The Story of You

(I’ve been trying to write this as a poem but it came out as an essay.)

There are stories that deserve to leap off the page to be loved and be lived. The challenge is to live a story that deserves to be written down — because you have loved and lived.

Each and every one of us are stories, with small beginnings, climaxes that we alone can write, and endings that could either leave others hanging or leave people inspired by how you managed to overcome the plot twists and unfortunate events in your life. People judge books by their covers and it’s terrible that they never got to the good parts of you. It’s okay. Shrug it off. They have no idea what they’re missing.  

When someone decides to read you, what will you show them? The day you found your calling to be a dentist? The moment you had your first kiss? The dreams of the little child in you? The heartbreaks you had to go through? It’s really up to you. Show them who you are. Show them the story of you. 

If people stop reading you midway, your pages will be left open, and your story hanging. It’s difficult to have to tell your story to someone new. Starting over sucks. Being back on the shelf hurts.  Something dies in you and you start to believe that the story of you is a worthless read.

No. You were written to be read. Never forget this. You have something great to offer this world. The words you speak, the characters you meet, the obstacles you overcome are yours and yours alone. No one can tell the story of you even if they read you from front to cover. You may not be a best-seller but someone wrote you in hopes of making a small difference to someone out there.

And you will. Someone out there is waiting for the story of you because you are exactly the story that they would want to be a part of. The story that they would never want to put down. The story that deserves to be written down because you have loved and you have lived.

 
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The Best Medicine

“Laughter is the best medicine.” 

As it is one of the weirdest things I have ever heard (I mean, please, did it ever cure fever?), I have to admit that there’s a truth to this. Laughter makes any day better. Try it – when you’re down and out, find something humorous. Share it with someone. Laugh with them. And later on, laugh at them when they try to crack the joke to others with the wrong punchline. That frown’s not gonna stay down forever!

Personally, I’ve learned to find humor in everything I see be it a lesson in Chemistry or a Biblical story. This is the reason why one might find me snickering on my own in the corner like some sort of weirdo. Still though, such attitude has its perks. Recovery is much faster (all I need is a musical marathon, a dozen doughnuts and a crate of Coca-Cola to get over heartbreak) and for some reason, you get friendlier. There was I time when I was completely anti-social — I still kind of am, but it’s getting better. 

I’m known to be a really “corny” person and this is actually true. I make jokes about school lessons but it’s not 100% humor. It’s actually how I study. Finding puns (aka word association) in topics help me remember them more. Plus, it actually helps me laugh the complication off. When I decide that I loathe a subject, I shrug it off and change my perception of it. I tell myself, “No, I will love this thing and it will love me back.” So, I end up showing my affection towards it and make even more jokes about the certain subject. 

Laughter is contagious. Laughter is healthy. It’s not some sort of escape from reality — that is if you, for some insane reason, cackle like an old, thin woman who wants to make a coat of dalmatians. Laugh. Find something to giggle about. Find something to be happy about. It is the best medicine after all. 

 

Math & Me: “It’s Complicated”

I have a love-hate relationship with Mathematics. 

It all started in first grade. New school, new language, new people. I didn’t understand any of it — and if I remembered anything else about Grade 1, I spent most of that year being a lost soul. Math was a strange, unfamiliar alien back then — I knew my numbers, of course but that was it. GEMDAS, operations, and the concept of time killed me. It went on for another year but thanks to a good soul (who I am now proud to call my best friend for a whole decade) who helped little me understand how the numbers just kept appearing out of nowhere on the blackboard, I was motivated to actually work to understand it. Summer after second grade, my parents pushed me to memorize the whole multiplication table. (I suffered everyday but) I thank them everyday for pushing me to do so because after that, Math suddenly became easier. Needless to say, I excelled and I ended up being placed in an off-campus Math course and the school’s Math Enrichment program. 

It doesn’t go “happily ever after” though. After a while, I found it difficult to catch up with the lessons. Maybe it was my laziness and overconfidence but it also had to do with the solitary room we would always go to, leaving the Regular class back in the classroom. It felt so isolated and suffocating to be in a small room, studying Math with a bunch of geniuses. I ended up wondering if I really belonged there. This insecurity of mine became my downfall. After two years, I was placed back in the Regular class — where I bloomed again. It was the best year of my life (for Math) because everything felt so easy, so free. I should’ve seen what was coming: after seventh grade, I was moved back to Enrichment. Same thing for first year, I felt insecure and I dropped — back to Regular. Excelled again and was brought back to Enrichment for third year. Now in my senior year, I feel like I must have done something right ’cause I’m still in Enrichment. 

Enrichment, Regular, Enrichment, Regular, Enrichment.

The circle of my life.

Looking back, I realize it was my attitude towards it that affected my performance. My feelings of insecurity and being mentally suffocated caused me to stop caring about it. In the Regular, however, taking comfort in the slow and sure pace and a bigger room gave me a better feeling about Math. 

I’ve started this year with a bad mark. As my mom said, “It still sucks — but your perspective of it should contradict that.” It’s all in the mindset. Whether or not I think Math is easy peasy, I’m right. Whether or not I think Math is difficult and a pain in the ath, I’m right. Knowing this, I’m determined to stay optimistic (stay positive hehe) for this year. 

