by Iya de Claro (Class 2024)

back in the day, no matter how herculean a task was, i was always willing to see it through. any job offered to me was like a piece of ambrosia— i just had to accept it and gobble it up. i was able to balance everything i had on my plate: my organizations, my friends, my family, my academics. i was an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

every drink of this workaholic nectar kept me going. my commitments started to define who i was. validation from others was the ichor that coursed through my veins. 

then, just as i caught myself flying too close to the sun, i rapidly started to descend from the sky into the deepest of waters, the darkest of tempests. i was caught in a maelstrom of events, each one taking away a part of my soul. the excruciating pain that came with each tear, each rip, each bad experience, burned itself into my very essence. 

and just like that, every pillar that i hoisted myself up on for stability crumbled into ash and debris. my whole life fell apart right before my very eyes. i was lost in an endless underground labyrinth, trapped in a prison of regret and self-loathing. every time i wanted to call out for help, to ask for support, i would stop myself. i didn’t want to be a bothersome wasp to any of my friends. i was not worthy of their time and energy. so, i tread through the rugged mountains and valleys alone. 

until finally i hit rock bottom. and there i stayed for what seemed like a lifetime, silently weeping in the darkest of nights, drowning in a sea of horrible thoughts. my brain would scream “i hate myself!” in the wee hours of the morning, so often that it became ingrained in me. i was a failure. the vikings had ravished my ship, leaving me with nothing. i deserved to be dead. 

then, like a phoenix, i built myself up from the rubble. one by one, hands reached down into the pitch-black well i was in to help me climb out. slowly, but surely, i began to see a brightness in what felt like an eternity underneath a starless night sky: hope. the heavy burden i had been carrying on my back for so long seemed to lighten. i no longer felt like atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders— i began to feel a great sense of freedom. 

i began to rediscover parts of myself that i thought were gone. it was the little things that got me going: the scent of freshly-printed books, the sense of accomplishment in finishing a lego set, getting to paint with watercolor. the pieces of my personality, once stuck in a shipwreck underwater started to wash up on the shore. as the puzzle started to complete itself, i found a renewed sense of identity. i was not a carbon copy of my old self, but a reflection of the lessons i learned during my arduous journey. 

now my voyage across the mighty waters continues its course. the quest i have dedicated myself to might be bumpy and full of sharp turns and sudden drops. but, i am armed with a sword forged in the fires of a new-found knowledge about myself and the world around me. nothing can get in my way, not even the towering cyclops that awaits travelers along their odyssey. it is time to start a new tale, one where the hero saves the day. a story where i, a future doctor, get to make others’ lives much better •

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