“It’s all just a bunch of theoretical bullshit.”
I’m not here by any means to defend the subject, or to judge and criticize those who mock it and misunderstand it’s core points – I’m simply here to talk about how, and why, it’s been able to help me throughout my university ‘career’.
To provide some background, I’ve spent my childhood in the Philippines; and at the tender age of 10, my family and I moved here in Canada to pursue a better life. I then grew up in the suburban, quiet east end of Scarborough, Toronto. By no means I was a totally sheltered kid – in fact my parents often left my brothers and I alone for 4-6 months a year because they had a business to run in the Philippines. I still remember that crazy Winter season in 2013; when the furnace broke down, the water pipes froze, and there was a massive ice storm and blackout. My parents were fortunate enough to miss it, while my brothers and I had to live off of a portable radiator in a room, lent by our uncle! Wow.
Throughout high school, I was indirectly pressured by my school and my parents to follow the typical North-American Dream and follow the road to capitalist success. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, though. I drank the kool-aid and took those science courses and math courses and business courses. While my parents were actually pretty democratic in the way that they allowed me to pursue anything I wanted, they showed clear signs that they wanted me to pursue something in the STEM-field. “Don’t be like your Ahya,” I remember my mother always told me all throughout high school. She was referring to my oldest brother, whose very explosive character had the mindset of a writer, while working various retail jobs. He was a very “just follow your dreams” type of person, which is something I admired.
My mother didn’t explicitly state that she favoured my Dihya, or my middle brother, either. But she did – at least subconsciously or something. See, Dihya graduated from McMaster University with a Software Engineering degree. And he did it as a fresh immigrant from the Philippines, which is impressive and something I could not ever do. He was always level-headed in the family, especially contrasted with my oldest brother (who I stated to be very ‘explosive’). He was also the person I was able to rely on the most, and he was never afraid to tell anyone if he thinks they’re wrong or being irrational. With the unconscious bias from my mother towards him, and her telling me “not to be like [my] Ahya,” I too developed unconsciously that I wanted to be more like my Dihya. And that means studying STEM or any career that looked profitable enough in today’s world.
But I hated Physics. I remember coming to class thinking that I’m gonna get to study rad things like force, gravity, motion. But it turns out that they were all just equations some historical geniuses already discovered, and I just had to memorize them and plug some numbers in. It was actually the most boring thing I’ve ever had to study. Chemistry was fun, I mean I got to mix cool stuff and wear lab coats, but I can’t really do anything by touching just one field of science. Oh, I never even took Grade 11 Biology, because my mother really wanted me to be a doctor (everyone has to have a rebellious phase… right? Well I hated studying cells and shit in Grade 10 Science anyways) and to prove a point, I locked myself out of that field. Yikes. And there was Accounting class. I had a hilarious teacher who managed to – gasp – not make Accounting dry. I genuinely liked it, because it felt very relevant and practical.
My Accounting teacher mentored me for my last two high school years and recommended the University of Waterloo to me, because of co-op. She also told me that I’d die from the competition if I go to University of Toronto’s Rotman Commerce (jokes on me). I also thought Accounting would be a decent degree because I found it laughably easy in high school; and I thought that it couldn’t be much worse in University. I was in the mindset of just getting the degree, becoming a CGA (at the time), and getting some 9-5 job afterwards. I had it all set – I can envision myself being content with the standard first-world lifestyle.
But maybe, as I look back, I may have been ‘liking’ or somewhat fantasizing about that life because that’s exactly what my parents wanted out of me. Even if I had some ups and downs throughout high school with my parents, at the end of the day I still wanted to make them proud and happy. It’s funny, really. My mother was the one telling me that I had apparently got both of my brothers’ strengths: my brother’s creativity and artistic skill, along with my other brother’s exceptional math and logic skills. But obviously, as what my mother earlier told me (and what I realize just now – something I kept telling myself as well), I ended up leaving my ‘right-brain’ in the dust while I kept trying to sharpen my ‘left-brain’. Honestly, however, I believe that while I did inherit my brother’s passion for writing and my other brother’s talent in math, I’m not nearly as good as both of them. Kind of like that “jack-of-all-trades, master of none” trope.
And so you have it. While I was given freedom, I was injected with that ‘immigrant bias’ and consequently faced the world with a practical outlook on life.