Education and Lifestyle

Looking back and moving forward

My cousin AJ who is an incoming freshman this year kept asking me the other day what course he has to take in college. Then, I just told him that he needs to pursue his dreams (what he really wants to become) and work hard to get it. That lead me to share a story of a little girl I met exactly ten years ago. Join me  as I take you back through her journey….

Elvie was scrubbing the floor that faithful Sunday morning. Yes, she’s so hardworking even with the household chores. Then, his father entered the house with his sweat all over his body. He just came from farm. He must have visited his crops and carabaos at the farm. All of the sudden,  Elvie blurted out. “Pa, gusto ko magpunta ning Los Banos, gusto ko mag-eskwela ngonian na taon.” (I want to go to Los Banos. I want to study this year.) She continued to scrub the floor. They already talked about it. Not this year because her elder sister was also in college that time. Her family cannot afford to send them simultaneously in school. Every time Elvie would think of the year she would stop going to school, she would silently cry. If only they had enough resources so that she could easily go to the university she faithfully prayed and dreamed of. She didn’t want her slot to be forfeited so she had to convince her father to finally let her go.

Can you imagine how her heart was literally crushed whenever she would think of the time that she will not be able to go to school? She was an achiever. She knew what she wanted and she didn’t want to waste time. But she just silently cried then.

Few days had passed since she got the acceptance letter from the university, Elvie told her parents not to worry because she was willing to work to support herself. She gathered enough courage to tell her parents that she needed to pursue her studies. She begged if she could just give her money for bus fare and she will brave all the challenges. Finally, they relented. Her father was able to borrow money from the neighborhood. With only Php500 in her pocket, she took a 15-hour bus ride to Los Banos where she planned to study.

During the travel, she was hungry, tired, and was close to crying. To prevent herself from losing strength and conviction, she started imagining her game plan. She will look for a scholarship, she will try to find part time job. Plans…plans…plans….When she can no longer stop the tears from falling, she just reminded herself of that dream… that someday she’ll bring home that diploma and make her family proud.

When she arrived in Los Banos, the obstacle course began. She had to take on several part time jobs in order for her to survive. She worked as a part time service crew in one of the leading fast food chain and restaurant in the country, served as a tutor and worked as a student assistant in the university. These helped her a lot with some of her expenses but were not enough. She still had to borrow money from her friends from time to time just to make ends meet. Fortunately, through series of exams, she was qualified for a government and private scholarships. Those made her survive.

There were times that she had only two to three hours of sleep because she had so many responsibilities both in her work and academics. There were times when she would just eat bread for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner in order to save money. There were times that she had to eat her meal on the jeepney going to work so that she won’t be late to work after class. There were days when she found herself sleeping while traveling, trying to steal a moment of rest for herself.

Four years had passed as if it were a dream. She realized that life is more than her dream of getting a “prestigious diploma” or the “medal” but what matters most were the things she learned through the process—how she learned to step out of her comfort zone, believe in herself and pursue her dream. She realized to never underestimate the heart of a fighter and to never discount the power of dreams.

Right now, when she looks at herself in the mirror, she no longer sees the reflection of just a timid farmer’s daughter, but a young lady full of hope ready to face the world. Someone once told her, that no matter how difficult your experiences in the past were, there will always be a time to move on and to move forward.

Hmmm, you might be wondering why I know so much about her. Elvie is me. I’d like to say that the way you see yourself will have a huge impact on how far you go in life. It’s up to you to fulfill your destiny. So to my cousins and younger siblings, there are three things, I’d like to highlight in Elvie’s story.

1.)    Value education. Give the best education for yourself. In our very competitive world today, education is no longer a pathway to opportunities. It is a prerequisite. Learn as much as you can from any opportunity that comes your way.

2.)    Learn how to take risks. Defy the pull of scarcity. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone even in the midst of uncertainties. It’s definitely fine that from time to time you have push yourself  beyond your limits to see how far you can really go.

3.)    Dream and make it happen. I know there are more dreams to realize and more heights to reach and sometimes they seem too impossible to reach. But hey, keep going! Crunch times are there but you must learn how to thrive in them. If the once timid nene was able to make it, you can make it happen, too. Also, along that journey, I’ve realized that God has already won the battle for you. Walk in a victorious manner because “it is finished” already.

Theodore Rossevelt is correct when he said that it is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Just like him, I don’t pity any man who does hard work worth doing. I admire him. I pity the creature who does not work, at whichever end of the social scale he may regard himself as being. 

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