Because you’ve already come this far
We all have a game we’re trying to win. A dream we’re trying to turn into reality.
Every generation plays a different game with different rules and different variables to optimize for.
The game I’m trying to win is definitely distinct from the one my parents played and requires a stronger appetite for risk. When I explain the risks I’d like to take to my parents, I’m usually met with a furrowed brow and squinting eyes as if they’re trying to see through the fog of uncertainty that comes with my future plans.
Their skepticism isn’t baseless.
Even though they’ve succeeded in the game of the American Dream and have built a comfortable life now, the trauma they experienced is deeply ingrained. At the core, I believe trauma is when trust is broken. It’s when certain expectations have been communicated to you, and you work hard to meet them, but ultimately it’s not enough.
For my parents, it went like this:
There’s a game that everyone is playing.
The American Dream.
They tell you, you can play too!
They even explain the rules to you:
Here’s what it’ll take to win.
Here’s when you have to show up,
what you should wear,
and a list of things to pack.
You have to work hard and be the best.
It won’t be easy,
but you want to win this game desperately.
You show up on time. Early even.
You wear the best thing you own,
Borrowing pieces from your family and friends
to look the part.
You pack everything on the list they give you,
and even bring some extra items
in case someone else might need it.
but not a monster, after all.
When the game finally starts,
They laugh at you.
It’s not enough. You’re not enough.
Oh, and those rules we told you yesterday?
We change them whenever we want.
You have no chance of winning.
Even if you’re the best one at this table,
We still won’t let you win.
You’re disheartened. You’re Exhausted.
Because you’ve already come this far,
you try to win anyways.
With all that you have.
until one day –
against all odds –
What’s the game you’re trying to win?
Stories by Shiv is part of Wayfinder, a writer collective exploring questions that matter.