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I Came From An All-Girls School And This Is How It Shaped My College Self

We weren't afraid to express our emotions, and we never shied away from talking about things that mattered to us.
IMAGE Anya Nellas

A lot of people enter college ready to discard their high school personas to make way for their “brand new image.” But I’ve always felt that the person we end up becoming in college is heavily shaped by our high school experience, no matter how much we try to cut ties with it. That was certainly the case with me, coming from an all-girls school, and I can see how my personality as a college student—both the assets and the setbacks—was heavily shaped by that reality.

I play the “Miss Independent” role to a tee

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Back in high school, there was no room to be helpless damsels if you wanted to get something done. We’d do a lot of things that teachers in co-ed schools normally let guys do, like set up the media equipment in class, carry stacks of books from the faculty room, and serve as runners for our profs, among others. Girls would even take on male roles in school plays and other performances (sometimes doing it loads better than a guy would).

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We all shared this collective notion that we had to find our own way to get work done, because no one else was going to do it for us. It’s a great attitude I carried in college, especially as someone who just moved to Manila and is dorming on her own. It made me brave enough to power through freshman year in a new school and a new city where I didn’t know anyone.

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I learned to be a “safe companion,” open-minded and free of judgment

One of the best about being in an all-girls school was how comfortable we all were with each other. “TMI” wasn’t a thing for us—if you needed tissue for a number two, you just had shout it out to the class and someone would probably hand you a roll. We weren’t afraid to express our emotions, and we never shied away from talking about things that mattered to us.

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Throughout high school I encountered girls with varying personalities, preferences, and emotional baggage. I learned how to listen to what they had to say, and how to respond when they would talk to me about extremely personal matters. It’s a skill I brought with me to college—it allowed me to get along with a lot of different people and be a good listener to the friends I made.

I still keep putting too much pressure on myself

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Spending my formative years with eager girls who all had something to prove got me used to thinking that I could achieve anything, as long as I willing to put in the work. I’ve seen my schoolmates excel as leaders, athletes, and performers, all while acing their classes. For me it was in equal parts an inspiration and a burden. Spending so much time in a supportive environment where many people thrived in their interests led me to foster so many big ambitions of my own, and getting into the college of my dreams was only the beginning.

I spent my freshman year joining countless orgs, volunteering for so many events, and overthinking every class project, because I wanted to be the best at everything I did. Little did I know that it would only lead to more burnout than fulfillment. It’s been hard to let go of this mindset, and even now I’m constantly pushed by this need to prove people that I’m capable of excelling at anything I do.

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I’m torn between my straight-laced nature and inner rebellious streak

Back in high school, I was the classic Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. While some girls found their own ways of going against the disciplinary customs of the school, there I was with my nearly perfect attendance, rulebook-compliant appearance, and yearly conduct awards.

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Getting into a college that’s very liberal with their students was a whole new experience for me. It gave room to feelings of curiosity and impulsiveness that I’d repressed all those years. But along with the habit of sitting “unladylike” anywhere and the talent of changing clothes in public unnoticed, another thing I had carried with me from high school was this “conditioning of discipline.”

There were times when I’d change the clothes I originally wanted to wear to class because they went against my high school dress code, and I felt weird walking in them. I spent so many parties being the sole sober person, and only had my first drink during the start of sophomore year. I’m also still horribly awkward when it comes to socializing with guys. But although this dilemma constantly made me miss out on things I wanted to try out, it also made me a lot better in terms of managing myself.

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I’ve grown to be a true feminist at heart

Throughout high school I was regularly surrounded by women who were competent, talented, and independent. I am no stranger to how hardworking and capable girls can be when they put their mind to something, which is why I’ve always been an advocate of getting women the opportunities and proper treatment they deserve. Spending most of my time with girls made personal experiences of being underestimated, harassed, and disrespected take on a whole new layer of meaning for me.

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In college, I became aware of the way I constantly corrected people who made sexist remarks about women, the extra surge of pride I would feel when I saw women receiving appreciation for their work, and how hurt or angry I’d get when I’d hear of women getting maltreated in any way. I’ve never been very forward about my personal beliefs or advocacies, but this is one I’d like to pursue and be more vocal about, because of how close it’s become to my heart growing up.

Looking back, I know that I wouldn’t have wanted high school to go any other way. Coming from an all-girls school molded me into someone who was ready to face the demands of college and growing up. It was a life full of highs and lows, but it’s become an invaluable experience that I could never have gotten anywhere else.

