.
You see, we all have a choice. We either choose to make the worst out of a situation, or we choose to make the best out of it. Based on results, I can confidently say that I chose the latter.
Words by Pauline Mae De Leon