How do we measure success? Each has her own answer to this basic question, and each is correct. It depends, I guess, on where one is coming from, or perhaps, where one is at the time the question came. Since is no right answer to this question, there is only the supposition of its accuracy, of its veracity. From whose perspective will the assessment of such accuracy come? I guess it will be from the perspective of one who had been there.
I measure my success not in terms of how much I have in the bank—for there is not a lot there, just a few measly pesos to tide me over till the next paycheck—nor even how long I have taught in the University. To do so, I think, is inutile, for then, I am but one of the many who have given their best to honor the age-old tradition of greater service for the glory of God. I am but one of the soldiers who march to the battlefront, swinging her gun to the rhythmic cadence of inspired heroism before the guns start to mow us down. I am one of the many who may still live the ideals of a world gone awry, tenaciously holding to what could have been so that this world could become a more habitable one for those who will come after us. So, what, then, is success for me?
Success is living a simple life: to see my children grow up fully prepared to take the world by its horns. I know that the world is cruel and unjust, but it can also be kind and fair. Knowing this, I have readied them well to meet both its spite and gentleness and paradoxical truths. I gave them faith to believe in themselves, to know that when all things fail, there is still themselves to live for, there is still that corner to round where new dreams wait. I gave them courage to be themselves, to be unique, and to thrive in their uniqueness. The world may laugh at them, but they will remain true, for they know who they are and what they live for. I gave them hope to dream; their dreams woven in the tapestry of their lives which will push them, inspire them to get what they live for, and having gotten it still to go for more, never to be content with the world’s mediocrity, to give of themselves more so that others may become better through them. I have given them their God to hold on to, to walk with, to talk to so that when things get rough and the roads seem endless, and most of their tomorrows seem bleak and dreary, there is He to accompany them, to lighten their burdens, and to hold their hands. They know I will not always be there for them, and so they hold onto Him who will always be there. This is success: to know I can leave them and they will still live.
Success is to share myself with my students and make them reach for more. Success is when they have become far better persons than I could ever be; success is believing that one day, I will follow them for they shall espouse a vision I could easily die for. It is hoping that they will have chosen lives richer and fuller than mine had been; it is believing that theirs are lives which have reached full circles, their potentialities fully realized.
Success is looking back and seeing not the pains and grief of yesterday, but the joy and laughter of lessons well shared, of tests well made, of students well formed. Success is looking at my gray hair and lines marking my face, each gray strand and deep furrow a testimony of endless days in class, of sleepless nights checking and marking papers, of weekends that are but extensions of weekdays in a slightly relaxed atmosphere of home. Success is to know that I have delivered well and that I am waiting for my call to come. Success is living one complete life for others.
This is success; this is my truth.
Atty. Riza Racho is Associate Director for Research at ADDU.