We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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As a second generation Asian American, and especially as the younger sibling, my parents’ expectations are heavy. Good grades are a must, and school comes before all else. There were multiple occasions where I felt sick but was forced to go school, only to be sent home later on that day. Something that I will always remember was the disappointment in my mother’s face afterschool during my third year in elementary school. My grades were all average and some were even worse. Since that day, I have strived to improve my grades and eventually made it into ELC, making my parents gleeful.

Breezing by middle school, I became too lax. On my first few days of high school, I assumed advanced classes were going to be easy and that was one of my greatest mistakes. I procrastinated a lot and did not take anything too seriously. I remembered telling myself that the material doesn’t seem that hard and that geometry will be a breeze. Then the quizzes and tests started to come back and I regretted what I had thought. I was failing (in my standards) three classes: biology, history, and geometry. There was one event that I particularly remembered and it was during geometry class where my friends and I were discussing our grades. I achieved a lower score on the quiz but answered a question right than a friend, who was smart, didn’t. I began boasting on how I scored right on something that I did not understand and started to come to realize how low I have fallen.

The need to appease my family was overbearing and my greatest downfall. For the satisfaction of my parents, I took all advanced classes, not including the elective, and could not balance it out. I tried my best to study, but could only accomplish so much with it and eventually ended up with a low gpa. My greed for good grades without sacrificing anything was too great and stress was accumulating. I remember the days that my report card would come in and I would have to listen to the nagging of my parents who had good intentions. One particular night that I still remember was when the STEM board and notebook were due the next day, where I could have pulled an all-nighter to finish my work but I decided to sleep instead, receiving a 26 for the notebook and a 45 for the board. 

The memories of disappointment began to fuel my need for good grades and during the third term of freshman year, I began working my best. I arrived in the mornings so I could study and ask questions when there were quizzes, and even began taking notes on simple things such as geometry. I began asking sophomores, and even my brother for advice and additional notes for my classes and started taking notes for the textbooks so that I could partially remember what I read. Homework started to become something I used to pass the time and I even enjoyed it at some points. Soon I began to see improvements in my grades with history and geometry grades rising but saw my biology grades have dropped in return. In order to succeed in getting these grades, sleep and enjoyment was sacrificed. I realized that you shouldn’t bite more than you could chew and that it is okay to prioritize yourself.

Back to the present date I have been studying tediously at times for my parent’s sake and sometimes for my own. My stress has dropped significantly and I have dropped one of my worst classes which was history, making sure that I do not repeat the same mistakes as before. In the end, I have learned to work for something not for other people but for your own satisfaction.

© Jerry Lin. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.