Making amends, growing up: My road to recovery
Life is a hodgepodge of decisions and mistakes, as well as moments of moving on and learning. These are essentially what make life worth living.
Loosely quoting Mark Wahlberg’s character in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” we humans make mistakes, and that’s what makes us human.
This is a story about my college life, which has been full of mistakes. The good thing is that I’m still alive and young, which makes it easier to look at the bright side, at the horizon.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I was excellent in the social sciences when I was in high school; hence, I put history as my preferred course in each of my college entrance exam applications. But really, it was more of an act of rebellion that I chose that course.
I knew what I wanted to be and what I really wanted to do: To write. I just did not want to follow the path of my parents, who both majored in journalism. I wanted to be different, to carve my own path, even if I knew what I was good at.
That was mistake No. 1.
Entering the University of the Philippines Baguio, I did not know what to expect, but I knew what I had to do: To study, and study hard. Of course, being a boneheaded teenager, I chose to do the exact opposite of that. I got drunk a lot, started smoking, and neglected my schoolwork. I partied way too hard and did not pay equal attention to my studies.
That was mistake No. 2.
I got dismissed from school, then managed to get back in. I was supposed to study hard, and that’s what I did, but I figured that if I was going to change, I had to go all in. I had to balance my academic life, my social life, my relationships in order for me to truly change the way I am. To truly start a new chapter in my life.
I really tried, but ultimately, I failed to do so. I failed to meet the requirements of my readmission and, in doing so, got myself dismissed again. I had a second chance, and I blew it.
That was mistake No. 3.
So here I am, out of school again, writing an article that my mom pushed me to write. It’s a story intended to make people my age, who have a life as messed up as mine, sweat as they read what could be their life if they do not turn things around. And maybe, just maybe, toward the end of this story, it is meant to inspire as well.
The one thing that deeply saddens me in all of this is the pain I see in my parents’ eyes. The gloom that permeates my entire body as I realize the heartache that I’ve caused them is enough to dampen my days.
We teenagers pretend that we know everything and that we can live life without our folks. But guys, we can’t. We can’t support ourselves at this time without them, and even if we think they are a pain to listen to, most of the time what they say is true and right. They have wisdom that is beyond what we can conjure as yet in our hormone-addled brains.
We may know more about some things, but when it comes to life itself, we are the padawan and they are the jedi.
I vowed that I would never again subject them to the pain that I’ve caused. I will now heed their advice as they are only being tough on me because that treatment is what I deserve.
Rebelling is okay—it’s normal, it’s what teenagers do—but we should always remember that it is for our sake that our folks are getting mad, taking away our money, grounding us for weeks at a time.
And if you still want to rebel, just think of this: If you have a parent who can’t care less about your life, then they do not love you.
If you’re cool with just receiving an allowance and blowing it on parties while they are there at home or at work, I feel sorry for you. You don’t treat them as parents, you treat them as banks.
Appreciate your parents. Love them with as much fire as you can. Lord knows, they love us with all they have. Even if all our friends leave, even if all our girlfriends or boyfriends fall out of love with us, our parents would never think of doing that.
Parents can always forgive what their child has done, and they will love us no matter what.
We teenagers are made to make mistakes. That’s just what we do. We are old enough to know what is right and wrong, but young enough to say, What the hell, I’m going to do the wrong thing because it seems more fun.
I have learned that doing the right thing enables us to have more time to have fun. If you study, you’ll have more time to do whatever you desire to do. If you just keep your priorities straight, you will have fun sooner or later. And we teenagers must all grasp the idea that we must study in order to prosper in life.
We must have an academic degree in order to work, so we can finally earn for ourselves—to buy the house and the car, to provide for the family, and to pay back our parents. Money can’t buy happiness, but it’s a start. We have to stop just growing old; we have to start growing up.
I will resume my studies in a new school, with new challenges ahead of me. I have to graduate by the time I am 24. That’s also a good part of being young: I still have a lot of time to make amends.
I vow to study better, harder. I vow to not cause any more heartache in those I love and those that love me back.
Road to recovery, step 1.
Armando Miguel A. Dumlao, 19, is doing freelance writing as he prepares to enter a new school.
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