The pressure is on for first-generation immigrants.
You grow up trying to maintain your family’s culture while also assimilating into the one in which you live. You understand the harsh realities of immigrants as soon as your consciousness develops. And you feel the pressures of navigating life without the same resources as your peers.
It’s a challenge, and with it comes the guilt of having opportunities your immigrant family never had. And the guilt can manifest in many ways.
Pursuing your passions at the cost of your family’s approval
Your family made a sacrifice by leaving their home country to experience a better standard of living — whether they were fleeing from war or seeking opportunities for their children. As a former STEM major, I was hesitant to mention my major change to journalism, as if I had made a mistake due to the expectation of doing something “greater” to make up for their sacrifices. There is this understanding that your family left all they knew so you could have a life they never had growing up.
Moving out from your family home to go to college or work
Your family moved across the ocean for a better life for you — but it’s hard to come to terms with, especially when you’re packing up your stuff to live miles away from them. This is even truer as they get older and cannot see you as much. At the same time, you just wish they could’ve had the same experience and excitement about going out into the world.
Going abroad is a privilege
It’s bittersweet when traveling outside the U.S. for vacation or fun with friends. You likely had conversations about the reasons your family came to the States. It can be hard to shake off the guilt of knowing they did not have as much flexibility in deciding whether or not to travel, especially for their own passions or for fun. It becomes more complicated when they ask you to send pictures of places they never had the chance to go to while wishing they were there to experience these ventures with you.