Two months ago, I started my last semester of college. As I woke up, drew in my eyebrows to fleeky perfection and applied bronzer to my face, I thought to myself, this is literally the beginning of the end. Though apart of me is relieved that my college experience is almost over, another part of me can't help but be terrified.
I'm not terrified of the fact that I might not find a job, nor am I terrified of the fact that I'll be paying loans for the rest of my life, because it's the harsh reality that I know many of us will have to face after college. What scares me more than thousands dollars of debt and a horrible job market is one day losing faith in my dreams. My greatest fear is that one day I wake up and all the elaborate dreams and aspirations that I had in college will fade away and the only thing that will remain are my monthly loan bills, my low paying job, and my $7.99 a month Netflix account. I fear that one day I will decided to stop dreaming not because I don't want to, but because I can't afford to.
Right now I have big plans for my future. I want to attend film and art grad school, move to Korea, open up my own multimedia company, and become a well-respected and liked Instagram famous cinematographer/video-vixen. I have every intention of fulfilling these dreams but as graduation approaches, I begin to panic more and more as a I realize that after college, I will have to move back in with my mom. I don't mind moving back with my mother because I would love more than anything to be able to see her everyday and eat her amazing home cooked meals, but I'm scared of what that would do to me financially.
Like many others, I am apart of the roughly 20 percent of 1st generation students that are currently enrolled in college as well as apart of the 50 percent of 1st generation students that are considered low-income. Linda Banks-Santilli, an associate professor of Education at Wheelock College stated that one of the biggest struggles that undergraduate and first generation students face is guilt. Guilt, is the root of my fear. The guilt from leaving my mother behind, moving halfway across the world to pursue my own dreams while not being able to help her financially is what holds me back the most. It's what makes me want to stop dreaming, 'cause what's the point of a dream if it don't get your momma out the hood.
I keep trying to remind myself that I shouldn't think like that. We shouldn't think like that. Right now, as graduation gets closer and closer (literally seven weeks away) I'm constantly stressing out about my next move. Should I keep dreaming and aspiring to accomplish these dreams or should I settle down and work on the right now? All this stressing, not being able to sleep until I submit a job application, and fear for my future makes me think of Robert De Niro's 2015 commencement speech at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. In his speech he says:
When it comes to the arts, passion should always trump common sense. You're not just following dreams, you're reaching for your destiny. Yeah, you're fucked. The good news is that, that's not a bad place to start. Now that you've made your choice, or rather succumb to it, your path is clear. Not easy but clear. You have to keep working.
So what do we do? What do we as young people do to stop ourselves from not dreaming and reaching for the stars when the world tricked us into believing that they we're so close? Well it's true what Robert De Niro says, we are fucked but that's not such a bad thing because without struggle there is no progress. Yes, it's hard and it will always be hard but we should never stop dreaming. Dreaming and achieving is a right that we all have. We all have the right to dream and work hard towards achieving our dreams.
So back to my original question: what do I do when my financial situation keeps telling me to stop reaching for my goals and the guilt of leaving the people I love behind is sometimes too hard to bare? It turns out that there is no real answer. Some of us will stay home and help provide for our families while others will move out, pursue their dreams with hopes of helping their family back home. While I don't really know what my next step is, I realized I need to be confident in both myself and my dreams. The day I start doubting myself, losing confidence in my abilities, and become complacent is the day that my fear will become a reality.
I know it's going to be hard and financially I will struggle after college, but I won't let that hold me back. I know I am destined for greatness and have the ability to change the world, I just need to keep reminding myself that each and everyone of us is destined for greatness and nothing should hold us back. We have the right to dream, we have the right to pursue in our dreams, no matter our financial situation, class, race, or sexuality, and before we ask people to believe in us, we must believe in ourselves. We must always remind ourselves that we are worthy, we are capable, we can accomplish our goals, and we are the deciders of our own futures.
So regardless of what happens after graduation, whether you move back in with your parents or move out, reach for the stars and continue to believe in yourself. Love yourself as much as Kanye loves Kanye and don't let anything stop you from your dreams; not money, 13-plus hour Netflix binges, or the haters.