What 6 years in engineering taught me so far

Art by Nesli Sanchez

Everybody, indeed, has their own different timelines. In my case, now at 22, I’m still fighting for the day I get to graduate from the same course I decide to pursue six years ago just because of a couple of back subjects. Looking back to that decision I made, do I regret it?

Recently my Facebook and Twitter timelines were filled with posts like “27, may sariling sasakyan, ikaw?”. A lot of netizens younger than me would either share or comment on such posts. They would  either mention the nice places they’ve been to or brag about having already achieved their dreams at such a young age. I don’t think there is anything wrong with posting your life achievements on social media. Of course it feels good being able to fulfill your goals but making a contest out of achieving life goals is a different story.

At 17, I took Electronics Engineering despite believing that I’m no good at math. Despite my fear of numbers, I kept telling myself that I could do it because just like any other subject, I believe that math can be learned. In my first year in college, I struggled with algebra and trigonometry. Back then, the program required a 2.5 maintaining grade for all our major subjects. Although I acquired passing grades, I failed to meet the grade requirement, thus I had to retake both subjects the following semester. Little did I know that this was just the start of a journey.

“At 18, I had to face the undeniable truth that I would no longer  graduate on time.”

At 18, I had to face the undeniable truth that I would no longer  graduate on time. I failed one of my major subjects which is a prerequisite to other majors, which would create a domino effect that just went on and on across the semesters.

It was my first time to fail a subject and it made me question myself. “Bobo ba ako?”. But still, I did not shift to another course. To feel better at that time, I kept trying to convince myself that the subject was really hard to begin with and that it was just fine to fail at my first try. Aside from that, I reassured myself that failing a subject was normal in engineering I was not the only one who failed, and so I kept going. But as expected, it took time to let everything sink in. Things were easier said than done.

The next semesters became harder for me. I had to attend classes as an irregular student so I hardly knew anyone. When I didn’t understand a lesson, I had no one to ask about it after classes. It then became habitual for me to just skip the parts I did not understand and to only focus on the things that I did. Because of this, I had a hard time coping with the demands of the subject.

One of the hardest scenarios that I had encountered was when I had to enroll myself to just one subject for the whole semester because I had already taken all my minor classes for that year. Within that period, I really felt like I was not going to school for I was only attending a single class every Saturday. Time seemed to be slow and dragging as I waited for Saturdays to come just so I could go to school. I missed a lot of our org activities too. At times, I was not even informed about assemblies because I just went to school on a weekend while the others had the rest of the days of the week. The only thing that kept me going that time was the thought that after finishing that dreadful semester, I would finally be a regular student again taking regular classes.

“With that, I found myself envying my batch mates who would soon be graduating while I was stuck in the same orbit of repeating yet another major subject.”

At 20, just when I thought that everything was going right, I failed another subject again which added another year of delay before my graduation. It was as if all my hard work was for nothing. I did not know what to do next; I was lost. For the first time, I thought that taking up engineering was just too much for me and that maybe, it was really not meant for me. With that, I found myself envying my batchmates who would soon be graduating while I was stuck in the same orbit of repeating another major subject.

A lot of thoughts kicked in and I realized that I hadn’t truly and fully accepted that I wouldn’t graduate on time. I started hating myself for not doing well in school. I was about to give everything up, shift to a different course and just leave engineering behind.

But when one of my classmates who was stuck in the same situation as I was in, it reminded me to ask myself why I started and didn’t give up the first time. Then a bigger realization kicked in–I should stop comparing my failures to other’s success. I learned that I shouldn’t hate myself for failing, instead, I should help myself get better so that I could keep going to reach my goals. It was when I stopped feeling sorry for myself that I was able to accept everything that was happening, and in turn, focus more on what needed to be done.  I was finally redirected, giving clarity to my very anxious mind.

“I chose the course because I liked the course; I wouldn’t have made it this far if I didn’t.”

I finally sorted out my reasons to stay. I chose engineering because I knew I really wanted to become a licensed engineer and be successful someday. I chose the course because I liked the course; I wouldn’t have made it this far if I didn’t. I couldn’t just let go of that dream which is probably the foremost reason why I held on for so long.

Things got better as I embraced acceptance. Suddenly, it didn’t feel like I have to drag myself everyday just to go to school. I now have classmates and friends who I can turn to whenever I’m having a hard time. I am no longer alone.Yes, there is still the struggle with math, especially now that electronics major subjects are far more difficult, but what makes the struggle bearable is that I know I am not where I used to be. I know that somehow, I’ve come a long way.

I am now down to my last three semesters. My pace may be slow, but taking baby steps toward that dream is way better than giving up on it.

Up to this day, the fear of failing again is still there. I sometimes still doubt if I could make it through another semester. On days of doubt, I have my parents to help me get through it. Whenever I failed a subject back then, I never heard them complain. Instead, they’d be the one to  cheer me up. They would always remind me to not forget to give myself the most deserved rest when tiring and draining days come. It is only then that I can bounce back stronger.

“I learned first hand that good things would always take time.”

Everything that I have experienced for the past years in taking this course has not just taught me to be hard working, mostly, it urged me to develop the value of patience. I learned firsthand that good things would always take time. We cannot rush our timeline just because of society’s expectations.

When things get hard, this will also be the time for us to take our choice. It is whether we choose the easy way out of that circumstance or to still take the road towards our goals because decisions would always depend on us. As for me, I did not choose the easy way out because I believe I wouldn’t  find happiness in giving up on what I want.

“If we could all achieve our dreams without working hard for it, I think having a dream would not make any sense at all.”

Struggles are part of our lives and no successful person has taken the easy way towards their dreams. If we could all achieve our dreams without working hard for it, I think having a dream would not make any sense at all.

Each of us should stop pressuring ourselves by comparing our timeline to other’s chapters. Instead, we should focus on what’s present for us to be able to move forward.  If you ever feel like giving up on something, ask yourself as to why you even started it. ‘Life is not a race’ – as cliche as it sounds, I, personally, can attest to that.

As I now reread posts such as those again, I guess I can make one for myself. I’m Laya Kathleen Reyes, 22, still pursuing her dreams.

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