When I was in middle school and in my earlier years of high school, I saw college and the rest of my future as an amazing and exciting journey of learning and and the attempt to satisfy my greatest curiosities. But as I began college, I knew better. College is about paying more money than your family has to compete against your peers for who can do better on exams. It’s about maybe majoring in something you’re not completely interested in, just because it’s more likely to get you a job. As a child of refugees and immigrants who never went to college, my siblings and I have a lot of pressure to ‘make it’ in America. Being the youngest child, my parents put me through private school for seven years, hoping that one day I’ll make enough money to pay them back ten times over by becoming a lawyer, doctor, businesswoman, whatever. As long as I can make a lot of money to support both myself and my parents, I’ll make them happy.
But what if I don’t know what I want to do the rest of my life? What if I’ll be in so much debt, I’ll have to ask them for help. With constantly rising tuition rates at UCLA, I’m not even sure how I’ll pay for school next year. Because my parents, and our society for that matter, expect so much from me, I had to tack on an Economics major, in addition to my pursuit of an International Development Studies degree. Major in something practical, my family said. What do you want to do with an International Development Studies major, people ask. I don’t know, but will you give me time to figure it out, instead of pressuring me to know what the rest of my life will look like. Can I go back to the idea of, “You can be anything you want, honey.” Oh, how much I would love to return to that innocence in middle school when I could just enjoy learning, without the constant nagging of, “What will you do?”
Give me the time and means, and I swear I’ll figure it out. Eventually.
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