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Everyone keeps talking. I can’t seem to think right. I am so anxious right now. I hope it will pass, I feel like I’m so left out right now. How can you keep talking like that? I know this feeling maybe too well because this is what happened to me every single day growing up as an introvert. My life is a continuous camera where I try to capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don’t work out, I’ll just take another shot. Growing up in the Philippines as an introvert, being spanked, and living in a military family have set the foundation for the man I am today, as well as the man who I hope to be in the future.
Being an introvert is one of the pictures that I needed to develop. It contains focus, self-awareness, and family. I always knew I was quiet. I thought everyone only talks when they need to. I did not understand why it was so hard to socialize, but neither did everyone else in my family. Until recently, I have always thought being an introvert is a horrible quality to have, but now I understand that it molded me, especially the way I think, the way I am today. According to research, an introvert is highly emotional and develops social introversion as a reaction of defense, but only to a degree, since he is also submissive and on this account, escapes some social frictions and suffers less from frictions which cannot be escaped(Weber,1938). I grew up as a reserved wallflower. I was a loner during the first few years of my elementary life. During family reunions, graduations, birthdays and other special events, my parents would usually do the talking for me. In research, it has been found that social introversion is a mode of behavior rather than a primary character trait and it is a result rather than a cause(Weber,1938). I am an introvert right now pointing to the way I was raised and the perspective of myself I had growing up. The spotlight and attention was never on me among my siblings. I didn’t get the compliments I wanted when I was a kid. But honestly, that did not bug me at all. It only pushed me to be better. Being an introvert, everyone tries to engage more with everybody. It taught me to think outside of the box and in the same time, be aware of myself what I needed to do to be get through this situation.
Another picture to develop comes from being in a military family. My parents have successfully instilled among us, the siblings, the concept of family, discipline, respect, and gratefulness. My dad is currently in the Coast Guard. Since then, he gained the reputation of a cheerful, understanding hard worker, repeatedly to feed the family and go through the ranks. My dad has only been assigned outside of Manila twice. This means he spent his two assignments in another island for seven years during our adolescence. It has been found that families who have deployed parents may grow closer together, with the children showing more interdependence and responsibility (Easterbrooks,2013). Do you know why I say, “thank you” a lot? Growing up, our family didn’t have the luxury to spend so much money since my dad was not in the position to indulge in such wants. Every time we would be down, he would always say that if we have a roof on our heads, food to put in our mouths and the love to give to each other’s hearts that we were set to be successful.
Does anyone wonder why I say “sorry” very often? As kids growing up, we were far from perfect. We would do things that would disappoint our parents which led to us being spanked. My parents’ rule was: a mistake of one, a punishment for everyone. Spanking in the Philippines is common, but considered socially unpopular. Although spanking includes causing the child pain for the purpose of correction, this type of discipline does not involve physical harm (Christie-Mizell,2008). Also, a study of Chinese-American adolescents found that adolescents’ reports of their parents’ use of harsh discipline (including corporal punishment) were related to the adolescents’ depressive symptoms, controlling for family income, education, and immigrant-generation status. It may be funny to some but I can still remember the hard leather belt being swatted along my thigh area which would eventually cause bruises. Aside from the belt, the rice sack punishment was also as bad of a punishment. We would kneel on the rice sack and we would hold a book on each hand until our arms cannot physically do it anymore. Looking at it may not be as painful as the belt but it was because the amount of time we need to that was ridiculously long. But nevertheless, we grew up as always being grateful and humble children. I was always thankful to my parents. As a result, we grew up as a simple and humble family.
But when I was in high school, everything changed for me. I was a changed man. Being enrolled in a science high school, excellence and leadership resides and expected among every student. We were the “cream of the crop” and were trained with discipline and integrity to be the future leaders of our country. Research says having a particular social identity means being at one with a certain group, being like others in the group, and seeing things from the group’s perspective(Stets&Burke,2000). Along with people who is gifted and talented, our high school pushed me to my limits. In my senior year (10th grade) I was an interactor club president, a basketball player, and an above average student. I find it tough and somehow difficult but I took a stand and managed to do my best. I was surprised because it helped me a lot. It pushed me to the potential I never thought I could reach. For every challenge I encountered, I used to be prepared. I used it as my mantra for me to achieve success. I always believed that the amount of preparation you give shows how much you really want something, which I consider doing it as well for myself. I prepared a lot for that and it paid dividend. But aside from being prepared, it gave me wonder grasps on how to be fully determined, driven and passionate to what I was doing.
Joining the military was an easy decision since I grew up in a military family. After my brother failed the medical exam for the military academy in the Philippines due to a severe scoliosis, I promised him that I would be the one to fulfill his dreams. So, coming to join the USCGA is a privilege. Looking back now, the process it took for me to enter and stay inside the wall of this prestigious academy was mentally and physically challenging. The S.AT., all the English exams, the P.F.E, and all the swimming tests were worth it. Every day from the academy, there’s a lesson to be learned and a mission to be accomplished to reach the goal someday which is to be a commissioned officer.
What’s harder than being a fourth-class cadet in the Coast Guard Academy? The answer is being an international fourth-class cadet in the Coast Guard Academy. According to research, the experiences of international students has been overwhelmingly positive to the institution and the individual(Sherry,2010). However, as an international student, there is so much to adjust from. From the normal conversations, formations, indoc exams, all the daily online homework and even being the occasional FRAW and PI are a mess. There were times where giving up is already an option to look at. As an introvert growing up and the same time speaking a different language, it is borderline impossible to socialize and even to recite in class. Even though language barriers may hinder me, one thing is for sure. I didn’t stop working hard. Going to the help rooms, peer tutors and the writing center were always a regular for me. Another result of a study suggests that, in overall approaches to learning, the Asian international students may not be very different from local students (Ramburuth, Prem, & McCormick,2001). But most of the cadets would not just get it what international students go to. Being an international student is just a slow process of adapting a part of the culture around and giving some of parts of your culture as well.
As a future Filipino Coast Guard officer, I always wanted to gain a reputation just like my dad’s, which is being a cheerful professional and being a hard worker, but only better. Learning from him, plus having the educational background in U.S.C.G.A. will provide me a pedestal to be the best junior officer I can be. I want to lead the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)with the motto “Hard work pays off”. Also, I specifically plan to create a better system within the Philippine military that is sustainable and attainable. With the limited resources the Philippines have, I really hope I can contribute and share ideas to utilize what the Philippines can offer.
My identity is a continuous camera that has been changing overtime. It continually develops and matures, but I continue to fall back to the values instilled in me. Growing up as a Filipino introvert, playing basketball, and living in a military family are things that molded me. These small little things in the present will have a lasting effect on the future. So, the point of the story is, I have changed through the good times and bad times and I don’t know how it would affect my future but that is fine with me because life is unpredictable. I’m content with life and not knowing what the future holds because I have my friends, family, and my values with me.
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