[S20S] Reg Sevilla-Sibal on Overcoming Pressure to Succeed and Pursuing Her Passion for Teaching

Welcome to Something by 20-something! In this blog segment, I interview some fellow yuppies about life after college, career, relationships, and transitioning to this whole adult thing. This segment aims to share real-life stories and insights on “The Real World” by 20-somethings so we, other 20-somethings of the world, can learn #protips on how to wade through #adulting with as much grace and wisdom and courage as possible.

For today, I interviewed new-found friend Reg Sevilla-Sibal on life and lessons in her 20s. The interview happened on November 8, 8:53pm to 10:55pm on Messenger. #millennial

 

the pressure on students to get good grades, how to cope with pressure from parents, how to deal with pressure from parents, how to deal with pressure at school, pressure to succeed academically

 

Mailan
Hello, Reg. Thank you for granting me this interview. I’m very happy that you agreed to be interviewed and you support my cause, which is helping out 20-somethings live a life with purpose and passion. I’m glad to meet people like you. But before anything else, how are you today?

Reg
I’m great. I’m always busy, but I’m always motivated to do many things.

Mailan
I’m glad to hear that. *smile emoji*

Reg
Also thank you for this opportunity to be part of your work. I always entertain interviews. In the past few years though, it’s about work. It’s been a while since I’ve been interviewed about who I am. *smile emoji*

Mailan
Aaaw. It’s my pleasure. *smile emoji* In the pre-interview, you said were VERY different back in college. Can you tell us what were you like back then?

Reg
In college, I was termed an “overachiever.” People saw it as a good thing. I was  somewhat a campus personality, with several leadership positions in the university. But deep inside, people did not know that I was struggling. I was often down and depressed. I had to live up to expectations of many people — my parents and relatives and people I worked with. I also felt so alone. I felt that since people thought I was strong and independent, they often didn’t bother to ask how I was. All my friends were in relationships and I kind of wanted to have that. I always felt I wanted to please people. Dressing up in what my parents would find as acceptable, doing things that are right. I felt so trapped and alone. That what when I started to question so many things, the [program] I was in, what I wanted for myself, who I was. I guess a lot of people also go through that.

Mailan
Back in college, did you tell anybody about this? How you felt?

Reg
Initially I kept a lot of things to myself. Perhaps, I didn’t want anyone to thing I was failing their expectations. Then I deliberately made mistakes so people would notice. Two of my close friends felt something was amiss. We talked many times about the pressures I was going through. I guess it’s that phase when young people kind of feel pressure when parents expect the to do something yet they want to do other things. What was good was one of them did not give up on me. It was then I started to realize, I needed to share what I felt. People need people.

Mailan
This pressure that you felt. Did you parents flat out pressured you into succeeding in school?

Reg
It was kind of expected. I did well in grade school, and even when I got in  science high school. In high school they’d call out things they felt distracted me. The added pressure was also because my eldest sister eloped with a lesbian when I was in high school and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I guess all parents have high hopes for their kids and seeing that they felt bad once, you don’t want them to go through that. Our parents often don’t see that we my show we don’t care much but we do.

Mailan
I understand. And then, what happened when you’re 20?

Reg
My sister came back when I was 20. She was left by her lesbian lover. So the pressure mounted for me not to make mistakes. I was a senior in college, and that was also then I decided i didn’t like the [program] I was in, which was “recommended” by my dad. So I was struggling with I wanted and what people wanted for me and what my I “had”to do.

Mailan
What did you do next? How did you solve it?

Reg
I was kind of suicidal already. If a friend had not intervened, I would have been successful at it. I talked to my parents. At first I didn’t think they’d understand. But they did. I took a rest from school to reflect on what I wanted and that was one year prior to graduation.
I started to fix myself, I dressed to feel good. I thought, maybe, if I can look good on the outside, I’d feel good inside.
whenever I felt so down, I prayed. It was not easy though, and I thank my parents and friends who were patient with me. Also when I stopped for a while to reflect on what I wanted, I explored other things that lead to me realize what I wanted. I met new people. I tried to expand my world. Then I realized that I had more to be thankful for than many other people. I started doing things for people and myself and not for glory or gratitude. I gave myself room to make mistakes. I realized that I had a lifetime to rectify them.
My family was there for me the entire time. I mean, nowadays, we always think we’re “adult” enough to handle things, that we don’t need help. But we do and the people we often put on the sidelines are the ones who will always be there for us. I stopped comparing myself to others. I started to realize that when we stop pitting ourselves against others, we begin to really find out what we want and who we are. It took a year or so for me to fix myself but when I did, things really stared to get much better.

