About a week ago, I did the one thing I have always feared doing– which is tell my dad that I have a boyfriend. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I deliberately hide these things from him, but it’s only because I always worry about how he would react to certain things.
You see, I am his only daughter, and I am his first child. He is protective over me, and he genuinely looks out for my best interests. The one reason why I always hold myself back from being completely honest with him is because he always warned me to only enter into a romantic relationship when I start working, lest I get distracted and lose focus on my studies. He has always been particularly strict on me, so yes. Growing up, I was always afraid of him.
I cannot even begin to describe how nervous I was as tried to word what I had wanted to tell him for a long time. I know, it sounds ludicrous; the fact that I am 22, and still too afraid to broach the topic of relationships with my father. I was cutting the cores off apple slices as I stuttered to him, “Pa, I have something to tell you.” He answered with a nonchalant, “what?” and I lost it. I burst into a fit of giggles.
I know, totally not the reaction people would expect from someone making a potentially life-threatening confession, but that was my instinctual reaction… Laughter. Uncontrollable laughter, tinged with evident nervousness.
As I struggled to maintain composure, I had thoughts of backing out and just saying, “oh, nothing important” and brushing it off. I realized, however, that it was too late, because who backs out after someone says “I have something to tell you”? Only the cruel, that’s who.
I mustered up all the courage I had (which, at that time, wasn’t much) and just told him straight up, “I have someone”. I studied his facial cues carefully, and if he was surprised, he did not show it. He replied with a curt, “… And?” And I burst out laughing again.
Oh, God. I am an embarrassment.
After a brief description about the guy I’m currently seeing, he just said “okay” and proceeded to give me advice about how I shouldn’t let my emotions cloud my judgment and focus. One quote he gave that has been ingrained in my memory is, “Emotions come and go. Just don’t let them cause you to lose sight of your goals in life,” and then it hit me…
He was only looking out for me this entire time. I pride myself in having my life planned out to a T. I know that I want to pursue my master’s degree, I know I want to get married at 30, and I know that I want to achieve annually in terms of personal growth. He knows that, and his only concern was that I would allow petty things to sway my judgment. I reassured him that I am sure-footed and determined to achieve what I want to achieve, and that is that.
I told him, then, that he would not be able to meet my boyfriend anytime soon because he’s studying away from home. I said to him, “He’s coming back in January, maybe I’ll bring him home then.” His only response? “What do you mean maybe?” “Okay, okay. I will bring him home in January.”
I learned so many things about my dad that night. For so many years, I lived in fear of how he would react to things only because he is more conservative than my mother is, so he set a benchmark that was rather high– in my eyes at least.
That night, I learned of my father’s love for me– unconditional, albeit in the most silent of ways. I learned that he is more supportive of my dreams than I ever realized. I learned also that above all, my dad is irreplaceable, despite his flaws.. And I wouldn’t trade him for the world.