I feel like life after college has been one big question mark that sums up the feeling of being neither here nor there, of being in transition. I am now an "educated woman" (as the president of my university told me on my graduation day), and yet, I feel like I am taking a crash course through life, and I'm struggling to pass.
I know of course that in some ways, this is normal. To be twenty-four is to still be figuring things out, to still be on the way to something and struggling to keep up with the twists and turns of the path ahead.
James and I graduated from college in 2010 and 2011, respectively. We are lucky to have found jobs relatively quickly in such a tough economy, and we are lucky to have each other to make the going easier. We now make almost as much as our parents do now and realize firsthand how hard it must have been for them, especially in having to raise us and support themselves. We make enough for us to have a decent roof over our heads, food to eat, more clothes than we need, and some money left over for some fun now and then. This is more than my parents had when they left the Philippines in their mid-30s to start over in America with a 4 month old and a 6 year old. It's more than James's mom had in the 70s when she was on welfare and responsible for his two older siblings. Which is why feeling a little bit lost and overwhelmed seems so petty. If they can do it, so can we.
Except that it gnaws at me that my parents feel as though I didn't live up to my potential - that I should now be in medical school or in law school, spurring on at full-speed towards a graduate degree and financial security. This I can deal with maybe, but then I start thinking about all they gave up so I could do those things and I start thinking about maybe I'm being petty again. It makes me want to prove to them that I didn't make a mistake falling in love and building a life with my best friend, that yes, the going is tough but we're happy and we're getting there.
But, honestly, that's not the hardest part. The hardest part is watching the disappointment on James' face every time a job application comes back in the negative, every time we have to tap into our savings for an unplanned car repair or medical bill, every time he can't get me x, y, or z because money's tight as always, even though I tell him it's okay. I want to cheer him up, to wipe away the doubt in his eyes, because I love him and because soothing his doubts soothes mine.
So, I hold his hand a little tighter, I pray a little harder, and I believe a little deeper for both of us as we keep on keeping on.