How to Let Go of Your Family’s Expectations and Be Who You Want to Be

Spiritual stress was one of the many factors I imagined a life beyond the cultural expectation that an excellent child remains close to home.

I believe this is the issue of any child in a household filled with hope and expectation, and specifically for the immigrant kid, it is typically one of the specifying questions of our presence. The idea of having a load you are predestined to bring, even if youre unsure you wish to carry it … I cant think of a more spiritual quest than this.

It is a code that lots of households live by, the hope that youll get over any arguments and differences and “make it work.” For the immigrant household, this code of principles is often vital to our survival. If all of us dont support each other, who will? However truly … who will?

” When the God you are told to love is either a brute or woefully withdrawn from the inmost stirrings of your heart, you can become frozen to life. One afternoon, my daddy stood as the mighty patriarch, doling out a prayer for everyone in the family. … I yearned for a nearness to my moms and dads and to my culture, but I also desired a life totally free from rejection and religious absolutism, where I could feel at peace as I really was.”

In a previous reflection, I blogged about this vulnerability and direct exposure that led me to release a particular expectation that was expected of me in my household as it concerned religious beliefs.

We understand all too well that theres a lot more in that portmanteau other than an easy hope or desire. Typically, we find that theres unreconciled sensations, a trauma here or there, sorrow, and a firm belief in what is ideal versus what isnt. So then the question for the immigrant child, and any child who knows what its like to come from a household that has its share of obstacles, is, What is mine to hold?

And like any place, this land that runs through my veins has actually likewise birthed people who could not see beyond their fears and picked (purposefully or unconsciously) to feed their inner devil.

Its possible to like where you are from and yet desire to be without the expectations you need to bring, and sometimes its needed to let everything go.

I think of that their suitcase was filled with their hopes, dreams, and expectations, and in numerous methods, I seem like I was metaphorically handed this luggage of desires and things the day I was born. It would now be my load to bring and make sense of.

Everyone, no matter where were from, and no matter what we understand or dont understand about our particular origins, need to contend with the reality that our familial histories often carry the shadow and the light. So then naturally, I need to acknowledge that all this complexity has been passed down to me. This was the true start of my healing, understanding that I originate from the best experiences that humanity needs to offer and the really worst.

That concept that a great child stays near house and does not interrupt the family system was a huge expectation to bring, especially due to the fact that I had a requirement for independence at an early age. Everyone would be sitting in the living room enjoying a movie or gathering together, and I would be upstairs dancing or listening to music.

When I opened that portmanteau, I understood that the clothing didnt rather healthy, and there were notebooks complete of expectations I would never ever satisfy.

And lets not forget that were immigrants residing in the U.S., which indicates that we are foremost and now first thought about Black individuals. So my life– like a lot of my equivalents– is a life of lots of understandings assembling into one.

I have constantly had friction in my life in between who I am anticipated to be and who I really am. In a manner, the expectations I brushed versus sanded me to my most vulnerable parts, where I needed to face who I wished to be.

In short, there was something greater at stake for me to maintain, and it did appear to boil down to picking household or the opportunity to become who I actually am.

In order to sift through all of this, I have actually needed to rediscover who I really am on my journey to healing, especially as the child of Nigerian immigrants. Notification how I state “child,” which means I have to compete with a gendered truth where I am plainly a part of a larger system. So these words– child and immigrant– indicate that theres a relationship existing between multiple celebrations with different understandings.

Although I had a respect for this terrific things and the hands that had passed this legacy to me, I wasnt sure if I might carry all that was in it.

If this wasnt enough to handle, when we think about Nigeria, Africas most populated nation that has birthed many individuals who have actually dedicated themselves to making their lives much better in service of a vision beyond themselves … well, this lets me understand that I come from a location where people have picked to sustain their inner light.

My parents typically spoke about concerning America from Nigeria with one portmanteau.

And there was far more releasing to do. As I followed the little voice that wanted self-reliance, I began to specify who I remain in present time:

However, I think that my true strength is identified by who I truly am, and who Ive always been is not the archetypal superwoman who can do everything. Ive always been more on the sensitive and mild side, and for me this is where my strength lies. My strength depends on the ability to put down the load and quit any expectation that would compromise my sense of stability.

In my own experience, were typically congratulated for our ability to carry a difficult load. As Black females, we are typically offered accolades for our ability to do this and bear more than our share.

A daughter will marry (or not) when the time is ideal for her and not a minute quicker … same goes for having a child. And a daughter is still really much the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, simply perhaps a daughter who lived up to a requirement of her own making.

For me, the ability to manage relationships that might not be healthy, carry cultural expectations, and accomplish at a high level has been the marker of strength, meaning to do anything various shows weakness.

Where do we go from here?

The response to the question of how we can free ourselves may be easy (i.e. simply let go), but we understand that the job of in fact releasing is a hard one. As one immigrant lady I knew said years ago, “Ive currently needed to release a lot … just how much more change can a single person take?” It takes a lot to provide up the load, especially when theres so much hope zipped into it.

Here are 3 reflection concerns that may assist in letting go:.

What about my mankind do I require to welcome, obstacle, and release?

As a young woman, I constantly fretted that I was doing something wrong and causing the grownups in my life anger. It had actually shaped me for my whole life, so that feeling at dis-ease was my familiar state of being.

I believe before you can become who youre meant to be, its also important to understand where you originate from and what you d like to preserve from your childhood.

I think this concern needs one to truly establish an awareness for ones routines and recognize those ego stories that require to go.

In my particular personification as a first-generation Nigerian lady, I make it an indicate honor this part of my story while making the necessary modifications to expand my viewpoint.

I existed with a choice: Do I wish to keep this or let this go?

Take your time with this, and if you are working with a therapist or support group, this might be a great question to deal with in your process. I believe of Eckhart Tolles quote in how I approach this question,.

This concern is one tool to support you in getting honest with yourself and accounting for who you are. Whats the reality you require to inform?

What has carrying this load taught me about myself?

I think this is explanatory, but to utilize myself as an example, in carrying this load I understood the tension and resentment that had developed in my life. I likewise understood that I wasnt rather sure who I was without it. I understood there were actually things within the luggage I wanted to incorporate and keep into my new method of doing things, so in methods, the load wasnt completely bad and wasnt entirely good.

What do I actually want?

Its taken me decades to answer this concern. Some individuals come out of the womb understanding their location in the world and their desires, however for lots of people, frequently we have other peoples desires and desires as our blueprints for what believe we desire. However if no one was there to verify or revoke your hopes and dreams, and this was a talk between yourself and your soul, what would it be?

About Itoro Bassey.

One afternoon, my daddy stood as the mighty patriarch, doling out a prayer for everyone in the family. And a child is still very much the daughter of Nigerian immigrants, just maybe a child who lived up to a standard of her own making. The response to the concern of how we can free ourselves may be simple (i.e. just let go), however we know that the task of in fact letting go is a challenging one. This concern is one tool to support you in getting sincere with yourself and accounting for who you are. If no one was there to confirm or revoke your dreams and hopes, and this was a talk in between yourself and your soul, what would it be?


Itoro Bassey is a Nigerian-American writer, mindfulness specialist and teacher. She is the founder of the digital course, From Surviving to Thriving: Becoming Your Own Inner Author. This course utilizes composing and energy work to bring students into the present minute. She has actually been publishing on culture, identity, and recovery for over 10 years and now provides user-friendly therapy sessions for those in requirement of assistance. Follow her on Instagram or contact her at

I hope this helps in some small way, due to the fact that releasing is made complex, and sometimes we simply require the right tools and concerns to help us arrive.

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