I stepped into engineering school with a solid grasp that I will conquer every subject that I will be dealing with. I came in with a conviction that I will get out of the university with flying colors, just like how I ended my high school being top of class. But as the first few weeks of college came by, I was startled.
In the hundreds of engineering freshmen with me, there were many valedictorians, salutatorians, and honor students that I have met coming from different high schools. They were all competitive. My batch was basically a congregation of brilliant minds ready to fight for the highest academic standings.
My frustrations started when exam after exam, I failed to meet my own expectations. It got worse when I saw that in every engineering class I was in, many others were always better performing than I am. Many others were smarter than I am. Many others were the teachers’ apples of the eye. Some days I was able to level with them, but most days I wasn’t able to.
There were a couple of times that I had the chance to prove myself in class that I belong to the ranks of the honor students or in the dean’s list; but sadly, I didn’t deliver. The toughness of the civil engineering course may be a factor. But mostly, it depended on my capacity.
I felt that my star already lost its usual sparkle. My insecurity and my incompetence had swallowed me whole. I was one of the better students in my high school and it all changed when I pursued engineering. I was just a mediocre engineering student. That was a bitter pill to swallow for me.
It took me a while before I found out what was wrong with the way I was thinking: I had a complex that was hungry for attention and achievement. I felt a longing to be noticed while desiring to be on top of others.
As soon as I realized that, I took it out of my system. All I did then was study engineering with all my might. I carried on – as if there’s something I could do with my past – still with the conviction that I will become a civil engineer someday.
I failed in my exams and quizzes once in a while like regular students do. But I aced some of them too, although it only happened on a few episodes of my engineering life. I was inconsistent, but I could not care less.
Somehow, I finished my civil engineering course in the minimum time possible. I was able to survive the wrath of engineering with that critical shift of perspective when I was a freshman. I walked through my commencement exercise with the confidence of an honor student but without the honor.
Now, I’m a licensed civil engineer. Looking back to my crisis, I came to realize a golden lesson that I will cherish in my lifetime: in engineering, or in any sort, I do not need to be the best – what’s important is I am doing my best, and that’s more than enough.