If I had to name a time when I felt I had grown with full certainty, it would be when my father passed away and left my mother, sister and I alone several years ago. I was just a random high school kid who hadn’t even turned sixteen yet and I was suddenly man of the house. Or to be more specific, I was the only one left.
This was a time where I found myself contemplating the nature of life and death as well as what it meant to live and a great many other things. I was a normal kid who had been exposed to the death of an extremely important figure in my life and it had become a catalyst which had affected my worldview and perceptions of reality. Concepts which weren’t usually the norm for people of my age to be thinking about became things which wouldn’t leave my mind. The sheer fragility of my own life and the weight of my mortality had been impressed upon me as if someone had flipped a switch and gravity had suddenly intensified. The idea I could die at any moment so easily and so quickly, blown away like dust in the wind, terrified me and prompted me to do some soul searching. It was at this time I felt I truly understood what it meant to be mortal. The more I continued feeding these trains of thought, I realized just how different I was becoming compared to many of my peers. I began to see other adolescents around my age in a different light, feeling myself getting uncomfortable around them due to how different I felt. Not even a month had gone by and I already found myself acquiring a more “mature” mindset since I had practically been forced to wise up.
Along with accepting the reality of the father who had raised me for years on end being gone, I also needed to be strong for my family. While I held my studies in high regard before, they became something I viewed as absolutely vital to my life. I was determined to complete my education so I could get a job and to do my father justice by taking the mantle he had passed down to me and take care of our family in his stead. I had responsibilities to both myself and them to uphold. Failure was not an option for me.
However, I also sought to make sure I was happy in the future. After coming to terms with just how short life can be and the ease at which it can be snuffed out, I gained the desire to enjoy my life to the best of my ability. There are so many people in the world who have had regrets, could not feel content with themselves and broke down under the weight of the responsibilities in the lives they lived. Even if they were successful, they weren’t happy. This wasn’t a reality I wanted to live. If I was going to be successful, I wanted to make sure being happy was one of the conditions towards achieving that one ideal. I wanted a future, but I also sought to be happy and enjoy the time I have on this world while it’s still there. As such, being happy became another responsibility of mine, one which my family had also agreed on.
As cynical as this sounds, achieving this balance was no easy task in real life. Despite how many people say otherwise, finding the best of both worlds, of happiness and success, is a road filled with great struggles and tribulations. To achieve both is a struggle in of itself. Life isn’t easy. But it wasn’t meant to be either. To struggle and push on in the face of adversity, to keep making choices and dealing with the consequences, is what it means to live.
Looking back, I sometimes find myself shocked to see the person I was before became who I am today. But life is funny that way. One day you could be a regular kid going through the motions of routine. On another day life could suddenly grab you by the scruff of the neck and throw you into the thick of things to see if you can get back up, and get back up I have. Like any other human, I run into roadblocks and obstacles, often making missteps in the path I am walking. And as I walk, I have a certain weight on my back which had been passed down to me by another. Do I regret any of it? No, I do not. My father before me hadn’t and neither will I. Regret would impede me from moving forward. As such, the way to deal with it is to move on.
At the end of the day, I am merely a mortal with responsibilities to carry just like anybody else.