What it’s like not living up to your communities standards, academically.

Growing up is a part of life and everyone has their own experiences, expectations, values and hardships. At a glance, I had a pretty cushy childhood. I grew up in a very large home and ate a wide variety of foods. We took several family vacations, some to very expensive locations. Some would ask, “where do you have room to complain?” I am immensely grateful for the upbringing I have had. It shaped me to who I am today and it formed my passions and intrigues. There's always that stereotype that stuck up rich kids go to art school. And perhaps I fit into that stereotype. I'm still learning about how to function in the world, especially as an artist. 

 My mother is an artist at heart but put it down because she was unable to support herself from it. My father on the other hand is an engineer with a masters degree. He landed a cushy job that pays for amazing health care and lots of vacation time. Even his fancy new iphone 11 is a company phone. He takes classes and goes to conferences in expensive places and his work pays for his family to join him. So yes I have been to Orlando, Florida twice as a result.

One thing that people don’t know right off the bat however is how hard I fought to be what I love. Both of my parents expected me to go for the same cushy job that supports my family. They pushed for it really hard. Instead of pushing my art passion theyt tried to mute it and instead made me focus on math and science. My father would stay up until 10:00 sometimes 11:00 at night helping me with my math homework. But when it came to anything my parents regarded as extracurricular I wasn’t pushed as hard. I am very thankful to my dad for dedicating so much time to my academics. We were always both very exhausted by the end of the night all for the two of us to do it all over again the next. It’s thanks to his dedication that I did not fail a single math class after that year. Up until I was pushed into majoring in mathematics. When I started calculus, I was in college and did not have my father's help like I did in high school. It was the first class I had ever failed. That failure hit me and my family really hard. Especially since I had taken Art History classes (not entirely) against their wishes and passed them with flying colors. That semester, I made the decision to switch to Art History. It has been the best decision I could have made as far as my GPA goes. 

It wasn’t just my parents who had this expectation of me. I grew up in a community where math and science were heavily pushed by my teachers and friends alike. Friends who struggled in the subjects (but did amazingly well in english and art) felt inferior to people who could do math faster than them. I remember attending a party, more of a peaceful gathering of the people I grew up with. About 99% of the people I saw at the party was somebody pursuing a degree in Maths and Sciences. They talked about the classes they were taking, comparing universities, professors and the like. Many of them were in much higher level classes than the me who was still a mathematics major. I felt extremely inferior and very much an outcast. I left the party feeling a little sad that the best I could compare to them was an average grade in a class that they passed with an A+. I recall having a conversation with two of these friends on an entirely separate occasion. They were not yet aware of my switch to Art History, yet we were on a camping trip with the intention for me to make some art which they volunteered to help me with. We somehow ended up on the subject of Artistic majors. One of them made the notion that art was inferior and useless. That it was looked down upon. I decidedly said something to them about how art wasn't all that bad but was immediately shot down. 

I think it's hard hearing that kind of thing from someone. I don’t talk to these people anymore. In fact I barely hear from the people I went to school with and when I do, I am repeatedly asked if I could do some of my art for them for free. In the case of my parents, when I made the switch they did not support it, at first. I think the failure in that calculus class made them wake up a little bit to the reality that if I decide to go to any type of professional school, like law school, it would be better if I went as an Art History major as I would have a better GPA. 

It has not been a fun ride. It is not fun disappointing the people that worked so hard to help you achieve something in the lines of what they expected. My parents set me up to have a cushy job. They pretty much handed me every opportunity for it. I decided not to take it, because that's not what I love. It’s hard not hearing the same excitement from them when I get into a show, or get excited about something I created. It's hard not hearing the same excitement when I get into researching something for one of my classes. Or even get excited for an entire course. My semester is set up with excitement… But my family wishes my excitement was geared towards something in maths and science.