The following was published in The Chain, June-July 2007, under the 'Student's Soul' section. The by-line read, "Vivian Q., a freshman." The story: We still had this vertical space in the op-ed section left and we were beating the deadline and someone had to move fast. So. (Forgive us our sins, for we were young and foolish.)
When I was younger, it was a world of damsels and princesses, knights and princes, towering castles and faraway lands, magic carpets and magic lamps, poisoned apples and enchanted spindles, glass slippers and royal balls, evil stepsisters and wicked witches, true love's kiss, dwarfs, genies, mermaids, fairies, and other fantasies. I delved myself into horizons unseen and unbelievable. It was only I who recognized the beauty and reality of such things.
It was like that for my elementary days. I always believed that I would pass my subjects without much difficulty no matter what, that I would continue to excel even in the most stressful of times, and that I would always be safe and protected anywhere, anytime. In other words, I lived my life as though it were a fairy tale, believing that there is always a Prince Charming and a happily ever after for everyone.
But entering the gates of this institution last June changed that outlook of mine. Reality was banged onto my head. By setting foot on the grounds of this ninety-five year old institution, I discovered a whole new world and a brand new horizon.
The sea of faces that surrounds me is unfamiliar. I am virtually an unknown here in school, totally just an ordinary clueless freshman. Five times a week, I attend classes in an environment filled with strangers – people whom I barely know. Everywhere I go, there is always a different person to meet and pass by.
It is also quite the same with the school itself – an entirely different strange complex of white and red that I am yet to be familiar with. Rooms and their facilities are scattered all over this five-storey labyrinth, some of which I am yet to be able to locate.
Then, there are the people behind this school. There are the teachers and the administrators, most of whom I do not know. Sometimes, I would hear the old students in our class talk about this renowned institution’s “famous and infamous” personalities. And while they laugh, I just keep to myself, unable to go with the flow. There are the employees – the janitors, the canteen girls, drivers, etc. They have been quite friendly and helpful to me, even though I do not know some of them.
And lastly, there is the reality of spending ten months in a totally different school on a different part of the island. A lot of people have told me that high school is the most enjoyable stage of life. But then, for me, there is the prospect of change – lots of it – as well as visions of struggles with academic grades, difficulties with subjects, misunderstandings with teachers, fights with classmates, and a lot more that make this part of life seem so complicated and scary.
However convoluted and dreadful these times may be, I know that I will still have to brave the storms whether I like it or not. And this is a challenge not everyone in life accepts. Whatever changes I may encounter, whatever pains and sufferings I may undergo, I know that I will still have to face them. I guess life is no fantasy at all. This is reality.
I am now witness to the beginning of a new fairy tale, a story which I myself will write. Only this time, there are no genies coming out of magic lamps, no kisses that will save me from doom, no fairies that will transform my physical appearance, no dwarfs that will take care of me when I am abandoned, no magic carpet that will take me wherever I want to go, and certainly no dashing Prince Charming who will rescue me from my tower. And this time, there is no certain happy ending.