Don’t give me that victim shit, Alyssa.

We can all do that. “I’m anorexic because I was adopted."

“I cheat on women because I wasn’t breastfed.”

Everyone has a reason for how they behave.

What’s yours, then?

The End of the F***ing World

As I went through the application forms recently, I found that many schools asked about parents’ education for unknown reasons. I searched about this and it seemed that there were two possibilities: (1) It would matter if the parents were alumni of the school. (2) If the parents did not attend college, then the student would be considered as a first-generation college student, which would matter if he applies for undergraduate schools.

First-generation college students? I have never heard about this term before. Perhaps because in Taiwan, going to colleges is a recent phenomenon, and almost everyone is a first-generation college student?

You can be a first-gen if you are the first person from your family to attend college, or if your sibling went and you are going, too. The important part is that your parents did not attend and you are doing so. That makes you a first-gen.

Being a first-gen can be scary, intimidating and confusing because you are like a pioneer, going somewhere with no guide and finding your own way.

Since I never thought about this label, I found it interesting to think about it further. That is, if I label myself as a first-generation college student, what exactly does it make a difference? And then I suddenly realized that I had thought about this before – It’s basically the doubts and helplessness when making a choice as described in 〈眼界、控制、選擇〉.

If not for the Internet and books, which opened the doors to knowledge for me, I might still be locked in a small world, unable to see the outside clearly. But even with books and the Internet, it’s still difficult to get the social capital and guidance about decisions in life. It’s certainly terrifying to think about. Almost all choices in my life since college – whether to go to graduate schools; which lab to go to; which company to intern for; which company to work for – were made solely by myself. Indeed, I might have asked some people for some information, but I had seldom asked anyone about which choices to make. “Don’t you feel afraid?” It might be okay if I really trusted myself, but it’s never that easy to trust myself.

In theory, what is required here is a mentor1, whom I would be able to discuss my future. But I still doubt that whether I would be willing to open myself to anyone. In fact, I often felt that I might be more willing to write about something on my blog than to talk about it with anyone.

Maybe the reason behind this is because I am a first-generation college student, so I never had the opportunity to discuss my career decisions. Therefore, I am not accustomed to discussing it with anyone. But I also feel the reason might be that I am too afraid to be restricted by those opinions I get from others. Because I often feel forced to change my decisions when I am unable to persuade the others2.

For me, the connections and talks with people result in promises and pressure, which affect my decisions even when I don’t believe the opinions given by others. So to escape from the pressure, I choose not to make the connection at the first place.

Nevertheless, education does give us power. Even though I just entered workplace for a few years, my income has exceeded my family’s. But how does it matters? Even if I achieve this, what should I achieve next? I found that the bigger problem is not that I don’t know how to go forward, but I don’t know why I should go forward. Why should I care about career path? Because I never know what’s on the other side, I don’t have the reason to get to the other side.

“So what exactly do you want? What do you want to do?”

I hope, to expand my life experience to the greatest extend. To be able to see things I have never seen before. I believe as long as I keep going, I will become a bigger existence. And the future me will be able to accomplish the things I could not achieve right now.

The dream might seem too romantic. “Why couldn’t you come up with more realist goals?” But why not? Why couldn’t it be the case that only the romantic goals are the true objectives? All the other things – career prospects, financial considerations – are just constraints and regularization terms3. Every time, when I had to use materialistic goals to communicate with others, I wanted shout. Could I live romantically and chase a romantic goal?

Even though I still cannot be so firm about my decisions when I am unable to persuade others about my decision. But maybe one day I will. I hope one day I could become more determined. And that’s my most important dream right now.


  1. What is the importance of a mentor? ↩︎

  2. I changed from not wanting to accept the offer to willing to accept the offer just because I was unable to persuade the recruiter about my decision. And the reason I rejected the offer in the end was just because I was unable to persuade Google’s recruiter – 〈繁花落盡〉↩︎

  3. The problem is, regularization terms – while not being objectives – still affect every decisions. And I sometimes feel that rather than seeing it as regularization terms, perhaps treating it as objectives is more positive. ↩︎