How do I let go of the pressure to succeed?
Days before her 10th birthday, Temera left her home in Guyana for a brand new start in the United States. Now, she and her best friend Rose are first-generation college students, feeling the pressure to honor their families’ sacrifices and excel in everything they do. Today, they’re asking: what does it mean to build a life of my own, without feeling like I owe it to my family to succeed?
Looking for resources? Visit ineedtoaskyousomething.org for info on how to strengthen relationships, deal with traumatic events, and get help.
Dr. Monica Band is the host of this show and consultant with the Jed Foundation. Chrystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and original music by Bobby Woody. Additional music by Andi Kristinsdottir. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson. Jackie Danziger is our VP of Narrative Content. Executive producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs.
This series was created with The Jed Foundation, a non-profit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for teens and young adults. Find ways to manage your emotional health, cope with challenges, and support the people in your life at jedfoundation.org.
This series is presented by Hopelab, a social innovation lab and impact investor supporting the mental health of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Learn more at hopelab.org.
This series is also presented by the Stupski Foundation, returning resources to the communities it calls home in Hawaiʻi and the San Francisco Bay Area by 2029 to support just and resilient food, health, and higher education systems for all. Learn more at stupski.org.
This series is also presented by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Learn more at luminafoundation.org.
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Dr. Monica Band, Rose, Temera
Dr. Monica Band 00:01
This episode includes conversations about the heavy impact of anxiety and academic stress. Remember to be kind and patient with yourself and if you need to take a moment to pause while listening. We’ll be here when you’re ready.
I grew up in New Amsterdam, Guyana with four siblings I’m the middle child. And whilst we were in South America, we grew up with Caribbean culture so i It’s like Dancehall reggae, Soca, those type of musics. So I grew up in like a small street where everybody kind of knew everybody, and everyone knew everyone’s business. When I left Guyana, I left a few days before my 10th birthday. And when I got on that plane, I was officially saying goodbye to everything like that made me feel comfortable. I was leaving my grandmother and I was leaving my dad, I was leaving my dogs. I was leaving my cats. I was leaving a lot of friends that I made. And I think that was the first sign of guilt for me was that I felt guilty for leaving my grandmother, because she was sick when I left. I remember her she was always like a warm person. Like whenever it rained, the Guyana and I was cold. Her hands are always the warmest thing. And I remember when I stepped foot in that plane. That’s the last thing that like I was taking with me. And I didn’t get to see her at all after that, because she passed. And then when I came back for her funeral, when I touched her hands, it was ice cold. So I knew that like I left something and now it’s not there anymore. And I feel like that’s where like guilt really started to kick in for me at a young age because I was leaving a person to like really like set a lot of values in me.
Dr. Monica Band 02:46
This is Temera, a 20 year old first gen college student in Massachusetts. For years Temera has been wrestling with her identity as a child of an immigrant and as an immigrant herself.
Today in this conversation, I will be exploring my guilt and my anxiety that comes along with being a immigrant and daughters of immigrants. And what that means to build your own life, not feeling […] anymore.
Dr. Monica Band 03:19
10 years ago, Temera boarded a plane headed for her new home New York City. There she would be joining her mom and brother after years of being over 2500 miles apart. Tamir was leaving behind everything she knew in exchange for opportunities she wouldn’t have had in Guyana. Today, I’ll be in conversation with Mara and her best friend and roommate rose will be talking about what it means to be raised in an immigrant household where the pressure to excel and live out your family’s hopes and dreams can often weigh heavy. This means that every success and every failure is meaningful. You’ll hear the word guilt come up a lot in this conversation. But guilt is often associated with wrongdoing. And let me be very clear that two mirrored rows have done nothing wrong. What we’re leaning into is the discomfort that comes with being the child of an immigrant. As a daughter of a Chinese American mother, this conversation resonates deeply. children of immigrants are sometimes referred to as cultural brokers navigating the complexities of multiple worlds to help their families and parents survive, adapt and thrive. And we do so with love and care without even being asked because our families have given up so much for us. And in many ways, we feel indebted to them. And that’s what we’re getting into today. The idea of a debt owed and if or how it’ll ever be paid back. This is I need to ask you something and I am your host, Dr. Monica Band.
