Words by Louise De Luna (@louisedeluna)
Choose your course. Pass the entrance exam of your preferred college. Attend your classes. Graduate. Get a job.
I can confidently say that most, if not all, of us have heard these before. Probably from your parents, aunts and uncles the moment you graduated high school and, honestly, probably even before that. Laid out like that, it seems like a simple process to go through—a series of steps that we just have to take.
We live in a society unkind to those who need a break. As if it’s purely due to internal factors—laziness, lack of motivation, etc.—that someone would ‘fail’ at something. Be honest; when you first heard that someone was a non-major, or that someone got kicked off their college, what was your first reaction?
To shed some light on the factors (x-es, get it?) and reasons behind why students file for Leave of Absence, I talked to some students who did exactly that and went back to school afterwards. And I learned several things that apply waaay beyond the just the concept of LoA.
Be open-minded because different people have different reasons.
One friend had to file his leave of absence because of certain health concerns. Another because of financial and family issues. And another because her mother needed her. They all had different reasons, and you and I don’t have to agree whether or not those reasons were enough to file for LoA, because we’re nowhere near the position of having the right to do so.
Contrary to popular belief, students who file for LoA are not lazy, careless, or carefree.
Nico (alias) worked for one year to save up for his tuition fee and for his family’s expenses. Up until now that’s he’s back to studying, he’s still juggling three jobs. Anj (alias) took care of her mother during the one year that she was on leave. So, frankly, it’s very narrow-minded to assume these people are just plain lazy.
Students file for LoA not because they want an extended vacation; more often than not, they have no choice but to do so.
People who file for LoA rarely ever come back.
This is a common assumption and fear. However, as stated earlier, students who file for LoA, in some cases, don’t have any other choice but to do so. Nico already knew he was going to come back. If anything, he said taking a leave and working turned him hungrier for the desire to graduate. There’s a desire in these students that, given the possibility, they’d continue on relentlessly.
Collectively, they said that going on LoA helped them gather their thoughts, rest, recharge and be with the family that needs them. Time away thought them skills their university, UP, didn’t during those times (after all, experience is the best teacher.)
Knowing this, does it still sound so shameful to take a step back? We have to understand that there are different factors in play in different people’s lives, and that they have their reasons behind different decisions.
As for their ‘derailed’ path?
A post shared by Louise Laren Alianza (@louiselaren) on
Life is not meant to be clear-cut, nor is it meant to be easy. A little detour doesn’t spell the end to a dream, it might actually be a gas station break, just a quick pause so you have time to answer the calls of nature (literally or not), fill up your tank, and go forward. If not, then it might just be a new beginning.
(Now…how to deal with the: Get a job. Build a career. Get married etc.? Let me get back to you on that.)