My Father

Written in eighth grade, randomly stumbled upon recently:

“I could’ve been someone,” my dad says. “The next Einstein or Newton, I could have made the next Google.” I believe him, and I tell him this.

He grew up in a small, poor town in China, but nevertheless got into the best university in the whole country at the age of 16. For four years of his high school life, he did nothing else but study, study so that he could get into the best university, so that he could get the best-paying job, so that he could have a good rest of his life. His hard work paid off though- he brought his whole family to America. If he had stayed in China, I wouldn’t even be alive, due to the law which restricts having more than one child.

My dad is the life of parties, the one who always is in the center of the spotlight. He’s the motor of the family, the backbone of his workplace. He comes up with the strangest ideas, like bicycling to work, or digging a hole to make a jacuzzi in the sand. When I have questions in math, I know who I should talk to. He’s always there, as sure as the next tick of a clock, as steady as the beat of a butterfly’s wings.

Sometimes I feel bad, like somehow I know that if he didn’t settle down and have a family, if he hadn’t spent so much time and energy into making the family function, then he could have been someone big.

But then I realize that maybe devoting one’s life to something that seems small, like raising a family and watching children grow up, can sometimes be better than being someone big.

In Defense of Melancholy

I look back on my childhood as a time of constant bliss. I remember asking my dad, “Why am I so happy all of the time?” There was just nothing to be sad about — I had love and support from my sister, my parents, my grandparents. I spun stories with my friends and lived my life in books, drinking knowledge. I had school, where I felt free to learn and grow. Life was so kind and I loved everything and everyone around me.

When I started to feel melancholy in middle school, I realized that seeming happy and carefree is directly linked to how much people like you. To a small extent, I molded my personality and even my thoughts to fit this realization.

Now, I no longer care to repress these periods of melancholiness when I feel the weight of the world. Nothing triggers it, and I still love life — but in a more deliberate, deeper way. I’ve become darker, more sensitive and empathetic. Feeling melancholy isn’t sadness in its entirety; it’s seeing the subtle shades of sadness interlocked with the joys in life. It’s seeing past the facade of bright lights and acknowledging the suffering beneath the smiles of those around us.

This feeling of melancholy has allowed me to reach in the inner parts of who I am and has helped me achieve a sense of peace. I have come to terms with the meaningless of our existence and the fragility of life, and through this acceptance, I have found a beautiful new appreciation of the world around me.

Numb

Sometimes I think I my heart is deformed. My capacity to love is limited. As scary as it sounds, I can turn off my emotions. I can feel nothing. I can make myself feel completely numb and uncaring.

I turn off my emotions as a defense mechanism. When something bad happens, I stop caring. I turn to books, music, homework, silence―anything to isolate myself from the rest of the universe. I am selfish because I don’t want to get hurt, even though I know I should care. But if I let myself feel, my emotions are intense and uncontrollable, like releasing a dam of feelings. I avoid emotions. But just like dams, there is a limit to the walls one can build until they crumble and the water rushes out.

My sister has always had a big heart. I was always the stingier one, the socially awkward one. She is so capable of love, and just radiates joy and energy. She is able to find good people to surround herself with can connect with virtually anyone. I respect her capacity to love and her ability to connect with virtually anyone. I am too cynical, too cold, too unforgiving. I see both the good and bad in people, but I have trouble bringing out the good in people because I see their faults too clearly. Even though I find success in school and will later in work, I am not a good person. It’s hard, because no one teaches you how to be a good person. Only life does, but it is always too late.

So before I regret not developing my emotions sooner, I need to start opening up now. Since high school is supposedly the period of self-discovery, I will experiment in this little realm and learn how to let people into my life. Right now, even my closest friends don’t truly feel close. We have connections, but I don’t think I have truly opened up. I know that they are great people, but I am scared to make the conscious decision to take a leap of faith and love them. Love is so vulnerable but so worth it if invested in the right people.

There is a disconnect between how people view me and who I truly am. Some people at school may even say that I am open, loving, and sweet. Little do they know how far away they are from the truth. Little do they know how much I lack a heart, and that my sweet side is just a facade. I want to close this connection, to make my presentations a little less sweet and make my true self a little more loving.

Maybe this is just a phase I am going through. It’s probably just today. I know yesterday I was happy. Most of the time, I feel like I love the world and all is going well. Maybe this momentary numbness is part of growing up. But I know deep inside that these rare, dark times when I feel numb and heartless hold the most truth to my character and in order to develop as a person I must learn how to control my emotions.