A few days before my sophomore year started, my life completely changed. I was coming back from Korea after summer break, with my sister Jean and my mom. At the airport, my mom’s visa was rejected. She was not allowed to step out of the small room they put her in, and, before we knew it, she was catching the next flight back to Korea.
Just like that, Jean and I were left on our own. I was fifteen, she was twenty.
And I could go on forever, listing what I hated about living away my parents. For example, seeing the living room always dark and piled up with clothes on the floor and the furniture, opening the fridge to find either spoiled food or no food at all; turning around to see loads of dirty dishes in the sink; going into my room only to realize how exactly alone I am behind the door and the walls, as if the previous images weren’t bad enough.
But instead of just stating my problems, I’ll tell you what I did to resolve them. I rolled up my sleeves, put the dirty clothes in the washer, bought groceries, took out the trash, and washed the dishes. I could not just sit and wait for someone to help; I had to help myself.
So I spent three years of high school learning how to take care of myself. I mastered essential techniques of life like paying bills online and calling the cable company. I learned to manage my time productively and get things done, although I’m not perfect and I still struggle to follow through my schedule. And most importantly, I came to appreciate my family much more, because they cannot always be next to you forever like you imagined they’d be.
So there you go: a very compressed, concentrated version of my life during the past three years. I don’t want to complain too much, because I know everyone has their struggles. But I’m only pretending to be indifferent about this experience, because it actually brought me to the rock bottom many times.
Still, I want to say I’m thankful for going through this. I hated it and I still struggle, but it made me who I am today and I’m grateful for that. Because of this experience of living alone, I’ve seen just how much I’m capable of. Everything I doubted myself about, I came to succeed in and now I know how stupid I was to worry. And I’ve met supportive and caring people I can call family and make me feel at home, in a foreign country away from my parents.
So, I grew. I had many moments when I wanted to give up everything and cuddle up in bed, hoping everyone would somehow forget about me that way and carry on with their lives. But now I face my problems instead of hiding from them. Granted, this may not be the hardest problem of my life yet. But knowing how I succeeded in dealing with my first life-changing difficulty, I’m sure I’ll do well. I’m still confused and lost from time to time, but I know I’m growing and learning.
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