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About the author
Anya Nellas
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A community page where you can share your feels and show your skills! Learn more here
Marjorie Maniquiz 12 hours ago

Hi. These are just my thoughts that I put into words during this quarantine. I also miss the beach so much so I'm attaching the photo I took during my last beach trip. Thanks and stay safe! ???? ----

Lately, it has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. You were happy and then you just found yourself feeling empty and lost the next day. Sometimes, it occurs all at once. All the aversion and the doubts, the frustration, the feeling of not feeling anything but sadness. It's all gonna drown you. And it's not gonna be easy. You're gonna question all that you're doing- if in any case, you're achieving anything or if you're succeeding with the path that you take. You wonder if you're now heading to the right direction or still lost and wandering. We all fight these kind of thoughts and struggles.

In life, you can never be happy and content at all times. All the broken pieces will remain to be broken. You're still gonna breakdown at some point; you're still gonna cry. But don't be hopeless. Even though life is throwing you with so many reasons to give up, please fight. Don't be hopeless. I'm gonna agree with you, if you'll say "it's not easy" But none of the things that are worthwhile in life is ever easy.

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I wish you well.

, Marj

Karen Mei Caro 12 hours ago

I know that right now, things are not okay. There's a deadly virus. You lost your job. You have no money and you have to pay your bills. You suddenly broke up with your boyfriend. You can't figure out what's going on. It's like you're facing blank walls and you're lost in a different world.

You are sad, confused and totally scared. But dear, you don't have to keep it all inside. You can talk about it. Telling your fears and troubles is not a bad thing. It's never wrong to be honest. It maybe frightening at first but it will make you feel better. Don't be afraid to ask for help. It took me a while to learn this. It was a complete struggle and I forced myself to believe that I was okay even if I was not.

For many years, I kept everything to myself. And it was very difficult to fight my battles alone. I even reached the point when I wanted to give up because I was already tired of all the fears, pains, rejections and disappointments. Until I have learned to accept that sometimes, things don't go our way. And it's okay to fail, to cry, to be different, to get angry, to feel negative emotions because it makes us human. Admitting that you're not okay and knowing that it's okay is your first step to healing.

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You don't have to be perfect. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Your mistakes and failures do not make you any less. And if you're going through a hard time, talk to people you trust. Remember that your feeling is valid, no matter what it is. So, don't be afraid to show your emotions. Nothing is wrong with that. That's what I did and it really helped me a lot. Think of the things that make you happy. Do them all over again. Choose to relax and appreciate everything that you have. And don't forget to pray. Life is beautiful, so, always take care of yourself.

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By: Jairus Gabriel A. Cardinoza

With the world suffering by crisis and chaos today, where everyone of us seems to be caged, may be in our home, in our thoughts, with our regrets, or even with someone whom we can never have, while sulking in our house with our home works and household choirs, there are those idle moments when I stop and stare into oblivion, I can’t help but to think about those moments where we are the happiest, or we are the most sad, we have our own highlights of our life, either our downfall or shortcomings, sometimes our triumphs, but how about those moments caught in between but played as much as important episode to those we remember the most?

Sometimes you can’t help but to think about those moments in between. We think that our life is built by big moments, but little do we realized how little they play in our lives, we barely even consider the little things, that made a huge impact in our lives, maybe it wasn’t about the medal you’ve got from winning an essay contest, but the stranger who let you borrow his/her pen because you forgot yours at home, maybe it wasn’t the brand new watch that your parents gave you as a present but the person that you saved unconsciously, asking you what time is it because he/she was worried he/she might be late for the class.

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Admit it, or not, we have all took those moments for granted, those moments when everything is in between. In times like this, where a crisis is on the midst, our mind often wanders elsewhere, there will always be that moments that the silence of our room will be filled by the cacophonies of our thoughts that strangle us in the subtle ways. The only solace we could find in this misery is sometimes our memories, not the big ones but those moments we once thought idle, who would have guess that the last time you drink your favorite coffee was a month ago, or the comfort of your favorite street you passed after school, hoping you could meet the person you want to talked to accidentally, the way you rush to the favorite fast food chain after a tiring day, hoping for a cone of ice cream, our life will always be built by these moments.

