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Things First Generation Kids Can Relate To

As a child of immigrants, you’ve probably been the first to go to university or college, gotten that higher paying job or even been the first to speak more than two languages in your household. Whatever your achievements or background, I’m sure there are certain roles or tasks that you have endured while growing up that just never quite made sense to you. Or maybe you thought you didn’t fit in with your social circles. I’m here to tell you that if you relate to any of the listed things, you definitely are a part of the Secret First Gen Society!

Being the at Home IT Person

One day, while you’re working on a project or doing some research, your family comes to you and you hear them ask you to fix whatever electronic JUST because you know how to work a computer. You could do so much as unplugging and plugging in a wire from the internet box. Sometimes, it’s also the only time you’re treated like their one and only saviour. Interesting times, aren’t they?

Translating Important Documents

Okay. This probably started to happen once you reached double digits or even started to read and your parents asked you to translate legal or medical documents to them. They had you trying to understand sentences with words that you still wouldn’t be able to understand. On top of all of that, they wanted you to translate it too. If deciphering academic or legal lingo wasn’t hard enough already, try adding explaining it in a second language!

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Cousins that Make Fun of You

Your mom gets a call and it’s from a relative you probably don’t even remember. Apparently, the have children or they want to talk to you! Thrilled, your mom hands you the phone and they speak her native tongue and it happens to be your second language, so, you struggle to speak it but you think you did your best. At the next family gathering or even on that call right there, your cousins and relatives make fun of your “accent” and how you speak. Don’t you just want to say, “what about the fact that I speak more languages than you?” but hold your tongue to avoid getting another lecture?

The Pressure

It’s real, baby! Especially if you are the eldest child. Add more pressure if you are the eldest female child in families of certain backgrounds. The pressure to fit into the society that you were born into and yet appease the one your parents still try to cling to can get overbearing. There is also the pressure of being successful right after you complete your education because of all the “sacrifices” that were supposedly made for you. The suffocating reality that is this pressure can really drain people of their emotional and mental energy.

Please make sure you’re taking care of yourself! Remember, you are enough and you’ll do amazing things! Parents don’t need rewards for just doing what a parent is supposed to do.

Not Being Trendy Enough

Chances are, your family hogged the television, or you weren’t allowed to watch “English” movies because they were deemed obscene or a mix of both! This meant that you didn’t know what your friends were talking about growing up or you didn’t watch many shows that most of them got to watch. The only shopping you got to do was for school supplies because relatives either gave you hand-me-downs or your clothes were gifted through customs and traditions. Then, because you were the only technically savvy one of the family and your parents were adults when they got phones, you were left out of group-chats since you didn’t get to have a phone or iPod until you were much older. Chin up, soldier. You’ll break generational curses soon enough.

Staying Cultured

If you are a child of an immigrant family, chances are you’re the result of two vastly different cultures colliding. Some practices and traditions in cultures are significantly unique from one another. Simple customs or norms between the various cultures can become confusing and tiring to keep up with. While it’s normal for your friend to have you call their parents by their first names, you might feel a little awkward and even disrespectful doing that. When going to a friend’s house, you’re not sure if you should take your shoes off at the door. Little things like that can make you feel uncomfortable or left out in many situations.

At the end of the day, it’s important that you acknowledge how beautifully complex you are. Relish your individuality, your uniqueness. They set you apart from the crowd after all. You are not anything to be laughed at but admired for you are the product molded together by the coming together of different cultures and societies.


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Priya Butter

Wilfrid Laurier '24

Priya is a student at Wilfrid Laurier University pursuing an Honours BA in Global Studies. Along with being a writer, Priya is a passionate dancer and advocate.
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