At this very moment, happiness is an understatement. No words can express how wonderful I’m feeling right now knowing that I made it this far amidst all the plot twists and turns I encountered in the past ten months—or should I say, the past 12 years. The sleepless nights, painstaking efforts, and stressful days of the past 6 years all come down to this significant day. This moment is the culmination of my 12 year stay in HFA, and you know that I hold my alma mater dear to my heart. I am thankful for every single thing—the important lessons, both important and obsolete, the friends that turned into family, and the happy memories that I will forever cherish.
Looking at how far I’ve come never fails to make me feel sentimental. Merely thinking that it will never be the same again is also a tough pill to swallow. There were lots of questioning and doubts along the way. I constantly felt lost, I felt that what I’m doing is pointless, I felt that everything doesn’t make sense. I felt stuck. The uncertainty is killing me and the anxiety is slowly getting the best out of me. I have questioned Him a lot of times, I endlessly doubted myself, and I just wanted to quit. I thought I won’t make it. But looking at it now, all that had happened serve a purpose. God has led me to the right path and He has given me the answers I’ve been dying to know. I know why He placed me in this certain spot. His plans are slowly starting to unfold and all the puzzle pieces have come together. I successfully finished Senior High School, I excelled in the strand I was forced—hesitant, even—to take.
Truth be told, I am more than grateful for having experienced K-12 and for being part of the pioneer batch of DepEd. Sounds perplexing, I know, as I projected sheer disgust over this issue two years ago. You might be wondering why I express gratitude over the additional two years in high school. It’s because during these years that I finally found my potential and my confidence. Big thanks to all my role models and inspirations who have motivated me in achieving what I have right now! My Senior High School experience was absolutely remarkable as I journeyed my way to the top. The first four years in junior high school were nothing compared to Senior High. The achievements I had this year alone outnumbered all my junior high achievements combined. All the fun moments and unforgettable memories happened in the past two years as well. I was lucky enough that Senior High happened in my time for it brought out the best in me and made me shine even brighter. It was my year.
On the lovely side of that, I was given more than what I expected— performance tasks, writings, research studies, and everything that required mental and physical strength come in increasing number. There were blessings on top of another. I had the power and authority because of my position. There were exclusive perks and privileges I enjoyed as a writer. Frankly, I was fortunate enough to ace almost everything—academics, extra curriculars, my online presence, relationships with my family and friends, and most importantly, my self-fulfillment. I had the best of everything. It was overwhelming but come to think of it, I am beyond blessed and I am having the time of my life.
On the other other side of the coin, there were people who tried to destroy me and my reputation. My drive and my academic competence has been trivialized as nuisance, and my newfound confidence has been mistaken as arrogance. There were people who doubted me, who attacked me for my personal choices and convictions, and hated me for giving my all in everything I do. And to tell you honestly, in my quest for excellence I felt truly alone. No one understands how driven I was to make the most out of everything and there’s this lingering feeling that I was the only one working hard, that I was the last one standing. Some days I felt that whatever I do will never be right for others, that in their eyes I will never win. The negative atmosphere nearly took its toll on me and almost affected my mental health. But I thought that was it. I thought that the seemingly difficult situations were over until I lost people I love—literally and figuratively. There’s the never ending high school drama by toxic people. Oh, and I forgot to mention that this goes with the ever present negative thoughts. I was terrified of the idea of not meeting the expectations and standards I set for myself. I’m afraid of being a failure. Of being a disappointment. It was tough. However, I know that all the pain and sorrow I experienced yesterday have made me stronger and wiser. As optimistic as I can, I know that these adversities are opportunities for growth. They are vital for our development. I am well aware of the fact that pain is inevitable and as John Green says, it demands to be felt.
