Humans of Ateneo
Humans of Ateneo is a project of the Sanggunian: Commission on Mental Health that aims to share the different stories of resilience among the Ateneo Loyola Schools community in order to inspire the student body.
People are usually scared of things like bugs or the dark. For me, I used to have a fear of standing out. Now, I am someone who’s actually afraid of not standing out. Coming into college, I really had to think about how I wanted to present myself. My experiences in high school made me think that I had to fit into a certain stereotype or niche. I really wanted to discover myself in college and show people what I can really do.
The first big event that Ateneans attend is OrSem. I didn’t expect much from mine since I had already been in Ateneo for a long time, and I thought it was just going to be a bunch of boring talks. But when I got to school for OrSem, it was a whole new experience. It was like Ateneo was a whole new place for me. It was signalling a new start for me to build on who I am. Pretty much everyone knows the main components of OrSem— the TNTs, the music, the lights. I like to call it “the beautiful chaos”. I fell in love with Ateneo all over again, ‘cause of my TNT, meeting my blockmates, and just being myself. I’d never been so off guard in a good way before. I guess a part of that is knowing that I’d never met these people before, so I can just be who I am. I could start fresh and be authentically myself.
I can confidently say that my own OrSem was the best two days of my life then. Out of all the events we experienced, what mattered to me the most was just being myself around these people. “I was like, why would I want to show them this, isn’t it embarrassing? Shouldn’t I be afraid to show them this side of me this early?” I realized after those two days that the answer was no.
Afterwards, I felt like I needed to give back to OrSem. I wanted to be active in the event, because it was my happy place. In my sophomore year, I tried out to be an OrSem host, since that was really my dream. I felt like I had a better idea of who I was by the end of freshman year, but there was still that fear— this time of showing myself instead of just being myself. Back then, I wasn’t willing to fully show myself yet during my host audition. And I guess that’s why I didn’t get in, because I wasn’t being authentic. I have no regrets about that OrSem, though, because I experienced volunteering as a TNT. It shifted that entire OrSem experience for me. I felt the obligation to help other people feel the joy I felt. By being my weird, loud, flamboyant self, I wanted to make them realize that here in Ateneo, you can be anything you want. You should be proud of who you are, and you shouldn’t apologize for it.
Fast forward to the summer before this year. I wanted to go back to OrSem, and I knew I could. The question I had was: in what capacity? Something was telling me to try out again for OrSem host. I was scared again; all the other experiences where I was ostracized or discriminated against for being who I was all came back to me. But I couldn’t bear the thought of letting this opportunity slip away, so I tried out.
Now, I absolutely have no regrets about what I did. I remember all those nights when I was doubting myself, scared to challenge that norm. I thought that being a host was only for a certain kind of person. But I realized that I can actually break the norm, and that I’m the game changer here. With that, here I am now! I’m the fierce and vicious, juicylicious beshie ng bayan on this campus. Looking back on hosting for this year’s OrSem, I can say that it was one of the best experiences of my life.
It was all because I wasn’t afraid to be who I am. If anything, you should be afraid of those wasted opportunities and experiences you could lose because you let your fear of what others think take over.
My biggest piece of advice to anyone: Just like I said to myself when I found out I was going to be a host, be the idol you once needed. Take that chance to do something more. I wanted to show people that no matter how insecure or scared you are, the only thing stopping you is yourself. You’ll really regret not taking that chance. Remember that God has a plan for you, and it’s your job to activate that plan. If there’s that gut feeling telling you that you can do something more, follow it.
To quote the great prophet Lizzo: “If I’m shining, everybody gonna shine.” Everyone will want to see you shine. Everyone will shine alongside you.
— Em Enriquez
You may follow Humans of Ateneo on Twitter and Instagram through @humansofateneo.
Photo by Russell Ku
Layout and Post-processing by Trasy Ipapo
Transcript by Raine Rivas