Saturday, November 20, 2004

Turning Points

We all need to change, to grow, to mature, to evolve. However, we all resist this process in one way or another. A number of us don't like change; we're happy with who we are now. We might want more things in life, but we fail to see that in order to achieve that, sometimes, we must alter who we are (for the better of course), at least a part of ourselves.

The gap between a one-year old child and a three-year old child is big. The former is totally dependent on the parents. The latter, while perhaps not wholly independent, is capable of a number of things, such as the ability to walk, to speak, and most importantly, comprehension. However, this all came at a price. I mean as one-year olds, we had a keen sense of smell, for example. As we grow older, we might regret this loss. But we must also remember that we gained something in return, sometimes something more substantial than what was lost.

One of most significant turning points in my life was when I was eleven. At that time, I was focused on me, me, me. I mean when me and my family went to Hong Kong, one of the people who welcomed us there was one of our former maids who was now an OFW. One of the things I insisted was getting a gift (or "pasalubong" in Filipino) from her since she's been staying there all this time. And of course, since this was me, the gift that I requested was something more or less expensive (it's the Mario Paint kit for the Super Famicom that comes with a mouse and mousepad). Did I think that the money that was spent to buy me a gift could have gone to her relatives in the Philippines? Did I think that the gift I wanted was a luxury while the maid had worked hard to earn that amount? Unfortunately, the realization came too late. I was already back in the Philippines, with the gift in hand. It then made me reflect on other matters as well. When I invited my friends over, for example, I was usually interested in playing video games with them. However, when it came to let other people play, I was strongly against passing the controller. I was selfish. I needed to change. I'd like to think that it wasn't a time of growth more than it was of changing my moral outlook. And in that, I became a better person.

The second significant turning point in my life was during my freshman year. When I was in my last year of grade school, there was a sense of dread as we were going to be moving on to high school. One of the things we feared the most was the class reshuffling, which entailed that my classmates for the past seven years in grade school would not be my classmates when I entered high school. What gnawed at me was the possibility that I wouldn't have any friends when I entered high school. Sure, my old friends would be in the next classroom, but that wouldn't be the same as having them sit right next to you. And sure enough, first year high school was difficult for me emotionally. No one really liked me. I was that annoying and pesky kid who wanted to be your friend, but you found too annoying to really accept as part of your group. Perhaps what was worse was during our Acquaintance Party (interaction between the freshman students of our all-boys high school with the nearby all-girls high school), there was no one I really bonded with. I was that guy in the shadowy corner with no one to talk to (well, some of my old friends did occassionally stop to say hi and they moved on to dancing with their new friends). I was rebuffed with "group dancing" ("I'm with this group... you can dance with the group if you want" and they never looked twice at me) whenever I'd ask someone to dance. I was tired of being pathetic, of always being left out, of being the person no one wanted to befriend. The easy path perhaps could have been conforming to those I was around with (well, at that time, I was one of the two people in class who didn't cheat and everyone encouraged me to cheat and "mutually" help each other). Thankfully I didn't take that path. I sought a different way to solve my dilemma, and I could only have done that by developing myself and growing more mature. I committed myself to growth, and grow I did.

The third time I encountered significant change was just before I was about to graduate from high school. I fell in love. And that moved me to do greater feats I didn't think I'd do, such as actually go and visit the all-girl's school opposite of ours (and I was a very shy person at that time). But that eventually led to heartbreak. I discovered a number of valuable lessons at that time. One is that beauty isn't skin deep. Her mind and personality was the driving force behind my attraction. Second is that I could commit, that I could imagine myself taking the long road of monogamy. Third is that while I've grown from who I was in grade school, there was still a lot of room for improvement. And fourth, of course, is the heartbreak. I was devastated, depressed. But I eventually recovered and became a better person because of it.

When I entered college, that was another significant time for me. Recovering from the recent incident of heartbreak, I made it my mission to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. It was a culmination of all my previous failures. I mean if I thought losing my grade school classmates was hard, college was an entirely new level: new people, different classmates on each class and subject, and it was co-ed. But hey, I made my goal of making one new friend a week (what else would you expect from a stalker, hehehe). Not that I didn't have problems of my own. I rediscovered love... and had my heart broken once again. Part of that was good news to me, since I realized I could fall in love again. But of course, heartbreak is anything but easy nor comfortable, and I had another round of depression. It was during this depression that my relationship with some older friends began to crumble, and even until now I'm feeling the effects of it (you can't imagine how many people cringe when you mention my name). But that was another hurdle to overcome, another aspect of my life that I needed to change.

And I'm proud to say that this year marked the lastest turning point in my life. But the year isn't over yet, and I'll save that story for New Year.


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