Nightime fears/ My Parents

I mentioned before that some nights I can’t sleep because I have stuff on my mind that keeps me up. According to my mother, my father is the exact same way.

Its interesting how much my father and I have in common. More so because I spent way more time with my mother than I ever did with him. My mother gave up her career working for one of the best restaurants in the country when she had my brother. I guess she felt that raising her children was more important. Anyway, she opened up a small bakery in our house where she sold bread, pastries and cakes and catered small parties. One side effect of this was that I had a steady supply of freshed baked bread and pastries as a kid and a great cake every birthday. The other side effect was all three of us kids being able to read on our own by the time we were four years old. My mother would literally pull us away from whatever we were doing and read along with us. She also made sure we did all our schoolwork and got good grades. We had no choice, she was on a first name basis with every teacher I had until I graduated secondary school (high school for you guys) and the consequences of acting up were unpleasant to say the least.
Once I entered JSS (the equivalent of junior high) she reentered the workforce as a junior manager in charge of the canteens for a local factory. By the time I graduated high school she’d worked her way up to a senior manager in charge of all the canteens the company ran in the country. She also opened up a bar/cafe/larger bakery which was remarkably succesful. When the company privatized their canteens, she retired and took them over as a private consultant. In addition to all of this, she supplies bread to my old high school canteen and supplies raw materials to the factory she started out feeding. Pretty impressive huh? At this point, she probably makes more money than my father does. Add on to this the fact that she’s probably one of the most compassionate people I know. She’s my primary role model when it comes to determination/drive.

Now, lets talk about my father. He’s an interesting character. On one level, I feel like know very little about him. However, at the same time, I’m the closest to him in temprament and behavior so I guess I know him better than I think.For most of my childhood I barely saw him. He was working. He’s a civil engineer and a partner in one of the oldest consultancy firms in Ghana. He and a couple of his friends spent most of my childhood trying to get it up and running. HE also spent a couple of years in Nigeria as part of an exodus of Ghanaian professionals that occured in the early 80’s. Now the company is fairly succesful but that is because of the work he put in when I was growing up. He was gone in the mornings before I woke up and back at about the time I went to bed. On weekends he usually was at work. Once in a while he came to church with us, probably to make my mother happy. I remember that I used to be excited on tuesdays because he would come home early to change before heading out to his rotary club meetings. For three years when I was in JSS, he would drive me to school every morning. Because of him, whenever I get into a car, I automatically reach for a seatbelt. I inherited his quietness, wierd sense of humor, love of movies, music, science fiction and good beer, his quiet activism and his open mindedness to the world.

So what has all of this gor to do with my nightime fears? Simple. My greatest fear is *drumroll*
Failing them:
They are both very extraordianry people who think highly of me. I don’t ever want to let them down and yet sometimes I feel like I don’t meet their standards.
Now you’re probably asking why someone in grad school can feel like a failure. Its simple. I should have done better. I had a 1450 on my SAT’s and was accepted into two of the five leading Engineering colleges in this country as an undergraduate. I ended up in a first tier liberal arts college whose physics department routinely sends people to some of the best graduate programs in the country. I, on the other hand, am in a second tier public research university. Worse, I’m not here because its the best I can do, I’m here because I failed to work at my full potential I’m smarter than this. I know it and my parents know it, though they’ll never say it to my face. Right now, I’m starting to fix the parts of me that keep me working below my capabilities but I’m scared I’ll fail and continue to slip. Close to mid terms, stuff like this keeps me up at night.

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