The other day, I wrote about how, because of my parent’s excessive love and care, I lacked the experience required to take care of myself after college. After writing it, someone emailed me and asked:
Is there a reason why your parents put so much focus towards your college education as they have? Do you wish they hadn’t?
My parents are originally from Hong Kong, having immigrated to the States during their high school years. My dad went to school, graduated college and eventually found success in his career as an engineer.
Even though it was never explicitly talked about, I’d hear stories in the news, online and occasionally from family friends, about how people in both Hong Kong and United States, who were less fortunate and had fewer resources and a limited education, struggled to find opportunities for a better life. These stories, paired with my dad’s fortunate success in finding stability in a career that could support his family, implied that we as his children, should follow his footsteps and do whatever is necessary to obtain a college education and perhaps one day, enjoy the same stability in our future as he had.
My parents drew from the only thing they knew: their experience. It was what had worked for them, and it made sense to try and replicate the same steps towards their success. It was the closest thing to any kind of assurance, a guarantee towards a better life for my future.
But after college, I decided not to choose the path they had guided me towards, and instead, choose my own path. Had I decided to pursue a career in Psychology (my major), I would have no doubt that my degree would’ve helped me in more ways than one. But I chose to pursue my own passion and live a life that’s purely dependent on my own abilities and efforts; I chose this path unconditionally with no regrets. Had my parents known that this was to be my future, they would’ve probably prepared me for it, but it’s impossible they could’ve ever known.
So they did the only thing they could: create a path filled with guidance and support based on their own experiences regardless of whether or not that path is chosen.
Parents will forever do their best for their children. They have their children’s best interests at heart and the things they’ve gone through — the obstacles, the hardships, and the regrets — these are all things they try to steer us away from as much as possible, even often to the point of obscuring that topic entirely, all for the sake of us not suffering the way that they had.
It’s difficult being a parent. Not only is it impossible to predict the path your children will choose, but it’s impossible to prepare them entirely for the real world because no matter what we do, there are always circumstances outside of our control, elements outside of our expectations. What might’ve been a sure path for the parents won’t necessarily be the same path as the children’s and the obstacles parents face won’t necessarily be obstacles their children face.
The world we know is ever-evolving, built upon knowledge of every new moment with every passing day, and our experiences of the past may not be enough to accurately predict the future.
I genuinely believe my parents have done the best they could in raising me, and I can’t help but be grateful for all the sacrifices they’ve made to make my life as smooth as possible. For that, I appreciate everything they’ve done and love them for it.