I Get By With A Little Help From My Parents

Story by Amy Cain
Photo by Anne Langan

It was the first day of class and we had to make an introduction. First went my classmate, who explained he was a part-time student.

“[I’m in school part time] because I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon,” he concluded.

Hearing this, I froze. I knew he didn’t mean it to target others, but it still felt odd. I can’t help it: whenever I hear peers complaining about students who are fully supported by their parents, I get offended.

Yes, I am a college student who gets financial help from my parents.

Don’t get it twisted with the silver-spoon stereotype already implanted into your minds. I work hard and I strive for future success, no doubt. I apply to and work part-time jobs to aid with living expenses. However, no matter how hard I work, the silver spoon label is still attached to me.

Coming to college, I met friends who depended solely on loans and part-time jobs in this capitalistic college system. Witnessing a former roommate of mine leave CMU because the expenses were too much broke my heart. It made me realized how blessed I was, however, undeserving.

Hanging around independent peers made me feel ashamed of my financially stability. I was afraid to be judged based on the stereotype of being spoiled, clueless and sheltered.

We do it all the time – snicker at the blessings our peers have, wishing they would stop and put themselves in our shoes to know how it feels. I admit I do it as well. We have to understand that life doesn’t work that way.

We all have different lives and blessings in many forms.

Theodore Roosevelt said “comparison is the thief of joy”.

We must not loathe the blessings of our peers, for our destiny of blessings are different.

It just happens I grew up with a family who consistently supported my living expenses and academic fees. My dad saved up for my and my siblings’ college careers since early childhood.

When my parents help me out when I need it, I still get insecure. I constantly think about the people out there barely surviving when I get things handed to me. But, whenever I mention that to my parents they immediately shut it down and say it is alright for them to help me.

“We work so hard to provide for you girls,” they say.

My parents are the most hardworking souls I know. They are the “started from the bottom now we’re here” kind of people. My mother grew up in poor conditions with many siblings, while my dad started at the bottom rung of the workforce ladder, experiencing daily racial discrimination. Both of them reversed their lows and created a lifestyle for their children they never experienced for themselves.

Witnessing the sacrifice my parents put in my education is moving. They inspire me to work even harder for one day when I may have kids of my own.

So instead of a silver spoon, I call it a blessing.