5 hard lessons 2016 taught me
I've wrapped up every year since 2010 and so far none prompted to make me write a "5 hard lessons 20xx taught me" post...until now.

2016 was definitely unforgettable, in a mixed good-and-bad way. And although I keep looking back at my personal 2016 moments with a sour taste in my mouth most of the time, I'll admit that it still was a great teacher because of the struggles it made me face.

Hard lessons list: here ya go.

  1. Your circumstances do not define you. Your reactions to these circumstances do.

    I ran for vice presidency in our college's student council this year, and as it happened it ended in defeat. It sucks bigtime not getting what you want and what you know you really worked hard for. But I've thought about this- all I ever wanted, and why I agreed to run in the first place, is that I wanted to serve the student body. I didn't want senior year, of all years, to be the one where I'd be doing nothing but my academics (haha).

    So here I am, head of our college paper, and looking for ways to improve it. I'm also part of the Oblation Corps, and the UPPhA Service League, which are both volunteer corps for the University Student Council and the UPPhA Student Council, respectively. If there's anything I learned, it's that opportunities to serve never run out.

    There may be upsetting things that can happen to you, and in the course of a lifetime you can expect that heartbreaks may occur more often than you originally braced yourself for. But what happens to you does not become you. You have no control over most of these things. What you do have control, is how you rise above these trying situations. And that's what makes you you.

  2. Ranting won't get you anywhere. If you want real change, do something. Engage.

    I've been upset over two election results this year- here in the Philippines, and in the US. I keep ranting online, hoping I can sway some people.

    I've learned since that if only I started with the people I do know and engage them in a real discussion, perhaps that could've been more effective. It's also no use throwing insults like omg ang bobo naman nito, or wtf bakit ganito kayo mag-isip, because how would you get a person take your side if you've offended them?

    Every time we express opinions, we think we're the right ones. No doubting ourselves there- and therein lies the problem. The more we shun every other "wrong" opinion, the more we close opportunities for a healthy discourse, and the more divided we get. What we're aiming for is to actually talk with open minds and acknowledge it when the other side actually raises a fair point.

  3. People change. Don't expect them to be the same person all the time.

    I've held so tight on several friendships that were bound to be doomed. I refused to accept the way we drifted apart, and I realized in the end I was the only one who thought and felt that way.

    Sometimes friends will choose other people over you, and that feels horrible. Trust me, I know. Sometimes they'll think you're being unfair for setting boundaries, or for merely asking for some of their time. You know what? Let them go. If both of you can't make a compromise, if no one is willing to adjust for friendship's sake, then is that a meaningful friendship in the first place? If you both matter to one another, you shouldn't be two immovable boulders waiting for the other one to budge.

    Friendships are a two-way, give-and-take relationship. Its breakdown is the fault of both parties, so I'm taking some of the blame here, too. Still... since no one gives, maybe it's time to accept that it's not worth holding on to. Maybe you're thinking of the past years you've shared together and what a waste it would be to just let it go- this is poison. You don't live in the past, which is strikingly different from the present you live in, and you've tried to make it work. It didn't. So just give it up. It's okay to let go. You have other friendships that are just as much, or perhaps more, worth cherishing than this. Focus on that instead.

  4. Grab all opportunities that come your way. You never know what they might lead to.

    I helped organize PAAW 2016 this year thru Pharmakon with my professors, their colleagues, and some of the editorial staff, too. And my mentors appreciated how the event was handled, that they jokingly told me I already have a slot in DOH (ultimate dream workplace).

    To be honest I hesitated in accepting the collaboration, because that time we were about to publish our first issue of the college paper too. It would mean twice the effort in overseeing from the usual. But, if it wasn't for this event, I wouldn't have met these amazing people who are just as passionate in doing what they love.

    Opportunities that are just so rare make your gut tell you to go for it- and you probably should heed that. Sometimes you just follow where the will-o'-the-wisp takes you.

  5. Don't get too caught up on your personal growth that you forget your loved ones grow old, too.

    This year, I started taking my grandma's fasting blood sugar because she was in risk of diabetes (thank God I'm a Pharmacy undergrad and I know how to do FBS haha). I also discovered that my mom is now taking anticholesterol drugs.

    I realize I should make time for my family when I can, and I've stuck to that resolution especially this year. Every weekend I now try to bond once I am home in our province, and I make it a habit to give my parents a goodbye-kiss when I do leave for the city. It's a small gesture, but it matters. My grandparents regularly know what I'm up to, and I always find it sweet of them when they remind me to take care. My parents and my brother treat me sometimes when I can't go home and visit me in Manila instead, bringing with them care packages and lots of food. They're just the best.

    People in the background are the most important people of all, because they support you all throughout with what you do to make sure you're in the spotlight. Sometimes you gotta pay attention to the backstage people of your life, too. Don't forget it's them who shaped you who you are and contributed the most to make sure of your personal growth.

I'm turning twenty-one (legal age internationally!) and graduating from college this 2017- and I'm pretty sure I have a shitload of other hard lessons coming my way. But 2016 has been kind, by being hard and tough to make sure I've braced myself for the rest the world can burden me with.

So, I guess... bring it on, 2017. I'm ready for ya.

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Saturday, December 31, 2016
@ 16:24