I grew up with the notion that all things were measurable, that everything could be quantified in some way, from grains of rice to even love. It was not enough to say you love someone, or to proclaim your intelligence; it had to be measured. Love was shown through acts of kindness, success was reflected in your winnings, and intelligence was made evident in your grades. It wasn’t enough to know and say anything; you needed basis, proof.
Although such was my life under my father’s roof, it has proven to actualize potentials. My siblings and I are more than capable of making what we say into reality. We have the ability to show what we mean instead of just mouthing an array of words. But most importantly, we were made to be winners in our own way.
The mentality of mediocrity didn’t thrive in my home; in fact such would have been impossible. “You have the means to be the best. Why settle for less?” This was the seed planted in each of us.
Unfortunately, because of a series of events, I fell out of my family’s teachings and decided to make my own path. I assumed that liberality and complacency made up the most efficient and enjoyable lifestyle. I did not take into consideration the consequences that would ultimately alter my entire life.
Like all human beings, I fell into a trap. A small pit people call: a mistake. It’s normal to fall into it; your mind is busy lounging about up in the clouds, who wouldn’t overlook it? Now this is me making an excuse—another common act done by men and women to somehow compensate for the loss incurred.
In my household here’s what I was taught to do with mistakes: (1) acknowledge what I’ve done, (2) eliminate all possible bias, and (3) FIX IT. It’s never enough to know the mistake; it has to be fixed without bias. Most people today stop at Step No. 1 (acknowledgment), or even barely reach that level. Sadly, most, if not all, are satisfied by the mere knowledge of what wrong they had committed. The mistake is then quickly thrown overboard to drown itself, with the hope that its remains won’t surface any time soon. And although we promise ourselves not to commit the mistake again, we never really fix the damage it had caused.
And this was what I did.
Ignoring the effect of simply drowning my mistakes, I saw my studies immediately being affected. I was no longer producing the grades fit for my standards, and to compensate I lowered those standards incredibly. Unfortunately, I didn’t end there. To hide my disappointment and current losses, standards with respect to everything I had lived for plummeted. I lost who I was and what I am. My heart was stricken with pain because of the utter destruction of the images of the people I represent—my parents, my family. I was to be the disciplined daughter, bred out of love and etiquette. The dignity I held in my hands was slipping away because of the numerous acts I had done. I had neglected who I am. And what’s worse, I didn’t harbor the tiniest bit of remorse—until now.
The threads that held my very being together were being snipped away by peer pressure and the inevitable change. My old self, which was carefully woven into the person I once knew, was suddenly broken apart, like glass shattering on the Spanish-tiled floor—the glass so transparent, the colors beneath penetrating, losing itself on the floor, and only found when a sharp pain traveled through the soft skin that it unfortunately pierced.
The remnants of my identity were broken, causing utter sadness and regret when found and remembered. Attempts for restoration could only go so far—only a compromise, a representation of a hope that nothing had changed. But change is inevitable; it’s a constant always occurring without warning.
Who I once was and who I am now are two entirely different persons—waves crashing against each other, each with worlds of complete opposites that I wanted so much to merge. I tried building bridges from one island to another with the hope of complete unity. Unfortunately, words became my sole medium of comfort. I fooled myself into believing that I was who I used to be. Words are very powerful.
For almost all aspects of my life, knowing was enough to get by, and understanding became a luxury—not a necessity. The waves have finally calmed, but it was the calm before the storm. Frustrations were bottled up and kept for accumulation. Indeed, an effort to avoid conflict within myself was made—to the extent that walls were built on both ends of the bridge. I lived two different lives, and my relationships with the people around me shattered, blending into my misery.
Communication occurred according to convenience, and the same applied to the rest. The tiny acts of kindness disappeared. Time was needed for more “important things”—like myself. What my family upheld, what I believed in, was slowly disappearing.
But the words of false comfort remained.
And, I was unhappy. How can one live if he/she is being swallowed by misery? I had enough. I exhausted myself and I came to the realization that there is absolutely no equality in all this. I cannot be two different persons and give each person equal show time. There is only one main character.
You can only be one person—the one you truly want to be. No amount of excuses, empty promises, false-comforting words can fill up the gap between who you were and who you ought to be. Words, though powerful, are never enough; you need to actualize them.
I needed to pick up every part of myself that had shattered on the floor. I carefully searched for my pieces with a painful heart. Although not the same as before, I restored not who I was or who I ought to be but who I am. Sewing back my delicate threads of individuality, opening the barred doors at the ends of the bridge, I learned to accept and love who I am.
Sofia M. Prieto, 20, is studying applied economics at De La Salle University.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.