Dear Audrey and Ayo,
I spent a lot of time pondering how to continue with this correspondence of mine. “What do I write about next?”, “How much should I reveal about myself?” “What life lessons do have to offer and how to I go about communicating those lessons to you?” These are the questions I have been asking myself. However, the one question I have struggled with the most is, “Who am I to be teaching anyone life lessons or lessons on anything?” Because, to be honest you guys, I don’t have a clue what I am doing most of the time.
As a child, I felt uncomfortable navigating the world. I felt out place, knew that I needed to find my place in the world. I felt powerless and constrained to the will of those who were responsible for me. In the adults around me, at least in the ones I admired, it seemed that adulthood could bring a kind of freedom or the power live as I saw fit. A lucky few, are inspired early on and are smart enough to hang on to an identity or dream of what they will become. Most people are not that lucky, I thought with time I would have a better idea of where I belonged, and what purpose life had for me. Being completely honest with myself, looking back, there were a number of times I was inspired to take one path or the other towards something of the person I wanted to be but stopped myself because of my uncertainty or misplaced expectations. The truth is that it’s never quite so easy to attain a vision of the life you want to live. If I sound pessimistic, I don’t mean to be. All I’m saying is this; temper your expectations as you go through life and understand that with every experience and milestone you reach, it will always be more to it that you could have ever imagined, good or bad. Never dwell too much on expectations, instead think of what is possible and work hard at it knowing achieving it will be difficult.
As “adults,” we often like to think we know what we are doing. The truth is most of us don’t. As you get older, we will offer you advise about decisions you will make and how to live your life. We will place expectations on you based on what we’ve learned and what we’ve been taught. We will be disappointed in some of the choices you make and how you make them. The advantage that we have is this, we will have made just about all the mistakes you will make, if not more. In most cases we will have learned something from those mistakes, and because of our love for you, we will always strive to guide you and protect you. The most we can really do is tell you what we think. Some parents try to strong-arm their kids into the path they think their children should follow. Some parents couldn’t care less and don’t do much. I would guess that the majority of parents are in the middle and try to come to some balance. No matter our tactics as parents, one thing I have learned from my experience, is that it is completely up to you how to shape your life. The adults in your life, like your mother and I, your grandparents, uncles and aunts, will have a great influence over you and are likely to be the biggest influencers of people you will become (weather or not we make the effort or not). Ultimately, it is up to you to figure out who you are and who you will become.
So you might wonder, why I am starting of on such a serious note. It might just be the timing, I guess. You see things aren’t going so great for your mother and I right now. Our troubles at the moment have to do with our careers and financial future. The plans we made have been derailed or postponed, due to mistakes we made and continue to make in our lives. These kinds of events occur in life and it is during these times when it becomes clear that for the most part, we don’t know what we are doing. At these moments, if you are honest with yourself, you will ask yourself, “Who am I, really?”, “What am I doing wrong?”, and “What really matters to me?”, or “What the hell am I supposed to do now?” At the moment, your awareness of the crisis your mother and I face is minimal and that is the way it should be. However you need to know at some point, hopefully a long time from now that as your parents we don’t always know what we are doing in life and that we often made mistakes. You need to know that we struggled with fear (specially me), fear of failing, and that overcoming fear in the face of adversity can be paralyzing. Though, my fear has never manifested in abuse of drugs, alcohol or vices that people are easily judged by others. It had manifested in a type of apathy in my life (of which I will explain in greater detail and requires an entry all on its own), which can be just as damaging to a person’s sense of self.
Life is difficult, thats a fact for the majority of people in the world. Many us have no idea what we are doing or if it matters. For every generation that comes and goes, things are the same and yet they are different. As your father, I will always strive to guide you, but there aren’t any guides that will take away all uncertainty and doubt because that is where the challenge lies. Where the fulfillment lies is in overcoming disappointment, failure, adversity and fear. As you make your path in the world, learn to master your fear, don’t let it paralyze you. Just keep going, as I am learning to, and you just might be pleasantly surprised, as I hope to be.
With a father’s undying love,