Growing up with immigrant parents (and being a refugee/immigrant myself), my entire life has revolved around following instruction. Keep your head down. Do what they say. You can’t think for yourself. The way you think is not the way you should be thinking. And so on and so forth.
There were always moments where I saw myself shine (in the arts, dancing, even just joking in every day conversation with friends) and I realized that I couldn’t fully allow myself to feel proud of that because it was so ‘mundane.’ It was borderline obscene to want to be viewed in such a lighthearted manner. It was borderline obscene to make myself smile. It was borderline obscene to just be.
A wise woman once said that the way parents talked to their children became their inner voice. You know that nagging voice inside your head telling you one way or the other? That’s your mom telling you that you can’t feel butterflies around him because he’s not successful in life. Or your dad screaming at you because you didn’t know the oil change was over a couple hundred miles. A fucking oil change. Man.
These glorious moments in our lives truly do shape us in the end. It’s the fight that you pick with him because maybe he isn’t successful enough – even though you’re 22 and who is at this point in their lives? It’s that negativity about how you’re so stupid and such an idiot that you shower yourself with when you hop your first curb. Even though some moron ran you off the road and you almost ended up wrapped around a pole trying to dodge him. Because you weren’t good enough. Because you aren’t psychic.
Because you’re you and everything you do/think is wrong. Right? Wrong (but just this once).
I know you sit there screaming in your head, wondering why the hell you were a first-generation scholar. Why there’s so much pressure on one simple soul. Why they just don’t TRUST you. Because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.
My parents and I were recently having a discussion (AKA I was getting my ass handed to me, such is life) because my 16-year-old sister wanted to find a part-time job since she was about to have some extra free time on her hands. They didn’t like the idea of her working at all because she’s the golden child. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you that I was the heathen in the family – in case you haven’t realized by my ever-so-elegant profanity spouts. I started working at 16. It wasn’t a piece of cake, but I learned actual real-life skills and made some amazing memories closing up shop with my backwards cap and soaked Shoes for Crews Converse at the nearby Chick-Fil-A.
But they refused to listen to me. They were basically saying that they didn’t want my little sister working because they didn’t want her to end up like me. Side note: I enjoy a stiff drink every now and again and I have tattoos… yikes. I’m also about to graduate from an accredited university and have a solid job lined up once I do… yikes? No, that part they like. But do they ever mention that part? Nah. It doesn’t fit the storyline.
What I want you to realize is that you don’t have to fit the storyline – theirs, his, or hers.
You can have your cake and eat it too. You can have tattoos and also have a Master’s degree. You can have a glass of wine and also pray to whichever God you believe in. You are good enough. Because the only person you HAVE to be good enough for, in your heart of hearts, is you.
So what do you do when you aren’t good enough? You get that tattoo. You ace that exam. You down that bottle of wine. And you breathe. Every day above ground is a good day and you, my friend, are having a fabulous one.