What I think is most important to consider, when thinking about detaching yourself from your family's expectations. Is understanding that there are projected expectations, and internal expectations of self, at play. While our families have these ideas of what they want our lives to be, whether they're spot on, unrealistic, or simply just not truly to who we are, we cannot deny that they exist. However, there is also a piece of a many of us, that really wants to either make our families proud, or change the trajectory of our families, for generations to come.
After some recent break-throughs with my family, I wanted to share some ways that I've navigated the intersection of their expectations for me, and my expectations of myself, for them. Below are four things to consider.
For many of us, and especially first generation college students, there is a generational haze over what you should be. It's much more based through a lens of survival, than ours. They didn't necessarily have the ability to pick a passion. Instead, they picked jobs that "made money," and developed tenure. No matter how rough the job got, they thought to stick it out, because even having a job is a privilege, or they knew how difficult it could be to find another. Our generation of freedom, and options is foreign to them.
Understanding the generation and the mindset, allowed for me to see their perspective, and why they felt the way they did, and so strongly. Which in turn allowed, for me to ease some pressure off of myself. Given that their ideas of what I should be, is/was based in what they thought they should have been. In Black families, many of us, always say that the next generation, is supposed to do better than the one before it. Which is based in, all sorts of projections over your life, based upon, what they wish they would have changed. This has less to do with you, than you think that, is what allowed me to detach myself, from who they wanted me to be.
What I find equally important is that we take some time to meet them where they are. A lot of my folks aren't the savviest when it comes to social media, or the interwebs. So I've spent a ton of time, explaining to them how things work, to then, illustrate my positioning in all of this, and where I'm trying to take it all. I understand that it may be frustrating, to have to break it down that way, but its necessary, if we're personally in need of their understanding and support. I also realize though, that for a lot of people, they'll have to see the fruit first, in order to understand why you even planted the seeds. That's okay too, this is where you'll have to just be confident in your own trajectory, to remain resilient to your mission.
I've always wanted to make my parents proud, and I witnessed the peak of their proudness, when I reached the peak of their expectations for my life. So in the after math of quitting my job, I personally had doubts about how they felt. I know without a doubt, that my parents believe in me, hell probably even more than they believe in themselves. However, there is a now gap in what they saw for me, and their understanding in what I see for myself. While I've spent so much intentional time, letting them into my head, and explaining to them, where I want to take my purpose. Just knowing that they don't quite understand it fully, has been something that has been very uncomfortable for me to adjust to. It's almost like I want to pack they asses up, and put them in a time portal, to show them how this shit will pan out a few years from, but of course we can't.
In a recent conversation with my mother, I explained this to her, and she kept repeating "be patient." Not even realizing, that I've been struggling with patience, either. She reminded me, that where I'm headed, is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Reminding and reassuring me, that they believe in me whole heartedly, and that I need to take this pressure off, that I placed on myself. So I needed to unpack, why, I placed so much pressure on myself to be everything for them...
I know very vividly, that one of my missions, is to change the trajectory of my lineage. There are so many generational traumas that have been healed within me, and that I will cease from persisting. With that, I have placed so much pressure on myself to be all of that, and to be all of that, right now. Not realizing, that the solo healing that I'm doing, is already changing the trajectory, and that I can't give when empty. Through that conversation with my mother, I found that I need to continue to become the best version of myself, to get to a place where I am able to pour back into them, in all the ways I imagine, and then some.
For those of us who have close relationships with our families, and family is important to us, we have to consider expectations, here from both ends. First free yourself, by understanding that their expectations aren't about you, and then unpack the expectations you hold yourself to, for them.