This one is for you.
When I was contemplating about my message for the barristers this year, how best to convey the confidence that we have in you, how best to encourage you for the feat to come, and how best to inspire you, I thought of no better way than by spurring you further out of your comfort zone.
You heard me right. This is not the day I tell you that it will be easier from here on, or that you will soon come to comfort.
But I am here to remind you that progress happens outside of your comfort zone. That the most successful people are those who had to undergo extremely uncomfortable and daunting challenges at the most critical times in their lives. Their difference with those who did not succeed boiled down to attitude and courage. The right attitude of grit and positivity. And the courage to succeed outside of their comfort zones.
My dear barristers, for that, I want you to go ahead and pat yourself in the back because you have progressed immensely. You have made it here despite unprecedented challenges that you, your family, the nation, and even the world, have had to face in recent history.
I speak for everyone when I say, the past 2 years is far from the comfort zone. It is out there in the war zone. It seems it has posed on us a daily war for survival, a daily win against not contracting COVID, a daily exercise of finding hope in a dark time for the whole world.
Right here, right now, you are no ordinary persons and you are for sure not the same persons you were two years ago.
You had finished your last, most difficult year in law school during government lockdowns. You applied for the bar and sat through many anxious nights wondering the fate of the examinations, whether it would push through or not. Whether taking it in person is a risk that you need to embrace, and when it was announced to be in another format, on the other hand, you might have wondered how to adapt to such technological change. You had studied and labored through many sleepless nights, through anxious waiting, through missed family activities, through reading and studying in the middle of sickness, family problems, financial hardship, quarantine, emotional trauma and many many other unnamed things that you did not allow to stop you from getting to this moment.
Challenges are only obstacles if you allow them to take your eyes off the goal. An obstacle hinders you. A challenge pushes you further. And my dear barristers, I know each of you well enough to say – THIS PANDEMIC IS NOT AN OBSTACLE TO YOU. IT IS A CHALLENGE, one that you have conquered and will continue to conquer, as you move on to the next phase of this season – the Bar Examination itself.
“Adversity causes some men to break; others to break records.” (William Arthur Ward) You have not been broken. You are still here, fighting for your dream. So fight with all you have and I am sure, I feel it, this is the year we can do even better than before. This is the year we can break our own records. This is the year we make history.
You will do this for the joy of your family who has constantly provided you unwavering support and overwhelming affection. You will do this for the memory of loved ones who had fallen ill or may have lost their lives during the pandemic. You will do this for your school that continues to believe in you and hope with you. You will do this for humanity as an enduring testament to the power of the human and divine spirit over the pandemic, or any difficulty for that matter. And you will do this for yourself to assert your rightful place in history. You will do this because you are a like a light on a hill that cannot be hidden – shining light and giving hope to others in this dark period of our history.
As coaches to world-class athletes would say before important competitions, “trust your training.” You have developed your character muscles by overcoming challenges and obstacles. Those character muscles – the grit, tenacity, and determination you have built – are precisely what would carry you through the finish line.
So this afternoon, I am here to remind you: trust your training. Trust your state of preparedness. Trust your character muscles. Believe in yourself.
But most of all, trust in God. He has carried you through many adversities . He has lifted you up from many burdens. He will not fail you.
So,my beloved children-in-LAW, leave your comfort zone behind, take a leap of faith, and fight for your dreams. We are with you every step of the way. Together, let us claim victory and forge your destiny.
God bless you.