My (Parent’s) Stories

For as long as I can remember, my parents loved talking about their stories as Chinese international students. My mother was a student here and my dad would visit. Along the way, my parents made many different friends, experienced Canadian culture for the first time, and had struggles that any young adult would have had at the time. When my parents talk about their experiences as young adults, it feels almost fictitious due to how long ago it was and who I know as my parents today. But I understand what made these experiences so different as I have been experiencing these moments for the past five years of my life. Knowing my parents as my parents though, I almost don’t believe in their stories. It makes me think though that one day, I will have kids and probably tell the same stories – about the people that I’ve met, the struggles I’ve had, and the experiences I have shared. When I tell my future kids these stories, they probably won’t believe me – just as I have with my parents. But I wouldn’t blame them though. These past five years of school have been so good and bad for me, that they almost seem unreal. I’ve made some of my best friends here, friends that I will have for a long time. Judging from how much fun I have actually had – I wouldn’t believe it either. I am so in love with everything that has happened here, even the bad stuff, that I cannot put into words how much I love it.
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For the past year or two now, I have been having awful anxiety attacks. Some happen in class even, but most happen in the middle of the night, as I sleep. For so long, I did not know what caused these pangs of anxiety. As of late though, I have discovered that they have come about from the fear of losing my friends, many who I will not see, maybe ever again, after April. But regardless, it doesn’t make our experiences invalid, those moments will always be remembered in those moments. The stories we have shared are stories that we will hopefully never forget. If you want to talk about living in the moment, this is us living in the moment. As university students we cling onto our youth as hard as we can because at the end of the day, we know that this experience is unlike any experience we will ever have again.

Whether it be my friends from living in residence, the friends that I made playing rugby, the friends I made in my program, or the roommates I have had throughout the years – we’ve all united through the struggle of being a student. So when I tell my kids about these stories, I hope that they don’t believe me because these past five years have been so good to me that I cannot believe it myself. Until the day I die, I hope that I will never forget anything. I want to remember the late night talks, the ugly moments of self doubt, and the journey of learning about one’s self. I mean, if you and I have been in the same shoes, could you even imagine life without those memories.

Could you imagine suffering without the promise that the sun would rise in the morning or celebrating without someone to pat you on the back? Could you imagine, not having all those hikes up the mountain, or all the gossiping that happened after a night out? Or even the grind of sitting in a library for the entire day with your friends, realizing that you have accomplished nothing. You accomplished nothing for school, but you contributed to a culture of friendship that will stand the test of time. What we have here, as young adults, is something that will never be replicated, something that will never happen again in our lives. I want you to remember that. I don’t want these years to have been just years that lead up to my adult life. I want these years to mean something to me and to you. I want you to feel something when you remember these years. I don’t exactly know what to feel but it could be a sense of warmth, a sense of comfort, or even a sense of triumph – feel something. And whether you realized it or not, you are contributing to a life grander than your own. And this life seems so unreal and I am so grateful for everything.

And as I finish this article, I realize that I see myself in my parents now. In a way, this was all I ever wanted. To all my friends at McMaster University: good luck, have fun, and remember to love yourself. I’ll see you soon

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