I’ve been college bound since birth. Some of my earliest memories consist of my parents telling me about how I was going to one day attend Ivy League schools and become the first Latin American woman president. Perhaps they did some reaching (and I hope they stretched before they did all that reaching because DAMN), but they weren’t far from the truth. I have always planned on attending college; I imagined myself as a posh business woman in a corner office in Manhattan. I’m at a point where that could very well happen, I’m a good student at a good university. I have everything going for me, but now that the moment is here, what do I do?
Asking for help sounds like the obvious choice, but as crazy as it sounds, I don’t know how. I am a first generation college student, a first generation high school graduate, and first generation U.S. citizen—a lot of my childhood was spent as a stand-in adult: I had to help my family because theywere the ones with no knowledge of English or American culture. I was raised to be self-reliant, but now that I’m in college it feels like my independent streak is doing me worse than good.
I’m working on it though. My first semester of college I had a professor who was kind enough to kick my butt into shape. I had told my professor a few things about my personal life (at the time I was balancing three jobs on top of school and family problems), and it was one of the first times that I ever felt comfortable receiving help. This professor took me aside, spoke with me, fed me, and even offered to help me with some legal issues. My professor demonstrated to me that it is okay to need help- I don’t always need to do everything alone. I walked out of my professor’s office almost in tears because for the first time I felt like I knew what to do. That experience allowed me to open myself up more to people who want to help me, something I had never realized I didn’t allow myself to do.
I still struggle with asking for help- it’s hard to be vulnerable. I try though, because after letting go of my initial fears, I’m starting to realize that all of my problems, all of the things that held me back from doing what I need to do, are so easy to solve. Learning to recognize when problems are out of my range of abilities took a big hit at my ego, but so far, it’s been for the better. All the changes that have come as a result have been positive, and for that, I think I all my struggle has been worth it.