This Too Shall Pass

Madam Toastmaster, fellow members, my name is Kirstene B. Villanos. Most people call me “Dada”, which is a nickname given to me by my Lolo. Don’t ask me why. It’s not gonna be my ice breaker today and I will never tell anyone… Ever. 

Instead, I’ll be talking about my favorite quote of all time. And no, it’s not “Do or do not, there is no try” by Master Yoda even though I’m a huge Star Wars fan. 

It’s actually just four simple words: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Four simple words but it always helps me get past the many hurdles that life throws my way. 

I can’t quite remember when I first stumbled upon this quote or who I heard it from, but I vividly remember when I first used it to calm myself. I got lucky enough to qualify in one of those very competitive science high schools. As freshmen, we were continuously told that we were the “cream of the crop” but spending 4 years there, I came to think that it might just be the opposite: We were, in fact, the “crap of the cream”. Haha! Sorry for the language! 

Anyway, during my senior year, just a few months shy of graduating, I got so stressed by our research paper. I remember that for weeks I would wake up in the middle of the night, when everyone in our dormitory is already sleeping, and just being so anxious about it. It came to a point when I would ask myself if this is how it feels when someone’s going crazy. Our experiment is not going as planned and half of our team is not being helpful with the tasks. My greatest fear at that time is not being able to graduate because our research paper is a failure. And so there I was, on my bunk bed, wide awake in the darkness and silence, when these four words rang in my head. This too shall pass, this too shall pass. And it did. And we passed. And we all graduated. 

It’s the same thing when I went to the university, which, as we all know, is much much more challenging than high school. Whenever I feel like the academic pressure is too much, I always go back to these four simple words: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

It even went beyond the academics. Whenever I feel so stressed at work, I go back to this quote. Whenever I feel like quitting and calling in “sick” because of the pressures of an ongoing project, I repeat this quote over and over in my head until I find myself getting out of bed and just going through the day. 

Same thing whenever I’m in a not so ideal situation – speaking in public, a difficult job interview, boring meetings, a very bad first date, awkward family reunions, working out when you’re really not in the mood, and even personal problems. 

Speaking of personal problems, I’d also like to share the greatest challenge that I’ve experienced in my life so far: Three years ago, I had a miscarriage, and I would say that it was the lowest point in my life. I lost my sense of self and I felt like I also lost control of my life. For months, I was just drifting through it, without a feeling of purpose, without feeling anything really. 

But like all of my past life challenges, big or small, this quote helped me, saved me. And same with all the other challenges I’ve encountered, I picked myself up, and started my journey to healing. Every time I feel like giving up again, every time I feel like I can’t move on, I will myself into going back to this quote which basically became my personal mantra: THIS TOO SHALL PASS

At this point, I would say that I’m healed. It’s not gonna be a 100% because as they say, you can’t really fully recover from a loss. But I’ve never been more hopeful, full of purpose, and feeling more alive than ever. 

Prior to the pandemic, I found out that I’m pregnant. I went through it with the quarantine and lockdowns and controversies about vaccines. It was a very trying time but also a very exciting one. Now she’s here and I can’t help but feel so blessed whenever I look at her face and hug her. It’s the happiest I’ve been in a while. 

Now, before I bore you to death and you use my favorite quote against me, let me close by saying this: I hope that through my ice breaker, you learned something substantial today. I hope that despite everything dire that is happening right now, you see the positives in the negatives. And you realize that This Too Shall Pass.

Thank you so much!

This is the second time this year that I delivered an Icebreaker speech for Toastmasters. The first was with my previous company, which unfortunately underwent a dissolution. So I was really glad when I saw that ING Manila has its own Toastmasters club.

I contemplated on preparing a different speech but decided to go with this again in the end. It scared me because it made me vulnerable in a sea of strangers. But at the same time, I feel this push to tell this story in the hope that it’ll give hope.