Shoes I’m Trying to Fill

We lost a colleague so suddenly to pancreatic cancer this week.

For some time, he’d been talking about discomfort in his stomach which he initially thought was just excess gas. The doctor released his findings last Thursday, our friend passed Friday evening.

We mourn that we’ve lost him but part of me is wondering: Who will have the right feet to fill the shoes he left? He was in-charge of conducting technical and leadership workshops with around 30 years of experience under his belt. He was a jovial chap who loved his family and who treated all his peers like family. He’ll be greatly missed. It’s difficult to imagine where or how we can find the perfect replacement – someone who’ll carry on with the same exciting and excited demeanor.

Is this fear inherent in all of us? Of taking on something that was gloriously done by another?

When I decided to take up engineering, everybody who knew my father thought I wasn’t supposed to take any other major. The apple shouldn’t fall far from the tree, right?

Those who actually asked would know that I didn’t decide on engineering because of obligation. I took up engineering because it looked like a real challenge. I relished the idea of being outside my comfort zone.

Little did I realize that I was shooting myself in the foot by pursuing something that dad does exceedingly well. He finished first in his board exams; he and his team developed the geothermal plants now powering about half of our region; and he currently runs his own design firm focused on high power generation. You get the picture. His career has been nothing but successful.

As the spotlight turns to me, I don’t fancy its glare. Because under the spotlight I’m encapsulated by his shadow. While my dad has assured me, in his way, that I don’t need to be exactly like him, I find it hard to shake off the pressure. So many times, when I’m making difficult choices, I would wonder what he would do. An undeniable fear of screwing up would haunt me for days.

Am I being too hard on myself? Shouldn’t the question be: What would Nel do?

In there lies the real challenge: making those decisions that reflect my principles. Though many of these principles were inculcated through values and ideals handed down by parents, mentors and teachers, shouldn’t I allow myself to express these in the ways I choose?

The colleague we lost, my dad, people who inspire – their shoes won’t ever be on another’s feet. Instead of trying to fill their shoes, I guess it’s time to find the ones I’m meant to fill.


©Nel 2014

11 December 2014 | Cebu City

6 thoughts on “Shoes I’m Trying to Fill

    • Thanks Ann. We were at his wake some nights ago and talked to his family. I could tell that he’ll be missed by all the lives he touched.

      As for me, it’s a process of finding the shoes I’m meant to fill but your belief that I’ll make it through is heart-warming. Thanks!


  1. Wow. This is an impressive post.This line says it all: “under the spotlight I’m encapsulated by his shadow.” The challenges you face are, perhaps, more imagined than real, but the imagination makes them really hard to overcome. That shadow…it’s overwhelming at times. But I suspect you will walk right into it and emerge on the other side, standing their in your own shiny shoes.

    Sorry about your colleague. That is an incredible story. Diagnosed Thursday, dead Friday? Sheesh..Actually, if I had to have cancer, that’s the way I’d hope for it to go.

    • Thank you for the compliment, Linda. My colleague’s death somehow allowed me to face my own demons – to be unafraid to be all I can be and to live everyday with a happy outlook.

      Life’s truly too short and we tend to forget that sometimes.

Help me find my way.

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