Not everyone relishes the feeling of solitude.
I was never the sociable type of person. Ever since high school, I would often be the guy in the corner of the room eating lunch on his own, or cramming schoolwork by himself. People approach me to ask about stuff like homework, but I rarely did the same. I liked being alone, keeping my thoughts to myself.
It was an entirely different world when I entered college, fresh from the high school circuit and with nary a clue on how life will play out from then on. I knew I had to somewhat change, if not completely shed, the loner image that I’ve had ever since so long. During the freshman orientation, particularly the part when the different orgs presented themselves to us freshmen, one org composed of seemingly happy-go-lucky and energetic people caught my attention, as it would’ve gotten that of others. Their vibrant and excited faces exuded this feeling of fun and warmth. I wanted to feel the same way, as one of them. After some thought and being egged on to join by a blockmate of mine, I said, “Why not?” That was when I decided to join the UP Economics Society.
For the first time.
A few highlights of that app process: by the middle of the semester, I’ve barely completed 15 tambay hours, I haven’t gotten my sigsheet, I went to only one event (Acquaintance Party). While the rest of my co-apps were busy preparing for their midsem interview and dressing up as their favorite videogame characters, I was busy finding the then-Memcom chairperson to tell him straight up that I was deferring. I didn’t like it. I’ll be very blunt with my words. I thought Ecosoc was a bit too crowded for my taste. It didn’t sit too well with me that I have to interact with so many people and do so many requirements all at the same time. Add to that the strain of trying to focus on academics, and the pressure brought by lackluster grades. Juggling too many commitments at one given time proved too much. I still needed time to adjust to college life and get my groove on, so I had to give up on for the other.
It took some time before I thought to myself, “I want to apply again.” The accompanying question was a resounding, “Why?” I couldn’t think of a good reason. Is it for the résumé? Is it for getting to know new friends? Is it for personal gratification and redemption? The third reason seemed very plausible. I wanted to prove to myself that I can actually be a part of something bigger, that I am definitely not an outcast. It just seemed that the right time wouldn’t come. Academics became a stumbling block for me once again, and I had to wait until they’ve stabilized before I become 100% sure of my decision. It just so happened that at the beginning of the second semester of second year, a person whose last name sounds like a popular restaurant in the metro approached me and screamed in my face, “Madarang, mag-apply ka na!” in his distinctive, high-pitched voice.
Once again, I bombarded myself with so many questions. Why should I join again? Will I go through it all the way this time, regardless if I pass or fail? Do I even need an org? It seemed as though a part of my freshman self rose from the grave and temporarily possessed me to brush away all these uncertainties and forced me to reply with, “Sige, why not?”
The second time around was a lot different. Most of my current co-apps were freshmen, and the people who I used to be co-apps with are now running the show, occupying vice-chair or even Execom positions. Once again, academics haunted me during the process. (Long story short, my crazy self took Econ 106 and Econ 131 at the same time last sem) But this time, I was determined. I wanted to get into Ecosoc, and at the same time maintain my status as a student of the School of Economics. It was a rough app process, having higher amounts of pressure and expectations heaved on me as app head. But the worth of all the tambay hours, required events, and interviews became apparent upon the unveiling of that tarpaulin full of names, names of the newly-minted members of the UP Economics Society. It was an exhilarating feeling when the committee heads started affixing on our chests the pins with Ecosoc’s logo during our induction. In the end, when everything was said and done, I was just happy that I passed (both the application process and Econ 131).
Just like any other elated person who crosses the finish line after finishing an arduous task, I asked myself, “…Now what?” Now that I’m a member of an org, now that I proved myself I am capable of being part of something bigger, what do I do? To me, it is now just acclimating to the process of constantly being an active member of the organization. I don’t have to shoot for the moon and dream of becoming someone of power and position to be productive. I can do it through the little things, such as talking to the apps, greeting the members, and helping out in any way that I can, be it on a huge event or in a simple meeting or prodwork. I find the likes of Jomac, Boz, and Mike, three members who I look up to, as people who exemplify this well; they aren’t the flashiest of workers, but they are often times the most visible and hardworking of them all. That’s not all. I realize that I am now part of a legacy and tradition. Everything I do now will have an impact on the organization’s future, whether it comes sooner or later. Thinking about what is to come for the organization, given whatever I pour into making it a reality, is something that gives me much excitement. It makes me a lot prouder of being a part of Ecosoc.
Now, I realize that I don’t have to go to the library to sit back and be comfortable. Now, I actually have a good reason to love and stay in school. Here, there are people I can talk to, that I can share my time and energy with, that I can have a good laugh or a game of cards with. Here, I get to have a purpose; I am given the opportunity to do something worthwhile with the time I know I’ve been wasting. For someone like me who takes utmost pleasure in the feeling of loneliness, I found happiness in the company of others. I realize that I don’t have to be alone anymore.
Here, I found a place where I can belong.