The Blossom Effect

 

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“I blossomed before you and you stopped growing as a whole”

Mistakes of all forms happen and heartaches happen at different magnitudes, but Imagine hearing that from the person you were supposed to marry. I always remember telling her she is my sidekick, my day 1 and wife. We weren’t married and just had the title of boyfriend and girlfriend, but I wanted to do everything with her. Not that I was unable to do it alone, but simply because her being with me, made everything better. There was not a snapchat she didn’t send my way that I didn’t take a screenshot of. There was not a dinner where I didn’t sneak a picture of her. There wasn’t much I didn’t take a picture of because I wanted to hold those memories. Unfortunately, through the process I lost touch with me and my world became her happiness. So naturally, I stopped growing from the inside out. Yes, I figured out my style of clothing and starting smiling more, but that was really about it. Whereas now when I look back at the pictures I can tell the exact moment in time where she lost touch with me. I can tell the exact moment in time where she blossomed and I was the same guy she met. Maybe it’s good thing or maybe it’s a bad thing, i have no idea how to feel about it. I have just come to accept the fact that she blossomed before me.

The unfortunate thing about toxic relationships is it leaves its scars on you permanently. You can move on, you can grow and be different but something about that toxicity, stays with you. The easy way is to blame her, but as a man I have to admit both of us together just didn’t work. I had to swallow my pride and accept the fact that I didn’t do enough to keep her around. I simply became boring and stagnant.

The first year was difficult in all forms because I had to adjust myself to doing things alone. I had to be okay with her doing her own thing or with friends, instead of me. I had to face the truth of me being the same guy as the first day she met. I had not grown in any way, so I really had two options? one , I could drown in my own pain and sorrow(which I was already doing). Two, I could start a new chapter in my life and never hear this ever again.

It’s been two-three years now and those words ring in my ear whenever I relax. Those words help wake me up at 5 am to start the day with pedal to the metal. I have taken out the word tired from my dictionary. I have stopped with relying on others to join me on adventures, if anything I love my alone time. I probably have grown the most this year than ever before because 90% of things I have done all alone.

I was sitting with my father one day and he told me a story about an eagle that wouldn’t fly. The eagle would just sit on a tree branch all day even though it had the ability to fly. The owner then decided to cut off the entire branch and the eagle immediately started to fly. Just as this eagle I was meant to soar but she was my branch and my comfort zone. I held on to her for dear life  because I was too scared to fly and now that I am soaring, I only want to go higher. I only want to try new things and be the best version of myself. If you are in this predicament, i’m telling you, cut off that branch. You can love someone without limits but the day you become stagnant and stay in your comfort zone is the day you will hear what I did. I promise you. The day you start doing things alone, is the day new doors will open for you.

Are you mad I lied?

            “Are you mad that I lied or because you realized who I actually am deep down inside?”

I told them this because I was tired of hiding behind the mask of something I was not. I was tired of pretending to be happy about shit that didn’t mean anything to me. The crazy thing is how I knew from a very young age I’m different like really different from my family and relatives. Yet I still pretended everyday and tried to fit in and see the world as my family did but I couldn’t. I come from a family where education is huge. Naturally I felt I had to become a doctor or businessman to make them happy. I even went to college but struggled to sit through lectures and getting good grades but in the end with hard work I got my psychology degree. I even got into a masters program for the fall 2017 semester but I was dry and empty from the inside. I had so much accomplished but so much was missing.

Fast forward to present time and I have a year left before my masters program starts. Currently I am taking care of the family business because after all “I will have to take care of it in the future”. I sucked at every task when I started but at this point “I’m running it better than most professionals”

            “I bet you love the business huh? You are a natural and pretty soon you will be running everything!”

My stomach sank to this but I couldn’t speak up, I just smiled back and nodded with agreement. I think years of just being quiet and agreeing was slowing boiling within me because I just wanted them to see my perspective sometimes.

            “Kay we are so proud of you for learning everything so fast and maintaining a high standard for our family business”

Once again another smile or smirk was given and once again I stayed quiet because If this was the way to make them proud then why not? That was until I said, “NO please stop”. The entire room froze in standstill and they asked me 50 questions as to what happened.

“I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life, I don’t want to live out your dreams”. “If anything I will run one part or one area but I can’t and I won’t run a business forever because it’s not me man”. At this point I couldn’t turn back and fix what I said so I kept talking. “I want to be a writer and I want to write for a magazine or work for a creative outlet”.

This time it was silence but it was able to say the most

The next day during breakfast they tried to reason with me and explain to me why business is the best option. I agreed with so much they said but I wanted to try and see where writing would take me. I could see some disappointment on their faces but I realized I had to reach my dreams and my goals because I have no doubt in my mind I can reach them.

