I started this personal blog page because as I get older, I found it harder to communicate my inner thoughts with my parents. This is because I grew up (and is continuingly growing up) in a different environment than my parents. This entry is about my guilt and insecurities.
My parents suffer from this idea which the Chinese society implants in its people, especially the older generations, which is: yes, the society is unfair, but as long as you work hard for your children, they can get more income and success. Though this idea is not wrong, it had become an ideal that exists in China which prevents people from questioning the hierarchal structure of China's economic system. People instead choose to blindly accept the situation because of this presence of hope for their children. When in fact, it is almost impossible to climb out of the low-income group in China because the current situation is that one's income is determined not by personal effort but which work unit and region one is in.
I talked about this in my art piece "Common Dream" which could be found underneath "art" then "installation" on this website.
My parents became one of the many hardworking Chinese parents who sacrificed everything for their children so that my brother and I could have a brighter future. They exchanged their dreams for my dreams, and I took advantage of their willingness to sacrifice themselves and used it to go to college. Now I am at a university that my mother likes to call "The Harvard of Art." Despite getting in, I feel underachieved, I question my ability, my motive, and virtue. How dare I suggest to go to a university this expansive, to ask the impossible and accept it when offered? It was impossible for me to reject my parent's offer of agreeing and paying for my tuition, even with the knowledge that it would be the most selfish thing I could do. For the longest time, I decided I am selfish, and I avoided thinking about this by labeling myself as selfish, and therefore I don't have to care or think about it. Of course. That has to end when the age came when I was forced stared at my family's economic situation in the face and realized that selfishness is not a choice, I could not choose to become a selfish person. It's a luxury I can not afford.
I am not the stereotypical typical child who comes from a family with low income. For one, from time to time I forget about my economic situation because the people surrounding me do not experience that at all. My friend would spend a lot of money getting food from the restaurant even though they already had a meal plan, living with them made it so hard for me be that student who is always saving money. I often fall to my weakness of positivity and tendency to forget about the bad stuff, and get a latte and croissant for breakfast instead of using my meal plan. Then after a video chat with my parents the guilt kicks in, and I'm reminded of how selfish I could be.
The other thing that differs me from a stereotypical hard-working student from a poor family is that I work hard for more selfish reasons than to be able to support my family. I always knew I am in this world to bring change, and I always focused on serving the greater good, the society, rather than those close to me. So yes I work hard to shorten the time that family has to suffer, but mostly, I work hard for my dream. lastly, my family wasn't always economically troubled. We were the middle-class family in Shanghai. Things changed because my parents decided to send me to study middle and high school in Canada. That was out of their reach, and they knew that if only human's desire isn't endless. By the time I reach university, my family had exhausted all of their savings, now we live not knowing when I would be forced to go back to China. Last year, I didn't know if I could still attend RISD this year, and during the first two months of this year, every week I lived not knowing if that was my last week at RISD. Though I hated the stress and guilt our situation brings me, looking at the bigger picture, I imagine I could thank this situation because the pressure may have brought out strength and sense of urgency in me that wouldn't have been brought out otherwise. I don't know if that is actually the case so far, but I'll know once I conquer this stage of my life. My biggest fear is unable to reach my full potential as a human and a soul. This economic situation had forced me to start doing things I always wanted to do like starting a startup. It allows me to acknowledge that I have limited time, and with limited time, I couldn't afford to not do something because of fear. Believe it or not, fear is also a luxury. So in that light, I could say thank you to God for making things difficult for us.