Pressure and sacrifices for $200 Alex

It’s crazy how much I can get into my own head. To the point where I tune the world out and drown myself in my own problems. That level of focus is useful on occasion, but sometimes there’s some emotional collateral involved. Primarily with neglecting interaction with my parental units (both sets). Definitely not done out of malice, but out of fervor for getting my shit together. Despite my grind for true self-sufficiency, it’s probably not wholly fair to be ghost like this.

I finally got around to watching Master of None and it’s amazing for a multitude of reasons, but chief among them is the uncomfortable amount of realness. Specifically, Aziz’s character and his friend recount how spoiled they act in the face of their parents who immigrated from India and Taiwan respectively. We get flashbacks of what life was like for their parents as poor children and hopeful, yet still poor adults. These reaches into the past are triggered by Dev (Aziz’s character) and Brian blowing off their fathers’ requests for simple tasks before they go out. To them it’s not a big deal, but to the fathers it stings a bit considering what they both sacrificed to give their children a life they couldn’t secure in their native lands.

Naturally I thought about my own parents. While they were born here in the U.S., enjoyed relatively stable lives, had educated family members, and didn’t really “struggle” in the sense of a fresh immigrant, they certainly sacrificed a lot for me (then later on for my sister). It can be argued they brought my existence upon themselves, but I think I was a wake up call in many ways that I won’t explore here. So while I did defer a lot of their dreams and aspirations at the time, I think I gave them a reason to do better. And sometimes sacrifice and opportunity sleep in the same bed. Throughout my childhood I can’t honestly recall a situation where I was wholly aware of our situation. I mean having to lie face down in the trunk of a Nissan 240Z (only two seats) probably would have been an obvious thing to note, but to me it was the norm.

I was never privy to my parents searching seat cushions for change so we could eat that night at Taco Bell or have enough gas to get to my grandma’s for the weekend. As a child, my parents gave me the life they wished for themselves as children. So I was spoiled, I can’t deny that. But my spoiling was tempered with some solid parental direction. But I can’t really mention my parents without mentioning the ones that held everyone down: my grandparents. They are the real MVPs of this story. Truth be told, my grandmother is basically mom #2. Of course I didn’t find out the extent of what she did for me and parents until I was older, but hearing the stories was truly inspiring. If it wasn’t for them, I’m sure my parents’ success as professionals in their respective fields would have seriously been delayed. So shoutouts to Ironman and Grandmother.

Sacrifices… or prudential gambling as a I call it. They don’t always pan out as intended, but they’re done from a place of risk assessment. My mom forwent an abortion and chose to sacrifice a lot of herself to make sure I came into this world okay. My dad postponed his ascent to the realm of PhD eggheads and smarty pants to make sure I wanted for nothing as a kid. They both opted to be forever bound because of an unexpected turn of events, which included good, bad, and neutral scenarios sure. But it’s easy to forget all my parents have gone through, all they’ve done, and what they would have done for me as I trudge through a lot of the same issues they dealt with. I can’t imagine having to figure out this adult shit with a needy-ass child on the side and having to deal with periodic drama from the mother of my child. I truly don’t know what I would do. And that scares me and makes me awe in wonder of my parents.

They dealt with all that shit and more only to come out ultra accomplished anyway. I tell people the brief story of my existence from time to time and when I get to part about my parents being ridiculously educated it’s followed by a “wow, your parents are amazing!” And they are, that can’t be denied. Truly amazing people, flaws and everything. They give me hope for my future despite everything looking like it’s on fire. I got it easy, economy and job market be damned. The pressure is still palpable as fuck though, I’ll have to concede that.

I’m the first born son and grandson, you know, the prodigal one. I’m trailing the only PhD holder in the family (my dad) so there’s a latent expectation that I’m suppose to be pretty amazing sooner or later. And that scares the fuck out of me. Because what if I don’t live up to that expectation? What if I never hit my stride and end up mediocre as shit? Meet the main course of my anxiety. Even with that in the back of my head, something in me keeps pushing me forward. I haven’t figured out what that is. Maybe it’s the fear of failure with a side of optimism and determination. Maybe it’s Goku-esque “never give up” mentality that’s been ingrained in my psyche. Fuck if I know. What I do know is that I need to take off sooner than later for my own mental health. Maybe that’s the key: keep trying, even when it looks like nothing is working. Conviction is the glue holding this nerd together though. That I can assure  you. Plus my awesome support system of friends and family.

Not sure what I’m getting at completely in this post. It’s an apology, a thank you, and a soapbox. It’s a realization, a revelation, and a thirst for understanding. It’s a lot of things. I plan on picking my grandparents’ brains this weekend about what it was like growing up 50+ years ago because I’ve never asked and they won’t be around forever so you know, better now than never. Plus I’m interested to see their perspective on what’s changed over a two generations. I’m thinking they might have a bit of a secret sauce for dealing with the exorbitant amount of bullshit (on all fronts) ya boy is dealing with these days. I really should take them out for dinner or something. Gotta keep my #1 grandson title somehow right?