As I Get Older, I'm Still Trying To Figure Out My Role In My Family

As I Get Older, I'm Still Trying To Figure Out My Role In My Family

As I get older, I find that we're growing closer.
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On the outside, or if you first meet me and asked about my family, we would sound like a stereotypical nuclear American family. I live with my mother, a nurse; my father, a taxi driver; and my fourteen-year-old younger sister, who is a few months away from attending high school and complaining about it. Our lives are not a sitcom with constant misadventures and laugh tracks accompanying it; rather, it's the struggle of immigrant parents supporting their children as they try hard to succeed in this brave, not-so-new world, with a few bits of banter sprinkled in between.

What some people don't know about me is how big my extended family is. And how, more often then not, I'm amongst them, even though I don't interact with them.

On my mother's side, she has three sisters and two brothers; her younger sister and youngest brother both live here in the United States and I've gotten to know them well. They've taken me out to eat, we've talked about life, and they have visited me often. I've seen my aunt have a daughter which my sister and I babysit, and my uncle get a Ph.D., married, and have a son. I was comfortable with them, even though the relationship distanced further once I got older.

Further still were the other aunts, uncles, and cousins who would come to Ethiopia to visit, whether just to say hello or to give birth to more cousins I only get to see for a few times in my life. They mostly hung around with my family and watched television and ate and laughed. Honestly, I don't find myself interacting with them very much, except for one who was a few years older than me I loved her a lot. Nevertheless, they were affectionate, warm, and kind.

Whenever the entire family was all together, the room would bustle with the sound of cooking wats--Ethiopian stews which were placed on injera, a type of millet pancake, and eaten all together. Loud conversations in Amharic follow, sometimes accompanied by laughter, other times by enough shouting my sister and I would sometimes believe they would have gotten into an actual argument, rather than a discussion.

I wouldn't participate in them, because of the language barrier. When sometimes, they would switch to English when I wanted to know what they were talking about, it felt a bit jarring. My parents and other relatives constantly ask about why I wouldn't learn the language of my ancestors, to which I respond with a lack of interest. I had several other languages I wanted to learn first, and since I could talk with them in English, it wasn't necessary.

Did I purposely distance myself? I'm not sure. I assumed that since I'm relatively close with my family, my next goal would be to make as many friends as possible. It's a strange part of adolescence and young adulthood--I seek to distance myself from my family and get closer to my friends, if not to make new ones entirely from all around the world. So my role in familial interactions are sometimes strained and sometimes distanced.

But they're my family, the ones I stick with in the end.

Cover Image Credit: Elda Mengisto

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Dear Mom, I Hope You Know

I hope you know that I am here for you--until the very end.
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Dear Mom,

I hope you know that I appreciate you.

You are the hardest working woman I know, continuously putting your family before yourself. Thank you for doing all of the tedious jobs that no one wants to do like keeping the house in order, cooking the food, and doing the laundry. Thank you for constantly putting up with my siblings and I. Thank you for always supporting us in our interests and hobbies. Thank you for investing in our daily lives and listening to our minor problems. Thank you for always loving us unconditionally.

SEE ALSO: 51 Things My Mom Didn't Think I Was Listening To...

I hope you know I'm sorry.

I know I can be a big pain in the butt sometimes, and for that I'm sorry. I'm sorry for yelling at you, arguing with you, not listening to you, and making dumb decisions at times, but thank you for loving me anyways. Thank you for helping me stand back up, teaching me right from wrong, and pushing me to be the very best version of me.

I hope you know your love inspires me.

You live your life with a love that is contagious. Whether its nurturing love, tough love, friendly love, or romantic love, you have it all and you show it daily. The love you and Dad share is something I hope to find one day and the love you have for your family is evident in the way you constantly put us first.

I hope you know that you are my biggest role model and hero.

Ever since I was a little girl, you have been the person I have looked to in my life. You are strong, independent, confident, loving, supportive, and nurturing-- everything I strive to be as a woman and as a future mother. You give the best advice, even when I don't always take it. Though, I should know better by now because mothers always know best. Without you in my life, I honestly don't know where I'd be.

I hope you know that you are my best friend.

