Like anyone, I had wondered what it was like to be in love—but not enough to convince me that it was that important.
It had been a long uphill battle with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, so the next challenge was opening up to having friendships and proving my worth as a student, and then a professional. I thought I didn’t have time for love.
Our story began on the campus of California State University, East Bay in the Hayward Hills. It was the final quarter of my extended stay at CSUEB, and I had just crossed into the Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity. Even as I was hardly on campus, I still actively helped and participated in the fraternity’s activities.
One requirement for someone pledging is to interview all of the active brothers, and inactive or alumni brothers for extra credit. I was an extra credit interview. One day I was in the student union and some girl with frizzy hair and dressed plainly in a green jacket and tennis shoes, who was pledging for the fraternity, asked me for an interview. Nothing really struck me about her except her messy hair. I agreed to the interview, but in the follow-up texts that ensued, I regretfully brushed her off.
The first time I paid attention to her was at the after-party of the end-of-the-year banquet. This beautiful girl was having a conversation with her pledge brother in Spanish, and I sat down and joined in. They both seemed amused that I unabashedly joined in and spoke in Spanish.
She moved into a house with other APO girls last fall, where I would often go to visit. From there, our relationship began to naturally develop, although it hasn’t been easy. Coming from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, as well as having a slight age gap, we had to work our way to meet in the middle.
For nearly a year, I woke up every day before five a.m. for work. I was always emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted, and experienced the highest forms of verbal and mental abuse. I thought it was more important to prove that I was going to be the best at work than working on our relationship. I was sacrificing a lot, but for all the wrong reasons. I used work as an excuse to not work on us.
When I realized that working hard for something I didn’t care much for would probably end up unrewarding, I quit.
Everything went better from there. I’ve had more time for sleep, to spend with friends, family, and with her. I was also nominated for my first journalism award last October. And through the good and the bad, she has always been there—even finding a way to get excused from class to accompany me to the Plaridel Awards. I began to become less selfish.
Even as someone whose career depends on his skill with words, I could never seem to find the right ones to describe love. I just knew I was in love when I woke up one morning and it wasn’t an article, work, or any other accomplishment on my mind— just her.
Being in love has changed and challenged everything I ever knew about myself and my values—and for the better. It’s true: everyone falls in love at least once, even me.
Ryan Gajudo Macasero graduated from California State University, East Bay in 2010. He is a freelance reporter who contributes to various community and ethnic news sites, including Philippine News, Power ng Pinoy TV and The Patch.