My Wasted Education

Let me set a scene for you here.

I’m having wine with my aunt, a friend and her mother. We start chatting about my sister and my friend’s mum suddenly calls her “the one everyone’s proud of.”

Then, suddenly, the conversation turns on me. 

“You were your high school salutatorian. I took a photo of you washing dishes the other day (at my family’s restaurant). From graduating Northeastern University with honors to dish washer.”

I laugh politely, but inside, this stings. This is by no means my first encounter with someone commenting on my “wasted education,” but it never ceases to hurt. Am I really that awful? Am I disappointing my family? When did I become the butt of a joke?

When what makes me happy goes against what I “should” be doing, apparently I am meant to feel bad about it.

It doesn’t matter that the way I’ve chosen to live my life makes my heart sing with happiness. It doesn’t matter that living any other way would be completely inauthentic. (Nevermind the fact that I was washing dishes in addition to helping manage the business, working 50-60 hours a week to save to continue traveling.) All that matters is that my deviation from the norm is scary and may show other impressionable children that if you go against what society- and your mother- is telling you is right, you can still be fine.

So, please, before you begin to criticize me, take a moment to consider that what makes you happy may not be what makes me happy. I do not push my beliefs on you, so please have the consideration to do the same. I’ll happily and proudly wash dishes all day every day if it means that when my head hits the pillow, I’m smiling and happy with who I am.

Merry Christmas, please be nice to each other.


One thought on “My Wasted Education

  1. There is a silver lining in negative encounters, as memorably painful as they are. They remind you of what you are fleeing from, of the people you need to avoid becoming anything like and of the conditions that made them the way they are. They remind you of why you chose a different path. I often come across weak and trivial art. If I see even the faintest sign of such triviality in my work, I know that I need to do something–hell or high water, my work cannot resemble theirs. Sometimes negativity is the best motivator for those who seek not to conform.

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