Even though my university is 15 minutes from the house in which I grew up and where my family still lives, I am rarely home. Studying, working and doing other college-student activities keep me occupied on campus. So, spending the holidays with my family is great and fulfilling because I barely get to see them when I am at school.
I love my family. I am fortunate to have parents that love me and support me both emotionally and financially. However, as I get older and approach the end of my undergraduate career pursuing a major in journalism, I have come to realize that I have vast ideological differences compared to my family.
It is your average white, middle-class, midwestern four-person household that lives in the suburbs of Minneapolis. That being said, their interests run fairly steady with an average midwestern family--they love sports, have conservative-leaning political views, hunt and hang out at neighborhood taverns with long-time friends from high school (which is less than ten minutes away).
I share many characteristics with my parents, including their humor, responsive tendencies and rather profane vocabulary. But there are other attributes I do not share and, as I grow older, this divide has deepened.
These differences are more profound than our bond over Jim Carrey’s performance in "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and Sebastian Maniscalo's stand-up comedy. It is the beliefs I hold, which I don't feel my family acknowledges, that reflect who I am as a whole. I begin to wonder if my family even knows me--leading me to realize, I am the family's black sheep.
Being the black sheep in the family can be exhaustive in that you feel rather under-appreciated. My aspirations, my interests and my goals are very different than those of my parents. This becomes a problem because it is something I obviously want to discuss, but half the time it’s a one-way street, and I am not being fully listened to or understood. It’s almost as if when I talk about what I study and what I want to do with that, I either get a minimal response, a confusing response, or the worst— no response at all.
It’s not that I ridicule my family for their passion for sporting events. Good for you, that is awesome. Rock on, do what makes you happy.
It's not that they don’t understand my choice to be vegan; and it’s not their constant preaching of their beliefs.
It’s the isolating feeling that comes with being the black sheep of the family, and especially over the long span of the holidays. And my family would agree that I am dissimilar.
This is not meant to be a rant, but if I hear the word hockey one more time in the next 24 hours I may have to evict myself from this three-week staycation.
Hockey, football, golf, baseball. It’s an obsession, especially with my 17-year-old brother’s participation in sporting activities (during the holidays, it's hockey.)
What's more is that politics can rarely be discussed within the household. My family has rather polarized views and can get defensive toward ideas that differ from their own.
I think it is a shame that something so important is such a fragile subject. Maybe it used to be easy to suppress political beliefs, but in the climate we live in today, it is close to impossible to bite your tongue about important issues...like the leader of our nation. I study journalism. This is a subject in which I am interested and yearn to talk about with the people whom I love most. But, it is extremely difficult to say anything without some sort of stale reaction.
I feel like an alien. I want to talk about what’s happening in the news, the world and culture. But usually, dinner-table conversation highlights one of my family member’s disgust with the Eagles beating the Raiders and losing points in their fantasy football league. Sometimes, I will bring something up that I am writing about and my family will be engaged for 1/10 of the time they are for talking about the local golf course closing. But that's normal; it wouldn't be family dinner if someone wasn't criticized for their political views.
At the end of the day, I care deeply for my family and love them very much. But as I get older and become immersed in the world, my views and personality are developing. It looks as if it is going in a direction far from that of my parents.
This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But spending this much time back home definitely opens my eyes to the differences between me and my family members. It makes me sad, but it also makes me realize that I am my own person.
I am their daughter, but I possess a conscience and brain that thinks the way it does because of my own experiences, evolving into the fully fledged adult I will soon come to be.
I love my family, and some things you have to turn the other cheek to. This is a battle I can’t fight. And anyways, I am a pacifist. You should hear how they feel about that. That was a joke.