The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
I remember being excited to move out from my childhood home because of the freedom and independence it promised. I imagined nights where I wouldn’t have to worry about what time I came home, going out whenever and with whoever I pleased, and learning to take care of my own responsibilities without the watchful eye of my parents. While moving into my own apartment did provide me with the freedom and independence that I eagerly craved, I wasn’t prepared for the struggle of balancing my school and family life.
In my first year of college, I was able to visit home nearly every weekend. Although it was partly due to my dissatisfaction with the college I was at at the time, my parents were pleased to see me so often. They peppered me with questions about my time at college, cooked me my favorite meals that were tiers above dining hall food, and sent me back with more snacks and random household supplies than I knew what to do with. Due to the proximity of my first college to my hometown, my dad would also occasionally drop by to grab boba with me, and my parents surprised me in my dorm for my birthday. Although overbearing at times, I appreciated being able to remain connected to my family even after moving out.
Two things occurred that shifted this balance. First, I transferred to a school much farther from my hometown. Second, my schedule quickly picked up its pace, making a trip home every weekend impractical. As this shift occurred, I began to only see my family during breaks, and sometimes not even then. The newfound complete independence was freeing, but there were moments when I would miss the comfort of home. I searched for this comfort in various ways, such as texting my parents occasional updates and photos of meals I had cooked, or by attempting (and failing) to recreate my favorite home-cooked dishes. For a college student, I found this a reasonable balance between my hectic school life and maintaining my family relationship.
Along with this, however, came the guilt. There was always a pang in the back of my mind reminding me that my family missed me and wanted me to visit home more often, that they had sacrificed so much only for me to barely see them. I felt like a neglectful daughter, someone who only tossed my parents scraps of attention through texts and unenergized calls when I remembered to. After speaking with a few friends also raised in Asian households, I discovered that this feeling was fairly common. Apparently, it is easy to become absorbed in our own separate lives away from home and to treat our families as an afterthought. While I do what I can to manage this guilt, somehow it never seems like enough. Recently, I have come to the realization that it never will be enough. My minuscule actions will never make up for the sacrifices my parents made to build me this life, but at the same time they don’t need to. I realized that my parents’ love is unconditional, and doesn’t rely on me visiting home a set amount of times, or reaching a certain level of success and wealth. My dad once told me, “You don’t need to pay us back for anything. You and your sister being alive is payment enough.”