Mailan
This is very moving. I don’t know what to say. I mean, you’d been through A LOT. It was -that- bad back then, in college. But it’s good to know that your parents and friends understood and supported you with your decisions, and you felt much better afterwards. But, if I may ask, what was that incident or thought that really pushed you to the edge and made you decide you wanted to end your life? If you can still remember? But if it’s too much, you may choose not to answer this.

Reg
I suppose it was the mounted pressures in that exact year, when I was 20. I was not doing as expected in school. There were so many responsibilities for the university leadership post I had, my sisters returned which caused me to feel that I had to prove my worth, the high expectations of people I worked with, then my best friends were all in dates and I was left all alone.

Mailan
I can only imagine how hard it was.

Reg
I guess, there were so many things happening at the same time.

Mailan
Did you shift [programs] when you returned to school?

Reg
Yes, I did. But when I did, my grades were even better than before. I REALLY enjoyed school. I learned to ignore the comments of people who remarked that I should have finished my first course and all. It was then that I realized, I should listen to what my heart says. *smile emoji*

Mailan
If I may ask, what’s your first [program]?

Reg
Computer science. *smile emoji*

Mailan
Then what [program] did you shift to?

Reg
I shifted to Education Major in Mathematics.

Mailan
So you found your calling in teaching?

Reg
Yes. *smile emoji*

Mailan
And how do you feel about your life now? *smile emoji*

Reg
I realized that I [took] my [first] course because 1. my dad told me to, 2. because that was an “in” [program] that promised more money. Education is not really as lucrative right? And 3. because people said I was “too good to be a teacher.”
I have moved FORWARD. I keep the lessons and failures and disappointments I had as reminders that things will always be better and that no matter how low things can be, we can always find a way to overcome them. I’m doing good now because I have learned to accept and ask for help, which I still do now, because I looked deep and asked myself what I wanted, because I had the support of the people who cared for me. That’s why I tell my younger friends that we should always be genuinely happy. Because we cant make others happy if we aren’t.
I see a lot of early to mid-twentysomethings really looking for “love” — Blame it on media? — and taking courses because these are the ones in demand. I simply hope that these kids dig deep because there’s really so much more… so much more to live for, so much to find, so much to feel and so much to be.

Mailan
Aaaaw. That’s good advice on happiness. *smile emoji* And yes, it will always get better, as they say. *smile emoji*
In the pre-interview, I asked you what the top 3 things you’ve learnt in your 20s. You answered:
1. Never be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.
2. You will fail many times over.
3. Love yourself.
First, let’s have: “Never be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.” I believe this is connected with the pressure that you felt in college. Is that right?

Reg
Yes. I agree 100%. Honestly, [with] all the things that are happening around, it is really hard to find oneself and find real happiness. It’s a long way but all of us will get there eventually.

Mailan
What’s the craziest or the most spectacular thing you did or tried when you started going out of your comfort zone?

Reg
Honestly, I did a lot of things out of the box, even in college. *smile emoji* But these were because of some sort of rebellion. But after that reflection, things I did out of the box were now because [those were] what I wanted. *smile emoji*
I travelled. I overcame my stage fright and did public performances of storytelling. I mean, going out of one’s comfort zone need not to be something extreme Like learning to cook or coloring my virgin hair, which initially I felt as taboo. I moved out of my parent house which took sometime. Honestly I didn’t think Id be able to do it, but when I was separated by location from my family, it was then I started to feel closer to them. It was a struggle financially but I that made me appreciate hard work more. *smile emoji* I also learned to appreciate what I had.

Mailan
Hahahaha! Sound like a lot of fun. Okay, moving on to your second-most important life lesson. You said “You will fail many times over. Never lose your spirit.” How do you know when to keep on trying and when to tell yourself that it’s not really for you?

