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Dear Cana,

By: Peter Yao

Middle school is over! What a wild experience! Amid all the fear, uncertainty and struggles caused by the pandemic, you not only survived but also prospered through toils and sweat, setting up such a solid foundation in school work, sports and life skills! At the graduation ceremony, this song "Proud of you!" by Fiona Fung kept coming back to me:


"I can fly, I'm proud that I can fly / To give the best of mine, till the end of the time"

"Nothing can stop me / Spread my wings... so wide"

Yes, more than ever, we believe that you can fly, not only because of your achievements, such as your straight A's, your perfect attendance, the three yearly swimming awards, the rain garden project and the theatre independent project, etc. but most importantly, because we, the whole family, have learned together, through peaks and valleys, the following lessons essential to your amazing progress during the entire middle school years:

● Know thyself, it's the beginning of wisdom.

● A nurturing environment with the right amount of challenge is essential in fostering growth.

● Building a healthy relationship is the hardest thing in the world because our natural instincts stink!

● Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

Let's review each one in detail:

● Know thyself, it's the beginning of wisdom.

The other day on your way to school, we reviewed a picture book from your baby days-- "Three cheers for Tacky"-- with a good laugh. The book is about a penguin named Tacky who is quite different from his peers. He is clumsy, yet fearless and never hesitates to take action. In spite of his shortcomings, Tacky stays true to himself, works hard and helps his team win a competition. "Tacky was an odd bird but a very nice bird to have around.", the book concluded! With laughter, you exclaimed: "Somebody wrote my biography before I was even born!"

Granted, you are not the stereotypical Asian kid, who has figured out his/her life track by middle school, similar to Tacky's penguin friends: Goodly, Lovely, Neatly, Perfect and Angel. On the contrary, you are clumsy, disorganized, socially awkward and slow in doing everything, odd as Tacky. Yet, none of these limitations slowed you down! You plunged ahead into almost everything (keeping your room neat being one of those exceptions) and attained amazing growth in so many areas!

From time to time, you have tasted defeat, isolation and mockery, yet you chose authenticity over conformity, courage over fear, and challenge over comfort. As a result, you found your passion, made a few but true friends, laughed at your own blunders with a good sense of humor, and found your own kind of happiness. Equipped with this precious self-awareness, you have developed resilience, confidence and self-reliance! You also learned that, more often than not, our thoughts are just thoughts in our mind, not reality. Those negative thought patterns, such as over generalization, future prediction, mind reading, filtering, etc. always try to trick us. We need all the discipline and willpower we can muster to be conscious of their threats. In the movie A Beautiful Mind, haunted by his schizophrenia, John Nash put up such a brave fight and got his life back slowly but surely! If we can follow his example to fight against our conditioned minds, we will for sure step into a new world of opportunities, and eventually set ourselves free!

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