Wobbly but still on my feet, I suited up as I selected the most stylish clothes in my limited wardrobe. “Today is a big day,” I reassured myself. Today was going to be the day that I finally step up and give myself a chance to be someone greater. No longer was I going to let my whisper of a voice drown out in the whirl of voices around me. No longer was I going to stay idle as my visions stayed as mere ideas and withered away. I’ve had enough excuses. I told myself, “today is the day that I break out of my shell and take my shot at becoming the freshman batch representative in my college.”
Overcoming my fears
In my 18 years of existence, not once have I ever been a decisive factor in the direction of any community. I have always been too fearful of rejection, recoiling at the thought of investing myself in something that could potentially hurt me. And yet, there I was, tidying up and bracing myself for the biggest jump I will have ever taken in my life. No longer will I have to endure an existence fettered by the shackles of the fear of rejection. For the first time in my life, I hungered for a position where I can empower myself to empower others. In deciding to run, I was overcome by an intense sensation of liberation. It was an eerily new feeling. I felt that as if for the first time, my soul was free.
As I finished up, I grabbed my bucketlist of things to bring, including a small piece of paper inscribed with several of the lines I had to rehearse. Once I arrived, I clutched my paper of notes and nervously began to ready myself for perhaps the most momentous event in my life yet. I was a soldier about to wade into the fray, into a battle where even fate has no bearing; only I could dictate the outcome of the interview. On my shoulders were not only the trust and hope of my friends, but also my brand of leadership and vision. And so, I steeled myself for what was to come. Failure wasn’t an option. I had stifled my light for too long. It was my time to shine.
The Big Moment
A few minutes passed, and I heard my name echo across the hall. The moment that my soul had been yearning for had finally shown itself. It was time to face my fears. I sat down uneasily, not expecting to do the interview in front of so many people. At that point, I focused and reminded myself of how important this interview meant to me, my family, and friends. There was no backing down. Immediately after informing me of the interview’s commencement, the council members began to ask me questions one by one.
The fear within me quickly subsided as I poured out my soul. I felt like a character in a video game, battling and weaving my way through different bosses in an ultimate quest to beat the final level and save the world, only this time, it was my world that was at stake. I looked at the council members as I answered their questions, and I sensed a nearly palpable connection, like they could really feel the passion that I felt stirring up within me. As quickly as it had started, the interview came to a close. I gave my thanks, bade my goodbyes, and went on my way home.
It was done.
Just like that, the most decisive moment in my whole life had come to an end, and the announcement on who would be chosen as one of the batch’s representatives was set to be made later that evening. I tried not to worry that much, as there was nothing I could do to improve my chances of winning, anyway. Besides, I had done my best and had given my all. The outcome was no longer in my hands.
A reminder of why I ran in the first place
I spent the evening away at a friend’s birthday celebration. After a grueling few days of preparation, it was refreshing to see the same old faces that had surrounded me back in high school. For a few moments, it was as if it were only me and my friends in the vastness of this world. No problems, no worries, nothing to fear. As we whiled away the evening eating, laughing, and having a great time, I looked around at my friends’ faces, and I remembered why I had run for batch representative in the first place. I was running not only to give myself and others a voice, or to give myself a chance to stand up and be someone who truly mattered; I was running because I wanted to be someone who would undeniably be worth the company and pride of my friends.
And so, I went home that evening hoping for the best. I kept my phone beside me, anxiously awaiting the text that could set the stage for the ushering in of a bright new chapter in my life.
Suddenly, my phone vibrated. This was going to be it. I braced myself as I opened the text message.
I could only gape in dismay as I read the text.
“..Unfortunately, we cannot push through with your application..”
My application had been rejected. I had been rejected.
With one text, my whole world came crashing down, and everything stood still. It was as if time itself stopped in disbelief. I felt like I was living in a nightmare where there was no awakening. Naturally, I started to question the validity of the text. “What if they were just scaring me? What if this was just a cool new way of welcoming new members into the council, a way to make them appreciate their new jobs more?” And so, I waited for a follow-up text that would say something along the lines of “Just kidding. Congratulations for being chosen as batch representative!”
I stayed up all night waiting for that text to come.
Then the harsh reality set in. For the first time in my life that I invested so much of myself in something, I had been rejected. So close, yet so far. I felt as if I had been denied the chance at greatness, and my mind stepped in with a familiar refrain: “I told you so.”
That was the longest night I’ve ever endured. I grappled with myself as I teetered between acceptance and denial.
Looking back, I realized that I was too weak to could have possibly been able to lead and represent my batch. If one text could shake me up so much, then how could I possibly even consider standing up to the colossal issues that I would face as batch representative? Nevertheless, I found that I could only emerge stronger from this quagmire. After all, in the grander scheme of things, my story was not yet over; it had actually just begun. In my whole life, this is the first time I’ve ever truly stood up, and even I myself am shocked at how far I’ve come, how far I’ve pushed myself. I ran and did my best, undeterred by the seemingly insurmountable odds that faced me. Although I was rejected, I am still immensely proud of myself for having come so far.
Learning from a crazy journey
In the process of running, I have done and learned so much about myself. In this crazy journey, I have liberated my soul and freed it from the shackles that I myself had imposed on it. I realized that the only limits we have are ultimately the same limits we set on ourselves. The sooner we make the choice to step up and give ourselves a chance to be someone greater, the sooner we break free from our own confines.
Somewhere within our deepest recesses is a small spark that’s just waiting to be set ablaze, and we all possess the capability to nurture that spark and turn it into a smoldering flame that intensifies with every potential unleashed and with every fear confronted. In our quest to stoke our inner flames, we may stumble and we may fail, but what truly matters is that we soldier on in pursuit of the essence of grit, refinement, and perfection itself, because in the bigger picture, the only real failure is one that we don’t learn from. As for me, I am proud of this “failure,” because in it, I found success and emerged much stronger than before. By leaving my comfort zone and confronting my fears, I have effectively broken free of my own mold and made waves I never even knew I could make. Never in my entire life have I felt more driven and so consumed by an inexplicable desire to break barriers and transcend my own capabilities. I will return, and this time, with an unassailable resolve for success. The world better prepare itself.
Jarone Tung is a freshman at the University of the Philippines majoring in Business Administration. He plans on continuing to step out of his comfort zone during his freshman year, and learn more about himself and others in the process.