From where I sit: Hamilton's international perspectives

By Jie Ying Mei ’19

Leaving the nest is a big deal. Well, technically I haven’t left the nest yet because I’m returning home for the breaks and I will probably live with my parents after college. But living on my own for four years in college is a big deal. My mother didn’t want me to leave because I am the only child. So when I decided to go away for college, she was upset because she felt I was abandoning her. She didn’t believe I could survive on my own, so I wanted to prove her wrong.

My relationship with my mother worsened when she forbade me from applying to colleges outside of New York City. Of course, being the rebellious child that I am, I went behind her back and applied to colleges outside of the city. Having been told what to do for nearly 18 years, I did not want her to control my life from that day onwards. When I got accepted into Hamilton, I knew it was my ticket towards independence. However, my mother was less than thrilled when I made my final decision and for the first time in my life, I saw disappointment in her eyes. She knew she could not stop me from going away, but she would not accept my decision. She reluctantly let me go, and when we said our final goodbyes, I felt guilty for disobeying and hurting her. I don’t know why I thought I would be responsible enough to be independent because the last few months before school started, my mother was still doing my laundry and cleaning my room (yes, I’m a lazy person). So, here I am, four hours away from my parents.

But recently, doubts have plagued me and I am feeling empty now. My world has revolved around my parents, so being on my own is such a foreign experience. I’m not homesick though. It’s just that my parents directed my life for the past 18 years, so having to make decisions is terrifying. I was sheltered and I obediently followed my parents’ orders. This was the reason why I wanted to get away. If I didn’t get away from them to do this, they would have dictated my whole life, especially my mother. Yet, now faced with adult responsibilities and decisions, I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know how to create a bank account and even doing laundry is a challenge!

I have thought about going back home where I wouldn’t have to deal with responsibilities, and it is tempting. At the same time, it scares me how dependent I am on my parents because I rely on them to solve all my problems. This is what I wanted to avoid, but here I am, thinking of ways to get back home to have them baby me. With this mentality, I know I need to break away from my dependence on them.

College is giving me a chance to meet new people and manage my own experiences. This sounds like a cliché and it is, but life is not a cliché when it is happening to you. College is where I am supposed to make mistakes and learn from them. This chapter of my life will allow me to grow and make choices because my parents won’t always be there for me. By leaving them, I have declared my freedom and I must follow this road because I need to overcome this fear of being responsible for myself. When I made the decision to leave my parents a year ago, I was aware of what I was giving up. Every day I remind myself that I must move on with life and leaving the nest has been the first step towards autonomy from my parents. Now, to ease the tension in our relationship, I call home once a week and awkward exchanges ensue, but I have a deeper understanding of their heartache and accept that this too shall pass. It is time for me to be me.

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