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How to get a university acceptance: let your parents belittle you

Every teenager has had that moment of screaming “Ugh, I hate you mom! You’re the worst!” and storming up to their rooms.

Of course, if you’re someone like me, from a south Asian family background, you’re more likely to ‘mentally’ scream because should your mom ever hear you utter those words from your mouth, you can say goodbye to all your hopes and dreams in life.

As cliché as it may seem, we’ve all felt a moment of aggravation or frustration or misunderstanding towards our parents. For the most part, our parents want us to thrive and succeed in life. My parents have always told me that they want me to be much better than they ever were, whether this be financially, romantically, educationally, etc. Parents always want their children to do better in order to make them proud.

Sometimes, however, making our parents proud can become rather difficult, especially when they degrade your confidence levels and make you feel like you are unable to achieve anything.

Again, I don’t know if many of you have faced this kind of experience from your parents, but it has certainly impacted me.

I used to think that my parents did not care about me. All they ever did was tell me how awful my grades were, and how I “needed to make sure I was above a 95% in all of my courses, just like Shiela aunty’s daughter.” I mean, what kind of a support system was that? I always dreaded bringing home report cards because I knew I would get a lecture on how being “above provincial standards” is not good enough.” If there were no 90’s on that report card, I knew that I would not hear the end of it.

For a while, I made myself believe that I was worthless. My parents just wanted my grades to be high because they wanted to compare me to other people’s children. I was just a way for them to rise on the social ladder. My education did not mean anything to them.

I was dead wrong.

You see, I didn’t realize it then, but this kind of ‘degrading,’ as I called it, infuriated me. Ever since I was a child, I had always been an excellent student. I would always follow the rules, colour in between the lines, hand in homework on time, get perfect on spelling tests (except this one with the word ‘because,’ but we don’t talk about that test anymore), you get the idea.

I had always made my parents proud. It made me happy to see them be proud of me. This was my life for thirteen years…until high school came around. Naturally, my grades began to fall because the transition period for me was very difficult. As high school progressed, however, my marks fluctuated, but they remained in the high 80’s to low/mid 90’s.

This was never good enough for my parents.

I was unable to please them. I could not bring back that happiness of watching them smile and say “Wow, good job!” anymore. This frustrated me to my core. And subconsciously, it made me work harder.

One day, perhaps in the eleventh grade, I had this surge of energy after my mom finished mocking me over how I will not be ready for university. I was angry. I was infuriated. I was frustrated.

I was going to prove to my mom and dad that I could get into the best universities.

Maybe it was my personality that triggered it even more, or maybe this really does happen to other individuals that have the same experience with their parents, but I began to work harder than I ever worked in my whole life…and I felt it, too. I stayed up late nights watching additional videos for concepts I did not understand in chemistry, took on extra math question to further develop my understanding, read, re-read and re-re-read my essay for English, and begin studying for the biology test a week in advance.

I never knew that what I was doing was pushing myself harder. I just knew that I HAD to prove to my parents that I could get into good universities. I just had to. My top choice was McMaster University for their Life Science program, and I knew that if I could get an acceptance from that university in the twelfth grade, my work would not have gone to waste. My parents, however, worshipped the University of Toronto, and they wanted more than anything for me to attend that university.

Here I am, in my senior year, a time when university acceptances are rolling around. Although I have not received any news from McMaster yet, I was able to tell my parents that I got an acceptance letter from all three University of Toronto campuses (St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough) for Life Science today. That was the moment that I knew my work had not gone to waste.

My mom, who did not even consider the idea that I would get accepted into the University of Toronto St. George campus (because it is the most competitive out of the three) was in shock as I showed her my acceptance letter today. I think it’s safe to say that they’re both very proud, and that happy feeling has finally returned to me once again. This is not an opportunity for me to brag about my acceptances to university, gosh no. You just have to know that sometimes, when your parents ‘belittle’ you, and you feel like giving up because you think there’s no point in trying to please them or make them proud anymore, take that energy and channel it into something greater. Prove to your parents that you are in fact capable of doing something greater than what it may seem. It doesn’t necessarily have to be university acceptances, but prove to them that you are capable of doing great things.

Trust me when I say that the feeling of seeing your parents realize that they were wrong about you (in a good way, of course) is one of the greatest feelings ever.