In my youth, a sense of close-knit family did not seem to exist. There were so many times when I wanted to be adopted, abandoned, or somewhere away from the people who were my "family". In these past couple of days, I've learned the true meaning of family that fits who I am and what I will choose to believe for the rest of my life. My family had taught me to self-loathe, to writhe in disgust at my failures, to never give myself a break, and to constantly compare myself to others. Not knowing who I was lured me onto a path that lead away from who I wanted to be. Culture clash isn't a part of everyone's life, but it was a huge part of mine. I was usually the kid that was so vastly different from all of the students in school. Being a minority within a minority within another minority, endless hours of searching and hitting walls, falling backward, and hating myself for something I couldn't help, was a daily occuarance.
These feelings and thoughts still exist within me. Although in the past year, I have made more triumphs than in the prior year. Whether my family was here for me or here to witness me struggle, they were present. This by no means is my angsty way of saying "I hate you." or "Why did you do this to me?", but I've come to realize that my family has shaped me to be a stronger individual because of the different ways they pushed me. Society has its ways of tossing an individual with different problems and situations especially if they are a minority. From day one, I had to fight stereotype, racism, and the unknown. My parents did not find out I was legally blind until I was 6 months old. From my first breath to six months of age, we fought stereotyping and racism together. Later, I grew and learned how to live as a legally blind individual. Regardless, as an infant, a teenager, an adult, or an individual who is nearing retirement and the supposed bliss that accompanies it, that gap will still be there and it will remain until the moment I stop breathing.
Phrases of affection were not common and a warm embrace were scarce. A cut on the knee was a learning experience and a taunt from a bully was a chance to fight back. Neither of my parents were able to fight battles for me due to their language barrier and my lack of knowledge of how I was supposed react. School systems got the better of us. IEP meetings were painful to endure and embarrassing. But regardless of what was said behind their backs as we left, the insults laced with sugar coated compliments, the smiles that really said, "It sucks to be you." my parents kept their heads high. My father is a proud individual. Therefore, his confidence has rubbed off on me. My own falters and my pessimistic views often times win over my confidence, but in the end, confidence wins the battle.
My mother has shown me perseverence. She faced racism, body typing, and gained a bolder perspective of living in the U.S. that has shaped her into the woman she is today. Through her hard work and kind spirit, she pushes forward to better her children instead of herself. Unlike my father, she encouraged me to be happy and apologized every time I was upset. Ultimately, this made me feel guilty. But today we are closer because she opened herself to me. We share so much now that I am older.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010, at 9:35 AM, my sister walked through the metal door of airport security and into her future. We had a few moments before she left and I lost myself into a sea of shared tears. The embrace was real, raw, and genuine. She did not shy away or feign disgust. It was our one shot to regain lost time. It's true, we fight and are nothing alike, but from yesterday onward, I was determined to bring us closer. She didn't stop me and thus, my first letter is already in the mail. I gave her a letter and a paper crane before she crossed the threshold into terminal 1 of O'Hare International. Watching my parents cry and through my own tears, I've finally come to peace with my sister. I am proud of the person who is representing the United States Air Force and our family. Even though it's been a little over 38 hours, I miss her and it makes me ache.
Family shapes you. Your heart belongs to them unless they manage to break it beyond repair. My family through hardship and triumph is the clockwork to my life. I owe them my effort in success and for them, I will try to become a person they will be proud of in the end.