The Sanshi’erli Scare: Over Thirty and Still A Student?

A desk with a textbook open with a pen and ruler on it.
"Won't you graduate already?" That's the pressure my Chinese husband felt from family and friends, wondering why he was over thirty, with no career or children. (photo by shno)

My Chinese husband John shot me his weary, it’s-way-too-late-on-Sunday look. I expected him to vent about his PhD studies the way he always did when he appeared tired — the homework, the papers, the feeling that you’re always, despite your best efforts, just a little behind. Behind it all, though, I always felt his passion, his love for the path he’d chosen — to become a clinical psychologist.

But not tonight. “I’m tired of being a student,” he sighed.

I dashed into the living room, as if his words signaled some emergency, that his lifelong passion needed life support. “What do you mean?” I asked, staring into his eyes for signs of something, anything, that could tell me what was wrong.

He hid himself behind a generic smile, the kind that doesn’t really mean he’s happy. “My cousin is my age. He is settled down and has a family.”

“So? Your cousin also will never be able to do what you can do after graduating.”

He grinned, and with just one glance I had a feeling this problem went far beyond his cousin. “I’m too old,” he said. Continue reading “The Sanshi’erli Scare: Over Thirty and Still A Student?”