Giving Me the Bricks

Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

“Mom, I want to take the SAT.” My mom lifted her eyes off the newspaper and looked at me suspiciously. “What on earth is the SAT?” I went on to explain it to her as she stared at me with increasing incredulity, as if I were no longer her daughter but an animal escaped from the zoo. After I had finished, she was still struggling to understand how I got the idea of going to an American university instead of attending one of the local Canadian schools. I chuckled to myself. In many ways, my mom and dad are the very antithesis of typical Asian parenting. While other Asian parents are fretting about their sons and daughters getting accepted to top-tier American universities, mine are aware of what classes I am taking only at report card time. They have never pressured me to learn the piano or the violin, and I ended up the only Asian child I know of who does not play an instrument. I have never had a tutor, nor have I ever taken a single academic lesson outside of school. They have never forced me to take certain classes or participate in certain activities. I was never banned from the television so that I would do my homework. My parents have never sought to dictate my goals. They have never told me to become a doctor or lawyer or engineer. Yet, somehow, I turned out to be the ideal Asian daughter – at least in the eyes of my parents’ friends. I may be completely tone deaf, but I have developed my own passion for visual art and have gained considerable mastery. I seek help or additional materials when I truly want to, using the resources available to me. Knowing where my interests lie, I am the one who decides what classes to take and what activities I will be passionate about. I manage my time effectively, prioritizing my tasks so that I know to finish my homework before watching television. I, not my parents, set my academic standards; I expect myself to do the best I possibly can. So how did I become the person I am today? Certainly it was not my parents who made me this way. Or was it? The question came to me that day, a question I had never really asked myself before. But as soon as I began thinking, the answer became apparent: of course it was my parents. By giving me complete freedom to choose my own path, I have had to learn to make choices on my own, choices that reflect my dreams and aspirations. If I hadn’t had to work to satiate my own curiosities and to meet my own expectations instead of my parents’, I would never have become the inquisitive, motivated, passionate individual I am today. At that thought, I smiled a mysterious smile at my mom, enveloped her in a hug, and silently thanked her for giving me the bricks instead of paving my way.

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