SELF-INTEREST is what drives human behavior and the economy at large to work in the most efficient and fair way. Adam Smith, the Father of Economics, called these natural economic forces the “invisible hand,” something we do not see but moves us.
As I end my term in this publication with this writing, I will get out of the ceteris paribus assumption and look at my invisible hand that moved me all throughout those four years in my college life—nothing is constant, only uncertainties and challenges.
My college education hung on the edge of a cliff, as finishing it in this University was uncertain. I can still remember how my parents were halfhearted to enroll me in this royal and pontifical university since we did not have enough finances to sustain my four years of studying here.
Blessed enough with a full scholarship grant, I insisted to pursue my degree in economics in this institution. Yet each day was always the greatest battle I had to fight—combating my everyday worries of not being able to enroll the next semester and not having an allowance the next day—that reaching this far where I am already writing my final column seemed almost impossible.
Some people would ask me about my motivation for studying hard and I would simply tell them this: If I don’t do it, I may not be able to study at all.
To you who’s reading this, do no waste your privilege in this university. The one writing this almost didn’t taste it. Do not waste the generous resources that you are enjoying. I only wished of having them.
And to you who’s doubtful about making it next semester, just keep your determination.
However, there came a point in my college life where because of determination itself I almost forgot the real essence of studying—learning. In every semester, I was too much focused on maintaining a 1.75 semestral average. I became conscious of my grade. I just had to.
Memorizing tons of concepts. Digesting piles of readings and handouts. Writing a lot of papers and researches. With all these tasks, I never settled for mediocrity and I always gave my best to get a mark I fairly deserve. Again, because I just had to.
What saddens me is when these efforts seem to be worthless to some professors. Worse, if one is not known to them, one will get a grade out of nowhere.
Yes, I had to work really hard, but then I came to realize that the grades I got—whether they be high or low—did not actually reflect the things I have learned. I must admit to have felt inferior to my fellow economics majors from other schools. I have been to a school of economics abroad and I really envy them for being globally competitive.
This may have also made it easier for me to accept that I did not make the cut to be a magna cum laude, despite my eyeing for it to be my token of appreciation for all the people who have been with me in my academic endeavors. I am just a thin line away from achieving it but I just gave it up that way.
As I receive my diploma on June 6, it will mark my continued and improved quest for knowledge—no longer after the grades for scholarship’s sake but for more learnings and experiences that are more worthy of what a medal symbolizes.
To my fellow Artlets, whatever invisible hand shapes your decisions and choices in life and that motivates you toward pursuing your goals, may it truly promote your self-interest for it is the society that benefits unintentionally, as Smith explained—especially because the world outside is very much far from having all things constant.
UST, you were always there to remember me. You remembered me since four years ago when you became my second home. You have taught me so many things a book cannot teach. I thank you for that. But I believe we both still have to grow the laurels of liberal arts, so to speak, so that we may be able to propagate and spread the gift of wisdom.
In my daily commute from Rizal, through LRT, and across España, I have learned to brave the sea of different people and be tough amid changing weather conditions.
There is no heavy nor difficult task you cannot handle if you manage to take it lightly and with joy. Thank you to Faith, Belle, and Dana for reminding me of this and for the four years of friendship.
My three years of stay here at The Flame will always remind me that learning is not just confined in the four walls of the classroom and I must say I got some of the biggest lessons in life from our small office. I thank my former and fellow editors and our staffers for the stories and rants we shared, for the criticisms we faced, for our opinions that clashed, and for the jokes that made us laugh.
The Flame, my intellectual senses will be forever ignited. May your light never flicker. F