Day 5: The Feeling of “Never Good Enough”

While I was growing up, my parents had very contradictory ways of showing their support.

I was envious of the other students who got a pat on their back when they scored 80% on a test. When I scored 90%, my parents would look at me and ask why I didn’t get 100%.

So I would study hard and get 95% on the next test. Once again, my parents would ask me why I didn’t get 100%.

Eventually, I would get 100% and announce it to my parents with pride. Sometimes, they would ask me how many other students got 100%. Other times, my mom would respond with “Good job, keep doing that” and my dad would give me the “nod of approval”.

That was it.

It was… not good enough.

All throughout my childhood and even as I was growing up, I was trying so hard—but, there was always something that I could’ve done better in the eyes of my parents. And yes, I can always do better! But it would have been nice to receive some acknowledgement along the way.

I still remember the end of my Grade 8 school year…

We had our Year End Award Ceremony, and they called our parents to attend and support the students. Based on my report cards and feedback from teachers, I thought that I was going to bring home an award. So I told my mom to attend the ceremony.

She attended. They called out the names of the Award Recipients. One by one, I saw some of my friends go up. I cheered them on. But… they never ended up calling my name.

That feeling of dread prickled down my spine as everyone stood up to exit the ceremony… I saw my mom at the back and my heart dropped when I saw her face. Needless to say, Disappointment was our unexpected companion on the car ride home.

Do you know how embarrassed I was when the other parents cheered on their children and I couldn’t do the same?

She went home and ranted to my father that evening.

(To this day, I still cringe at this memory…)

I went home that night and cried. and cried. and cried. I was not good enough.

I am so sorry that I am such a disappointment to you both. You’ve worked so hard to raise me… but, I have done nothing to make you proud.

For the next year, I worked my ass off in all of my classes and extracurriculars.

The Year End Award ceremony was coming up once again, and I told my mom not to get her hopes up. My parents still came because it was my Grade 9 Graduation.

Somehow, they called my name three different times.

…I won the Science Award

…and the English Award

…and the Math Award.

I still remember walking up on stage for the third time, and seeing a sea of faces full of surprise and awe. This time, I could see my mother’s face at the back—and my heart lurched.

That was it.

It was finally… good enough.

[To be continued…]

Thanks for following my #100DayChallenge series… The goal is to blog everyday for 100 days in a row. Through this series, I hope to share more about my personal life to complement the career content that I usually create. I will also be exploring some more creative writing styles.