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There will always be something in between, that stiches two extremes into a one fine art, between love and pain, there is learning, the midnight always reminds us that yesterday is over but there is always a tomorrow waiting for us to rise, between our dreams and our failures, there is hope, the wisest person sometimes understand that life is a prism, it can blind us with all the colors and wonders of its side, but there is one source of light that made all those colors possible. Take a chance to be that light, that sees not only the parts that we hide, nor the highlights of our lives but those moments of everything in between.

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TITLE: Good night

It was the morning of May 5; I went to the ICU to take the morning shift. I peeked from the sliding door and saw a female doctor and 3 nurses probably making their rounds. Half asleep, I entered the room not realizing what was happening. I sat in front of my grandma’s bed, waiting for the doctors to leave. My aunt was crying from the corner of the room, I thought that perhaps my grandma was deteriorating. Then the monitor on the upper left part of the bed kept beeping, then the lady in white coat announced “time of death 8:50”.

Everything froze, I didn’t understand a thing. I saw my aunt hug our grandma so tight, shaking out of grief and desperation. I sat there frozen and speechless, it was so surreal I thought it was a dream. My sister who was sitting beside me took a few heavy steps towards grandma’s bed. She hugged our grandma and whispered words lost in between her sobs.

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When it was my time, I held her right hand, the hand I used to wipe and hold. It wasn’t cold, it was still warm, soft and wrinkly. The bruises from countless injections she endured. I pressed her hand trying to wake her up, more tears rolled when she wouldn’t respond. “Inang! Agriing kan a, bigaten!” (Granma wake up, it’s morning already) I wrapped my hands around her, she’s the same Inang I used to hug but this time she isn’t hugging me back. I tried to wake her up a couple more times more desperate than the last. I wanted to see those little eyes open again and look at me. I wanted her to ask me “apaya nakkong?” (why my dear?) once more. How about calling me miss Universe when she forgets my name. I loved her and will love her even if she calls me the wrong name.

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I still remember the night she held my hands so tight she said “ haan nak panpanawan a, ta nu matay nak ket haan ko nga maymaysa.” (Please don’t leave me so that if I die, I will not be alone “I hope I fulfilled my promise to her I hope she didn’t die lonely but happy. The room was enveloped with grief engraved in the cries we made but in the middle of the room, there she lies. She laid still, she looked so serene and peaceful. It looked like she was having a good nap. It was the first time in years that I saw her sleep so tight.

After all the restless nights she can finally sleep. I wiped my tears as I marvel the way she looked. It was a painful but beautiful sight. I wanted her to wake up but how could I ask that if she looked so peaceful now? After all the pain she endured she is finally resting. I couldn’t ask her to come back when I know she’s in a better place. She is free now, free from pain and suffering. I stop waking her up and held her hand tightly, in between my cries I bid goodbye. To my dearest Inang Nani, go on find the light. I know Tatang and Tito are waiting for your arrival. Rest well Inang, Good night.

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Loneliness that Turned into Beautiful Solitude

Are you one of those many people who experienced loneliness? The moment where you do not have someone else to rely on. Have you experienced it? Going home with a lot of thoughts running in your mind but no one was there to listen. Have you ever felt bad for yourself? In realizing that you were the only one left. When every one else was leaving. When most people around you have chosen others over you. Have you experienced the pain? The pain of being alone? A lot of people are afraid to be alone for various reasons. Some people says that they are just used to something that there is always someone out there for them. Someone who is always there. Someone who is always ready to accompany them in all. Someone who is always willing to stay. Stays in your best and most especially at your worst. While others simply do not have the courage to face the world of loneliness. I, experienced the pain of loneliness but gained a lot of benefit from it.

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Living alone is not a simple thing for me to do but for me to survive and acquire proper education, I have to. I have to learn to live alone. In living alone, I had face a lot of difficulties. I encountered a lot of problems that were made to be fixed by many but was able to get it fixed by myself. Yes it was hard, it is hard. It was never easy to begin with. There will be times or days that it can make you drain and cause you countless sleepless nights. Yes, it is painful. But we have to realize that in loneliness, we can also find peace in ourselves. The "YOU". The genuine "YOU".

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People are so afraid to experience loneliness. Most of us do not realize that with so much fear of being alone, we started to forget that good things come from being alone. As time pass by, I got used in solving problems by myself, I learned to live alone, I saw the "beauty of loneliness" that's how my loneliness slowly turned into beautiful solitude. As time passes by, I realized that there are a lot of good things that you can get in being alone. So, for those who are reading this, I hope you guys learn to appreciate the beauty of being alone.

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