My mother and I have never been too good at communicating with each other. I
remember in early elementary school when I was still fluent in Mandarin, I could to
talk to her very easily. But as schoolwork piled up, my English skills improved and
my mom began to work full time, we kind of broke off into our own separate worlds.
I gradually spoke less and less Mandarin at home and my siblings followed. My
younger brother and sister and I would have our own conversations at the dinner
table and my parents would have theirs. Since my parents’ English is limited, this
growing language barrier made it more difficult for us to communicate with each
other. Even so, I’ve always known that my parents love us and they want the best
for us. Even though the words “I love you” have never been said out loud between
the two of us, I don’t need to hear these words to know they’re true.
My mom didn’t have the chance to go to college so her goal as a mother was
always to get all three of her children into good schools and later, have us find stable
jobs so that we don’t have to go through the same struggles as her and my father
whom they immigrated to the U.S. But in my mother’s mind, success is associated
with doing the usual office jobs and achieving wealth. My brother told me that when
he decided to major in Film Studies at his liberal arts college, my mom called him
one day just to persuade him not to major in that field.
“What are you going to do after graduation anyway? You cannot make a lot of
money studying film,” were her main arguments against his decision. Last semester,
my mom even called me to try to get me to tell my brother not to major in film. But
being his older sister, I know that nothing I said would really change his mind. And
if he’s interested in the field, he should be able to do what he likes.
I went into Smith not knowing anything about economics, but after taking a
few interesting courses in the department I decided to major in the subject during the fall
semester of my sophomore year. Plus, it would make my parents happy. But as the
years went on and I took more courses, I discovered that I wasn’t truly passionate
about the subject. I liked my education and East Asian languages and literature
classes more. I decided to minor in Education and apply for the Translation Studies
Concentration. That, I believed would give me more options and allow me to further
explore my interests. I began applying for internships, but I didn’t really have a
specific goal in mind. Some experience was all I wanted. I know I do have to create
goals for myself and figure out the best way to achieve them, but I’m not ready yet.
I’m not even really sure of my own definition of success. Talking about my
own idea of success is quite difficult now because my notions of success has
definitely been influences by my patents. Of course, I want to make my parents
proud, but I also want to be happy and comfortable with my life. I know they’ve
struggled to put me through college and that they only want the best for me. But a
lot of the time, I’m not sure what “the best” means.