By Miko Pugal, RVC Fellow and AGE UP Capacity Coordinator Life after high school is hard. There’s a rhetoric out there, especially within immigrant families, that pursuing higher education is the only route to success. This is a narrative is one many of us have internalized, and it’s also one that is a hard pill to swallow. Growing up, the messaging I got was that going to college and earning a degree will yield a sense of fulfilment, that feeling that you’re doing something with your life, that you should feel good about yourself, that you’re good enough and deserve better. When I was younger, I actually felt like I wasn’t good enough for college. I felt that I wasn’t good enough to pull myself up by the bootstraps, that I shouldn’t feel good about myself. What got stuck in me was that messaging — that rhetoric of how college is the only a way for me to feel good about myself, that I had to be a graduate to feel like I was a worthwhile human. These expectations gave me anxiety. Notably, what got me through my anxiety was not higher education, but doing work in my community, being involved with an organization that allowed me to go all the way back to the middle school I attended to coach Ultimate Frisbee. I worked with young men in my community, focusing around a sport, yes, but also around mental and emotional health.