I’ve always strived to be good – to ace that test, run the race, to find the answer. But I had never really thought about my life as a whole. Who am I, and where am I going?
In May 2017, I was officially finished with my undergraduate education! I was especially excited to have my family here to celebrate this joyous occasion with me. But having my parents and my sister stay in my measly midtown apartment wasn’t so easy. ‘This week was supposed to be about me’, I thought. I had successfully completed four painstakingly arduous years of college education away from home, and now it was time to honor that. But as the week went by, I was starting become tired down by the constant need to satisfy my parents’ jetlagged, awkwardly-timed hunger, both for food and visiting attractions in New York City. On top of that, I was in the process of moving out of my apartment, so I couldn’t even find where anything was amongst the storm that was the disarray of suitcases and clothes. Disoriented and stressed out from having to play the tour guide… There I was, kindling a love-hate relationship with my family all inside my own head.
The night before my all-university commencement day, I suddenly realized that this week wasn’t about celebrating my achievements. In fact, this was all thanks to my mom and dad. They had poured their support and resources into my education and to helping me study what I wanted to pursue in life. I had been so preoccupied with getting the attention that I did not even deserve that I’d totally been ignorant of how thankful I should be for my parents. Truthfully, sometimes it’s the people who are the closest and most precious to you that you find the hardest to be grateful for.
Anyway, we ended up going to all kinds of fun places and eating delicious food!
Some of these treats included:
- Mille Feuille Crepe cakes at Lady M
- Post-Graduation Soba at Sobaya
- Brick-oven pizzas at Barboncino Pizza
- A perfect French brunch at Buvette
- Banana Pudding at Magnolia Bakery
- Sunday morning açai bowls and smoothies
- Delicious vegan burgers, toast, and fries at By Chloe
We also went downtown to ride the Staten Island Ferry (Dad’s wish), and to shop at Century 21 (Mom’s wish). I also got myself a pair of beautiful slip-on leather shoes!
My personal photographer, aka my younger sister Lisa, made up for the regret I had for not signing up for graduation portraits.
The week was very hectic and crazy – and a part of me was longing for a break and some solitude where I could find some peace of mind. But when my parents left (Lisa will be staying with me in NYC for a little while longer), I felt an empty sadness that reminded me that there probably won’t be that many more occasions where the four of us will be together. No longer a student, I will go on to start work, and so will my sister in a few years. We will each grow our own lives and maybe have our own families in the future, and the times we spent as a unit of four might just become hazy memories. Of course, we as a family often talked about this even when I was in college, since I was basically halfway across the globe from them most of the time. But with graduation, this reality really hit me right in the face.
Along with the emotional rollercoaster I was on during this week, I also experienced a bittersweet realization that all people change to some extent. Safe and protected under the wings of my parents, I had been an obedient daughter whose priority was to make my parents proud. However, spending years away from that environment had exposed me to more chances of discovering myself as a person, and finding new meaning to setting each goal and working towards achieving it. Through all of this, I had learned new things and formed new opinions that perhaps clashed a little with my parents’. While talking about this with my sister, she also agreed that the few years she has spent at her college had changed her, too.
I believe this is a natural process that cannot be helped. It is not necessarily a bad thing, either, although I guess the prospect of change can be a bit frightening sometimes. At the core, I am still the daughter and the sister that my family knows; the new lessons I learn, the new people I meet and take to be a part of my life, and the new adventures I have will ultimately become valuable additions to what I can share with them.
Shortly before my mom left for the airport, she left a little piece of paper in my hand as she got in the cab. Reading her handwritten letter back in my apartment, I couldn’t help but tear up as I read her heartfelt sentiments and advice for the future. I admit that I had moments of fear and disappointment when I thought my parents’ questioning and nagging was a sign that they didn’t trust me, or weren’t confident that I would succeed; my mom’s letter made me realize that in reality, they’re just looking out for their children.
I am now sitting in a new room, about to start studying for my upcoming test for my Master’s in Accounting class. (Oh, did I totally forget to mention that my CPA program requires me to take classes all summer long!?)
Maybe I’ll shoot my parents a text first.