Most of us have created a Father’s Day letter to our dads since it was a requirement back in elementary. We’d use different stationery, stickers, and colored pens to produce the prettiest cards for them. And after generating the best card, the last task is to deliver them to our father figures.
I’m one of those people who did not have the luxury of experiencing this. As you may know, I was born into a Chinese family and our culture is quite different from others.
Traditionally, Chinese fathers, more often than not, favor their eldest child. The reason behind this is because they are the first ones to graduate, the first to take over the business, and the first to make him proud. Although my dad tried his best to be fair and show his appreciation towards me, I knew his interest in me was not of the same level as my older sister’s. Therefore, as the youngest, I became much closer to my mother rather than to my father. The only wish I had was that it would be the same for each parent. And I envied my sister for getting that attention from him.
Growing up, I always pressured myself to be prim and proper. I always felt like I was running after some kind of standard to “beat” my sister. I pushed myself since I felt like I needed that “approval” from my dad. Truth be told, the only competition I was really up against was myself and I’ve lost my own childhood because of it. But losing those years didn’t feel like a waste, because I gained something better in return–experience.
So, here’s an open letter to my 爸爸 (Papa) from my twelve-year-old self:
I first want to tell you how much I respect and look up to you as a person. You’ve pushed the unconscious me towards becoming the best version of myself. Ever since I was young, I’ve always thought how harsh your ways were, but today, I realized that the 12-year-old me should have thanked you more often for the privilege.
I realized that character isn’t something you can buy with money, it’s not something you earn after working for a job you really like. Character is something you learn through the stages of your youth. And the 12-year-old me thanks you for teaching me to be bold, resilient, independent, and a fighter. Thank you for showing me the world, and how to live in it.
You continue to care for me and because of you, I’ve turned into a dauntless person amidst this terrifying world. You are truly the first person who would never hurt me. And for that, I will always be grateful.
Your 12-year-old daughter
Our own fathers may have different ways of teaching us how to grow into beautiful individuals, both inside and out. At the end of the day, their lessons will always yield the same outcomes./FM
InqPOP! Creator Community/ Willanicole Ngo
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