My Own Stranger

This was originally written in 2008.

“Each human being is unique, each with their own qualities, instincts, forms of pleasure and desire for adventure. However, society imposes on us a collective way of behaving and people never stop to wonder why they should behave like that.”

– Dr. Igor (Veronika Decides to Die, by Paulo Coelho)

Humans are created according to God’s image. We exist because of His awesome power to create and sustain us with all the strength, wisdom, knowledge and courage that we will be needing every time we wake up in the morning. He gave us everything we have and will continue to do so. Most of all, He gave us life. And He gave us this life to enjoy everything.

Though we are all created by one Supreme Being, still each man is unique. Each being definitely showcases his/her differences to other people whether directly or indirectly. We all have our own points of view, beliefs, traditions or the so-called “culture” that we stand up on. Because of this, we cannot help and avoid being a “STRANGER” to our family, friends, to the nation and even to ourselves.

For the past 18 years of my life, I have gone through such situations of being a “STRANGER.” And I think my most unforgettable “stranger” experiences took place the moment I passed all my requirements for college admittance.

Posters and statements bearing straightforward outcries like “Oust Gloria!” are the ones, during my time, who will welcome you the moment you enter the premises of the main campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila. For a college newbie like me who have spent the past 11 years growing up and studying in a conservative and Christian institution, sites like these were undoubtedly strange.

Back then, having stepped my feet in a University which they referred to as a “dwelling place for activists,” I felt really strange- a true stranger I should say. I was not even sure if I can afford on to this kind of environment for the whole four years of my college life. The feeling was like I have left my world and went to another planet of which I am not certain of what is in store for me.

I wandered my eyes around the campus and saw a different environment- different from what I used to see before. I felt a different atmosphere- different from what I have felt before. Some students do not even look like a student because of their outfits. Others appeared like they have been studying for the past 30 years of their lives. And the classrooms are a lot different compared to the rooms that I have been going onto in the past. There are only two available electric fans and none of them are working. Though two out of four fluorescent lamps are on their best, still, it’s not enough to totally light up the whole room. Furthermore, we are the ones who have to fix the chairs and clean the area to get ready for the next class, not the janitors. These are totally strange for me.

But as my stay in this University progresses, I was able to overcome my being a “STRANGER”. In fact, I was able to totally get used to it, since I am already here for three years now. After a five-month adjustment period, I have finally considered myself a bonafide PUPian.

I then started venturing out of the four-cornered rooms. I began finding a life outside the life that I have always had. I have discovered a lot, realized much and until now, I am experiencing these. Above all, I have learned things that I have not learned during my preparatory, elementary and high school days.

And I was successful in finding a new avenue for myself. I joined them. I learn with them. I fight with them. For more than five months, I have been mingling with them after school hours. Of course, after that, I still have to face another day of my academic life and hours at home- as a daughter and as a sister. I started feeling “STRANGER” again. I just felt that I am a different person now- different from the one they have known ever since especially to my old friends and my family. I am not a new person who has changed totally though. I can say that I am a much better person now who knows how to accept the reality of this society and who knows how to respond to that. It is not that easy to communicate al my thoughts to the people whom I have known for more than five years because during those times, I was just a typical high school student driven by my goal to finish the race with flying colors, just that. Now, I am living and driven with more than that in mind. I know I have lots to accomplish as a daughter, as a student, as a Filipino and most importantly, as a child of God.

Living out of your box is not bad at all as long as you know you are on the right track. For my friends and to all those that I truly love and cherish, I may be deviant at times and certainly hard to understand. But their continuous support and love for me keep me going. I know they are proud of me. They really are. And I know my Father up there feels the same way too. I do not want to disappoint them especially Him that is why I am doing my very best to give back all the glory and honor that He deserves.

You become a stranger the moment you stop conforming to the majority’s actions and ways. You become a stranger the instance you decide to think twice if the world where you’re at right now is the world where you belong. Indeed, I am a STRANGER. And I cannot avoid being one because in a way or another, we are all strangers to our family, to our friends, to the nation and even to ourselves. I am definitely MY OWN STRANGER.

What is reality- “It’s what the majority seem it to be. It’s not necessarily the best or most logical, but it’s one that supports the desires of the society as a whole.”

– Dr. Igor (Veronika Decides to Die, by Paulo Coelho)

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