I have always had a difficult childhood, to say the least.
Being diagnosed with a mild case of autism as a child, I was an isolated individual.
If one went to my old elementary school during recess, they could have seen groups of happy children playing, romping around on the playground, their yells and hollers of merriment filling the air with mirth… only to see a lonely kid wandering around by himself, hopelessly lost in what was supposed to be a time of fun and pleasure. That kid was me.
Needless to say, I was a very miserable kid, with next-to-no motivation in life other than to simply continue as the way I was. I was not very studious or ambitious, preferring life to remain the way it was despite the less than satisfactory state it was in.
My parents tried their best, they truly did, and while it worked to some extent in rousing me from my nihilistic stupor, it was one individual’s role in my life that truly allowed me to dream big and realize that I too could accomplish them.
This individual was my uncle Zhiwei.
My father’s younger brother, my uncle had always been the definition of success. As a young boy, he had grown up during Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the whole of China being devastated by his draconian policies. He had worked his way through school with sheer effort, earning a Bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of International Business and Economics before making his way to the US for graduate school.
He studied immensely hard during his time in America, acing the GRE and scoring a spot in the University of California San Diego’s economics Ph. D. program. With his strong work ethic and humble, yet brilliant nature, he was a significant presence in my life.
Despite frequently traveling the world for business meetings, he always made time to call my father and by extension, me. Throughout my troubled childhood, I could always rely on him as a source of meaningful advice and encouragement.
He was and still is a second father to me, his words being the supporting mechanisms that allowed me to break free from the shackles of my own incompetence and realize my own potential.
His words have strengthened me over the years, allowing me to become more confident, social, and capable of tackling the problems society and the world threw at me. I transformed myself from an immature, incompetent child to a responsible, respectful adolescent.
Even now, just when I finished my first year of university and on the cusp of adulthood, I still think back to the numerous times throughout my life he has helped me out of my shell and aided in my growth as an individual. I owe it to his mentorship, along with that of my parents, that I was placed on the right track today.
He is and always will remain a vital presence in my life, having changed it for the better. As I step into a bright future, I know I will always have his support and love.