The importance of perspective and the value of sacrifice

Photo by Sara Schmitt

I have had to climb a lot throughout my time in college — every obstacle a treacherous mountain and every failure a chasm waiting to swallow me whole. Should I drop this class and risk a W on my transcript? Is it too late for me to change my major? Do I want to go to grad school? Can I even go to grad school? Now it seems laughable, but when I had to tackle my problems, each one felt like my own personal Apollo Creed waiting to knock me down just as I got up.

Is this really what the best time of my life was supposed to be like — sleepless nights and anxiety attacks? A single doubt in any of my decisions felt like a loose thread I could keep pulling.

It was easy to get consumed by my problems, and if I did not have my parents I think I would have kept pulling that thread until I completely unraveled.

So, let’s flashback to a brief history of my parents. Both of my parents were born in South India around the 60s and 70s. They grew up knowing struggle in a way I would be lucky to never know. As a result, my father, like me, had his own set of worries growing up except his were direr. The question that would keep him up at night was, “How do I support myself and my family?” He moved to the United States, and like most, chased after the American Dream. After a couple years, my parents got married. In her early twenties and married to a man she hardly knew, my mother left everyone she knew behind to be in the States with my father.

Only having each other to depend on, my parents had to get accustomed to the language and lifestyle practiced here. Being alone together was drastically different than growing up in a joint family household. The loud family chatter was replaced with the sound of the television which they would watch to better understand English. I remember my mom once told me that when she first heard about Ellen DeGeneres she would wonder who this Ellen lady was and why she was so generous.

With limited contact to back home (international calls were expensive back then), my parents were lonely and ready to pack up and move back to India. However, knowing that their kids would have a better life here, they decided to stay in Georgia and face their struggles head on.

Without trivializing my problems, knowing the struggles and sacrifices my parents went through put things into perspective. Since then, I have come to realize my doubts and fears are normal, and quite honestly, I’m lucky to only have to worry about these completely normal problems. Unlike my parents who had to think about supporting their families, I get to selfishly worry about me.

I am fortunate to be so selfish because of the sacrifices my parents made for me and my siblings. Which brings me to my second point about the importance of perspective. The struggles that seem so big and unsolvable are only temporary. There’s always a bigger picture. Knowing this helps keep the anxiety at bay and allows one to make more logical decisions.

So, to all of you who are still at Tech, I impart some advice. Talk about your struggles and anxieties because you’re not alone, and it helps make your own problems more manageable. I cannot stress how much I wish to see more open dialogue happen at Tech. Secondly, sacrifices have to be made throughout college and beyond. Know that each of theses decisions have a profound impact and will payoff sooner or later even though you cannot see it yet.

I would be remiss, if I did not take a moment to thank my parents. My successes are built on your sacrifices and courage, and for that I will be forever grateful. I can only hope that when the time comes I will be as brave as you to make the right decisions and one day be able to achieve a fraction of what you have accomplished.