Whether we like him, know him, love him or revile him, everyone’s got one. He is half our DNA and maybe sometimes the source of all of our frustration or joy.
So often in society, fathers are depicted as one of a few stereotypes. Same with mothers. But for this Challenge, we wanted to read stories about individuals who happened to be fathers. We wanted to learn about your lives through your fathers. Not only how they impacted you but how you took their impressions and created your own lives.
Your essays were filled with spirit and pain, love and good riddance. Above all, they confirmed that no father is the same as any other and therefore none of us are the same. It feels obvious as we write it but so often we forget that every face we see is an individual sprouted from two more individuals.
Here are the winners of the Father’s Footstep Challenge and spotlight on one of the Runners-Up. You can check out the full list of winners HERE.
$500 Grand Prize Winner
Alvin Ang for An Open Letter to My Workaholic Father
We received so many incredible essays for this Challenge it was truly difficult to choose a winner. But there was something very true in the writing of this essay, the way the speaker addressed his father and spoke of him simultaneously. We felt that he was lamenting his father while celebrating him. This may sound convoluted, this duality, but it’s exactly what we do as humans. We celebrate people even when they cause us pain, we learn from them but only later, years after the lessons were given. And isn’t that what fathers and parents do? They champion us, tear us down, raise us, give us their all, abandon us, love us too much, and yet, ultimately, they shape us.
This essay is about misunderstanding leading to understanding. It’s a perfect encapsulation of growth and perspective. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking. We were especially moved by the prawns and the hurt in their eyes, the same confusion young Alvin may have had toward his father. That’s good writing. Congratulations, Alvin Ang!
$250 Second Place Winner
Ronke Babajide for Our Fathers’ Dream and Disappointments
Babajide’s essay gave us the feeling that she was still working out her feelings toward her father and his native Nigeria. This is what drew us in most, this very human fact that we are constantly reevaluating and further understanding our parents and their history and how it has affected us. We felt a sense of thanks but also frustration at the source of so much of the author’s success, her life trajectory. What could have happened? What should have happened?
This essay was also beautifully written, exacting and clear, just like the sciences themselves. We learned so much about a generation of men and therefore so much about their children. Thank you for teaching us and congratulations, Ronke Babajide!
Tim Bentley for The Architect
We loved this essay for its unbridled reality. Stuffed with colorful detail and a billowing voice, it was a very fun read, even if the details of the story are less than fun or funny. Still, we could hear Bentley’s good cheer in the face of his step father. We felt like we met the man who wrote the essay. A lot of people search a long time to find such a confident voice. Well done, Tim Bentley!