Apathy, a word I knew far too well. Why? Simple; I was too empathetic. There was a time when I felt like I could step into any person’s shoes–a friend, a person I met in a restaurant or even the shoes of a stranger. There was a way for me to understand them, and I did.
For the past few years, it almost felt like my life seemed dark and grim. I started to feel empty inside; I started to become apathetic to everything. In fact, everything seemed pointless as they were all so repetitive and tedious. I lost the passion for life because I felt as if any outcome would generally result in futile human endeavors.
Despite my grim demeanor, I was invited to attend multiple activities run by an organization known as the World Youth Alliance (WYA). For the past few years, my friends kept tagging me along with them to seminars and workshops which were all more or less the same. This is until they managed to apply for the WYAAP Summer Camp. I was not expecting much. Nor was thinking too much about it. I just told myself: “Eh, why not?”
When I arrived, I felt something different about the camp. It was similar to the other WYA events but there was something special about it. It felt warm and cozy on the inside. I also felt a strange feeling of glee warming my cheeks. And the longer I was there at the camp, the stronger the feeling became. It was all so familiar, however, I could not fully comprehend the feeling just yet.
I was thrown into a ragtag group of people most about my age. We were an unexpected and random assortment of people, the kind that you would read in an adventure book. One of my teammates had a strong animosity against animal slaughter. One carried a passion for bamboo straws. Another carried herself as a kind and gentle person, almost mother-like. Another, who was an alien to the place that we were in, barely understood what was going on. One feminist, and finally one who had a strong passion for promoting human life. And then there was me, essentially an empty husk of a human being.
Despite our differences, we were teamed together to study, work, and accomplish different camp activities. In the beginning, we all seemed shy and our conversations, shallow. But as the days progressed, our bond progressed as well. Looking back now, I realize that the more time I spent with everyone in the camp, the warm feeling inside me grew stronger.
Though some activities in the camp entailed a few struggles, in the end, it all seemed perfect. At the camp, we were all friends; we were a team. And that was when I realized that these new friends of mine did not seem so different from me after all. Each of us had our own dilemmas and my new friends were just as troubled as I was in other ways. We all shared a lot of common human experiences that brought us together as a team.
I could still vividly remember the things we did and the fun we had. We were together at the camp with around 40 others for 6 whole days until we all had to go our separate ways. The crisp certificates we gained from completing the program are actually a far cry from how grand the whole adventure was for me that deep down inside, saying goodbye to the camp and to my new friends was a difficult thing to do. However, the longing and sadness that filled me felt more like a feeling of joy. Because of WYA and everyone at the camp, I was able to feel a warm light inside me again.
Written by Hugo Lim
Alumnus, WYAAP Summer Camp 2018
Thoughts About Camp is a blog series written by WYA Certified Members and Summer Camp graduates from the Asia Pacific region. Each article contains a personal reflection from a WYAAP Summer Camp graduate about how their experiences from the camp helped shape their understanding of themselves and of the world around them.