The Sleep Monster

That’s me: The Sleep Monster.

If there’s one thing my friends are sure about me, it’s that I am the crankiest, grouchiest, and meanest Ebenezer Scrooge of sleep when I wake up. “Bah mornings” is more like it. (That and I make really bad puns.)

When I’m forced to wake up, I unleash hell through sleep talk (i.e. I’ve said “Five more minutes, Ma…” ten times in a row one morning), a Sadako-like temper (I literally just stare  at people through my messy hair), and a lot of stomping. I won’t talk to anyone because I really shouldn’t — at my state. So I normally just run to the bathroom to take a bath so I won’t  hurt anyone. 

One time, at a trip, I woke up to a sight of people pushing someone to be brave enough to wake me up.

It’s not always like that, though. There are some mornings that I wake up on my own or where I wake up to something beautiful: like my dad blasting the Phantom of the Opera overture or someone telling me that I got a lead part at a play. 

I’m not a morning person. And I don’t think I will be. Ever.

But other times, I think I’m a pretty decent kid.

 

Bah mornings.

Fear — In Other Words

Today, on the way to the hospital to accommodate my father, I saw two kids (a boy and a girl) playing by the streets. What I thought was harmless playing was actually abuse. The boy started slapping the little girl by the butt, by the hair and basically her whole body — and he looked as if he was having the best time of his life. This alone appalled me because it seemed so casual to him, what he was doing. I thought it might be because he witnessed abuse at home or got abused himself. He didn’t even stop when the girl started crying out, “Huwag na, kuya!” He even found a younger boy to start slapping.

I observed the little girl and thought to myself, why isn’t she running away? Is it because to her, it’s play time? Or is she used to seeing women submit themselves to such unnecessary abuse? Children copy what they see. Is this what she normally lives with?

After a while, I couldn’t take it. I was infuriated at what I was seeing. Something inside me urged me to get out of the taxi and confront this boy. But I didn’t.

I didn’t.

People like me write about social justice and everything we could have done. But that’s it, we write. Nothing else.

At that moment, I debated against myself. Should I dare? Would it even matter? Could I even teach that boy a lesson? Would it even change anything?

In the process of doubting myself, the street lights flashed green and I missed my chance. I became another hypocrite. I became one more “social justice” advocate who stayed behind the window.

I imagine other people going through the same dilemma. Words are so easy. Actions, not so much. When will we get enough courage to put our words into concrete action? Why do we hesitate so much to make change? It’s because we’re afraid of what might happen. We’re afraid that no matter how much we try, we won’t even make a small dent in this messed up society.

Fear holds you back. If Thomas Edison lived his life scared of the dark, he would never have created the lightbulb. If Tony Meloto of Gawad Kalinga was scared of being in charge such a huge project, he would never have housed millions of Filipinos and brought out the spirit of volunteerism in the youth. Fear stops people from being radical, from being a change-maker.

Fear makes one selfish. Teenagers are scared of being judged, of being ridiculed. However, you don’t hear people going about how they’re scared for other people being judged. Another case of the “if it doesn’t concern me, I don’t care” disorder the youth seems to have. We forget to put ourselves into other people’s shoes. We forget to care.

Fear conquers our soul. Staying scared your whole life will eat you up. You’ll soon be paranoid of everything, never taking a chance, never taking risks. As they say, too much of anything is bad. Why live your life being terrified when you were given this life to rise to wider horizons? YOLO.

 

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

Next time around, I’ll tell myself to be brave.

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name

My first name is Ancilla (pronounced as an-chi-la). My mother named me after reading the Latin Magnificat, which is Mary’s prayer when the archangel Gabriel came to her.

Ancilla Domini means Handmaid of the Lord.

Thing is, I only found out now that to mean that, it needs to have the Domini part so for now, my first name means handmaid. Yaya. Maid. Servant.

To be honest, it annoyed me a bit to have to live up to a name that serves other people. However, after a while, I found it fitting because I love service. It’s what makes me happy.

Another funny thing about is: no one liked my mom’s idea. My grandmother thought it sounded too much like Godzilla. My father wanted another name.

I’m glad my mom stayed stubborn because if ever I was given a chance to rename myself, I wouldn’t take it.

Daily Prompt: Say Your Name.

The Promposal

 

“Will you go to prom with me?”

With  prom season coming up, most junior students are now wrecking their brains on perfect ways to ask their ‘promspects’ to be their date on this special occasion. The promposal, being one of the most crucial elements to prom, is done in many creative and witty ways to make it even more special. It’s been done through flashmobs, sneaky ‘project’ videos with a “Prom?” clip at the end, posters, M&M’s on pizza spelling PROM, and the occasional waiting at the person’s school gate during their dismissal with flowers, chocolates, and the big question.

It takes a huge amount of courage, creativity and preparation to pop the prom question to someone special. With an event as big and exciting as this, one has to pick the right Prince Charming or Princess for it and ask them in a way they would never forget. Here are some points to consider before the big promposal.

