Everything’s a Surprise


I remember back in high school, I must have had taken everybody by surprise whenever they would ask me about my plans for college because the truth was, I had none. While all my classmates and friends were getting agitated about their applications in various colleges and universities I could not even think of one that I want to enter for a college education. It wouldn’t have mattered that much if I was just an ordinary student who didn’t really have much in his head to earn himself a degree but no. I was on top of my class back then and naturally everybody was expecting me to have a good plan for my future. I remember when a friend asked me if I will be taking the UPCAT and I told him I didn’t know, that I wasn’t sure. He seemed really puzzled by that reply and I was like “what’s wrong with that?” as if it was really natural for an honor student to not want to enter the country’s premier university.

To tell the truth, I knew nothing then about the importance of getting into a known university whether for the quality of education or even just the bragging rights you would have. I knew University of the Philippines but I couldn’t remember desiring to enter it until I got a copy of their application form. As of courses I couldn’t also give a good reply to people asking what I would take. Almost all the boys in class were planning to study a field of engineering, some of my other classmates were planning to take accountancy, and the rest were considering nursing for its high demand back then in US and Canada. I would tell them I might take up engineering as well but the truth was I hadn’t even got a good reason to take the course other than the fact that I was quite good at math. For my ignorant mind good mathematical skills already meant survival on the course and to survive was all. Survival meant acquiring the capability to close another chapter of your life totally irrelevant to the next one which is adulthood.

I was oddly foolish then for an honor student. But to redeem myself a little, I think I could say that was because I never even wanted to be on top of the class anyway. The truth was I didn’t believe anybody could count me as grade conscious. Being someone who didn’t even know what to do with his life after high school, what should I be conscious of my grade for? I think the only thing that drove me to study hard back then was the desire to please my parents and make them happy. That is because it wasn’t really always easy to be an honor student. People will expect a lot from you, you got to be active, you got to watch your grades, and most of all you got to study more than what was enough to pass an exam. And we know that the latter will always get in the way of all your other plans whether it’s camping or as simple as watching a good TV show.

If there was one course I would’ve wanted to take, that would be creative writing. I believe I’m in constant need of expression and writing would be one good outlet. However, we were poor and I knew I couldn’t make my parents happy being jobless ‘cause it’s very difficult to be a successful writer in the Philippines nowadays. I would tell my high school Filipino teacher how I wanted to become a screenwriter but to my classmates I always said it would be engineering for me. As early as sixteen I somehow knew I couldn’t be selfish. I had to be practical for my family because we’re broke and broke people can’t be choosers. That was so right in our case.

Right now I would agree that my attitude towards getting a degree back then was pretty strange but I think my family really had something to do with it. Both my parents were just high school graduates so there was never a deep and sensible conversation about college and future career. Our dreams could just be summed up in a simple phrase, “to get by with a good life”. There was never a talk on how to get that. All we know is that if we work hard we would get there one way or another. Somehow in our heads I think, we were thinking that an excellent background was not necessary because just a good one will do. That was how simple we are, we were not a family of high achievers anyway. For us when you got a good paying job, you were already good.

I would say it would have also been that way for me but I guess I’m just different, or maybe my life’s really a big joke, or maybe God has something good in store for me. You see I was born in a family that totally has no idea of what it is to be “big”. All my life there has never been anybody to tell me that I got potential for this or that. Whatever it is in me right now were all brought by circumstances I never saw coming. I’m no movie star, or successful businessman, or super genius. The truth is I still struggle paying certain bills every month. But I guess everybody who has known me since childhood would agree that I, in my way, have come so far from what they truthfully expected of me. What would you expect from a boy who had no definite plans for his career right?

Of all the applicants to UP in our high school batch, only two of us passed. I was the one who had a lousy book for a reviewer and I was the only one to make it to UP Manila which required a higher UPG (University Predicted Grade). I graduated salutatorian which made me, my family, and my friends more than happy and earned the bragging right that I got it without really trying hard. I’m pretty lazy when it came to school projects that took days to finish just so you know and my classmates didn’t really find me serious when it came to studying. I find it difficult to stay in focus for long. I always got a lot of things in mind. I qualified for DOST scholarship which reduced all my schooling fees to P62.50 per semester and finished BS Computer Science as regular student with a good average (GWA) according to UP standards. But actually with all the problems and struggles outside education that I dealt with during college I could call it excellent. My college life story is a tear-jerker, believe me. I believe you could only call my GWA good if it was achieved by someone who got nothing else serious to really deal with but his studies.

I am now a software engineer. Just weeks ago something unexpected happened again which made me the lead of my current project. I promised God not to ask Him why for the things that were happening in my life but sometimes I really do wonder why He seems to favor me above some people. Yes my achievements were absolutely not really big but there are a lot of people doing what they can to have it while I was sitting here with totally nothing in mind that had to do with it.

I still struggle budgeting and paying for bills. I still want to buy some things for myself but I could say that things are better now. I’m pretty odd to be happy with the seemingly senseless things anyway. I could say that I have lived a good twenty two years of my life. I have learned a lot enough to make me feel old sometimes. That is because seriously there are people who live up to their forties who don’t even know how not to be selfish right?

Now that things are considerably well I sometimes feel anxious for no reason. Maybe it was because I was at all times anxious in the past years. Or maybe I want every second to matter like how it did before. I don’t know. As of now maybe I’ll just wait for the next surprise.

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