Reg
In my “trying to find myself” stage, I explored another interest, news-casting and reporting. I enjoyed meeting people and knowing stories. I auditioned and usually got short listed. But later I realized, perhaps it’s the “hype.”I started to think: Do I really want this or just because its the “in” thing?
I thought, is this something I really want to do 10-20 years from now? Is it something I would still enjoy doing 20-30 years from now? That was my sign. If you don’t see yourself doing it forever, or it’s not something you sincerely enjoy, all aspects of it, then you have to make a call if you will push for it.
I also realized that I didn’t want to be in a world that put so much premium on looks and appearances. That’s the reality. But if that is what you really want, then you have to spend time and energy on it. I mean, in finding work it shouldn’t just be about the money. It should be about what you REALLY want. If what you are doing seems like a chore, then don’t waste time pursuing it. Know the difference between passion and pride. But if that is what you are happy about, then stick to it.

Mailan
I agree. Life is too short to do something you’re totally unhappy about. *smile emoji*
Reg, when you fail many times over, it’s really discouraging and you’d think of giving up. Any tips on how to not lose hope in challenging times?

Reg
I mean, as a teacher, you get frustrated a lot of times — because of the tone of work, because of criticism, because of finances, etc. But I had to stick it through. On my end, I have to look beyond these and pursue my goal. I’ve had to also appreciate that despite the challenges, your greater motivation is your happiness and the feeling that you made a difference.
People can easily feel disappointed or frustrated but whenever these things happen, find the lesson. If it’s a finance thing, perhaps God wants you to learn the value of money or to manage your resources, be humble in your lifestyle, or for you to know when to ask for help. If the challenge is criticism from others, which will happen a lot in our lifetimes, we should learn when to keep our mouth shut or when to speak our minds. And look at the like lesson on humility and acceptance.
If we just open ourselves to it, we will realize that there are so many things that we learn. Personally, I have cried at times while struggling with issues at work but afterwards, I value the lessons I got from each hardship and challenge. God doesn’t give you something you cant handle, right?

Mailan
Yes. *smile emoji*
And finally, your third top life lesson is: “Love yourself.” This is very interesting. Can you give us specific examples on how a person can love him/herself?

Reg
There was a time I felt I was giving so much to other people that I started to “neglect” myself. I dressed lousily, I did things for people even if I didn’t like it. But you cant give what you don’t have.
I was also overworked. I started to get sick, so then I said, “How can I do the things I needed to do if I’M in bed?” I suppose we have to REST, REWARD ourselves from time to time. I suppose people around me felt exhausted too.
I learned that before you feel good, you have to look good or at least think you look good. Look for ways to unwind, either as a personal reward or something with workmates/friends. Like a videoke night or a pigout. Or a few days off to go to the beach. Spend time with family because you want to and not because you have to. Have some alone time.
Every once in a whole, pamper yourself with a massage or a day in a spa or simply a treat of a cup of specialty coffee. Make yourself feel loved. Don’t expect that love from other people. Of course, other than your parents, you should love yourself more. That’s not narcissistic. That’s loving oneself  so you’ll have more love to give to others.

Mailan
Aaaaw. Those are really good rewards. *smile emoji*
How did things change when you started loving yourself?

Reg
I felt happier. People said I looked much better and younger. Even if my work was highly stressful, people say it didn’t show. *smile emoji*
I also was able to do more in lesser time. I was able to think more clearly. I had an internal desire to make others happy too. In fact, people absorb your “energy” so eventually, those I work with also kind of became happier or more positive.
My work became better. My relationships with other people improved dramatically. I looked better, according to others. *smile emoji* There’s nothing wrong with loving yourself. What’s important is you are able to share that love eventually to others.

Mailan
Okay, looking back to everything you’d been through and everything you’ve learnt, last question: If you could give your life a theme song, what would it be and why? *smile emoticon*

Reg
I really haven’t thought of it that way… though I’ve grown attached to Leah Salonga’s Journey [because of] what I’ve been through and partly Justin Timberlake’s Mirrors because it makes me [remember] the struggle I had and how at the end of the day, you are the one who is meant figure things out. *smile emoji*

Mailan
Thank you very much, Reg. This has been a very moving and inspiring story. I’m happy that you have achieved the person that you are now. I wish you well in all aspects of your life and whatever endeavors you embark on. *smile emoji* This ends our interview. *smile emoji*

Reg
Thank you so much and I wish you well. Good luck!

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