I I was broken.When I received my eighth grade

I caught a faint glimpse at my father and that was it. With sweat dripping down my face and my heart beating like an erratic drum, I frantically ran back upstairs. After all, this was the man who flipped the dining table because his charger was missing. The man who abused my mother with a paint roller because the bedroom was sloppy. The man who yelled at a waitress because she forgot to bring his Coca-Cola. Sigh. When would be the right time to come out?To begin, middle school was tough. It was only three years, but it felt like an eon. It wasn’t because of the strict teachers or the difficult Algebra, but because of the cruel students who taunted my feminine demeanor. My sexuality was evident to everyone except my father- he was oblivious and kept his distance. I was essentially a prisoner, but rather than seeking liberation, I allowed the belittlement to continue. Hence, it should come as no surprise that without that mushy father-son relationship, I was broken.When I received my eighth grade diploma, I dreaded the upcoming change: high school. Because the norm wasn’t applicable, I envisioned my future. No date to dances, no friends, and no partner for projects. I didn’t know how wrong I was. Life was only about to change- and for the better.Staring at my notorious bullies, fear took over as I rushed home. The first day of freshman year was over and I was scouring every corner for cheap validation: a temporal escape, whether that be Mad Libs or Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby to keep me company. What I found, however, changed everything. I gazed at a photograph of my father, taken when he was merely my age, sitting in what reminded me of a throne, with his six sisters seated respectfully beside him. I realized, from my mother, his natural tendency to lash out was partly my grandparents to blame. Praised for being the only and eldest son, my father felt entitled to do as he pleased.Suddenly, I felt sympathy. Although he was the breadwinner, no one respected him nor his plethora of outbursts. His side of the family lived in Malaysia, so he was all alone here. For the first time, I mustered up some courage, proceeded downstairs, and opened up. I told him my aspirations and interests, my feelings of isolation and pain. Soon, my deepest, darkest secret was revealed.What surprised me most was his reaction because he sincerely apologized. He assumed I didn’t come out earlier because of his impulsiveness. He was correct, but I just awkwardly laughed it off. He confessed that being a father or husband wasn’t simple, because trivial things like fluctuating percentages, unquenchable thirst, and tidiness drove him insane. He didn’t want me to follow the footsteps of his actions; he wanted me to embrace my individuality.From this conversation, I wanted to unleash my energy to grasp hidden potential. I probed the realms of Calculus and Psychology while simultaneously making it onto honor roll. As an active member of student council, I tapped into the innate desire of transforming vision into reality by planning the best prom and senior breakfast possible. My summer was spent volunteering at a local church and in return, the kids looked up to me. I joined a LGBT group, one that embodied wholehearted support and acceptance, and found my second family. From learning how to oil-paint to attempting Taekwondo, I re-emerged as a character, because fear turned into confidence and ignorance turned into wisdom.My father is not the same man I once knew. Because of him, I know my unique identity will continue to entail milestones I never thought existed in college and beyond. With my fostered resilience and unwavering boldness, I will remember my time being a timid, soft-spoken individual as a souvenir and a groundwork for future endeavors.

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