Letigio: ‘I’m proud of you’

These words rang like Christmas bells in my ears last Thursday afternoon, Nov. 10, 2022: “I’m proud of you.”

As those words left the lips of my mentor, I was filled with unexplained relief and joy. Relief that I am, after all, not a total disappointment, and joy that I have made my ever-critical mentor say those four words. For some reason, that moment has become a core memory signifying a deep longing for approval and acknowledgment from people who matter to me.

I understand that one cannot live a life seeking the constant approval of mere mortals, for ultimately, it is only God’s approval that should matter in the afterlife.

Yet, there is joy in the approval from those who have painstakingly guided you and who have invested in you before you could even stand on your own two feet. I have come so far in the last few months after returning from a monthlong work trip to Davao, immediately setting up SunStar’s newest project upon landing in Cebu.

Oftentimes, I don’t see my own growth as I drown in self-doubt, fear and insecurities. Yet, by God’s will, I have survived the gruesome past month’s hand guided directly by my boss, department heads and my mentor.

I do not often hear the words, “I’m proud of you,” from my family, but I see it in various different ways. They don’t have to say it because I feel it every day.

In my career though, I have never felt the desire to prove my worth more than I do now with my SunStar family. This pushes me to work harder because I know someone believes in me.

Belief and trust are like fuel for people, like me, who are determined to achieve something. For as long as one person believes I can do it, I will manage to complete my tasks. And by God’s will, I found myself surrounded by people who believe in me.

The first time I heard my boss say, “I’m proud of you,” I felt months of stress slowly dissipate from my system. That’s how I knew this wasn’t just any job that would bring food to the table. This was self-fulfillment.

My mentor is harder to please. He’s strict, vicious and almost unforgiving in his weekly classes with me, so much so that I have gotten used to hearing only criticisms from him.

While his lessons are interspersed with self-deprecating humor, I know he will never hesitate to be cruel with my mistakes, because he has done so multiple times. And so it felt even more satisfying to hear those words from my mentor finally. I felt a growing warm sensation in my heart.

He has said multiple times that he trusted and believed in me, but these were simply inspiring words to realize my potential.

Saying that he is proud of me meant that I have translated that potential into achievement. And that is what I strive for. And so for the first time in months, the hand that held the lost little girl in me, guiding me to the right way, has lifted to tapping my back in a gesture of pride.

That is an achievement all by itself.