( Advanced Level )
As I look through the lens, I think, if only they listened. If only they knew how I felt, maybe things would be different. Maybe the outcome would be different.
My future was planned for me. I did not have a choice. I was expected to be much more than I could be. I tried. Studying was not easy for me.
I was easily distracted by the world around me. The sky. The trees. The flowers. Those children are running to catch a butterfly.
I saved all my money to buy my first camera. I was elated that now I could capture what I saw and keep those memories forever.
My mother said I should have saved my money for something much more important, like my future. She didn’t understand that I wanted photography to be my future.
I dared not disobey my parents. I was raised to respect and listen no matter how I felt or what I desired. This was accepted and being the only child, I wanted to make them proud.
I didn’t have friends that I could talk with and my mother was way too busy with her professional career to listen to an idle teenager.
So I turned to my camera. Somehow, when I looked through the lens, all the troubles went away. My mother’ comments, “Why can’t you do better? You need to study more.”
I express myself through my photos. On those sad or frustrating days, my photos expressed just this. As of late, they showed flowers wilting, shriveling on their stems, or a baby bird that fell from its nest clinging on to life.
On those better days, my pictures were pleasant. The sun shining through the leaves or a bird hunting insects, happy to bring the prize back to their young.
The one who really understood me was my father’s sister, my aunt. She had traveled to other countries and seen how the world was different. It was ok to express yourself or be yourself and follow your dreams.
We talked when she visited our home, which wasn’t often. She was a self-made businesswoman. She created an international clothing line for working women. She laughs now at those who didn’t believe in her.
“One day your parents will understand that the world around us has changed. We are free to choose our own destiny. Until then you must listen to them. You will be an adult soon and you will be free to make your own choice.”
My aunt’s words comforted me, for a time. Then the words faded into an abyss as I struggled with my studies. It was my last year of high school and my mother expected me to major in medicine or education when entering the university.
“How could I tell my parents this is not what I wanted to do?”
Final exams were less than one month away, not to mention the entrance exams for the university. The competition to enter the top universities was fierce and and a few openings having full marks was of utmost importance.
As much as I wanted I couldn’t get the marks needed to enter any of those top universities they had chosen for me. It wasn’t in me.
On final exam day, I found myself very anxious. I knew if I scored well, my parents would insist on the majors they picked for me, and in my heart, this isn’t what I wanted.
If I did poorly then my parents would be ashamed. It is all about what grades your child gets, their looks, and their parent’s status. I didn’t understand this. “Why couldn’t we be judged and loved for who we are?”
I took a deep breath and headed out to the school. “Do your absolute best, I expect nothing less,” mom said as she saw me leave. My heart was not into this. All I could do was try.
I sat there as the instructor said, “Open your exams and begin.” I wished I was somewhere other than here. I opened my booklet and began.
The time was up. It seemed like I had just begun. The instructor asked us to put our pencils down. I took one last look and realized I had finished half a page out of five. I passed my test to the front of the room and left. The scores would be in a week from now.
I didn’t have to wait for the results to come in. I knew I had done poorly. Before I heard the wrath of my parents, especially my mother. I called my aunt. “Hi Auntie, I want to talk, I was wondering if I could come over?” “Sure, what’s the special occasion?” “I just want to talk”
I arrived at my auntie’s house thirty minutes later. She noticed the overstuffed backpack that I hurriedly packed with what clothes I wanted, and commented, “Hey kiddo, what’s all this? Are you running away?“
With a huge sigh, “Yes. Not running, just leaving. I took my final exams and I just blanked. It makes no sense for me to take any university entrance exams. I would fail them also.
“I want to be a photographer. Can I make it in this world? I am not sure. I may fall flat on my face. I want to at least try. I want this more than anything.”
My aunt looked into my face and saw I was serious. She knew she couldn’t convince me to stay. I didn’t want what my parents wanted for me.
” I will not advise you either way. I will say to you that I totally understand. I had the same pressures on me as you have. Eventuall,y my parents came around and accepted my choice. Maybe yours will do the same.”
“If you are going to do this, put all your heart and mind into it and when you have success please invite me to your first showing,” she hugged me and I knew at that moment she really understood me.
“You have a deal auntie. Do you think my parents will forgive me?”
“It may take a while kiddo but I am sure they will. You are their daughter and their only child. They just cannot forget that.”
I listened to my aunt’s advise and put all my heart and passion into my photos. I bettered myself year after year. My parents never looked for me as I brought shame to their family name. I expected this.
Finally, I did succeed after years of dedication. My talent was requested by many top magazines and agencies. I missed the opportunity to share my journey with my parents.
I eventually had a showing of all my photographs at a prestigious gallery in New York. I sent invitations to both my aunt, as I promised her, and to my parents hoping they would come. I hoped after five years they would have forgiven me.
I stood by my photos, on opening night. My pictures were hung on the walls around me. The lights captured their essence perfectly.
Many people greeted me as they passed me, from dignitaries to the ordinary. I was beyond excited that all these people came to see my work.
“What an eye you have for detail.”
“ I simply love your work”
My aunt arrived a little after the opening. “I am so glad you made it!” as she kissed her aunt on her cheek, “Mom? Dad?” hoping she knew if they were coming.
“I am sorry. I don’t think they are coming. I tried to talk to your mother but she shut me down. She didn’t want to listen to me. Enough of this. It is your night so show me your exhibit!”
The ones I wanted to come tonight, didn’t. I could let this tear me up inside, but I won’t. I am proud of myself and I will always remember they wanted nothing but the best for me but my best and their best are on different pages.
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Thoughts from Angel:
Parents, please listen to your children. They have dreams that may be different from your dreams. If they make a wrong choice it is ok. Just be there for them when they need you.
Wisdom comes from failure. You stand back up and brush yourself off and move forward once again. Hopefully with you by their side.
If you appreciate what I do and would like to donate to support my efforts:
outcome – noun: the way things turn out, end result
distracted -adjective: unable to concentrate
elated -adjective: overly happy
disobey – verb: fail to obey rules
idle – adjective: without purpose or effect; pointless
frustrating – adjective: causing annoyance or upset
as of late – idiomatic: lately, recently
wilting – verb: become limp through heat, loss of water, or disease; droop
self-made – adjective: having become successful by one’s own efforts
destiny – noun: fate
abyss – noun: deep or seemingly bottomless, never-ending
fierce – adjective: aggressive
utmost – adjective: most extreme; greatest
anxious – adjective: worry, unease, or nervousness
poorly -adverb: inadequate
ashamed – adjective: embarrassed
wrath – noun: extreme anger
convince -verb: persuade
advise – noun: guidance or recommendations (not to be confused with advice)
prestigious – adjective: having high status
forgiven – verb: stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone
essence -noun: indispensable quality of something
dignitaries – noun: a person considered to be important
shut me down – verb: reject, strongly discourage, or prevent one from continuing
tear me up – phrasal verb: to make someone feel very unhappy or upset
Question ( s ):
Have you or will you follow your own dreams? Or those of your parents?