Reflections on the Self

In the light of everything that has occurred, I had made some discoveries on my own for the past week or so – discoveries that weren’t always that good at least, in my eyes. Nonetheless, they were good in a way that they revealed things to me that allowed me to understand myself, more and more. Somehow, even if we think that we know ourselves already – life has a way of showing us that we still don’t. There is still so much that our own selves hide from us and their revealing comes ever so slowly.

It is indeed a long process.

***

One thing I had always thought and believed was that I was doing this, all this studying and working hard, for God and for my family. Being able to study in a prestigious university through a scholarship is an opportunity not given to most people and I did not want to waste it. Aiming to graduate with honors was my way of saying thank you, a way of giving back to God for such a blessing and to my parents for the untiring and endless support.

Thus, the disappointment I feel when things don’t go as planned is too great that it always feels like a break-up. Who would not feel bad when one gets a grade lower than what was deserved? Or a grade that is just too low for one’s standards? Or a grade that would risk one’s academic standing? For someone whose aims are like mine, the answer is relatively simple.

I had always thought that when these things happen, it is as if I have not done enough. It is as if I am not smart enough. It is as if I have failed to return my gratitude to my God and my parents.

These same thoughts would not have changed, even after words of consolation and sound advice from peers and family, if not for prayer and a deep looking within me. I searched inside the recesses of my heart, looking through doors and peeking through stained-glass windows. Then I found the answer.

It was not the grade itself or to graduate with honors that would truly show my gratitude. It was the effort that I had exerted and am exerting now that shows it. God sees that and so does my family. It was not about the grade. It was never about the grade. It was what I was doing for them. And with that alone, they are already happy and satisfied.

Perhaps the end result of getting the grade was just all for me and my self-satisfaction. I failed to realize that much of what I had done – the journey, as they say – is already a feat in itself.

It was not God or my family whom I had disappointed. It was my own self.

But why?

Perhaps my goals were not always so purely just for God and my family like I had always repeated over and over again. Perhaps I was doing this for myself too. And to do something for one’s self is not bad. But it becomes so when it becomes selfish. Would I still study hard even if I do not get high grades? Would I still do my best even if I do not get affirmation from others? Would I still do the things I do even if it brings me no benefit?

Truly a sad realization, when one discovers that many times, we do things not actually for others but for our own selves. We may say otherwise and claim and argue that it is for them (whoever they might be) but a more careful look allows us to see that there are underlying personal agendas in a lot of our actions. One philosophical friend of mine once asked, “Is it ever truly possible to be a man for others if we do so many things for or that results to personal gain?”

My own question would be, “Is it ever possible for us to be truly unselfish?”

Perhaps no, if it would be entirely up to us alone. 

***

And as this and other things are slowly being revealed to me, I must go through a process of acceptance – the acceptance of these parts of me that I may not like so much along with the parts of me that I like a lot.

Again and again, it hits me in the face that I am not perfect nor will I ever be. There are still so many things I am lacking and it is quite humbling to know that I am not so awesome after all. This always brings me back to the fact on how much I need the Lord. I need God for I know that I cannot change myself on my own. I believe in His love (which is just the same thing as Himself for God is love.) And that it is through His transforming love that I may become better in spite of myself. 

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