As the daughter of two hard working parents born in the Philippines, I had often faced the dilemma of walking on a tightrope of expectations.
For years, I witnessed my parents give up the American dream and come home from grueling graveyard shifts to provide their children with one of the greatest luxuries: an education.
First generation immigrants, like myself, are all too familiar with this sense of duty to compensate for our parents’ hardship. We are expected to be greater, richer and more materialistically abundant than our parents, because to them that is a measurement of their success.
Believing this, I never quite found the audacity to question this so-called “burden” or the placing of such high expectations on my shoulders
This constant reminder often dictates every aspect of our lives and in the process we tend to lose sight of our true aspirations.
As such, my career options were limited to more lucrative jobs such as a physician, a lawyer or a nurse, someone who could serve as a validation of my family’s struggles.
Before ridiculing this seemingly money driven mentality, I often ask people if their views would change had their parents left everything they knew, loved and cherished behind. The painstaking ordeal of assimilating into a whole new culture and diving into financial uncertainty can be quite a menace in the lives of people who are risking it all for a better future.
Believing this, I never quite found the audacity to question this so-called “burden” or the placing of such high expectations on my shoulders. I assumed that as soon I got a respectable degree that our lives would simply turn out for the best.
For some people, however, life doesn’t play out that simply.
Demoralized, I soon realized that my journey to success was not going to take place on a perfectly paved path. Failure, career changes and toxic relationships were all tough pills to swallow along this arduous journey called life.
Initially, a sense of futility washed over me as I sensed my life suddenly take a nosedive into uncertainty. What do I want to do with my life? Will I ever graduate college? Are my family’s efforts all for nothing?
These are theinner monologues that occupy the minds of the children whose parents made an ultimate sacrifice. However, we should not let these doubts, anxieties and expectations invalidate how we truly feel, what we truly want for ourselves and what we want for our parents.
I obtained intellectual maturity through my classes and gained a sense that I was getting closer toreaching my true potential
I grew to accept that money can only provide happiness to a certain extent, and a respectable job will prove unfulfilling if you are not passionately invested in it.
In the process of accepting these truths, I stopped solely striving for financial stability. I obtained intellectual maturity through my classes and gained a sense that I was getting closer toreaching my true potential. Caffeinated brain cells and all, my life become more meaningful regardless of the hardship.
This may not be the case for every individual facing this dilemma and there are some out there who find meaning in the careers and majors their families had chosen for them, which is perfectly fine.
However, we should still have the option to make autonomous decisions and to choose our lifestyles based on what we deem fitting.
There is not a singular path to success. Our parents do not have to work dead end jobs and the opportunities of this country should not be limited to the younger generations.
Thus, our parents do not have to give up the American dream and we do not have to enslave ourselves to this duty that we alone can liberate our families from hardship.