Inasmuch as I want to quit, I remember my younger self saying that I should remember why I started. That quitting is never an option, that whatever I’m going through will eventually pass. Seeing my old entries and recalling how motivated I was to get to the finish line makes me want to do even better. I know that I have more people who constantly support and love me than those who deliberately pull me down. The detractors and critics were my biggest motivators. I always tell myself that I need to prove them wrong and I need to step up my game. Instead of sulking and getting consumed by negativity, I used it as a fuel to drive my way to success. If you experience the same, a change in mindset is all you need. You have the power to block negativity from your mind and not to let it get into you. It’s all in the mind. You either let it destroy you or strengthen you. Look at the bigger picture and convert negative situations into positive learning experiences. It ain’t as easy as it looks but here I am right now.
Remember that you need to find ways to get back up once you trip. And in times of adversities, remember to start strong, to stay strong, and to end strong. You have to keep up with the pressure, both from within and from the external forces around you. You just need to keep on getting better than you were before. Focus on your own race and stop looking at your competitors because YOU ARE YOUR BIGGEST COMPETITOR. I always preach that you need to compete with yourself, and that’s what I did. Let me say it louder for those in the back, instead of pouring your energy on other people’s lives, focus on yourself and your own progress. Focus on what matters. You have to remember why you are doing this and who you are doing it for. Is it for yourself? For your family? For God? Think about it.
With all that in mind, I managed to end the school year with a bang. As luck would have it, I am graduating with distinction and with a couple of awards I managed to collect in the past year. Albeit the road was bumpy and the ride was tough, I found my way to happiness and success. As quoted in Designated Survivor, “There’s no victory without sacrifice.” and all the sacrifices and opportunity costs paid off. It was worth the blood, sweat, and tears. I know I deserve what I have right now because I worked hard for it. True, these things may be forgotten soon but what matters now is how I managed to survive and achieve them all. God has given me enough strength and courage to face everything. All experiences taught me how to value integrity, responsibility, and perseverance. Senior High taught me the value of education and hard work. ‘Di ibig sabihing nakikita mong tinatamad mag-aral ang iba ay tatamarin ka rin. Dapat hangga’t kaya mo, gawin mo. Don’t conform to their standards just to fit in. Don’t drag yourself into the incompetence of others and never settle for mediocrity. Remember, your education is something that cannot be taken away from you. The learning experience might be mentally draining but it’s going to work for your advantage in the long run.
I am extremely grateful that I belong to this experimental batch, I’m thankful that I was given enough time for myself for I have grown and developed into a more matured person. The universe has given me time to decide and to prepare for my future as well.
Senior High might have been a burden to some but it’s more of a blessing to me. I know that it will benefit me in the long run and it prepared me for all the things ahead. It taught me lessons I need more knowledge about. It opened my eyes about important things. I am thankful for all the experiences I had and now that I am graduating, I vow to bring all of these lessons and memories with me as I go on further in life. This is just the beginning and I am just getting started. May God guide me for all that’s ahead. UIOGD.
There are things I would like say to the following people who played a vital role in this journey:
To the Almighty Father, THANK YOU. Thank You for giving me everything—the guidance, protection, blessings, answered prayers, every single thing. Thank You for finally making me realize that it was all part of Your plan. I will always let Your will be done. All of this is for You and for Your greater glory.
To my parents and my whole family for the support, guidance, and love you continue to give me. Thank you for giving me the best that the world has to offer just like getting a good education such as this. I promise to not let you down. I’m doing this for you and I hope I made you proud!
To my beloved advisers, teachers, and to the whole HFA community, words can’t express how much I loved being in this institution for more than half of my life. The quality education I got from Holy Family Academy is something I treasure the most and I promise to uphold the Benedictine values as long as I live. You all played a big role in my formation. I will miss you all!
To my real friends who were with me in this bumpy ride, I just want you to know how thankful I am for meeting you all and for always being there whenever we need each other. You all made my high school life better than it ever was. You all know who you are!
To my followers and readers who keep on believing and supporting me, the little things you do are all appreciated and I’m thankful for all of you. You guys are one of the reasons why I am doing what I love. You are one of the reasons why I’m here. Thank you all!
This milestone won’t be possible to achieve without all your love and support. I am eternally grateful.
the guy in navy blue blazer
Andrei Mari Chilian T. Paras
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Holy Family Academy
Class of 2018