1st gen kids of the diaspora are so confused. Living between a collective minded society and an individualistic one. Constantly taking from both and trying to navigate both even though it often feels like they contradict one another and you’re left having to choose a side. Your parents scream “Think about the community, think about our expectations!”. Your heart screams “But what about what I want? Am I selfish for wanting to be happy or do I actually deserve to be happy?”
Explaining non-concrete things like depression or sadness or anxiety or space or privacy or happiness or dreams doesn’t work with immigrant parents. You understand that they didn’t have the privilege to muse or struggle with these things. These things either did not exist to them or they had to ignore them. Immigrant parents only talk in terms of things that they can touch, and see (except God that is). You understand that all they thought about is survival. Your survival. For that you are grateful. But does that mean you owe it to them to submit to their will completely and abandon your voice of dissent? For you, not doing so is your own attempt at survival.
At what point will they be happy with you? You’re not in jail, pregnant, you’ve finished school, you work and pay bills, you’ll probably get a PhD one day.
You’re an ideological fuck up though. You don’t agree on ideas. They say you don’t think like them. That they should have never brought you here. You argue that you would have always been this person. But maybe in a different environment, you would have learned to be ashamed of it more than you already are. You would have buried it deep so no one would know you were different.
The love and respect in your heart for them is immense. However, immigrant parents take any sort of gentle ideological dissent as disrespect and lack of gratitude for their sacrifices. They see it as lack of love for them.
I guess perhaps we disagree on the idea that obedience is love.
Where does my guilt go, though? Where can I shed it? Bury it? It is my second skin. Created to surround me whenever I follow my heart, especially if my heart does not line up with their ideals.
I’ve noticed the guilt that comes with choosing to follow what makes you happy is always greater in women and girls.
Our foremothers existed in cultures of sacrifice and it seems, then we are expected to do the same.
So it goes.