Be who you are and say what you feel

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Be who you are and say what you feel

I find myself occasionally taking long walks in the woods or the city, looking down at the ground and observing all the imperfections and contour, wondering how and why things are the way they are. I notice things that most people usually don’t, but I keep it to myself. All the knowledge I’ve gained over the course of the year has had me questioning myself in the way I lead my life. What does one do when faced with a problem and know the solution? Most people would speak their mind about it and help solve it, while others would just sit back because they don’t have the courage to speak up. I am not like most people. I find myself mostly sitting back watching the events of which to occur because I didn’t have the courage to step up.

No more of this. No more pretending that I don’t want to say or do anything.

This whole academic year has been the biggest roller coaster of my life. Before the start of last fall semester, I was faced with something I never thought I would have the courage to do; sacrifice the one thing I loved the most out of anything else in the world. The hardest part about it was not letting go, but rather that I knew I had to put it on hold for a while. It came to my realization that people need to learn to grow without having to hold someone else’s hand their whole life. Little did I know, it was me that really needed to learn to grow on my own. Being independent does not mean I’m not willing to accept help, but rather making the decisions that can help me move in the direction I want to go in. All personal factors aside, it has made me strong in the mind and body.

When it comes to priorities, I keep them in line. After all, Alma Mater comes first. Somewhere along the line, I realized that I needed to get my shit straight. Yes, I was overstressed. Yes, I had more on my plate to deal with. Yes, I overcame depression. With things going on with my family and the workload I had to do at school, most people close to me noticed how the kid that always made people smile rarely put a smile on his own face. It was difficult, yet refreshing, of how life really is. I never saw a glimmer of light when I started my day, not until someone confronted me about it; a person who barely knew anything going on in my life. I’d like to thank Fariha Tasneem for opening up this door I shut myself behind. It was a short confrontation in the hallway of the 4th floor campus center after night class, but those few words opened up my eyes. I’d also like to thank Dr. Daniel Saland for helping me open up what has been locked up in my mind for a very long time. Without these two people that came into my life when I least expected it, I would still be keeping my head down. Last fall semester I shut myself from the world, and it didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to open up again. By day, I was a machine accomplishing my tasks. By night, I became the person everyone knew and loved.

This spring semester I had even more work to do; but not once did I shut myself away. Between difficult courses and having two jobs as well as pledging for Theta Chi, I thought I was going to have another sanity breakdown. As it turns out, it has been the greatest semester I’ve experienced so far. I started this semester knowing all that lay ahead of me, thinking to myself that this would be a very, very long semester. I sit here writing this editorial realizing that there is only a week left. I honestly couldn’t have done it without the people that came into my life — unlikely friends, brothers for life, and a whole bunch of misfits I can call my family. The direction I led myself in has brought me to this point in life. I’ve accomplished many and all the tasks I set for myself, and I didn’t do it alone.

I now take my long walks with my head up high, noticing the beauty all around me. I still wonder how something so simple and beautiful could be so complicatedly built up. I still notice the things most people don’t, but this time I won’t sit back, I will take action. Ne’er will there be a day after this that I will be afraid to take a chance, because life is too short to look back when you have all the opportunity in front of you. As my last official words as Executive Editor, I’d like to end it with a quote that has inspired me and hopefully it will inspire you too. “You are not what has happened to you. You are what you choose to become.”

Leonard-Angelo Valenzuela

About The Author

Leonard-Angelo Valenzuela

I was born in Quezon City, Philippines and officially came to America in 1996. My hobbies include eating, sleeping, photography, and occasionally, taking long walks in the forest. I am a third year at NJIT and I study Mechanical Engineering Technology. I am currently the Executive Editor for The Vector, who handles the layout of the newspaper. My philanthropy in life is to make other people smile, and let them realize that Something Matters In Life: Everything.

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