Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Cave

When starting out as a college student one might feel like they are free to do as they wish and roam around a new place and have new experiences without the watchful eyes of parents. I experienced this my freshman year and was happy to know that I could do as I please and be able to pull money out of my account and never run out because my parents would always keep money available to me. Everything was great my first semester and I was able to do all the things I enjoyed and would never run out of money. But then things changed and I was thrown off my cloud of happiness and into a brutal reality.

One day I tried to get money out of my account to buy food and for some reason it said that I didn't have enough to withdraw. I called my mom wondering why this was and she hit me with a full blow to the chest. "Your father has been laid off and we don't have enough money to support you without the help of financial aid". I was shocked. In my young freshman mind I believed that my parents would always be able to support me and have no problems doing so. But this dark reality remained that I now had to find a way to make money for myself since there wasn't enough that my parents could give me.

I was in a cave that made me believe I could be dependent on my parents all throughout college, but I was wrong and the shock of this reality scared me enough to not know what to do. I was in a shadow of my own innocents. I had seen this new light and it was a scary new place. At first I wasn’t sure what to do. I needed to find a way to make enough money to help my parents pay for the rest of my housing and college funds. I was able to get a job working as an assistant in the theatre on campus and make enough for my personal spending, which I also had to cut back on what I would normally buy.

I was able to break away from this cave and find a way to survive in this new light. My parents were proud of me and thankful that I was able to find something so quickly. I know can take classes and get whatever I need with the help of financial aid and working 15 hours a week. It isn’t the most fun reality but now I am at least making it through every week well fed and not worrying about how much I spent during the week. It was a struggle to make everything work but I was able to break away from my cave and see this new light and become a more independent person. My dad was able to secure a new job and I am now less of a financial burden to my parents.


  1. This is good writing and self-reflection here Erin. You appear to have worked out an understanding of the immediate experience (your parents troubles and the independence this inspired you to develop), and this could certainly make for a good paper topic.

    There are a couple movies that could offer you corroboration and further development of this life story and principle. In terms of the general "human story" of overcoming difficult obstacles and developing one's resources and knowledge of the world through that process, I would recommend the films "O Brother Where Art Thou" (this portrays less of a solo venture than your own story, but could work very well) and "Thumbsucker" (whose main character does have to learn more independently than you, but different life resources).

    Really though, a big question I have for you, is how does the knowledge you've gained extend to other areas of your life (in addition to taking care of your self, learning life management skills etc)? Besides the practicalities of life, how would you say your *character* has developed from the experiences you've gained? Your relationship with your family? Or your plans for the future--maybe career, but also perhaps your approach to personal and/or human relationships?

    The movie that came immediately to mind when I read your blog and thought about these questions was "What's Eating Gilbert Grape". He's able to take financial care not just of himself but his entire family, and is a very good provider, but in the course of the movie, he learns some key lessons about developing these other aspects of himself (or rather life forces him to learn those lessons). This would probably be my chief recommendation, especially if you want to explore how your knowledge extends to other areas of your life and future.

  2. Hello Erin, I think that it was great that you had this experience because without it you would not have been able to know what you are capable of as an adult. I think that at times we like to be protected and sheltered by our parents but the truth is that they are not going to be there forever. Unfortunately they are not, but the only thing we can do is make them proud with our actions and decisions. When these types of situations and problems come along the only one you have is yourself. And only you can help yourself out of these situations. You learn how to mature and be responsible for yourself as well. Experiencing the reality of life is hard but we have to be strong and pull through in order to have success as you did. I think that if I were in your situation I would probably do the same thing and probably feel frustrated and stressed because I would not have anyone else to help me. But you were lucky enough to find a job quickly in order to secure you housing and everyday living. And now I’m pretty sure that not only are your parents proud of you but you are proud of yourself as well.