Letter #147

Content Warnings: depression, anxiety, life transition stress, guilt, parental pressure/ expectations


To whoever this reaches,


It’s not easy being a first-generation student. Not when you have refugee parents whose only way out was education. Whose only way out was you.


It feels like the whole world is on your back. The pressure and weight on your shoulders feels heavy.


One thing about first-generation students is that there is always a feeling of loneliness that drags behind us. Some students stay in dorms and form bonds with other students through sports, clubs, events, etc. But no one really discusses how difficult it can be for students who commute.


There is always a sense of guilt, almost like you owe it to your parents to take care of them and be the best version of yourself you can be so that their sacrifices don’t go to waste. So you give up the college dream of living in a dorm, meeting new people, staying up late with friends and classmates to study, and going to college parties. Everything that is associated with “college life” is watered down.


As I went through all four years of college, I regretted choosing a college so close to home. Sure, I saved a lot of money, but money will always come back to you. Your youth, time, and experiences won’t. I missed out on what could have been a really good experience for me, and it’s because I chose responsibilities over experiences.


I developed signs of depression—just a constant feeling of nothingness—almost daily. I don’t have anyone to blame really, my choices were my own to make. But it’s not to say that this isn’t a common feeling among other first-generation students too. Not only did I miss out on the experiences, but I also realized that maybe I chose a major that would make my parents proud and would leave me with a tremendous feeling of regret. It’s hard figuring out what to do in life after college. I pretty much got through college on my own, so why couldn’t I figure out life after it too?


The truth is—and everybody knows this—the upcoming generation is gonna struggle a lot. Especially with the job market and lack of job opportunities. I think what’s getting to me the most is that school has always been my comfort space—not the academic stress, but the comfort of knowing that I have school to attend. Something to do, a routine to follow. Now that I have graduated, it’s like an empty feeling. What does the universe have in store for me beyond this? I always figure it out, but what if I don’t this time?


Every day is like a constant battle in my mind. I’m so used to the stress that comes with school, but now that school is over, I don’t know how to relax. And I find myself asking, do I deserve to? So between the solitude that I’m comfortable with and the routine that I have established for years, going out into the real world after college is pretty overwhelming and scary. I’m not too sure where I’ll be heading from here, but there’s not much I can do besides move forward right?


Some advice for the college students out there: don’t miss out on the experiences. Don’t do what pleases your parents, do what you think will help you get the most out of life. In the end, and this applies especially to first-generation students—your parents made sacrifices so that you could live a life they couldn’t. It’s only dishonorable if you can’t live a life for yourself. Don’t repeat history. Instead, shape your own future.





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