That is the question I started to ask myself as I reflect on my journey at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). It could be anything. In my case, it is something that comes unexpectedly, yet when you finally grasp it in your hands, it is something you would be entirely grateful for.
It took me four grueling years to have that
realization. I was always that kid who had high
expectations, anticipating my wants to be a fullfledged
Tears rolled down my cheeks when I failed UST’s entrance exam, specifically in her AB Journalism program. It took only one click to crush my dream of being a Thomasian, reinforcing his passion for creative writing in the field of Journalism, crushing them into bite-sized pieces, shattering my enthusiasm.
Fortunately, with the guidance of my mother, the pieces were glued back together when we spoke to the assistant dean and was granted reconsideration. With a big smile, I shook her hand and accepted her offer to a different major—the AB Sociology program. It was not the major I had in mind, but I did not care. I was finally an Artlet.
This unexpected program opened my eyes to the different social realities our world faces and various issues we encounter as members of society. Sociology gave me the lens to see the world I live in from a different perspective, veering away from the perceptions I have been usually exposed to.
Still, my passion for creative writing remained a top priority. I attempted to reinforce such in minuscule ways such as writing narratives and poetry on the side, inspired by some lectures from our Literature classes.
That, until I discovered the Flame in my second semester as a freshman. Deeply inspired by my blockmate Maxine who pursued art despite being in AB Sociology, I was determined to bring back that drive to pursue creative writing once again.
I applied in the Letters section in my sophomore year. After an unsuccessful attempt, I took another qualifying exam one semester later and was surprised to see my name at the top of the list of accepted applicants. However, there was one catch: I was chosen for my second choice, the Faces section.
I was a bit worried. Despite my sheer interest in writing, I had no background in features. I felt like Andrea Sachs from The Devil Wears Prada who entered a field she had zero knowledge of. However, just like her, I engaged myself in the world I was in. I read every feature article left and right and asked for help from the right people.
The Faces section became a great opportunity to incorporate my passion. It gave me a chance to write people’s stories using my own literary style. I am beyond thankful that this section allowed me to become a medium for Artlets through diverse sets of success stories that inspire students like us.
After a year of hard work, I was promoted as Faces editor. However, I thought one year was not enough for me to have the position. This time, I could relate to Jenna Rink from 13 Going on 30, a magazine editor with a mind of a 13-year-old who initially had no idea how to do her job. Several months passed and here I am now. Under my guidance in four issues, Faces produced another diverse set of stories along with fresh content with my current crop of writers. The section survived under my care. I guess I did something right.
The road does not end in failure. It is the beginning of an avenue that leads you to greater opportunities—some are even unexpected. Failures are chances for personal empowerment, a way to improve and pave ourselves to better breaks, possibly better than what we envisioned. So, Artlets, never surrender to even the slightest of defeats, for it may be your ticket to the finish line known as success.
Catharsis is the process of releasing strong emotions resulting in renewal and restoration. Now, contrary to what my column name suggests, I set these emotions free by showing appreciation to the people who made my university life memorable.
I am always grateful for the Flame for allowing me to showcase my passion for writing and for pushing me to improve on a skill I always doubted.
To Team Faces—Julia, Lorraine, Tina, Mark, and Syrah—it has been an honor to guide you and see all your talents shine through your works. I hope the passion and drive you have shown this publication year would always remain in your hearts and minds. You all make me so proud.
To MMA, Mikkah and Minka, thank you for making my last year in UST worthwhile. It was tough, but the fun, support, and laughter always made me forget them all. Every session we had was always a break away from the struggles. I am so glad I met you, girls.
To my #VILMANIANS—Alex, Paulyne, Gette, Gwy, Kairen, Bullet, Maki, Bea, and Cars—thank you for the three years of memories we shared. The difficulties of finding a place to eat, the episodes of uncontrollable laughter, and the reciprocations of undying love and support will always have a special place in my heart. I am so proud that we have got this far.
I would like to give my sincerest gratitude to my family. You have given nothing but huge amounts of support, words of encouragement, and unconditional love that kept on inspiring me to move forth and finish my education. I love you all.
To my dear batchmates, a new road awaits. Do not tremble easily to the challenges it may bring. As Florence Welch magically sings in Hunger, “You make a fool of death with your beauty and, for a moment, I forget to worry.” F
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