I’ve always defined myself by what I don’t believe. My parents immigrated to America from Honk Kong for the promise of a better future for their children. Of my three brothers I am the only one to have been born here. We benefited from first class educations in private schools that only the most elite students were granted admission to. As a result my parents worked many long hours and were frequently absent.
I didn’t believe in family. My parents were not good parents. They yelled, berated and faulted us. My daily care fell to my brothers and no one was happy about that. I was difficult and later in life the responsibility of discipline often fell to my oldest brother. He would first talk, then yell and finally threaten. I hated my family and wondered at times why I was born.
I didn’t believe in friends. My so-called friends were horrible. They would mock. They would tease. They chose to ridicule my differences. My only satisfaction was to belittle them and humiliate them before they could target me. Life was a competition of hate. Losing meant endless hours of taunting.
I didn’t believe in a career. I chose to teach not to inspire others, but to pay penance for my difficult childhood. Not that I wasn’t a good teacher. I am a good teacher if not a great teacher, but work was supposed to suck. I fought every battle. In my mind every day working and sucking it up was one more day of pay back.
So what DO I believe? I believe that life has a way of working out. Not always how we plan, but always for the better. My parents did the best they could. They were not ideal parents, but they raised us the best way they knew how. My brothers did the best they could. They moved, learned a new language and adapted to life in America.
Children are cruel. We all know it. The friends that I had I still have. Although we all live far apart they’re still my friends. Who doesn’t love facebook? I teach math and hopefully inspire my students the way that I was inspired by my teachers in my privileged private school education. A place that I remember was a safe harbor and where I spent many hours learning and playing sports as a way not to go home.
So in the end I’m a good/great teacher that fiercely fights every inequity that I encounter. I’d do anything for my family and friends and know that they’d do the same. I have fierce convictions about right and wrong and firmly hold that although life is not fair, we shouldn’t ever stop trying to make it fair. When I reflect back on my childhood I can now see the good in my upbringing. Not so bad for someone that doesn’t believe in much, but yeah I do believe that life has a way of working out.
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