First generation world

I’ve been posting some thoughts on facebook everyday as we go through the month of Ramadan. While they won’t have much to do with medicine, I’ll post a selection from them here.

Ramadan Reflection Day 3: this one’s a tear jerker. It’s hard to encapsulate the struggles and sentiments of being part of a family of first generation immigrants. Universally, it involves parents sacrificing their lives so their kids can have better ones. Unique to that experience is how much more your immediate family becomes a world of its own, because suddenly there are no cousins and aunts and grandfathers to turn to; the only friends are those few rare ones who will make the long distance calls; it becomes clear that you only have each other. It’s resulted in me developing a very strange relationship with my parents where we treat each other like friends and confidants half the time, and like our respective parent/child roles the other half. At 12 I was trying to be my dad’s therapist as we talked through his struggles with unemployment and odd jobs, and likewise now I find myself run every decision by them down to what kind of winter coat to buy. It’s not always healthy and it definitely results in a higher frequency of arguments, but it’s just what happens when you grow up in a new country and they are all you have.

People who don’t identify with the immigrant experience have a hard time understanding why, at 25, I still abide by my parents’ wishes when they aren’t always in my best interest, or they aren’t in tune with the modern world. Why I don’t move out, why I don’t do more to gain independence, why I as a grown adult and medical student have these issues. Well, this video explains why. When they give up literally everything for you, it’s easy to give in to their requests even if you don’t fully understand them. My parents are the ones that wanted me to do medicine before I did–and I resisted and resisted, until I realized they were right and this is exactly what I should be doing with my life. So it goes with things like travelling, schoolwork, any rules or restrictions I don’t understand… I put up a fight at the time, but they are usually right.

If there’s one thing I need to work on this month, it’s being patient with them in the moment, and not just being filled with regret and retrospective respect for their wisdom after the fact. Like life’s closest relationships, remembering to be grateful in the moment is the hardest part.

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