Not only are you my biggest cheerleader supporting me in everything I do, you are the person I talk to about everything, whether it's good or bad. I'm honestly so thankful for the relationship we share because I've had countless screwups and you literally give the best advice. Seriously, thank you for being the person I can count on at all times, at any time of the day or even night to just talk with. I mean we really do have some of the best conversations, best laughs, best cries (when needed), and the most fun watching cheesy chick flicks together or going on crazy shopping adventures.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl With The Cool Mom

I hope you know that I am here for you--until the very end.

I don't mean to make you cry or anything -- even though you probably already are, but I want you to know that when the time comes, I'm going to be there for you just like all of these years you've been here for me. I will be there to support you, talk with you, laugh with you, cry with you, and love you for all of my life.

Honestly, I can't really imagine my life without you -- but it doesn't matter because I wouldn't be here without you, so here's to you.

Thank you for being you.

Love you lots!

Your daughter.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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That Boy Won’t Cure Your Loneliness Or Fix All Your Problems— So Please Stop Expecting Him To

You need to find yourself first and really fall in love with that self before you can find your person and fall in love with him.

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The biggest misconception I had about love is that it would fix all the problems in my life. I inevitably thought love would give me a lifelong soulmate so I wouldn't feel so goddamn lonely all the time.

That happily ever after. A forever ride or die.

Once we fall in love with someone, we experience that euphoric feeling of passion and admiration. It's a great feeling, isn't it? That there's that boy who's all about you, just as you, are heads-over-heels about him. The world seems to be spinning in the right direction, and you suddenly believe that perhaps this boy was your lucky charm, a special omen brought exclusively from the heavens.

This boy knows all your tiny little secrets, calls you beautiful and stares at you lovingly when you walk alongside each other, hand in hand. With him, you feel as if you aren't lonely anymore. That you won't be that sad pathetic girl alone at a New Year's Eve Party anymore. That you'll have this boy to lean onto no matter what.

He says he's all yours, anyway. He puts your number in as "Babygirl" on his phone. He never misses the chance to text you good morning and be the last one to end a conversation before you drift off to sleep.

Let me get real with you, ladies. But this boy probably won't cure your sad loneliness or fix all the problems in your life. He won't become your soulmate, but instead, he's going to be a distraction. He's going to be a lesson, whether he breaks your heart or not.

Because once you start fully depending on this boy for emotional and moral support, he's going to start becoming distant. He's most likely not going to be there for you when shit happens, for one reason or another. He's not going to know what to say when you start crying other than a simple "It's going to be okay". Don't necessarily blame him for that. I guarantee that you're going to start blaming yourself about his behavior. And the more you start blaming yourself for how he's changed, it's only going to distract you from actually realizing the true reasons behind your problems and acting on them.

I know this all sounds a bit startling.

Try flipping the tables and think of it this way:

You just met this amazing guy. He's good looking, educated, passionate and respectful, etc. You have so much fun around him, and you come to fall in love with all his imperfections. But as time drags on, he begins to rant about how miserable school/work is and how much he hates these littlest of things you find a bit ridiculous. Imagine how confused and overwhelmed you would feel if he begins piling that stress onto you, telling you "But dating you is going to make me feel better about _____ since you're going to be here with me through it, right?"

I don't know about you but after hearing that, I would be running away at full tilt.

Now I'm not saying you have to be happy and bubbly around a boy 24/7. I'm not promoting some type of relationship where everything is perfect—of course, you'll come to find differences, have arguments and lean on each other during tough times.

I guess what I'm saying is that you shouldn't have to depend on someone in order to find your way through life or to feel less lonely.

Why should you feel that only a man would have the capabilities to change your problems? We're strong independent women, after all.

In most situations, you will only have yourself to lean on since not everyone's going to be there for you.

A boy isn't willing to fix all the problems in your life by licking your wounds and bandaging them up. Sure, he might be around to express sympathy and hold you when all you want to do is cry. But he's mainly going to be a part of your life to support you. He'll support your decisions and support you for how well you handle yourself. He'll love you for your independence, not how dependent you are. He fell in love with that free spirit from the beginning.

And if he left your life, he may have done so because *news flash* men aren't good with all that emotional baggage. Simple as that. So erase all those crazy thoughts about him secretly cheating on you or being a dick for wanting to end things.

My mom once told me this about love: "You need to find yourself first and really fall in love with that self before you can find your person and fall in love with him."

So, my friends, if you haven't found a boy yet, don't lose hope—he's going to come along.

But you need to find yourself first.

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