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Savoring life

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ILLUSTRATION JUDEE ZABALA

It took me a while to gather old pictures, letters and scraps to pin to my corkboard. As I  mount old treasures one by one, I find myself wheeled back to the fond memories of my childhood.

As a 19-year-old about to step into the world of adults, I cannot help but ponder how my life has been, and how it will be years from now.

In a world constantly giving us maps on how to navigate through life, is it still possible for young people to break the status quo and live, as the French say, like “C’est la vie?”

I still remember it like it was yesterday. That first day of school was my mother’s worst nightmare, because despite attempts to prepare me, I cried, wailed and shouted like a brat. My world back then revolved only around playing, eating and sleeping. School was an alien concept that disturbed my peaceful toddlerhood.

But this alien concept soon became a comforting routine. I actually started to like it, and all the things I early on associated with it—the scent of candy-flavored erasers, new books and crayons. I especially liked blank sheets of new notebooks. They looked so clean and inviting. I could draw anything on that blank sheet and color the apples blue if I so desired. Ah, life was good.

Grade school was just around the corner waiting to be tackled. Life still was simple. Girls were meant to be your friends and the boys were the natural foes. Boys were “yuckies” running around with sweat and saliva dripping down their faces. Hanging out meant playing taguan, dodgeball, Chinese garter, piko and patintero in the play area while waiting for our school buses to arrive. Yes, life was still simple and undemanding. Then high school happened.

They say it’s the best time of anybody’s life. High school can treat you any way it wants, but the outcome depends on how you handle each lemon tossed. Big, fat and sweaty gradeschool boys transform into hot and handsome high school dudes, as if three months of summer did miracles to the former “yuckies.” Couples slowly sprouted like mushrooms, and disappeared as quickly as they appeared. If there is one word to describe high schools, it would be what you hear in almost all TV shows. It’s ma-DRAMA. “We’re not in high school anymore. Don’t be overly, dramatic.” Now life is starting to have a life of its own.

From that of a simple playful kid to that of a hormone-crazed teenager, life now starts to get a bit complicated. Red days begin to happen (you know what I’m talking about, girls), pimples start to pop up everywhere like Yoda summoned them all to our faces, hangouts started to mean late-night drinking and smoking sessions, and worries now meant confused minds, lost trust and broken hearts.

Blank sheet

College came running fast, as it beat the yellow light just in time for you to cross the overly crowded street. Expectations now rise for each individual as our teenage years begin to slowly slip away. We are faced with a blank sheet in our hands, wondering what it is that would transform it into a beautiful, picturesque painting. As I held mine three years ago, I couldn’t help but ask, why did I want to become a nurse? Did I really want to become a nurse? What is a nurse anyway?

My now one third-filled portrait consists of patients, who, despite all the aches, gave me the joy I now treasure. A student nurse’s life may be filled with countless paperwork and tiresome shifts, but it does make you wonder how each student successfully manages to remain joyful despite it all. Savor life, I tell myself.

I will never forget one patient who was in a coma. It was hard to take care of her, but I never gave up. Instinct told me I should do more. I read her Bible verses and I even sang her a song one time.

Then one duty day, my clinical instructor came to check up on her, and as she checked my patient’s pupils, they responded to light! My patient was getting better! Oh, how beautiful that moment was. Ever since that day I knew being a nurse is what I enjoy doing.

Life’s choices are infinite and endless. We all wonder how life proceeds from here. Will life deal us beautiful cards, or will it hand us the most difficult?

In my 19 years, I have learned a lot of things.

I have learned that looking at your classmate’s test paper is cheating. Raising your hand in class (even when you don’t know the answer) while everyone’s hands are up too makes you look smart. I know that best friends come and go. The difference between having a friend and having none is a simple hello. Try to nominate yourself in class as an officer because even if you don’t win, years later, you’ll have something to laugh about. Join every contest there is in school, from cooking, writing, singing and dancing to athletics and declamations.

Do not judge

Do not pick your nose during a school parade because you will forever be haunted by that memory, and you don’t want that. Do not judge a dirty fat boy in grade school by his looks, because high school will come in a few years and you will be surprised. Keep in touch with friends who live oceans away. Listen to your heart, but use your brain, too! Discover your passion, and it will lead you to the best profession you should pursue.

Dare to step out of your comfort zone by doing things you are not yet comfortable doing. Dream big and aim high! Play and be spontaneous! Smile, sing, dance, leap, run, shout and laugh. Live every day as if it were your last, savor every moment! Do not wish to be an adult fast, because it will come, and when it does, you’ll wish you were young once more. Learn how to say no to peer pressure. Let your family values be your compass.

Life can easily become superficial at times. But do remember, there are more important things in life than fashion, gadgets and popularity. Family and true friends matter more. Savor each moment you have with your family, because they are the only ones you have. In the end, they will be all you have.

Lastly, I know having a relationship with God will be “so not cool” when everything is going great. But trust me when I say, it is the most important relationship because He is the only one who can lift you out of the dark. Friends may leave and family will always be there for you, but God is yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Life deals us all a different hand and for most of us, it’s difficult. Whatever bombs life might drop on us, it’s always comforting to know that someone up there has the best plans for us, and loves us more than anyone ever could.

Let me leave you with a verse that has gotten me through the strongest of storms. I pray it will do the same for you. “You can do all things through Jesus Christ who gives you strength.” (Philippians 4:13)


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