I am Randall Pearson. And as stated in the title, I’d like to make a disclaimer that I do spoil the plot of one of my favorite currently airing television shows, This Is Us.
Why do I like This Is Us? As scripted as the acting can be sometimes and as much as Mandy Moore gets under my skin for fulfilling her victimized mother role, it actually does a decent job of portraying real and complicated issues like adoption, addiction, loss of a loved one, etc. And I must admit that there is something endearing about the stereotypical, exaggerated nature of the characters.
So why do I identify with Randall, the once orphaned, black child adopted and raised by a white family, now grown into a husband, father, and successful individual? Early in Season 1, Randall it is made clear that Randall’s personality was largely shaped by his being adopted. How could it not be? Surrounded by his white family, there was no hiding that he was adopted. A highly intelligent child, Randall also felt the constant need to be perfect. That is a pressure that I’ve felt all my life. Are adopted children more likely to struggle with perfectionism than others? Additionally, Randall suffers from high functioning anxiety, which we know can be related to adoption.
In the first episode, on Randall’s 36th birthday, he seeks out the location of his biological father, William. His intention is to “let him have it”, enumerating the sufferings her endured having been abandoned. He is surprised when he knocks on the door and after saying his piece, his father invites him in to have a “real” conversation. Long story short, he befriends his father, invites him to move in with his family, and after loosing him within the year, mourns him and the lost time that they could have had. However, he does not wish that his childhood had been different or his adoptive family not to have been his family.
In the most recent episode, Randall returns to his father’s old apartment across the state for a box of William’s things. He finds in the box, a poem describing a woman and a sketch of her. Immediately, Randall knocks on every door in the building in an attempt to locate her. Turns out, the poems and drawings were drafted as William looked out of his window at a poster; the mystery woman was Billie Holliday.
I find small pieces of information and dream up grandiose, romantic stories of finding my birth parents. If I found them, as Randall did, maybe I’d fixate and obsess over the little things, too.
But there’s a lesson to be learned. Randall found humor in his somewhat disappointing discovery and used the experience as a way to make a longtime dream of his wife’s come true.
Our lives are not all about us. If we are lucky, our lives are shared. And those who love and support us are on the journey as well. Maybe our own personal disappointments are opportunities to love our family members better.
My husband went to China for me. Before meeting me, China was the last place on earth that he wanted to go. He supported me every step of the way and made countless efforts to help me find my birth parents. I haven’t found them yet and I am okay with that.
There are seasons of life; different times for different focuses. We’re back in the States, we have a beautiful little girl, and my husband has a job that he really enjoys. So what are his dreams? What are the ways that I can give to him?
It’s not give and take. We have a shared life together, each giving 100% (or trying to). Our hopes and dreams are made up of some of his, some of mine, and some that we never would have thought of without the other.
So, thank you, Randall Pearson and I look forward to watching your fictional life continue to pan out tonight!