When I was young, I was my dad’s shadow. Wherever he went, I went, and whatever he did, I did. Walking down the meadow that ran alongside our house was our favorite thing to do. We would set out in our jeans and rain boots, and he would tell me all kinds of imaginary stories. My favorite story was about a little old man who lived in a shack in the meadow. He would quietly sneak into our backyard and steal food from our vegetable garden. However, he was never sly enough because we always caught him. I would walk along the meadow for hours trying to catch a glimpse of this man because I thought he was real, but I could never find him. Although my dad was always watching, I felt free as I ran through the meadow in search of the imaginary man. Looking for this mysterious man made our meadow trips an exclusive experience. My dad and I continued this tradition every weekend while I was growing up.
We had other weekly rituals. During the week, after school, I would visit my dad’s work. Since I knew my dad was the boss, I walked around his building like I owned the place. I told people when they were doing something wrong, and everyone knew me as “the boss’s daughter.” I even had my own locker. One day, my dad hired a new employee who decided to put his things into my locker. Although I was only five years old, I was furious. I could not believe that someone would move all my things without asking. I decided to take all his belongings and move them to another locker. Then, I wrote on the front of my locker with a sharpie in big, black letters: “the boss’s daughter, keep out!” Everyone thought this was pretty humorous, but they finally understood they could not just move my things without consulting me first. His employees realized that I wasn’t just a little girl completely dependent on my father. This was one of the first times I remember acting independently. I did not run to tell my dad what had happened. Instead, I simply took initiative and claimed my locker. Watching my dad functioning as the boss of his company made me appreciate and emulate his characteristics and qualities. Being daddy’s girl throughout my childhood has helped me to become a more autonomous and confident woman.
As I got older, our walks became less frequent, my visits to my dad’s work came to an end, and I stopped being my dad’s shadow. I started to do things on my own and take my own initiative. Although I grew out of these habits and had no more time for the rituals, I believe that having a close bond with my father has helped me to grow into an independent person. As I aged, I became more independent. During my junior year in high school, I decided that Cal Poly was my first choice.
Although I knew it would be difficult to move three hours away, I realized that I would always be able to go back home, put on my rain boots, and walk through the meadow hand-in-hand with my dad. I acknowledged the importance of me leaving home, in order to strengthen my independence, because I knew I would always have my dad to fall back on. The strong ties we create with our parents throughout our upbringing allow us to feel security, even when we are making our own lives. It is crucial for our parents to encourage us to seek our independence by leaving home not only to experience life for ourselves, but also to distinguish ourselves as individuals.