Home For The Holidays: From The Black Sheep's Perspective

Home For The Holidays: From The Black Sheep's Perspective

Some things are better left unsaid.
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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.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.wweek.com/arts/2015/11/18/thanksgiving-crapshoot/

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My Problem With The Mom In 'Lady Bird'

Growing up takes time.
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SPOILERS AHEAD, BUT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY SEEN IT WHY ARE YOU READING THIS?

Now reader, you amazing, wonderful reader, I ask you to put aside the intense (and natural) rage that you feel towards me for having put the words “problem” and “Lady Bird” in the same sentence. Now, look me in the eyes as I say this: I LOVE "Lady Bird." We all love "Lady Bird!" It’s a fantastic movie, it captures some aspects of growing up that I didn’t even know I had experienced, it conveys the awe and the horrors we start to feel towards the world as we start to really understand our parts in it.

That scene at the end, when the titular character Lady Bird (now Christine) calls her home to tell her mom about the emotion she felt when she finally drove through her old town; I felt that too. This movie undoubtedly understands youth; what it doesn’t understand is the relationship between parent and child as that youth comes to an end.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’re familiar with the relationship between Lady Bird and her mother. There are moments of pure and utter truth in there. But what bothers me is the fact that despite the terrible things said and done by both Lady Bird and her mom, in the end it is Lady Bird that is left with the weight of reconciling with her mother even though her mom is at fault, and she does it. She calls home. She calls herself Christine again, she cries at church thinking of her home. After her mom hadn’t talked to her for weeks, she just goes and forgives her without a second thought. And why? Because they’re mother and daughter? Is that the message you want to believe in?

I think there’s a lot of affordances being made for the mother, and I don’t appreciate how we’re basically told that even though the mom is passive aggressive, belligerent, and demeaning, we need to excuse that because she doesn’t know how to communicate well and she’s worried about her mistakes. Lady Bird’s mom never directly shows Lady Bird how she loves her, and it’s clear there is some sort of affection between the two, but it’s a love shown through material things like money and clothing, essentials of course, but clearly not what Lady Bird needs.

I’m not saying that I think it’s impossible for Lady Bird and her mother to ever be on good terms again. What I’m saying is, that reconciliation takes time, and a whole lot of effort on both of their parts to see each other differently. It doesn’t come within the first week of leaving for college (when your mom refused to even walk into the airport with you), despite any of our romantic notions about university life I think we can all agree that real change has been a slow and grinding process, full of periods of growth and stagnation, but never quick. Growing up takes time, and I don’t know if "Lady Bird" did that justice.

Cover Image Credit: Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Photo © (OvO) / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

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Dear Life

I Love You, And I Am So Thankful And Blessed.
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I'm 23 years old. I am in my second semester of my Junior year of college. I started my college journey a little later than most of my friends and peers. This upcoming fall, I'll be headed into my Senior year of undergrad, and hopefully getting a jump start on my first year of grad school. I live at home with my parents and sister and I have two part time jobs. If all goes as planned, I will have my bachelors degree in May of 2019, and my masters degree in May of 2020.

I have wanted to write this article for a long time. This isn't to brag about me or where I am. This is about the journey I am on and how unbelievably happy I am in my life. Right now I'm a busy person and I have a lot on my plate. 18 credits, working 20+ hours a week, writing for odyssey, and trying to manage a social life. I'm a busy lady. Someone asked me one time how I handle being busy all the time, my response was that "I was born busy."

For as long as I can remember I have been busy. I played two sports growing up, went to CCD classes (church related), I was a girl scout, and I have a huge family that hosts functions almost every weekend. Oh, and I went to school five days a week too. When I graduated high school I worked three jobs totaling 80 hours a week sometimes. I can't handle not being busy, this is the only life I've known.

As happy as I am with where I am in my life, it's hard not to feel a little stuck. Your early twenties is such a weird time. You're trying to be an adult but you still feel like you're 17 years old. You're just hoping that everything will sort itself out eventually. I see friends that I grew up with getting married and having kids and I quickly forget that these are the milestones we start to hit at this stage in life.

Let me talk about my friends for a minute. I love to brag about my friends. Graduating college, buying houses, moving out, moving out of state, getting really good jobs. I am so proud. Words truly cannot describe how proud I am. When you grow up with someone and you get to go through life together, it's the best feeling to watch them get everything they deserve. I also think it's so amazing that I can look at each one of my close friends and tell a different story. Not one of us chose the same path. Some of us had really great jobs right out of high school, others went straight to a 4 year university. Some of us went to community college or didn't go to school at all. Some of us have college degrees and others are still working on them. I love having a supportive group of people who understand my path and my busy life. It reminds me that although I feel a little behind, I'm not alone.

I don't know if we'll all ever feel fully complete or satisfied with where we are in life. But I don't think that feeling is necessarily a bad thing. If we never feel truly satisfied then we're always going to be striving for more. I know that I have a lot of living to do, but I am so thankful that I learned to start appreciating the journey.

It is so easy to get down on ourselves for not doing something. Should we have studied harder? Worked harder? Eaten healthier and exercised more? Probably. But we also got to sleep in a little longer, saw a movie with our friends, and go shopping at the mall. I think that learning focusing on the process rather than the end goal has been a life saver for me. I still get stressed, I still procrastinate, and I still get overwhelmed but I'd rather be tired and enjoying life than not.

So this is my letter to life. I love you and I am so thankful and blessed. I am also thankful that I learned how to take time and reflect on where I am. It's so important to remember to breathe when you're going through a rough patch. I think that we often forget that we're human and nothing is ever going to be perfect. We have to stop being to hard on ourselves. The best thing I ever did was learning to stop caring so much about the outcome and enjoy getting there.

I am so proud of myself, my friends, and my family. If you're not incredibly happy with where you are, do what you can to change it. Cut back on the responsibilities that you can, practice a little self love, and remind yourself that it's okay to fail. Reaching a goal or a milestone is a great feeling, but there will always be another goal or milestone that follows. It's a never ending cycle that we need to learn to embrace.

Cover Image Credit: pexels.com

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