Following your dreams isn't always easy. Three Elevator staffers reflect on the difficulties of balancing love, family, and ambition
Dayelin Roman - Latina Liberty
Latina Liberty

Many parents try to calm their kids' anxieties before they go off to college, but my mother contributed to mine. The summer before my freshman year, she made me miserable—picking fights over whether I could do my own laundry, accusing me of leaving the family, and even calling me a slut.

"What happens if your roommate is a lesbian," my mother said, "and you have to live with a girl who hits on you?"

I always dreamed of leaving Miami to go to school. In high school, teachers bragged about a handful of "smart kids" every year who got scholarships and grants to go to schools like Cornell and Brown. They encouraged us to apply, too.

Francis Freel - Moving Up and Moving On
Moving Up and Moving On

Ever hear that piece of advice about not following your high school sweetheart to college? Well, no one warns you about making that same mistake four years later, when you and your college girlfriend are considering running off to grad school together.

Let this be that warning.

I'm living proof that no matter what sort of idealistic future or fairy tale ending you hope for, love is a complicated motherfucker and life may have other plans. As someone who's lived it, I'll be the bearer of bad news—chances are that it will not work out.

Naomi Pearson - Assisting and Avoiding Mom
Assisting and Avoiding Mom

My dad took off unexpectedly. Everyone who knew him—family and friends alike—insisted drugs had to be involved. He abandoned a kindergartener, a toddler and a sick daughter, along with his wife. Almost out of the blue, he disappeared. We discovered him a few days later living with a woman whose computer he had repaired. He screamed that he hated us all and that he was never returning home.

Dear old drug-free Dad left us destitute and homeless just as winter began. He had stopped paying the rent. The landlord, a friend of my dad, refused our money and evicted us, since only Dad was on the lease. Mom, the babies, and I lived in our car for two months. Although I had a chronic heart condition, I promised myself and assured Mom that I'd pour what energy I had into helping her make sure we all first survived, then prospered again.

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