On some days, it feels like ages have passed since my first day at DLSU as a freshman back in 2011, though on most, it feels like it was just yesterday. Time has this funny way of disillusioning you–well, me at least–and even if there were those days when it felt like college was taking forever and I would never see the end of it, the 1,592 days separating my first day of class on Taft Avenue and my graduation day at PICC seem to have just fluttered by.
About four and a half years, thousands of Pesos spent on Leon Guinto parking, a few hundred cups of coffee, and two college degrees later, I found myself sitting in my toga at the 174th Commencement Exercises, aimlessly staring at the stage as a thousand of my fellow Lasallians came up for their moment in the spotlight. I thought about the events of the past few years; how my triumphs and failures shaped me as a person, how they turned me into someone who I never thought I could become, and how many special people I met along the way.
I may not be considered old by most standards–some people at DLSU are, as a matter of fact, still older than me and I am probably the youngest columnist in this anniversary issue of The LaSallian–but I feel compelled to share, especially with the younger students at DLSU, the thoughts that I had on graduation day. A part of me wishes that I could go back and communicate these thoughts to my freshman self, but I don’t think I’ll be bumping into Dr. Brown and Marty McFly anytime soon, even if it is October 2015.
Everyone at one point in his or her life has asked themselves the question, “What could I have done differently?”, but on my graduation day, it took on a whole new meaning. College is a unique experience that you cannot duplicate or relive. It is something that you truly only do once, though a pilosopo might remark that you could always go back and take a second degree. It is a popular saying that one should not live with regret, but I beg to differ. I believe that if you remember your regrets of yesterday, it fuels you to do even better today and tomorrow. Regret can be a powerful teacher if used the right way, and those that I hold from my college days will definitely be a driving factor for me to work even harder as one of the newest members of the “real world.” There are many ways to minimize the instances of regret, though, and one of the best ways, as I realized during my days as a student, is to maximize every opportunity.
There are countless opportunities available to us at all times, some of which are taken, others ignored. The choice between two amazing ones may come at one point in time and the decision may be difficult, but this is just training for the bigger dilemmas that life has to offer. Take the greatest challenges possible and those that intimidate you because these are the ones that will make you grow. The only mistake that you can make is not taking an opportunity because of fear, laziness, or the love of comfort.
Today, the decision might be whether to pursue an officer position at a student organization or enroll in an exchange program abroad. Upon graduation, the options might be choosing between taking a scholarship abroad or pursuing a coveted position in a multinational company. These decisions that you make become who you are. Your countless months of hard work will become the few yet valuable lines that litter your resume upon graduation. They tell the story of your character and become your brand. It all starts with taking the opportunities that come your way.
While climbing the steep mountain towards graduation and choosing between the different forks along the way that lead you through different paths and terrain, it is also important to cherish the moment, whether it be staying on campus until it closes at 10 pm for co-curricular activities, putting together a project for class that you truly enjoy, or even just watching a UAAP game with your friends. These days are numbered and after three, four, five, or even more years, they will be over and the only thing that will be a constant is change. On my last year, when I realized that my days on campus were limited, I took it upon myself to milk the most out of every moment and appreciate them as they happened, and I can say without a doubt that it was the best out of the four that I spent at DLSU. The climb can truly be just as sweet as the destination.
With about a quarter of my life now over, the real world beckons, and just like anyone else, I am excited for what is to come. There’s no surefire way to rid ourselves of regret and we are all bound to mistakes in the future, no matter how cautious we may be, but the effect can be minimized by making the most of every chance that passes by, whether you are a college freshman or a fresh graduate hunting for jobs. The actions of today are very much what opens the doors of opportunity tomorrow. It has been said time and time again that youth is wasted on the young, but I think that it’s about time that we all grabbed life by the horns and proved that they aren’t right.
Happy 55th birthday, The LaSallian!
Ronaldo Manzano served as the Editor in Chief of The LaSallian 54 last academic year and graduated from DLSU in October this year. He plans on making his mark on the world, but has yet to fully decide on how to do it.