Looking more real now

I was going over my things, trying to search for past readings to prepare for my coming examinations when I saw this old Form 5 from 2006. It was my LAST form 5 during my undergrad and looking at it reminded me how significant this little paper was.

Last Form 5 during undergrad and 'hopefully' last Form 5 in grad school - UP Diliman


Back in that last semester, I was taking 21 units of credit. The normal load in UP is between 15 to 18 units and 21 is definitely stretching it a bit. I was not a ‘normal’ student, in the sense that I have other strenuous duties other than academics. I used to be a member of the official cheerdance group of the university and for years, I was used to training hard from sun down and even until midnight, especially near a competition.

But that particular semester, we had a dance concert and a national competition to compete in. Not to mention, I also had a thesis to finish.

The so-called "security guard" notebook, containing all my ideas and conceptualization during my undergraduate thesis (that thesis was below the notebook in this picture)

I still remember how obsessed I was with my schedule. I wanted to finish my bachelor’s degree on time; but at the same time I did not want to neglect my then-love for dancing, training and competing. =) I kept a small notebook I bought for about Php 15 and painstakingly wrote every hour of the day, every day of the week for a whole semester containing every activity that I should be doing. From returning books to the library, photocopying school readings, scheduling whose laptop from a friend I was to borrow that time. Imagine, in between runs of a routine, I would rush to one corner with a borrowed laptop and edit my thesis. LOL

And my thesis was wholly conceived in this very large, cheap notebook that we usually see security guards use as logbooks! I remember seeing another graduating student using it when I was a junior and thought that that would be my notebook as well if I were to do my thesis. With me was an old iPod Nano containing songs to motivate me while studying.

Up to this day, even if I already have another iPod, I still have the same “motivation songs” on a playlist whenever I am studying for an exam. Six years on and I’m still revved up by the same songs.

That’s the irony of it all. Back then, I had very little means but somehow I managed to successfully do everything with excellent results. I had my eye on the prize and was perfectly aware of what might happen if I fail — or my morbid imagination was that strong that I have already failed myself, even if there was the slimmest possibility. Comparing the two Form 5s above, the 21 units were difficult but has helped me extremely focus; while the ZERO units I have now still hasn’t pushed me enough to realize the consequences of failing my comprehensive examinations next month.

This whole scenario reminds of the “Paradox of Plenty” — the curious curse that even if some countries have abundant natural resources, they tend to have little development and economic growth as opposed to those have limited means. Back then, I was this deprived student with lots of tasks to accomplished and I really wanted to finish everything as soon as possible.

But now, I have all these fancy gadgets – a laptop, an Ebook reader, a cellphone with 24/7 internet access – but still wasn’t ready for what will happen next month. I’m very much distracted with little to no focus on what I want. I admit that I became lazier, less disciplined. To be honest, I was already psyching myself that I might not pass the written examinations.

It also has a good side though. Whenever I am confronted by all the worst case scenarios I can come up with in my mind, I tend to plan contingency measures that can give a solution even to the smallest problem. At least I’m prepared for the worst thing that can happen and everything might not come off as a shock. At the same time, I know I’m not giving up without a fight. Saying things out loud and admitting how little time I have now clear my mind of what to do next.

About time to make a comprehensive study plan. I just hope one of the questions will be about nuclear proliferation/disarmament/energy or even North and South Korea. *crosses fingers* But I’ll eat my keyboard if one question about China and the conflict in the South China Sea will NOT show up.

It’s morphin’ time!


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