1. The Lucky One

Chabeli Fernandez, a former senior High School student of AC, recalls how she picked her prom date, “I chose a close friend of mine as a prom date. I know most girls go for the “photo-worthy” ones, but I wanted to be sure I’d enjoy prom. My close friend and I could converse easily, shared mutual friends, and really did enjoy each other’s company. It also didn’t hurt that he was a gentleman.” In looking for promspects, the ideal prom date shouldn’t be someone who’s photogenic or famous. It should be someone worth enjoying a special night like this with. Going with someone one would feel comfortable with is the best way to go. No one would want to spend his/her prom night being self-conscious with an awkward date. Set-ups happen quite often but its outcomes are different for everyone. The main thing is, for a night as special as this, one should make sure that they go with someone who’d make it even more special.

2. Timing

One of the most important aspects about promposals is when you actually do it.  Another former senior student says that the perfect time to do it is “a month and a half before prom because certain unexpected things may happen and people tend to change their minds and eventually regret asking early.” It pays to ask early, to prevent the possible scenarios of the person being asked to another prom, however asking way too early may cause problems such as conflict of schedules, unexpected events, and second thoughts. The most ideal time to ask around two months before the actual prom – the time allotted in between the promposal and the actual prom is enough for dress-fitting, other needed preparations, and getting to know one’s prom date. It also helps to ask at a really unexpected time, it adds the element of surprise for one’s promspect. Don’t ask too early but don’t ask too late.

3. Prep Time

Things like these can’t just be done out of the blue. It takes a lot of time to discern over whom to take, how to ask them out to prom, and to actually get the guts to do it. Promposals are nerve wrecking due to the possibility of rejection and being too late. 2-3 weeks of preparation for the promposal is sufficient for asking one’s peers and even family members for advice about the whole thing. It helps a lot to ask friends for ideas, suggestions, and even for their participation in your plan. However, for some of those who end up asking out of the blue, it’s not all that awkward – like for a particular senior student, who up to now, feels giddy remembering the whole ordeal, popped the question at such an unexpected way that her prom date was in a daze the whole time. It always pays to take a few days to gather the courage and (if needed), the materials needed before popping the question.

4. Mission Impossible

The most important thing about promposals is how it’s done. There will always be quirky, sweet, extravagant, and of course, the awkward stories of promposals going around the junior hallways around prom season. Some students have the advantage of being set up through peers and family connections, but for those without these, it’s a combination of determination and a pinch of creativity to make it a memorable experience. In order to make it even more special, it pays to do it in a way that is unforeseen, totally extraordinary, and brave.

During the AC BED school fair, there were around 15 promposals that included promposals between performances and huge cartolinas with “PROM?” written all over it. It was an amusing sight to see, a bunch of teenagers pooling up their guts to ask their friends out on such a day.

Personally, I found both my promposal(s)  to be amusing. My first one was a tutorial video for the pythagorean theorem (which is really elementary) and I inserted the prom question at the end when I knew he was getting bored with all the details. It was successful — in a way that he was shocked and all. I had to come up with a second one because the first one couldn’t go. So, with all the creativity in me, I retrieved an old powerpoint for a school project and added a bunch of blank slides after the end. (Note: I find the font Comic Sans to be effective in terms of persuasion.)

Here are three of the many slides I added:

Slide38

Slide43

 Slide46

Thanks to my resourceful use of a pretty convincing font and beautiful pictures, the guy said yes. However, it doesn’t stop there. This same guy asked me to his prom through a weird way as well.

As a pre-prom, we went to the cinemas to watch Les Miserables with other friends. Prior to this, however, he asked me the weirdest question anyone has asked me: “How big is the popcorn there?” It was revealed later on that he asked me this because he was going to use it as a promposal strategy — but realized later on that I would be too emotional to understand what’s going on. We went to Bacolod Chicken Inasal afterwards and when we asked for the receipt, the strangest thing happened:

I instantly got the receipt and left some sort of survey on the bowl. The whole table froze and someone exclaimed “What’s that?” I looked back at the bowl and saw that it wasn’t a survey. It was a Coca-Cola themed paper of some sort. I opened it and saw PROM? in the Coke font. Being the slow person that I am, I still didn’t get it. Until I saw the words: From: ______.

Wow, that left me speechless. And immensely happy.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of how I went to two proms with the best prom date ever. 🙂

5. “What now?”

One of the many things junior students fear is what actually happens after the promposal. Mr. Nik Corleto, a third year Sports teacher, says that there’s no reason for the gap between the promposal and the actual prom night to be awkward since there are lots of things (i.e. what the pair would wear) to discuss. The gap between these two important dates should be spent on getting to know one’s prom date, coordinating their attires (if applicable), etc. The only instances where the post-promposal would be an awkward exchange of small talk between the couple would be if it’s set-up or there’s no effort to reach out to each other.

Being more than juicy stories to share, promposals actually serve as icebreakers for junior students to the opposite sexes and as confidence boosters to those who are normally shy and outspoken. In its entirety, the season of promposals is one to look forward to because of the excitement and new relationships it brings about.