Highschool days. Who would forget their ‘highschool life’? No matter how good or bad those days are, they will always hold a dear part in our hearts. From the ‘first day high’ of our freshman year up to the very last day of our senior year–our Highschool graduation.

So, are we to go down the memory lane? Hmm.. not exactly. At least, not in detail. (I’m going to try not to give too much details. LOL)

But I just thought of sharing how it was like for me when I was in what others call “the best time” of their life. I really don’t know if it’s the same for everyone. Oh well.

The transition

Coming from a private school with such small population and having a hired tricycle for a school service, transferring to a bigger school with more than ten times of my elementary school’s population and having to walk alone from home to school and vice versa was such a big adjustment for someone like me. Sanay akong laging may kasama, inihahatid-sundo, halos mga kakilala yung mga tao sa paligid, transitioning to highschool from elementary was challenging for me. Sobra yung kaba, yung takot, yung insecurities.

“First Day Friendliness”

No’ng highschool, uso yung grupohan, yung paramihan ng kaibigan, palakihan ng circle of friends. It seemed like everyone was looking for a group to belong to, a place to fit in to. And so was I. Approaching other people did not become too difficult for me–at least not on the first day of school. I think I have what I would like to call, “First Day Friendliness”. Bibo kid lang ako kapag first day. Kapag bago ako sa isang lugar or kabubukas lang ng chapter ng buhay ko. I think, it’s my way of escaping having severe anxiety. But sustaining the friendship–the bond and the connection, that has always been the real thing. It seemed to me like kung sino yung una kong mga nakikilala at mga nagiging friends, they are the ones who don’t stay in my life for good. At kung sino pa yung mga ilang taon ko nang kakilala pero hindi agad nakaka-close, sila pa usually yung mga nagiging good friends ko in the long run.

A friend like me…

Maybe I’m not that ‘fun’ friend that you can just pull and make me do the stuff you like. I had that one classmate who happened to be the first person I talked to as I approached the line in our flag ceremony on the first day of freshman year. She instantly became my friend–that someone I had always clung to wherever and whenever around the campus (kasi nga literal na gusto ko laging may kasama). One time, there are many students sitting on the grounds of our school quadrangle, and we are peeking from our classroom window, this friend of mine pointed towards a direction, squeaking while saying, “friend! Ang gwapo no’n oh! Ayun oh!”. And because I have low vision, as much as I want to see whoever that handsome boy is, I can’t. And that frustrated her and she mumbled to herself, “hay.. ang hirap naman magkaroon ng friend na…”. I heard it still, and although she did not finish her sentence, I’m not dumb to not fathom what she meant. This may sound like it’s not a big deal, but at that time, to me, it was. Oh, how overly sensitive I used to be.

And there are other fellow freshman students who tried to–I guess, befriend me–but as soon as they realize that I’m not like them, I don’t speak the same words they use, I don’t take interest to the things they are so interested of, and I’m not the lively, talkative, energetic, humorous friend they would like to have, they go away. Or maybe it’s me who shove them away by not becoming like them? I don’t know. But I don’t regret it. I don’t regret sticking to who I really was and not trying to change myself just to fit in and gain lots of friends.

“Out of this world”

During our time in Highschool, aside from having groups of friends, uso rin yung mga term na “outcast”. In our Christian Living subject, if I remember it right, this term pertained to the lepers who were cast out of the society because of having leprosy. No one wants to get close to them. But among my peers, that term is used to refer to those kids in school who did not belong to any group or barkada. These are the ones who are so quiet and timid, no one wanted to become friends with them.

May isa pang term na hilig gamitin ng mga kaklase at schoolmates ko noon. “Out of this world”. This pertains to someone who is not like the rest. Someone who is different in the sense na hindi siya katulad ng mga mas nakararami na madaldal, maingay, pasaway, mapang-asar. Someone who is seen as not having a strong and fun personality unlike the common kids, at lalo nang unlike the popular kids. And this term is often used to pertain to me by my classmates dahil hindi ako mahilig makihalubilo sa kanila at makigulo kapag breaktime o kapag wala pa ang teacher for the next subject. They find my quietness weird. And they thought that I’m too holy. Nakakapaso raw ako. Napapaisip tuloy ako noon kung weird ba taalga ako. But now I know the answer. And I don’t care. And as for being “too holy”? No. that’s not true. No one is or could ever be “too” holy. Only God can tell who’s truly holy and who’s not.

Thinking of it right now, masyado lang talaga akong naging ‘patay na bata’ nung time na ‘yon. I knew I wanted to have many friends, but I just didn’t seem to have the courage to get out of my shell and just be out there, mingling, having fun. But I remember how it always tortures me to see my classmates in groups, having a great time laughing to themselves and doing different sorts of fun stuff while I stuck to my seat, being self-absorbed. Looking back, I don’t regret anything. Well, I still sometimes wish that I was outgoing back then. But I know I became who I was for a reason. And that being “out of this world” is not really a bad thing.

For my protection

If I have written this blog six or seven years ago, I may have done it out of self-pity. But I no longer do that. If I have written this four or five years ago, I may have done it as a defense mechanism or a way of coping. But it has never been so clear to me why I should not feel bad for being called “out of this world”.

As my journey continues and as I progress in my walk with Jesus, I have recently learned that we as Christians are set apart for a mission–for God’s purpose. We are in this world, but not of this world. We are here in this world for our training–to become who the Lord wants us to be and to be equipped enough to do His will. But it has to be clear to us that we are not of this world, meaning to say we do not belong to this world to conform to its patterns and to be slaves of worldly things and ways. Why? because we belong to God. And this world is not our permanent home.

So, having this in my heart, I know now that it may not be what my classmates meant when they described me as “out of this world”, but unbeknownst to them (and also to me before), what they were seeing in me during that time is the beginning of my being ‘set apart’ to not become so attracted and attached to the things (and maybe people) that wouldn’t have been a good influence to me during those vulnerable days of my life.

I now realize that if I was not who I was during those times, I could’ve had so many friends, I could’ve joined them in doing all sorts of things that we shouldn’t be doing. I could’ve had become the person the Lord does not want me to be. And many more that I guess I didn’t have to know just for me to realize how the Lord has used what the world sees as my weaknesses to save me from unforeseen danger waiting ahead.

Because even though I was who I was–you know, that quiet, timid, soft-spoken, prayerful, ‘serious’, sweet, etc.–I was still able to eventually meet and have a lot of friends. And more importantly, some of these friends are whom I can call, “best friends”, and the rest are good friends. These people, in spite of me being mahinhin, soft and modest, and needy (kailangan nila akong alalayan kapag naglalakad kami sa daan, sa mga hagdanan, tulad, etc. lalo na kapag madilim, o kahit pa kapag maliwanag dahil nasisilaw ako), they stayed with me and the Lord continuously develops our friendship as we grow up and grow older.

Few but true

As I grow older, I realize that it’s not about the number or quantity of friends that I have that matters. I did not have as much friends as my peers used to have when we were younger, but I have been blessed with a few, true ones that stayed longer even though I’m different.

Yes, I’m different. And I don’t mind.

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