“Mom…..Dad, “Are you mad that I lied about liking the same things as you or because you realized who I actually am deep down inside?”

            I sat quietly when I heard my dad clear his throat and I saw a smile on his face. Then he said, “You better start studying for your GRE because you need to go apply for a journalism program”

I quickly called the speech pathology masters program and told them “Thanks but no thanks”. I didn’t cry or anything I just had a lot of allergies that day because I was finally running after something that made me who I am.

The Two Sons

His big brown eyes looked up at the two wanting to be included. He often looked from afar hoping he could be part of the conversations. His older brother would share a big breakfast along with discussions about life, work and family with his dad. The younger brother sat looking at the tea and then every so often looking up at the two. The younger brother didn’t have much to say to his father he didn’t know whether it was because of age or different interests. As the years went on the younger brother pulled himself away from the family thinking he didn’t belong. He made him self busy with college, friends and making a name for himself. His only goal was to hear his parents say they are proud of him.

The problem with him being the youngest is he only saw his older siblings including the older brother gain success. He always felt he was too far behind in life or maybe didn’t have much in common with anyone. While everyone had a path in life the youngest wanted to be a writer, photographer or do something creative. The younger brother would often sit with his family and not feel connected because nobody understood him. He was an observer, a runner up and stuck in the shadows of his family name. What he didn’t know was his differences within the family made him have a rare mentality that pulled people towards him.

Sometimes we get so busy in life that we don’t realize how much has changed. The younger brother was now 23 years old, done with college, working and having conversations with his father. He also got to hear from his parents that they are proud of him. He soon became the life of the house and kept everyone happy because he had a different approach to life. Its funny how things change because now the older brothers brown eyes looked at the younger brother and said “I envy you” after the younger brother shared the conversation he had the previous night with his father. The older brother said “my entire life I could only connect with dad over work. I never had a chance to connect with dad over personal things”. Its as if the roles had switched between the brothers. Maybe I only observed the things that met my eyes on the breakfast table. Maybe just maybe my different ideologies, interests and this love for love helped me get what I want with my family. The difference with me is that I want to bring the two sons back together on that breakfast table. One can talk about work and the other son can talk about the new filter on instagram. It’s not the breakfast I want to share but rather the time spent on the table.

The Corner Store Man

Broken English was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter was nothing more than a the corner store man. He stood tall above the customers only because the counter made him look tall. Bulletproof glass was the only barrier between him and the customers. “Hello buddy” was said to everyone and each time I died inside because he had an accent. I was embarrassed of him and I didn’t want people to know this man was my father. He was nothing but an immigrant who the customers can mock, make fun of and disrespect. I was a young, shy and quiet kid who usually stood in the background because I didn’t want to be noticed. I remember one day a girl from my 5th grade class walked in and I hid under the counter because I thought I would be judged due to my father’s job and accent.

A bad accent was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter would make me broom and mop the store. I hated these tasks because I could hear the whispers of the kids my age laughing. I remember one day I was mopping and I saw this man throw change at the corner store man while he had his hand out to take the change. I remember people throwing racist remarks at the corner store man only because he had an accent. The corner store man would do nothing but smile back and do whatever he can to make the customer happy. I was so embarrassed because I couldn’t defend him. I didn’t know what to say, what to do and how to handle these situations. Instead I grew distant because I did not want to be at the corner store.

As I grew distant, the corner store man and me would only meet for breakfast and maybe dinner. He would always ask me to stop by and help him but I always was too “busy” or made some other excuse. At times I would wish he could just be a doctor or have a “real job”. While I was wishing what he could’ve been he dealt with body aches, back problems and various health problems. I was so blinded and so selfish at the time that I couldn’t notice he would need my help.

I soon went to college and I forgot the corner store even existed. The corner store man not only got me through college but also made sure I never gave up. The corner store man forgot all of his dreams to see me peruse mine. I followed my dreams of becoming a dancer, photographer and writer. I fell so many times during my undergrad career and he was always by my side to pick me up even when I didn’t ask for help. I was an asshole who was so concerned about what he did that I forgot who he was.

Yes, I proudly announce to the world my father is a corner store man but nobody is better at it than him. Yes, he has an accent but he can read, write and speak in 3 languages. The corner store man is not only a proud storeowner but also a son, father, husband and a selfless man who provided education to all of his kids.

As I write this I am standing at the counter greeting the customers who walk in. This time around my father is drinking tea at home while I try to manage the things he does with his eyes closed. My father is what I will always see him as.

For all of my South Asian readers, whose families are in some sort of a family business, show your parents love and appreciate them. The immigrant life is tough and it is not easy by any means. It’s a new language, new culture and pretty much new everything. Never let yourself be embarrassed of how they speak or what they do.