How many people could say that once in their college lives they were a debater, a poet, a beauty pageant contestant, an exchange student, an exchange teacher, a bereaved daughter and a survivor? I only know of one.
It took her six years to finish college. The little student who once almost jumped from second grade to second year high school took her time to figure out who she is and where she belongs. And if there is truly some sort of grand design, I’d say she pretty much defied it as much as she could.
To be honest, I wasn’t satisfied with how my college life ended. The last semester was too difficult for me. Physically, I was recuperating from surgery, yet I had to walk-run from PNU to AdU so I could finish in ten not eleven semesters. Mentally, I lost my previously fantastic memory. I broke down in class once because I couldn’t remember simple terms from what we just discussed for a simple quiz. Emotionally I had to keep it together, to not miss my mom too much, to maintain a modicum of functionality, and most difficult of all to muster all the courage I have to finish school. Spiritually, I held on to poetry, to late night wordless conversations, to smiling even when I felt like dying inside.
That is not to say that I did not have a good run. I soaked up so many new and big and shocking and precious words, which I will soon use to tell stories. I met so many wonderful people (if you’re reading this, you’re one of them), read and learned so many fascinating new things, and most importantly I found love.
I found love within me, the capability to sacrifice and work harder than I thought I could for causes greater than myself. I found love in the people who believed in me enough to let me be myself and let me grow from there. I found love in the people who gave me warm hugs, shared their stories with me, lent their light in my darkest moments, and celebrated with me in my brightest ones.
Love, I found out, is not an ideal to strive for, not an X on some treasure map you have to search the ends of the earth for, not-and this is crucial-something better read in books. It is finding pieces of you in other people and vice versa, seeing both new and dying stars burning in co-existing universes we know simply as human beings.
After graduation, I feel like a part of me sort of closed like a book. I had been a student all my life, sitting still and trying to keep my naughty mind from wandering to things beautiful and sublime. I don’t know how I would learn things which do not have letter-grade equivalences. I don’t know how to dress myself after wearing a uniform for sixteen years. I don’t know how to transition from someone who craves learning to facilitating it. I don’t know how to get first place in someone else’ heart.
What I know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that I am loved. This makes me brave. Who knows? Maybe even brave enough to help others be brave too.
So here we are! I am Pia Besmonte, college graduate, ready to take on whatever the hell is next, never mind the world!