Dilemma after Graduation

TLDR: Relieved about graduating college but not fully happy due to the pressure of family.

I graduated college with my bachelor’s this May which I am happy, but not fully. I had this feeling before when I got my driver’s license and my first job and which led to quite a drama.

When I’m in the midst of a process of achieving a milestone, my family, especially my parents, constantly nag at me about me making the right choices and getting them quickly. Sometimes, it goes to the point that my parents (especially my mom) gets upset and serious. on my side, my college life wasn’t as great as I gave up all my dreams to pursue a realistic future that one please my family.

Before getting my degree, my mother wanted to give or do something big for me because “she was so proud”. In my mind, all I wanted was to focus on looking good at the ceremony, find my first full time career, and get the loans paid off. Eventually, my family held a nice party, well my mom was also suggesting that I go to vacation or something. I kept feeling gutted inside.

When I got the degree, everyone was so happy, especially my mother and my twin sister (my sister went through almost the same crap that I went through). This was nice seeing, but I am also mixed with the feeling of “Thanks a lot for putting me through so much crap.” I am not saying that I did not want to graduate college. I feel very proud of myself for being able to make a legacy, but as I’ve analyzed myself throughout the four years of college, I would say 70% of the decision of going to college was forced upon those who knew me (family, friends, etc). I realized that it is almost like they loved me for what I do and what I accomplished instead of loving me for who I am and what I LOVE to do. Am I the only one?

It sounds like you could really benefit from therapy - you need to learn how to deal with your family’s pressure.


Remember, parents don’t get a manual on how to raise kids. Plenty of parents make mistakes. I do and your parents did too. Trust me, they love you for you. I can understand that it feels like they love you for what you do and your accomplishments. They see so much potential in you and know you are capable of great things.

As a parent, there is a huge driving force to make sure your kids are set up well for life and to make sure your kids maximize opportunities. It comes from a place of love. Your parents want you to have a better life than them. If you don’t see this now, one day you will.

Here is the happy ending to his story. You have graduated. You have your degree. You are in control. Give your parents a hug and go live the life you want to live.


Perfectly stated!

OP- congrats on graduating!

Every toddler goes through a phase of “no”, “I do it” or something contrarian. It coincides with the realization that you are your own person- not an extension of your caregivers. They don’t call it the “terrible twos” for nothing! It is hard to separate yourself from the people who take care of you, but it is an important milestone in human development.

You are now at another stage of that same process. You are realizing that you cannot derive your self-esteem, happiness, satisfaction, etc. by doing what your family wants and expects from you. You are your own person-- a college graduate!- and now you get to figure out what you want out of life and what will bring you satisfaction.

So wallow for another day in the realization that your parents will likely not be your chief support system going forward- and then get moving on building the life that you want.

My parents wanted me to get a doctorate (in an obscure academic field). I had the applications on my desk for about 7 years after I graduated from college and every time I moved, those applications went with me. I worked; got into and finished an MBA program; got a great job halfway across the country; got married; bought a house. Can you imagine a thick stack of paper getting shoved into a moving box and then getting unpacked with each transition?

After the birth of my first kid, my family was coming out to see the baby, celebrate, etc. And as I was trying to clean up (newborns are messy- stuff was everywhere) I realized “Time to Move On” and I dumped the entire stack of grad school applications in the trash (we didn’t have paper recycling at the time).

Done. I had a great job I was going to go back to after my maternity leave; I had a spouse, I had a precious newborn baby; I had a great life which wasn’t what my parents wanted for me (they loved the baby of course, so that was fine) but it was finally OK for me to acknowledge that I was never getting a PhD like my siblings, and my life was working out just fine anyway!!!

Acknowledge this big transition in your life-- your parents love you, but they cannot be responsible for validating your choices and feelings any more- and move on!!!