Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess!
Last September, I was in Manila for my former roommate’s wedding, and I met her younger sister, sitting in a corner. All dolled up with rollers in her hair, she was sitting cross-legged on the floor, and pencils out—she was solving math problems with her earphones on. She told me she was studying for the ACET (Ateneo College Entrance Test), which was the morning after the wedding.
Then, my roommate’s friends arrived, some of them I knew from university. We all graduated in the same year, and it was pretty fun to see how my roommate’s little sister was about to enter her university years soon. It was eight years ago when we sang “A Song for Mary” for the last time, fists up high, cheering, “Go, Ateneo!” in between. I remember throwing our academic caps up in the air, hugging each other, and driving away from Katipunan. Instagram wasn’t as big as it was today, and all we relied on were our digital cameras and our memories.
I saw one of my old friends, Sarah, whom I spent a lot of silly days in college with. We caught up for a few minutes, and couldn’t help but reminisce our teenage years, going on road trips and surf trips, and eating like there was no tomorrow (well, our metabolism could handle it then). I couldn’t believe it’s been almost ten years since we graduated—the end of an era for our bachelor’s degrees. My seatmate during graduation was my good friend, Rachel. I remember we held each other’s hands, squeezed tightly, and someone said, “Can you believe this is it?”
A lot of people say that their high school years are the best ones of their lives, but for me, it was the complete opposite. My grade school and high school years constituted a chapter in my life that I simply did not like. I was insecure, and I never had a steady set of friends—they came and left for overseas. It was where I tried different things to find some sort of identity that I could be proud to own. Boys were a tricky topic and I didn’t really jive with anyone. I guess that’s the problem of studying in a small school. You could say my world really opened up in university because I was able to find like-minded people who I got along with really well. I thought life sucked big time in high school, but things took a turn for the better in college.
When it came to my education, I realized that most of my formative years were spent battling with questions about faith and God, since I grew up in a Christian school. The foundation of my learning was based on Biblical principles and values. Despite being born into an Asian family, my mum managed to deviate from all the traditions and conservativeness—she let me read whatever I wanted, ask whatever questions I wanted, and she treated me like an adult. So you could see why I questioned a lot of things growing up—the lines between what was in the book and what was out in the real world were blurred because I was so confused. I’ve been exposed to so many different faiths and beliefs—I’ve read the entire Bible, was exposed to Jesuit teachings, and devoured most of Osho’s writing—and it made me realize that while there are so many permutations when it comes to faith and belief, all boil down to the same thing: The greatest education is learning how to be human.
And learning to be human is tough. It peels layers and layers off, and it opens the room to so many discussions about what “being human” really means. Is it about being kind to one other? Is it about making sense of the wounds? Is it about being “the bigger person”? Or maybe, being human is simply about giving love—not only to others, but also to yourself. It’s about being a good friend, and learning to walk away. It’s about riding highs and dealing with the blows. It’s about being vulnerable and holding your ground. In all my years of life and living it, interacting with the many different people I meet along the way, enjoying seasons of abundances and seasons of drought.
The greatest education in the lifetime is learning how to be human—whatever that looks like to you based on your upbringing and your history. To me, it’s about learning to love and to be authentic to your beliefs. It’s a course I don’t think I’m nearing the graduation of just yet, but safe to say, it’s the greatest education I’ve received to so far, and the time comes to throw my academic cap into the air. I’ll smile with my heart swelling with gratitude. When that time comes, I’d like to know that I’ve done well.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom
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