It’s a Matter of Meaning

by Fernando Perfas

“Hiking above the clouds. Chugach State Park, Alaska” | Photo by Paxson Woelber via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

My college years were perhaps one of the most memorable periods of my life. There were not many good times. Instead, there were many challenges. I have no romantic memories to cherish of the time, and while many of my peers were involved in serious relationships, I preferred to be reclusive.

Although I attempted to woo a few ladies I found attractive, my heart was not really into it, and my half-hearted efforts did not get me anywhere. It was a low point in my life, and having lost my foster parents’ financial support because I turned eighteen, I found myself completely on my own. Besides, college’s academic demands were overwhelming and kept me feeling anxious and depressed most of the time. Despite the heavy feeling that comes with reminiscing that part of my past, it was a crucial time of my life.

“The struggle and hardship of that period brought out the best in me. I may have felt lousy about myself, but my mind was keen and alive. Every challenge that came my way had forced me to dig deep and tap on my inner resources.”

The struggle and hardship of that period brought out the best in me. I may have felt lousy about myself, but my mind was keen and alive. Every challenge that came my way had forced me to dig deep and tap on my inner resources. While some of my peers complained about the college curricula, which required too many courses on humanities such as ethics, philosophy, language, etc., all of which had no practical or economic value in the world of work. Hence, they claimed I was grateful to be in college and happy to be taking all these courses.

My college experience was an eye-opener for me. During this time, my intellectual curiosity had grown to such an extent that I hungered for more knowledge. My deep yearning to understand who I have led me to a wild chase of all types and sources of inner experiences and “enlightenment.” I took schoolwork seriously and spent most of my time in a personal quest of some sort. Intellectually and spiritually, it was an exciting time; romantically, it was the pits for me. Luckily, I fell into a circle of like-minded friends who became my most important social and emotional support source. Although I was still floundering, I gradually became grounded and settled on a life direction that I wanted to pursue with some certainty.

“When we face great challenges when the demands of life seem to exceed our capacities are our unforgettable moments. Those are the moments we look back to with awe and wonderment.”

Very often, when things are going our way, the happiest times may not be the crowning moments of our lives. When we face great challenges when the demands of life seem to exceed our capacities are our unforgettable moments. Those are the moments we look back to with awe and wonderment. Those are our triumphs over adversities that helped define who we are. Those are the moments when we dig deep within ourselves that lead us to discover our inner resources.

The mountains we climb, the deep valleys we descend are obstacles and landmarks in our journey through life. We stumble and slide, each setback demanding strength and resolve every time, and each time we get up, we become stronger. We are all victors in this battlefield called life, for we count not the number of times we fall but rather the number of times we pick ourselves up. We only lose when we surrender and give up.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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