The white of my laptop screen glares at me menacingly as I stare at the two social media tabs at the edge of the window. The first one is a virtual diary with a 280-character limit, while the second seems more like a contact book of relatives and people I no longer talk to.
I shift between the two sites, scrolling and scrolling until I feel myself being punished with endless reminders of my own envy and mediocrity.
In my masochistic lingering, I saw my peers getting the jobs I was rejected for, going to the places I could only dream of visiting, and achieving many other things I wished I had also accomplished.
We all started on the same footing, but now it feels as though they are accelerating at top speed, while I am left behind in the dust. They’ve got scholarships, fellowships and fame. I have bitterness, regret and fear that I will forever be stuck at the bottom.
How did I end up like this? I did almost everything right when I was a kid. I was hell-bent on performing well in school, and my parents always looked at me with satisfaction and pride when I got the good grades, the medals and the summer class certificates.
Sometimes I wonder if people were wrong to expect so much from me. I stopped achieving as much in high school, but I still managed to do well enough to get into one of the top universities in the Philippines.
College was probably when life really started to wear me down. College life should have been a breeze, but it took me two tries to even get into the course I wanted. I had to cry in front of my thesis adviser before getting the approval to graduate on time. I didn’t even graduate with Latin honors when most of my batchmates did.
I know that some people have had it worse, but sometimes I can’t help but magnify my rough patches, especially when I remember who I used to be.
At 9 years old, I was someone that people believed in. Now, at the age of 24, I find it hard to even believe in myself.
I wish I can yank back that brilliant kid, but she’s gone. She no longer exists. What has replaced her is an adult that can’t figure things out, who desperately clings to any semblance of hope in a world to which she still wishes to contribute before her time runs out.
Oscar Wilde once said that we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars. As I look at the stars with a wounded heart and a tired mind, I think about how small and inconsequential human actions are in the greater scheme of things.
Then I realize that the universe doesn’t care about how much I’ve achieved in this life, how many awards I’ve won, and how many family members I’ve managed to impress. I’m going to return to dust just like the rest of the human race, and the universe will carry on.
Before my time comes, though, I certainly want to do whatever the hell I can within this limited form, regardless of whether someone thinks it’s enough or not.
Maybe the real indicator of human brilliance is the journey toward it, and even if I fail to achieve such brilliance, at least I can say I was brave enough to try.
I stare once again at my laptop screen, closing my social media tabs and smiling as I let go of my insecurities — for now.
Suddenly, the screen doesn’t seem so menacing anymore. I sigh as I quietly return to my gutter, poised and ready for my next fight to the stars.
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Andrea Rivera, 24, is a staff writer at ArchIntel Corp.
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