With a year left, coming back to play Taekwondo one more time for my university is as important for me as to finishing my degree. Once Mapua Institute of Technology, now Mapua University; my life in MU (although MIT sounds great) is at its peak intensity.
Throughout my stay in Mapua, I’ve been constantly asked by professors, classmates, and friends the same question: “How do you do it?” or “What’s your secret?” They ask these because in Mapua: I’m part of the Taekwondo team, Honor Society of Mapua, (before) Center of Student Advising, Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers, and (now) Mapua International Students’ Organization. I always smile and tell them I’ve been programmed that way. Not that I’m a robot… but it’s not easy to answer that question because what I’ve been doing is not easy at all. Honestly, it’s hard.
“(wo)Man-up and face the consequences of your decisions.” The first step was making the choice of being a student-athlete. In my case, I wasn’t after the athletic scholarship that comes along with it since I already have my academic scholarship, so it was a choice I made for myself. The first reason I joined the team was to be exempted from PE and NSTP. After all, it was a good opportunity to rekindle with the sport I once loved.
I would say, I owned my choice. Choosing to be a student-athlete was a hard choice. It meant early mornings, late evenings, rigid schedules, no chill time, academic pressure, and also physical pressure. In terms of physical pressure, upcoming games meant weight loss, extra training, and strength conditioning. No regrets, no complaints.
As cliche as it seems, “Time is gold.” Here’s how a day in my life went for the past three years: wake up 4AM and do schoolwork, go to school around 7AM to study in the library, train from 9AM till 12NN, attend classes till 7PM or 9PM, and then sleep right away. It was very important for me to get at least 7 hours of sleep. Otherwise, I won’t be able to function well in my academics and sports. I always thought to myself, “It would be so much better if I had 30 hours every day.” What did 6 more hours mean? It would be meant for an extra hour of sleep, seeing my friends, going to events, exerting more effort in participating in organizations, and volunteering.
Mapua’s quarter system didn’t make things easier for me. With 11 weeks per term, it meant heavier workload and less time to complete tasks. Beating the deadline: my principles leaned towards the quality of my output despite the time constraints. Sacrificing quality was not an option for me; procrastination was not in my vocabulary. This is clearly why I started my days early; to finish and polish everything according to my standards.
When the season for playing approaches, training times get harder and it’s done more frequently. As NCAA comes close, we train two times a day (in the mornings, then in evenings). Conflicting schedules are the worst. This means you have to manage your time more effectively than when it’s offseason.
Discipline is the key. Unless you have leadership within yourself, you won’t be able to manage yourself as well as your time. Time is not the only thing you manage, but your energy too. Investing both time and energy will optimize effectiveness. With regards to this, knowing your priorities is as crucial as determining your responsibilities (responsiveness abilities).
As a student-athlete, being a student comes first before being an athlete.
How do I study? That might be the most frequent question I get. First, I should say I love to read. Reading is the first step to studying (in my belief), but there’s more to studying. Studying is all about learning. Study because you want to learn. Not because you have to. Understand the concept, don’t memorize the definition. You might ask, why do you want to learn? It’s because knowledge is power. And who doesn’t want to be powerful? The thing about this kind of power is that no one can steal it from you. My advice is to muster your real desire to learn.
Learning should be stemmed from the real definition of education. Getting an A+ (good grades in that context) doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve mastered the subject/course. Education is more about acquiring knowledge. I’d say learning makes you more. More empowered, more educated. Learning is not bounded in the four corners of the classroom; the interactions we engage in outside are also possible sources where we can acquire learnings from. Never underestimate knowledge. Everything starts knowledge.
Knowledge: what to, why to
Skill: how to
Desire: want to
Goals and Ambitions
I’m ambitious and I’m proud of that. I have goals that are smart. When I say smart, I mean SMART = specific, measurable, attainable (and action-oriented), realistic (rewarding as well), time-based. Having goals is one way to keep everything in place. It’s like the glue that’s holding all of these handfuls together. My life as a Mapuan is composed of goals and ambitions: these are the drivers that brought me here anyway.
As Ms. Geraldine Canlas said in her talk about study habits, “We need disruption in our lives, to create something beautiful.” To give way to something more. This is exactly why I do other things like this, writing. My friends know that I engage in a lot of things like other sports (such as more martial arts, swimming, etc.), reading a variation of books, playing the ukulele with my friends, and more. However, I also have to sacrifice some things I love like trying out new things, attending events, and such.
As I’ve learned, “One must find a balance of the physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional dimensions; also evaluate all aspects and renew each.” The very essence of me writing this now is achieving balance: relaxation through writing.