A guest post by Lish Palacios
In my first few days as a freshman at Ateneo de Manila University, I didn’t focus on much else besides simply trying to survive.
Survive the crowded hallways, survive the sweltering heat and humid air, survive the “terror professors”, and the ungodly amount of required essays. I pulled more all-nighters in three months than I ever had in my whole life so far. It wasn’t until I finished my first week did I take the time to step away from the academics, and give myself a moment to relax.
With this, I was able to turn my attention towards organizations and extra-curricular activities. I was initially overwhelmed with the various different organizations, and I was excited to join the multiple writing organizations, film and theater troupes, charity organizations, and even mountain hiking communities!
I wanted to be a part of the multiple dynamic organizations, and their friendly communities. My goal was to be a part of as many organizations as I could, and maintain my membership until my final years at the Ateneo, growing and developing my skills to be a better writer, film critique, theatre actress, volunteer, and mountain hiker!
My goal was to be a part of the diverse and inviting communities that made up the various organizations. I was charmed by the friendliness that the upperclassmen showed me as I asked about their organizations, and they shared with me the different activities they had planned for the next year. I wanted to be part of their camaraderie.
However, I made the unfortunate mistake of signing up for all of the organizations.
I did not possess the best impulse control, nor did I have the best time management skills, but I was overwhelmed with all the opportunities before me that I didn’t think about how I would commit to all the various organizations and arrange my schedule for org work.
For the first few months, I did my best to keep up with the various requirements and events that all seemed to be due or coming up at the exact same time. I pulled even more all-nighters as I made the other mistake of sacrificing my academics for more time to work for my various organizations.
Eventually, I couldn’t keep up with the various orgs, and I began to drop out of events and passing on commitments to other members. I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. I had spread myself too thin, and committed to more than I could handle. My grades had taken a dip in my negligence, and I realised that my desire to be part of a community wouldn’t mean anything if I got kicked out of school.
Therefore, I focused once again on my studies, and it was back to surviving required essays, surviving terror professors, and surviving classes at 7 o’clock in the morning. My grades picked up once again, and by the end of my freshman year, I was focused solely on my studies and was no longer part of any organizations.
Now, in my final year at the Ateneo, I’m a senior with slightly better time management skills and impulse control. I didn’t give up on orgs entirely, I’ve simply been able to find a better balance between my academics and my extra-curricular activities. I learned which select organizations I really wanted to focus on, and I devoted myself to
them, all without sacrificing time for my academics.
As a freshman, I didn’t want grades and academics to be the only defining aspect of my time as a university student. I got enough pressure from my parents regarding my grades, that I didn’t want to add anymore pressure on myself. So I turned towards extracurricular activities in order to make something else of myself, and meet new people and be part of the Ateneo community.
However, the problem with the way I handled myself in my freshman year is that I ran myself too thin trying to commit to so much responsibilities, and rebelling against the expectations my parents had for me in the face of my new-found “freedom” in university.
Over the course of my school years, I’ve learned about the importance about finding a balance between both, and utilising my academics and my organizations in order to improve myself as a person and as a student. I’ve been able to be a part of different communities made up of classmates and org mates, join in on their camaraderie, and make friends and memories I’m sure to treasure for the rest of my life.
I’m glad for all the lessons and experiences that brought me to where I am because they helped me grow as a person, and I’m at a better place than I imagined I would be in my freshman year.