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.

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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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.

The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.


the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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Poetry On The Odyssey: You Don't Control Me

If I could speak to my anxiety, here is what I'd say.



You have controlled my life for way too long.

My constant fears hold me back from so many things I want to be able to do.

Your presence makes me a person I don't want to be.

You make me feel scared and alone when I know that I am not alone.

You don't control me.

I am not free to be myself when you are around.

There is no use for you, and you should be ashamed for making me feel sick, nervous, fearful, not good enough.

You have been a little monster, harboring inside of me for my whole life.

Whispering "You can't do that" in my ear when I dare to get out of my comfort zone.

You don't control me.

I am fully capable of doing great things and living without you.

I have a wonderful support system of people who believe in me and help me crush you every day as you deserve.

I will be brave, be bold, enjoy life more.

This is me saying "Sayonara Anxiety."

You don't control me.

I am going to take my life back from your filthy grip.

I am going to live the life I've dreamt of.

I am going to be adventurous and take risks.

I am going to be myself.

You don't control me.

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