My earliest memory is of sitting on my father’s lap in the house I grew up in, just down the street from the house in which I live now. We were sitting in the front living room on our squishy turquoise couch. I used to love that couch just because of its color- no house I had ever been in had a couch as unique as mine. I used to sit on my dad’s lap in that front room and listen as he read me picture books and stories. The best time of day to do this was always in the morning because we had these thin, cream-colored curtains. As the sun would shine into the wide windows, the curtains would send yellowish beams of light all over the living room. I used to love bathing in that light because it was so warm and comfortable. Paired with the strong feel of my dad’s arm around me, it was bliss.
I remember one time we were reading a book about a teacher. In the story, she read to her class and taught them arithmetic and history. Once, I asked by dad, “How did she become a teacher? Who decides she’s gonna be a teacher?” So young and so naïve, I didn’t understand how people found their job or decided their place in the world. I remember, clear as day, that my dad chuckled and told me, “She is the one who decides she’s going to be a teacher. Just like you will decide what you want to be one day. You can be anything in the world.”
As a four year old (or however old I was at the time), this struck me as quite odd. I was too young to make the decision of what I wanted to eat for dinner, let alone what my job would be one day. I recall being a little bit confused, but I accepted it. As I grew up in that house, a lot of the memories I associate with my youth include being in that living room. But I don’t remember anything better than when my dad told me I could be anything I wanted when I grew up.
Now, my seventeen year old self is receiving letters from colleges in the mail, visiting universities, and thinking about what majors I might go into. The whole process is quite stressful and extremely overwhelming. However, through it all, my dad still has the same wise words that he had when I was a little kid. He insists to me that I can do whatever I set my mind to. If I want to become a doctor, I am capable of that. If I want to become a world traveler, I am capable of that, too. He reassures me daily that I have all the opportunity in the world. Even though so much has changed, my dad’s wisdom hasn’t. Just like the teacher in my childhood story book, I know I am the driver of my own destiny, and I find that very comforting- almost as comforting as sitting on my dad’s lap in the living room just reading a book.