Post created: 2020-09-06
A common life-cycle in the east Asian diaspora involves parents pouring resources into their children, who will in turn work hard to improve overall family standing and then take care of them in old age. This is in contrast to the western style of raising a family, which generally has more of an expectation on the parents to handle their own retirement and on the children to become independent ASAP. For children stuck between two systems, the idea of a sandwich generation has become popular -- the carers of both the previous and next generations. But that's not exactly the topic at hand today.
The problem I'm facing now, I guess, is that the following are both true:
- I think I have made a reasonable attempt at not letting my parents' efforts go to waste. I am blessed to have very supportive and caring parents, who themselves bootstrapped their life from food insecurity to a stable middle class existence. In terms of skillset, knowledge, and paper pushing credentials, I am now globally competitive, and if I were to continue and complete this PhD, this position would be cemented. In some sense, it would be throwing away generations of effort to not push myself as far along this path as I can go.
- Yet the years pass and will continue to pass, and I am increasingly wanting to help out at home. At least there is the internet. But it really sucks to be on the other side of the world when things crop up, as they always do. I have my bachelors. It is possible to continue studying in the future, given enough effort. But no amount of effort will bring back people for conversations missed and days not spent together, and I can't help but feel that I am pursuing a selfish self-indulgence by continuing with grad school, even with their full support.
I suppose the government will make the decision for me. But it will always be a what-if either way.