In this essay, Keeping Close to Home, the author, Gloria Watkins, tries to look back at her growing path to find out what influences her values and identity. Most of the sources are conflicting. The first paradox came from her experience attending college in the city. For a girl growing up in a small town, this kept her a far distance, both mental and physical, from her home as a result of moving away from her family. The most direct impact on her is her parent’s ambivalence toward college education. Although they supported her educational endeavors, they were skeptical and confusing about what college education might do to their child, just like what most parents of working-class folks will worry about. This kid of contradictory emotion made her feel confused. Furthermore, a similar ambivalence also appeared when Watkin’s parents thought of the impact of reading on her. They ensured she had access to books, but in at the same time, they thought if she read too much, it would drive her insane. Their inconsistent attitude had took years for her not to learn, and it took her couple of years to understand why her parents thought in this way. Because for such socioeconomic status family, having a child who was changing her class experience and background was hard to get used to in the first time.
That is why she felt away from her family mentally. But literally, the attitude of Watkin’s parents did teach her a lot of in this process, such as learning to value various skills and talents of folks not exposed to professional knowledge like her. She also struggled to maintain the relationships with her parents via relating and sharing thoughts and experiences they all have in common. These above contradictions and the ways she overcame them had formed Watkin’s personality to some extent. According to Watkin’s opinion, the idea that most of us are mixtures of values and contradictions coming from our parents, is obviously true for most people. I think most of us are influenced by our parents’ attitudes and opinions to some degree, especially when these values or opinions are sometimes conflicting. I have a similar experience when I was deciding which major I should take in the college. In my country, doctors or dentists are highly respected occupations, and most of parents force their offspring to attend medical schools no matter their children really want to nor not. So did my parents try to do after I finished the college entrance exam. However, they still wanted to show they were not authoritative and still respected my opinion. Since that, what they said during that time was usually self-contradictory. On the one hand, they delivered message such as “I think you should study medical like your grandfather did”; however, on the other hand they would say ”No matter what major you choose, I always stand with you”. It confused me for receiving contradictory messages from a same person. I was worried about how they would react if I choose business School instead of Medical school. It took me much of time to understand what they really wanted to convey. They wanted me to be a doctor to lead a stable and decent living; meanwhile, they still wanted to encourage me to pursue what I am truly interested in. In the end, I followed my heart to study Business. Whereas, the process to tackle contradictory message from my parents granted me a chance to re-evaluate my choice to confirm it is what I am truly passionate about or not.
Such situation occurring between my parents and I is not an isolated example. It has happened to many families, and is not limited to choosing a major. Parents usually deliver inconsistent suggestions to us on our career choices or marriage. For most people, they can examine their choice in the same time when they cope with these conflicting opinions and discuss with their parents, and they may form another point of view toward their originally choice. To pursue further, the contradiction comes not only after the self-contradictory opinion from parents, but after the new vision and preferences gained from different environments we live in and experiences we have, especially when our parents have not had such similar experiences before. Two years ago, I left my hometown to capital city for my college. I am the first child in my family attending a research university and the very first one moving out to live in metropolis. During these two years, the school taught me to pursue what truly captures my heart, not to only accompany textbooks all the days. The city itself also provided me a surrounding to be exposed to novel trends and places where were still foreign to me then. I have spent lots of time on extracurricular activities and exploring these sites.
However, there were many times my parents complaining on why I preferred spending more than a hundred on a fine-art performance to getting back home with only 20- dollar ticket in the weekend. Or sometimes they might questioned me why I put so many portion of time on those business competitions, activities in society I attended and it seemed I had spent a little time on my academic works. But for me, I regard spending time on these things and with my peers as more important than doing nothing else but studying and accompanying family, like I used to do in high school. I spent a huge amount of time to discuss with my parents to let them know what really values to me in college. The contradiction between us ultimately faded away, although we knew that I would not be the one like who I used to be before moving out of home. Now I am already in third year, and I try to look back at this process. I kindly understand that period of time helped me to cultivate the sense of responsibility and self-discipline. If I want to be granted the right to plan my life, I should take on all results by myself and minimize the worry of my parents. Many people also have undergone the same situations as me, especially when they were or are still in their late teens or twenties. They and I have experienced significant personality changes when we move on in life. The conflicts between our parents and us and misunderstanding from them may take us lots of strength to resolve, but we will be geared up the personality or new value that we may need in the next stage of life from these process. The appearance of contradictions and paradoxes between our parents and us is not the bitter obstacle blocking the connection with our parents or elder members in our family. Inversely, these contradictions have a great impact on the formation of our personality and even can tighten the relations with family members in the way you might think up before.