Mourning the years lost pleasing people | Inquirer Opinion

Mourning the years lost pleasing people

These past few days, I have been questioning myself over who I could have become if only I was not busy pleasing other people. Seeing my batchmates graduate, receive honors, and achieve the dreams that I once made with them brings a slight pang to my heart. I am happy for them, but I couldn’t help but feel insecure and sad as someone who grew up doing nothing but seeking validation through academic achievements. It’s safe to say that mourning the person I could have become is one of the saddest griefs in my life.

When I was in senior high school, I cried for a whole week because one of my teachers gave me a grade of 84 for a subject that I knew I aced. For others, it was okay to get such grades but for someone so desperate for academic validation, getting an 84 was bad and already a sign of me failing in school. Thinking about it now, it was a really sad part of my supposed fun school days.

I was not born academically inclined but I was brainwashed by society into believing that I was an excellent student. Therefore, growing up, I developed the toxic habit of pleasing people around me by doing great in school. I always knew that I was not a smart kid. I couldn’t even do basic math without having to have someone visually explain it to me a gazillion times. I am more of a literature and history person. It started when I was in fourth grade and my teacher discussed the Hiroshima bombing. I couldn’t stop myself from searching for more information related to it.My life as an elementary and high school student was very smooth. I had everything planned ahead of time. When I was asked by one of my teachers what I would want to be when I grew up, I immediately said that becoming a teacher was my dream profession. But when did life make drastic changes that affected who I am today? Was it when I constantly sought the approval of others or was it when I started achieving things for people to compliment me?

When I turned 18, that’s when I knew that I had developed a toxic trait toward myself. Toxic in a way that I would emotionally and mentally torture myself whenever things didn’t work for me. Thinking about the time when I applied for the psychology program and was not accepted, I started blaming myself for it. Not only that, while waiting for the admission test results from the university that I applied to, I became too harsh toward myself. On results day, I didn’t eat, I never went outside of my room, and I deactivated my social media because I couldn’t look at my feed full of congratulations for passing the college entrance exam. All I could think of that day was how my family and other people would react if I was not able to pass the admissions test.


When I turned 19, I thought everything was slowly falling into place as I was able to enter the college that I had highly dreamed of. Not until I decided to shift programs, as I felt that I could no longer continue doing the same thing in the next academic year. That time, I thought everything would turn out fine. College is not a race; that’s what they said. I gaslighted myself, thinking that shifting several times would help me know myself better. I was wrong again; shifting programs only brought confusion and misery into my life. Not only that, I also wasted my time and resources only to find out that after all those years, I still don’t know what I want to do in my life.

Two years ago, when I turned 20, I thought things would be different and that I would no longer be so hard on myself. However, I still couldn’t stop myself from pleasing people around me, so I tried hard to do things that I was not familiar with, such as applying for jobs that I had no idea how they worked, just to compensate for my lack of academic achievement because I could no longer be the achiever I always wanted to be.

Today, I reflect on those years that I have spent trying to be someone else, trying to be smart when I am just an average student. Looking back on all those years, who am I really seeking all the validation from? Who is the society that keeps on dictating that I should be good at that and great at this, anyway?

Now that I am turning 23 in September, I have lots of realizations. First, college is indeed not a race, and there’s more to life than being a burnout student. Second, people around you never actually care about what goes on in your life, as they have a life that they need to tend to on their own. Third, being a people-pleaser will not do you any good in any way. And, lastly, the world will continue even if you fail a certain test, and even if you graduate years after your batchmates.


As I move forward in life, although I am still mourning the years I have spent being a people-pleaser, I am rooting for myself to continue living without seeking the validation of others. I hope that today and in the next few years, I will only be able to please myself and become the person I am capable of becoming.

Chloe Angela Carpio, 22, is a Siatanon who is trying to find her worth and purpose by writing as she navigates this journey called adulting. As a student writer from Negros Oriental State University, she writes about her personal experiences and aims to bring light to social issues.

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TAGS: opinion, youngblood

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