Today, I am 10 whole years old. My father had bought me a cake - rainbow frosting and swirls on top. I’m eating it in my bedroom, watching the maid swap out the blankets on my king-sized bed, looking at my newly painted royal blue walls, which I feel is much more fitting for my mature age. After all, I am in double digits now.
My mother is out, probably in the courts as usual, “Arguing for the freedom of people!” she always says. My father is out, saving lives at our local hospital. So that leaves me, all alone in this mansion of ours, all 5 floors of it - well, except for the maids and my nanny of course. She’s always watching me. I can’t go outside because she's says it’s not safe. So all I can do is stare out my window at all those other kids having fun; they don’t seem like they’re getting hurt in any way. I’ve told her that many times, but she says I should be satisfied because I have all these things they don’t have, like ballet classes and piano lessons.
Since there is nothing for me to do, I take out my diary from my secret hiding place, an old shoebox at the back of my closet. I start to write.
My day is going boringly as usual. This morning, my parents told me about doing well in school, good grades, they say, can get me a great job that pays well. My parents tell me that when I’m old, I ought to be someone who is respected, like a teacher or a nurse or even a lawyer like my mom. Teacher is my top choice right now, and if I do become one, I want to be just like my english teacher, Ms. Mei. She always spends time with me so I don’t feel lonely, the way I feel everyday by myself at home. Because of her, I’m always looking forward to school. Plus, I love writing, so English has always been my favorite class. Ms. Mei's encouragement only makes me enjoy writing even more."
My nanny is calling. Annoyed, I trudge out.
“What do you do all day?” she asks.
I just stare back.
“I said, what do you do all day. Besides staring out that window of yours,” she repeats herself.
I stare at the floor.
She snaps her fingers at me. “Hello?” she calls, “I would think you can answer a simple question, no?”
I am suddenly very lonely, very annoyed, and very very angry. “Well, what can I do?! You don’t let me go outside. Ever! I’m always at home. I can’t go outside because it’s not safe. I can’t use the computer because it’s bad for my eyes. I can’t even have a snack when I want to!” I spew this out at her, ranting and clenching my fists on my birthday dress. It’s so unfair. Where is the justice in all of this?
She blinks. And stares. And blinks again.
Finally, she sighs. “You’ll never accomplish anything in life if you keep that attitude of yours,” she says matter-of-factly. Then she walks away.
I sit down. The floor is wet because it had just been mopped. It soaks into my dress and leaves wet stains. I’m crying, all hurt and mad, with my face scrunched up and my tears streaming down and snot bubbling from my nose. “It’s just not fair,” I tell myself, over and over and over again.
Today, I am 16 years old. I get home from school and walk up the stairs. My mom is home today for once, and she greets me with a hug.
“So honey, have you thought about your future career yet?” she asks with a tentative smile.
“No,” I say and walk past her.
That’s all she asks me these days. How should I know what I want as a future career when I am not allowed to do anything by go to school and take piano lessons?
I see mail from me, dropped off on my desk. It's from Writer's World, a magazine that publishes the most noteworthy submissions they receive in their monthly issues. I open it and skim down to where it says "We are sorry to inform you..." I stop reading. I've read that sentence many times. I smooth out the letter and pin it up on my bulletin board with the other rejection letters.
I plop down on my bed and stare at my fading blue walls. It’s a shame, I think, that I have the money, the grades, the time, the energy, but no dream worth chasing. The only thing I feel I can do decently well is write, and even that isn't good enough. I can't even get my writing published in a tiny magazine like Writer's World.
I sigh and sigh and sigh again.
My mom overhears me and pokes her head into my room. “You know, you’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude of yours,” she tells me.
I’ve been hearing that all my life, so all I do is nod and turn away.
Today, I am 22 years old. My college graduation ceremony has just ended, and I am surrounded by my friends, a second family to me. I had graduated with a degree in business, because after all, that seemed like a rather safe road to travel down. I had wanted to major in English, but my parents had advised me against it. "You can make much more money with a degree in business," they had said. Besides, they're the ones paying for my college education, so who am I to argue. It doesn’t even matter because my mother has already gotten me a job at her friend’s company, a boutique law firm specializing in stocks and hedge funds. In fact, I start tomorrow.
I’m meeting up with my friends. Everyone is congratulating each other, diplomas in our hands, smiles on our lips, and tears in our eyes. Suddenly, my friend Rose turns to me.
“Wow congratulations. I heard you already got a job,” she says.
“Yea I start tomorrow.”
My other friends began pitching in.
I hear murmurs of congratulations.
“Well, aren’t you lucky,” Rose says.
Everyone nods in agreement.
“You have your whole life set up for you,” she continues. “You have rich parents, a huge house, a good degree, and a new high paying job.” Her smile seems more and more like a sneer each second.
I smile weakly. “Yea, lucky me,” I manage to say.
Rose laughs loudly. “Cheer up,” she says “You’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude of yours.”
I never heard from Rose again.
Today, I am 29 years old. I’m walking out of the company I’ve been working at for 7 years. I had just quit.
Back in her office, my boss had shaken her head at me when I told her I wanted to leave in order to figure myself out.
“What do you got to figure out? You’re 29 years old and you have a good business career ahead of you,” she asks me.
“I don’t think this is right for me,” I tell her.
Before I left, she said “You know, you’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude of yours.”
I’m starting to believe it.
Today, I am 31 years old. I walk into my house at midnight, wiped out. I had just come home from a late night poetry slam. It’s become a routine for me. The rhymes, the lyrics, the words, the tension, and all the emotions always builds such an inspiring environment in that tiny pub.
I lay down in bed, then bolt right up. I walk over to my desk, switch on the light, and start to write.
The next morning, my mom finds me at my desk, in my clothes from the night before, squinting at my laptop with a cup of coffee near by.
She sighs. “What are you doing with your life,” she asks me quietly.
“I don’t know.” I’m giving her the honest answer.
“You know, you’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude of yours.”When she's gone, I cry. Because it seems to be rather true for me after all.
Today, I am 33 years old. I wake up, put on a blouse, black pants, and my comfiest pair of black flats. Today is a big day. I am going to a book signing for my first ever best seller, a book I had written in no more than a week, hunched over my desk at my parent's house two years ago. Because of this book, I made enough money to finally move out.
I smile and walk out the door. My fans are waiting for me.
As I get near the building, I see the line winding down the streets. I see copies of my book in hundreds of hands.
I run into someone on the street. It’s my old boss. I had knocked some papers out of her hand and I stoop down to pick them up.
She stands over me, watching me work. “What, you’re not even going to apologize?” she scoffs.
“Well I’m helping you pick up the papers aren’t I? But okay, yes, I do apologize” I tell her, to avoid conflict.
“I’m on my way to something important,” she tells me. “You should’ve kept working with me these past few years. The company is doing very well now.”
“No, that’s okay,” I tell her. “I’m doing pretty well now too.”
“Really,” she says, all sarcastic.
Rather offended, I tell her “yes,” just one word, all short and curt.
She looks at me. “You still haven’t learned your lesson, so I’ll repeat it again. You know, you’ll never accomplish anything with that attitude of yours.”
I laugh, because now, I realize that my list of accomplishments will be long, and the path I take to get there will be fulfilling. I have decades more to add to my list of accomplishments, and I cannot wait to see what has yet to come.