Op-Ed: The pressure of what comes next


Photo credit: Maia Alvarez

I sit under the various alumni pennants that are hanging in the business hallway. When I sat below the pennants, I felt nothing but admiration for the previous alumni’s accomplishments. I hope I can be like them in my own way.

By Jullie Cach, Staff Reporter

“Have you started looking at your college options?”

“Do you know what job you want to do in the future?”

“Have you made any plans for your college years?”

These are all questions that my dad and other members of my family have recently asked me. As a sophomore, the pressure has started to get real. Although the college process traditionally starts a little less than a year from now, I feel this enormous pressure to start preparing for college-related activities. Should I know specifically what I want to do?

Since I am part of a first-generation immigrant family, my parents highly value education. My older sisters have already graduated from universities and fulfilled their roles of earning degrees and pursuing amazing jobs. Then, there is me, who is still finding her way in high school. I feel an immense pressure to fill the big shoes my sisters have left, especially being the last daughter in my family to graduate.

My eldest sister, Gaby, knew what she wanted to do in seventh grade: chemical engineering. She went off to an incredible college with a full scholarship because of her excellent grades and, therefore, my parents didn’t have to worry about paying tuition.

Having a sister who already knew what she wanted to do early on put tremendous weight on me to map out my high school years as a path of success for college. A plan that consisted of me taking as many honors and AP classes as I could because that is what my sister did. After all, she became what my parents deemed as successful.

Having two older sisters who are what my parents appraise as “thriving” forces me to live in their shadow. I am expected to be smart in school like them, to excel in all of my classes like them and to do everything my sisters did.

My role model was always my older sister, Gaby. She handled situations in a composed manner at an early age. In order to mirror her actions, I had to work diligently for my parents’ goals and ultimately exceed their expectations. I was always referred to as “Gaby’s sister,” but I was never Jullie. 

I needed to be perfect and successful like her. At a young age, I considered jobs that were eye-catching and careers that would make my parents proud. Hence, I decided I wanted to be a doctor. But, as I got older, I lost interest and didn’t fully exercise my strengths or passions. Being a doctor just wasn’t for me.

Throughout my freshman year, I received many pep talks from my sisters to curate a plan for my high school years. I was told to apply for pre-college programs and to solve daily questions for the SAT or ACT exam. The constant conversations were overwhelming and repetitive. My life was being planned out right in front of me without my own opinions or consideration of what I wanted. At the time, I thought this was necessary and normal for me to be stressed. After all, this was for my future.

But, this is my future. I’m supposed to be in control. 

Everyone shines in their own respective ways and there is no need to worry or stress about what will lie ahead in that journey. It is never too late to start thinking about your future, ponder your interests, passions or subjects you’re good at or love.

After so much uncertainty, I have come to the enlightenment of who I am. I don’t live in anyone’s shadow. I will follow my own path and do things that I want to do. I won’t make decisions for my parents or their expectations. Because I am not just Gaby’s sister. I am me: Jullie.