this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on June 4, 2015.
Guidance counselor. Never in my 23 years of existence did I imagine myself becoming one.
But here I am, tending to youngsters roughly my age range, pursuing my master’s degree in guidance and counseling to earn the license that’s so looked up to these days, caught up in that tangled crossroads of being an adult and at the same time a girl. Caught up between expectations that people nurse for the professional that I am, and the simple and somewhat senseless joys that I yearn for, being the girl who’s trying to grow up, too.
This month I notch two years in my first employment so far. I was hired in June 2013. I was a fresh graduate and the academe was one of my last resorts because the industries that I tried to get into did not really take the time to put me in their short list.
The academe or the bank? Those were my last two options. They were the last, precisely because they were my waterloo. I dread speaking in front of people and I dread taking responsibility for other people’s money, let alone count it. So there goes the speaking and the numbers, which I openly admit are somewhat elusive friends with whom I have yet to acquaint myself. Whenever I encountered them during my schooling years, I had to wipe my hands frequently to get rid of the clammy feeling. I had to gather every ounce of courage and concentration I had in my being. But despite all of these precautions, I still commit almost every clumsy thing possible, making me one nervous and awkward wreck.
So how did I end up here, anyway?
As the saying goes, I chose the lesser evil. When my options narrowed down to these two, I submitted my application to the academe first. If it did not respond after a week or two, that only meant the bank was where I was destined to be.
To cut the story short, the call came, the teaching demo was done with, and I got the guidance-counselor slot, with a built-in six-unit teaching load every semester (except summer).
Since my transition to my professional self was smooth this past year, I thought I was adjusting well. But I guess the conclusion came too soon. Lately, my authority has been challenged by one of my students, who ironically was one of the closest to me.
It’s said that familiarity breeds contempt. That saying can never be so true.
The individual has become difficult lately, even dropping hints about being so comfortable with me that this individual isn’t really threatened if I get angry with the students (even if they include this individual).
I was so challenged because I honestly have a lot of growing up to do and yet here come students who challenge the line between the friend they have in me and the professional that I am in their place of education.
How am I supposed to teach them to be disciplined when I myself need to learn how to discipline strictly when needed?
Yes, this is my second puberty. How else do I explain the conflicting emotions and responsibilities I have within me?
The second puberty: I’m not yet a full-grown adult raising a family of her own, but I am no longer the teenager so carefree and full of energy, exploring every bit of the world she lives in with the enthusiasm and idealism so glistening in her eyes.
Hey. I thought I’m done with puberty!
This crossroad of my life has taught me how to refresh myself with the purpose for which I continue to stay in the profession I am in: to mold the next generation. Although I roughly belong to their generation, too, I have the responsibility to mold them simultaneously with my own growth. I feel like a young mother trying to get things right with the kids around me. I have to learn that gentle discipline, like the love our parents have for us.
The students I have come to know in the short time I have spent in this educational institution have grown dear to me. I want them to recognize the potential and good that I see in them, even though people around them try to suppress it. I want them to indulge in the beauty that life offers, and expose themselves to activities that develop their character and skills. I want them to use their talents and just be themselves, of course not compromising the values that they try to uphold. I want them to chase every dream that they have in their heart. I want them to make God smile in every little thing they try to accomplish at this crucial stage of their student years. I want them to just be the persons God has envisioned them to be.
This is my prayer for them, while trying to accomplish these very things myself.
The challenge for me is to keep up, not only with their energy, but also with their growth. I need to be the friend and the parent rolled into one.
As I ponder on this, I slowly come to realize why God has put me here. I long for a challenge, for variety, and for the opportunity to help others.
The challenge is to continually grow while providing the avenue for the students to grow, too.
The varied people and activities I get to meet and do provide that new flavor I crave for almost every day.
The opportunity is presented not only in every counselee I speak with, but also every time I myself feel drained and isolated at the end of the day. The opportunity to snuggle closer to my God, who alone is the source of all wisdom and unending enthusiasm and joy.
People say I am cut out to be a guidance counselor. But I say that I merely long to be God’s mirror—of goodness, joy and wit.
It just so happened that the world calls that mirror a guidance counselor.