not forget to live in the present
I was about to commute home after getting my report card for the semester. I opened it up to my curiosity and in disbelief, I screamed: "How could have this happened?" My eyes locked into the word "FAIL" engraved on the paper. I was only eight years old then, but I fully knew the repercussions of failing an exam-one level cup of reprimanding and a heaping teaspoon of spanking. As I exited towards the school gate, all I heard were the shouts of parents and the cries of children but most of all the disappointments in their voices.
Growing up, I lived a carefree childhood. Wearing our shirts ridden with holes, my cousins and I would thread the village dirt roads and claim it as our battleground of Tag. And like any other child, my mind was continuously filled with the thoughts of playing outdoors under the basking sun.
"I did not have time for school," I exclaimed to myself as I wait for my mother's arrival from work. Minute by minute, I quickly thought of plausible excuses to say when I finally confront her. To no avail, I tried to instead distract myself by watching one of my favorite movies, Finding Nemo.
Knock! Knock! It was my mother. I wanted to get it over with. So I rushed to her arms, shamefully gave her my scrunched up report card, and waited for the shouts, the tears, and the disapproval in her face. But what I got was a reassuring smile. And she softly uttered, "I know you can do better next time."
From then on, I vowed to never put myself in a position like that again because I understood that after that smile followed an exhausted sigh. Both of my parents worked long hours, and my father even worked overseas for a long time. I recognized that my parents were giving me the childhood they never had. Through their pursuance of education, they were able to secure a stable job to provide me a life devoid of hunger and poverty. So, I tried to grow up and started taking school seriously, taking advantage of the opportunity they gave me to lead a better life.
The following semester I received my first "100" grade in my report card. I was ecstatic to see the fruits of my labor. I showed it to my mother, and I again received I smile but this time followed by a sigh of relief that everything will be all right. I was happy. She was happy. I sought my parent's approval at every opportunity and brought this mindset even when we immigrated to the United States to reunite with my father.
As I continued my education here in the United States, my thirst for my parent's approval developed into an infatuation. AP classes and Honors classes saturated my high school schedule, and I started to participate in sports, which kept me busy up until sundown. For years I continued this routine, saying I could "Do it." Through persistence and hard work, I survived. But at what costs? Sleepless nights? Loss of social time? Constant stress? It didn't matter because "I could do it."
I coped by spending time with my friends as limited as it was. I was happy, much happier than I was sitting on a desk studying. Who wouldn't? So, I started spending more and more time with my friends and focused less on my studies. I want to have a secure future, but I also want to make memories with them, memories only made in the present.
One day my parent disapproved of this and reminded me to study more, and I snapped. I couldn't say that "I could do it." I confronted my parents about pressures they have unknowingly imposed on me, thoughts of my own that have been brewing for years, and the stresses I felt throughout my childhood. Tears flowed like a river, and each drop that trickled down my cheek lightened the weight off of my chest. My parents and I talked thoroughly about my hardships worked to better it. In the end, my mother gave me another smile, a smile that ached with regret and understanding.
Many in my generation get so preoccupied with the future that they forget to live in the present. I believe that it is vital to work hard for your future, but it should not forsake the precious memories only made at the moment. My parents valued hard work for which I idolize them. Their determination is my determination to which I reciprocate by trying to become a son they could be proud of. Like my fish friend would say, for now, all I need is to just keep swimming.