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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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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14 Things You Relate To If You Grew Up WithOUT Any Cousins

*GASP* "What, you really don't have any cousins?"

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It always shocks every person who hears me state that I do not have any cousins. For some reason, this is just hard for people to really believe when it's actually not something impossible. I think we are all just so used to large families that it sounds weird when people say that they have no cousins. Yet, it is definitely a potential reality, and actually impossible if each of your parents is the only child to your grandparents.

Here are 14 things that you can relate to if you grew up without any cousins.

1. Nobody believes you when you say that you don't have any cousins

I'm serious, for the tenth time.

2. Your grandparents spoil you

With no other grandchildren to worry about, it's pretty easy to do.

3. You don't understand when people say that cousins are your first best friends

My best friend was my first best friend.

4. You and your siblings are always the youngest people at family events

This was simultaneosuly a good thing and a bad thing.

5. You get all of the attention at holidays

Since you're the youngest one around, then distant relatives are always doting over you.

6. Everything you do is deemed awesome by your extended family because there is nobody to compete with

It's much easier to be praised when you aren't being compared to someone similar to your age.

7. You don't know how to hold babies

You're never around them so why would you?

8. Family photos are pretty easy to coordinate

The less people, the easier.

9. Other family members spoil you just because 

Afterall, you are the only kid around...

10. The family will make comments regarding the potential for you to have a cousin as a justification for why they aren't doing something for you

When you hear, "I can't buy you too much because someday your aunt is going to have kids and I will have to do the same for them" you cringe and just had to know that all of the attention wouldn't last forever.

11. Birthdays are always a big deal

A perk of not having very many to remember.

12. If your parents' siblings own pets, then you refer to the animal as your cousin

Cat cousins, dog cousins, lizard cousins, and fish cousins can be pretty cool, actually.

13. Sometimes you dream of marrying into a big family

This is to ensure that your kids do grow up with cousins.

14. You appreciate the closeness of your tight-knit fam

Maybe the only thing you would miss if you had a big family is the opportunity to develop such close bonds with the few relatives that you do have.

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