Tips from a Loser

10개월 전

I’m a 90’s kid and I became a father at a very young age. I got my then girlfriend (and now wife of 22 years) pregnant when I was 16. I became a father at 17 and we got married when I turned 18. Thankfully, my parents still sent me to college.

I wrote the piece below when I was 19 years old and my college life was in shambles because I was trying to work and study at the same time. It was published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer and was included in a book compilation of the best submissions. The book is called Youngblood 2.0 which is still in print. It was my first work ever published in a national paper and it’s a bonus that it got included in the book.

Now, I’m 39 years old and I still receive messages from readers of the book from time to time. I guess the piece resonates with Filipino college students. It was from the heart that I wrote it and I thought I’d share it with you here. I hope you like it.

Tips From a Loser

By Arvin I. Buising

Dear Little Sister,

So you’ve just turned 14. Now you enjoy a lot more freedom than you did three years ago. You choose the clothes you wear. You choose the time you want to go to bed and the time you want to wake up. You can even stay up late, pretending to be studying while actually dreaming about the cute guy you saw in school.

Now I can't call you names like "Butiki" or "Big Eyes" anymore. No longer can I pull your hair or hit you on the head or do violent things whenever I get mad at you.

You're turning into a woman and you have a life ahead of you. Three years from now, you’ll be going to college and I hope that you won’t make the same mistakes that I did.

Me? Everybody thinks I'm a failure - Nanay, Tatay, my teachers, my wife, even you, I guess. Everybody thinks I'm a failure because even a miracle won't help me graduate on time. I'll be an undergraduate forever.

I know I'm smart. How could I have passed the UP college admission test otherwise? I finished elementary as a valedictorian. I finished high school as a valedictorian. I always got the first honors.
But UP was different. Everyone there had brains as big as mine, maybe even bigger. If I was superman in our little barrio, then UP was the planet Krypton.

I was not ready to fight intellectual battles with people who had the same capacity as mine. I was used bullying intellectual weaklings. I finally met my match after years of reigning over our little barrio. So I got beaten black and blue. It was really a big shock for me.

Now everyone thinks I'm a failure. But someday when I have recovered from the shock, I'll be back with a vengeance. Someday . . .

But you, my dear little sister, are definitely not a failure. And you will never be if you follow these simple tips:

  1. There's a world out there to conquer and it’s a lot bigger than what children's songs say. Don't confine your dreams to our little barrio. Dream bigger dreams. But be practical. You have to learn to strike a balance between being imaginative and being practical and that is vital for success.

  2. Other students may seem to write better than you. Some may appear to do better in numbers. Others will look smarter in the way they dress or the manner they speak. The rule is: Don’t let them scare you. They may look like geniuses to you, but they're not. Most of them are casual nerds.

  3. I always say that a bus with a beep of a bike is a lot more dangerous than a tricycle with a horn of a ship. Don’t let them see you coming. Don’t tell your housemates you topped an exam. They will distract you when you review for your next exam. They will suddenly be generous and treat you to a concert or a movie.

  4. Never get near to a person who is in love or even talk to that person on the phone. Never watch a movie of Meg Ryan. Never read love stories. Above all, never get nearer than ten meters from an attractive member of the opposite sex.

    Love is intoxicating and fun at first, but after a while you'll see he can be a pain in you know where.

  5. Be ready to face people who are really smarter than you. I guess there are a lot of them out there. Remember that smart is not a synonym for successful. They may be smarter than you but you can beat them by being resourceful. Try to make friends with the upper-class men. They have notes and old exams that you will find useful. Aside from that, they can also help you avoid terrible instructors.

  6. Speaking of instructors, my favorite instructor used to tell us to know our readers before we write. When you're in college, your audience will actually be your instructors. The trick in writing roughly translates into this: Know your instructors. Learn their styles, their grading system, and other important facts, like their phone numbers, and you won’t have to get a cinco in your entire life.

  7. this lesson is the one I learned the hardest. I learned that you shouldn’t daydream about what you're going to do when a very boring class finally ends. You can "overthink" the feeling of topping the exam while you're still reviewing for it. You will anticipate the future too much that you will no longer live in the present. Take each day as it comes. Don't expect too much form the future, or one disappointment will be enough to shatter you. Neither should you dwell too long on the past.

I have a lot more to tell you, but this letter is getting too long. I'll just tell them to you personally when I’m drunk and I have the guts to say things I don’t usually say.

Meet my family. My wife and I had 4 kids. Angela, Miguel, Gabriela, and Armand.

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thanks sir @digitaldreamer, you're one of the Filipino who's lifting people up, I can't imagine how hard your life during your teenage life, the pressure is quite stressful, but despite of that you still manage to do the right thing and help people who are in need of self development. :)

Self-confidence is the most important
Great tips from you, well done
Thanks for sharing

The Tree of Life, or Etz haChayim (עץ החיים) has upvoted you with divine emanations of G-ds creation itself ex nihilo. We reveal Light by transforming our Desire to Receive for Ourselves to a Desire to Receive for Others. I am part of the Curators Guild (Sephiroth), through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals Itself!

nice book & nice post. I upvoted

kumusta digitaldreamer! :) yea.. u got a young start! =p and ur family looks great. yay!

im following u and upvoted now.

Inspiring text. I particularly liked the 6th paragraph with the advice that we should

know our readers before we write

I guess one of the reasons I like writing on Steemit is that, not knowing who my readers will be, I'm writing for myself, for the future, for what I imagine might interest my kids in the future ...

Very interesting also to note the subtle cultural differences ...

Steem on!


I like writing on steemit because whatever we post here stays forever. I'm not new to blogging and I've seen free blogging platforms come and go along with all the content that I've lovingly crafted. With steemit, what we write here gets written on the blockchain and stays there forever. So, it's also for posterity.

very remarkable Post,
greetings success and passion continues in the work

Hey man! Congratulations @digitaldreamer on a great post! Definitely my favorite of your tips is number 5.
“Remember that smart is not a synonym for successful. They may be smarter than you but you can beat them by being resourceful.”
That’s just soooo true! I’ve heard it again and again.
Resourcefulness and dedication defeat talent. There’s no other way to put it.
I’m glad I’ve found you because it seems like we think alike. Your style definitely sits down with my style as well. I am quite new to this space but if you could just check out my first ever @introduceyourself post on my channel, I know you would love it.
You would realize how different I am from the crowd.
I’d love to keep connected with you. It is because of thoughts like ours that people who think alike start coming closer to each other.
Thank you for your great content!
Hope you have a great day!!


We are the same age.
But I'm still single.
My zodiac says I'm not going to marry.
Maybe it's true.
But thank you for sharing your story.

Your post is insightful, relevant and interesting. By the way, what are you doing today as a profession? You are really smart to have done this article. I upvote you.


I'm the operations manager of a feed manufacturing company. I also sell ships. Yes ships.

i inspired from it.i remember always that the college life was so interesting and enjoyable.thanks

Good night sir. Let tell you that although this letter doesn't goes to me, it really teach me some thing that i have to know now that i'm in college. So thank you to share this with us.

hi sir @digitaldreamer, i am soo inspired by your letter and I know it is a good letter to be adressed to our youth. I would like to ask permission Sir to allow me to copy this one and let my nephews and niece's to read this one sir so they will get some lessons that they might use in their studies specially that they were in Senior high and college today. I know for sure that they will learn from this....

wow, it is simply remarkable and a book full of lessons for our generation.
God bless you sir


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I was summoned by @digitaldreamer. I have done their bidding and now I will vanish...


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