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My childhood began amidst a bevy of confusion – my parents worked several jobs and rushed in and out of the front door from one shift to the next, each time in a different uniform. Although my sister and I were able to take part in every school event, extra-curricular activity and any other interest we chose, we often had to find rides home as the only parentless students. Over time, I grew to resent my parents dedication to work – what was it about their jobs that would keep them from home and every single thing my sister and I took part in? Seemingly nothing more than workaholics, my parents slowly began to represent everything that I did not want in life: no time at home, on the weekends, or with the kids. In school I was consistently at the top of my class in the hopes of transcending my parent’s lot in life. My wayward perception allowed to go unchecked, I garnered a naïve sense of confidence and continued to believe that my parents’ actions were out of sheer selfishness.
When I reached high school, the activities that I became involved in grew exponentially in number – just more events for my parents to ignore. Again, I immersed myself in every opportunity, exhausting every resource available and pushing myself to every possible limit. I began computing mathematical equations that most adults could not even do, interpreting texts that most men could not interpret, and studying advanced fields that I knew my parents had never even scratched the surface of.
During my junior year, my perception of my parents’ role in my life seemingly established, I set off for New York with my school’s orchestra to play at Carnegie Hall. I viewed their participation again as merely flipping the bill, yet another absentee moment. As our orchestra sat down to play our first piece, I spied the audience. Just as our conductor was about to begin, I caught a glimpse of my parents, sitting far in the back rows. Believing that my eyes were merely deceiving me, I played through our entire performance without looking in that direction again. Upon the performance’s end, as the entire orchestra rose to the greet the audience’s applause, I stole another glance at my parents standing in the back rows, clapping furiously with smiles beaming across their faces.
Hoping to catch them at the performance’s end, they were nowhere to be found. In fact, I never saw them again the entire time I was in New York.
When I came home, my parents’ attempt to hide their trip to New York was clearly unsuccessful. Playful smiles on their faces for seemingly the first time in their lives, they told me that they had indeed been there. Somewhat dumbfounded, I could not comprehend why they had come - they had been vacationing in New York, they had coincidentally gone to Carnegie Hall in the hopes of catching a show, anything but the answer that they gave me: “We’ve never gone to any of your performances before, so we had to see you in Carnegie Hall.”
All the years of bitterness slowly began to melt away as they continued. “We tried to hide from you because we know how much you hate having us around, but we were so proud we had to stand!”
Tears streaming down my face, I finally understood the misguided perception I had fostered for so long: my parents hadn’t missed all of my life’s most important events by choice, they had missed them in order to work – I was able to do everything I ever wanted in life at the expense of my parents’ schedules and wants.
Humility is a virtue that I have worked hard to establish since that day. Despite the ostensibly ill-conceived circumstances under which my drive to succeed was forged, I am utterly thankful for my parents and the life lesson that they emblazoned in my mind that day – that sacrifices of love are clearly worth the price of great accomplishment.
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