January 4, 2011 Winter of disenchantment
What better words to describe this winter break so far but disenchantment and disillusionment?
Part of it has to do with my ongoing struggle with the question of what to do with my life career-wise. A discussion/argument with parents ended with me in tears on Christmas Day and even more lost and confused and desperate. Through their brand of tough love, my parents have made me realize and consider, although very reluctantly, the realities one has to face in choosing their life path. However, this has not made things any easier for me; instead, they’ve probably become even more difficult as I increasingly realize just how limited my choices are when taking into account everything, and I mean EVERYTHING: whether or not I’m interested in the profession, how much more training this will take, how much money this training will cost, how competitive it is to get into the right program, what are the job prospects for the field, how much money will I be able to make, whether or not that income level justifies my expensive Columbia education/further schooling, when will I actually be able to go into the work force, would my training/job allow me to have time for my personal life, etc. etc. etc.
None of this is new and I haven’t reached any kind of conclusion as of now, so I won’t bother writing more about it. But over the holidays, another issue has been on my mind a lot.
I’ve always been kind of enjoy-the-present-and-worry-about-the-future-later when it comes to my relationship. Sure, I think about the future from time to time, but mostly about where Yufei and I should go for spring break or whether we should both stay in New York for the summer. The times I do think beyond college, I’ve always just assumed that things will work themselves out somehow. My parents have been asking what our plans are after graduation, and I haven’t been able to answer them properly. “So you’re just going to have fun during college and forget about it and break up after?” My mom inquired one day. No, I replied, we’re not planning to do that. But what ARE we planning to do? How can we plan anything when nothing about either of our future is settled?
My parents told me that if we try to stay together, one of us will have to follow the other to wherever they end up, and one of us will end up having to make a sacrifice. They don’t seem to consider long distance an option, of course, it’s not an ideal option anyway. A well-intentioned family friend advised me the other day that it would be better for me to go to grad school close to where Yufei works. Am I ready to do that? I don’t know. Of course, it’s hard to know anything when you don’t even know WHAT you want to do, so much the less WHERE.
There was a total overdose of engagements this holiday season. Not just celebrities like Hugh Hefner (super disturbing), Reese Witherspoon, Jason Mraz, Lily Allen, Natalie Portman… you get the gist, but also random and not-so-random Facebook friends, which is to say, normal people of my age. Now, I have no intention of getting married before I’m 25 and (hopefully) have a steady income, but a thought occurred to me nonetheless.
These friends and acquaintances, I never thought of their relationships as so different from mine. But I realized that they are in fact very different. They might have been born in place A, have family in place A, go to school/work in place A; their significant other probably also have family in place A, go to school/work in place A; and they will probably continue to stay in place A, work in place A, get married in place A, start their own family in place A. There is nothing in terms of geography holding them back. This is not so in my case. My family is in place A, Yufei’s family is in place B, we both go to school in place C, we may head off to places D and E, respectively, after graduation, and maybe even move on to places F and G and… who knows. The point is, by making the first step to move away from home for college, we’ve already set ourselves up for a life of no fixed address, at least for some time. While I’m perfectly fine with that, as I’ve already grown used to constantly moving during my childhood and adolescence, it’s different and significantly harder when there’s another person involved, especially when that person is someone you care about and want to stay together with.
It’s things like these that make me feel so disenchanted. Even something I always thought of as my constant, my anchor, is in fact not anchored anywhere at all. There’s a quote from a movie I’ve always liked: “Life is full of coincidence, even two parallel lines might someday meet”. But are we like two straight lines, where our paths can cross once, only to be separated forever after?
My parents are right; it’s going to take sacrifice and effort if we want to be together. We are still young, still full of hopes and dreams and ambitions that can take us anywhere. Are we willing to sacrifice these things to be with each other? I don’t know. Will we need to? I don’t know. Things aren’t going to magically fall into place, but I still believe that they will fall into place one way or another. Because at the end of it all, despite all the questions and uncertainties, I remain optimistic that one day, we will find a place, be it place X or Y or Z, a place we can be together and call our own.