A few weeks back, I attended the wake of my best friend’s grandpa and since we grew up together, a lot of her family members recognized me even after so many years and asked me how I was doing. I don’t know why but lots of people thought that I went to grad school just like my friend, because I “seemed like the type to do that”. I clarified that I was already working, with no plans to go back to school. My candid response was met with shock; they were expecting me (read: putting pressure on me) to go back to school, look for better opportunities abroad, or just perform better than my peers.
When I look at it that way, somehow I feel like I have disappointed my parents, especially my mom. I mean, since grade school, they have already pushed me so hard to excel and be better than my classmates even though I didn’t care about it one bit. As a child, I liked studying, but I didn’t like how studying was always tied to grades and how people around you judge you for getting the grades that you got. I know some people would laugh at me and tell me, “But grades don’t define your intelligence.” Well, they do define how people measure your abilities and how people perceive you.
Now, before telling me that I am complaining because I was one of those kids who failed at school (and life) early on, let me clarify one thing: I actually did pretty well during my school years. I deliberately fooled around during my high school years because I was so tired of all the pressure but I still got pretty good grades. Not very high, but pretty good. I was a consistent part of the Dean’s List in college as well.
I think this is also why I am being pressured right now to pursue all those things. They know I can do it and they are expecting me to do it. My parents are on Facebook and I know they see my former classmates’ photos and status updates about them working abroad or getting accepted into law school while I don’t have anything to brag about on social media. Most of all, my siblings are already doing so much with their lives (my brother is a doctor and my sister is getting her Master’s degree) so they want me to do the same.
I am tired of being forced or pressured to do something I am not fully interested in. Yes, I have a college degree which I find really cool and interesting in so many ways. I had fun learning all about it. But do I really know what to do with this degree? Do I really want to do this for the rest of my life? I am actually not sure. I took this course because my parents and teachers told me it was a good one and I can earn big bucks with it. Okay. The way I’m seeing it based on everyone else’s opinion, school is just for earning credentials or just a way to prep myself to work abroad (which is something I don’t want to do). I’m sorry, but that was never the way I viewed school. That’s why I don’t want to do all those things just to have something to brag about. If I do it, I should be doing it because I really wanted it.
Most importantly, I want to be successful on my own terms. Yes, my former classmates are making it big and are doing all sorts of things in their lives, but so what? I don’t feel like I’m being left behind because that’s not how I measure my success in life. My work is going well and I’m learning so much about it every day. I am financially capable. I get to explore different places and learn a lot about different cultures by travelling. I find solace in writing about my life and my adventures. I have good relationships with the people around me. I am taking everything one step at a time and now, I still don’t find the need to move on to bigger things because I’m still getting used to everything that the real world has to offer. I am not dismissing the possibility of me going back to school or moving out of the country. Maybe I will someday, maybe it will never happen. Who knows? I just hope people stop comparing me to others because I’ve already done enough comparing my whole life. I really don’t need all this negativity right now, not when I’m just starting to feel good about my first step into the real world.