IT was in November of last year that I set out from SELF to pursue my education in Communication Arts at the University of De La Salle Canlubang, the school I had attended before being admitted to SELF. It was both an exciting and daunting step for my recovery. The prospect of going back to my old stomping ground stirred up all kinds of emotions and thoughts.Would I be successful? Would my old friends (positive and negative) still be there? Would I fit in? I had never been the “popular kid” on all levels of schooling. These were but a few of my anxieties, but I steeled my resolve and strode “into the fray”, so to speak.

As I had somewhat expected, things were awkward for me at the beginning. But my expecting it didn’t make it any less hard. I had no friends, a bad reputation stemming from my past, and the uncomfortable feeling of not really knowing my place. It was just as it had been before my rehabilitation. People seemed to look at me with suspicion and what might be described as a mixture of fear and doubt.

“Oh, great!” I thought. What a welcome. Even some of the old faculty members cast a skeptical eye on me. In fact the only people who seemed like they were happy to see me were my negative friends. The temptation to take up their welcome was there, but I knew better. I’ve been down that road before and I know where it leads. So, I was left asking myself: What now?

Then it hit me. I realized that I need not really focus on my anxieties. My main concern should be what to do about them. My perspective was all wrong. So I took a more proactive approach to the matter. Kuya Martin once taught me that if I took care of what I needed to do, things would fall into place. Hence the expression: If you take care of today, tomorrow will take care of itself.

All I needed was to set a goal, which turned out to be a simple task. My first priority was to do well in school. I went about my business, that is, I never missed a class, did my homework, and participated actively during class time. These were things I would never do before. Skipping class used to be habitual, doing homework was an option, and participating in class was something to be avoided.

But now accomplishing these things came naturally to me. And what do I owe it to? The discipline imparted to me by the program and the sound advice of my counselor. There is a sense of responsibility and purpose in me now. I even help out around the house: I do my part with the garden (agro work), I take care of my own room (housekeeping), and I even keep my closet according to TC standards. It’s by sticking to what I know that I take care of “today”.
And, lo and behold, the pieces of the puzzle did in fact fall into place. This “take care of today” attitude has gotten me places I never thought I could or ever would go. Imagine: people began approaching me for help with their homework or to ask me about certain concepts in class, teachers began to praise me for my work, and my reputation as the no-good drug addict slowly began to fade and was replaced with a healthy respect.

It was a turn-around: from reviled to respected, from aloof to friendly, from apathetic to driven, and from failure to moderate success. All of this added up to earn me a spot on the Dean’s List, first honors no less.
I guess the learning to be derived from my experience is simple to summarize: Don’t dwell on anxiety; do something about it. Stick to what you know to be right — and the way to do that is to take care of today so you can watch tomorrow fall into place.

By Dominic Bürgi