Something about like Dominican families is that like they’re really like close knit like my uncle and aunt they live really close by. So we’re like always together all the time.
I always take pride in being Guyanese. You know, being in the Caribbean is a big thing for me, my culture is a big thing. So I that will always be my home.
Dr. Monica Band 05:25
That’s Rose and Temera, best friends and college roommates. Here’s Temera.
So we’re both children of immigrants. We’re both first gen college students. And that puts a lot of pressure on us. And I don’t think that’s something that’s really talked about about the guilt that you feel kind of like carrying on in your life. And that’s something that like I’ve had to dealt with, especially going to college, just like in little instances where you feel like really guilty about living a certain part of your life that your family didn’t get to necessarily.
Dr. Monica Band 05:58
Two years ago at a freshman orientation for first gen college students Temera and Rose locked eyes. Over lukewarm coffee and stale bagels Temera told rose about leaving Guyana for New York, and Rose told tomorrow about growing up Dominican and Philly. They bonded over the importance of those next four years. And the pressure they already felt to succeed in their studies Temera and law and rose in medicine. They shared stories of their parents and the sacrifices made so Tamera and Rose could be sitting in that very room in Massachusetts.
So my parents immigrated here from the Dominican Republic Day once a college back home. And they worked in the careers before they immigrated here. But when they came to the United States, they weren’t able to work in the fields that they went to college for. So I feel like for me is it kind of breaks my heart to know that they worked so hard in Dominican Republic, but you can’t see that transferred here. That’s why I feel like I always like I have to be the best like I had to do the best I can because that’s why they came here. Like they didn’t just sacrifice their like personal careers for their children not to have careers of their own.
Dr. Monica Band 07:13
A couple years before Rose was born, her parents emigrated to Philadelphia, where her mom still lives. While to Mary’s dad stayed behind in Guyana, her mom still lives in New York with tomorrow’s siblings. She works as a home health aide and never got the chance to go to college. To Mara was deeply aware of this, she felt a huge amount of pressure to make her mom proud and represent people like her.
It always feels like I’m carrying like a bag of bricks on my back. And I’m walking through every day. With that. I don’t just represent myself when I walk through anywhere. I represent people who come from single mothers I represent like people who identify as in the Caribbean, I represent like, people who are immigrants are present first generation students, I’m representing my family, I’m representing like, so many communities, and the bricks just keep building and building up. And like every day like I walk through campus, I’m like, how am I representing these communities, I never want them to like have a negative perception.
Dr. Monica Band 08:11
There’s something that is just so visceral physical, when you’re recognizing that there’s very little representation in the systems that you’re a part of, and it’s just you or you’re one of the only people and that even just adds another brick. So I am curious to know, what is it about college that begins to create this guilt? For you both?
I think that for me, it was especially like, moving away from home. So you’re kind of establishing a life outside of the house that you’ve known outside of the family that you’ve known. Everything that I do is like how is this affect my family? Or how is it like I’m paying back my family in a sense. But when I was outside of that, and I went to college, now I’m starting to build a life on my own, that my parents didn’t get to do or my older siblings didn’t get to do.
Dr. Monica Band 09:07
Rose, I’d love to hear your thoughts on that for you transitioning into college, because I’m hearing Temera share at first. You know, we’re in this mindset of having to think about our family or making decisions and then we’re equally thinking about them when we’re in this position. We could save and have this privilege to go to school. What would your experience be like?
Temera’s different cuz he have older siblings, but I’m the oldest sibling. So for me it’s more so like my younger siblings that they don’t like have that same experience. And they probably won’t get to have that same experience. So you kind of feel not guilty about experiencing it but like sharing it with them.
Dr. Monica Band 09:46
Tell me more about that rose, what is it that you feel like you have to withhold from your siblings?
I will say more so like the fun aspects of college because I have young her sister, she’s 18. And she wasn’t able to go away for college. Obviously, I do share with her like, we’re like best friends. But I, like am conscious of what I share. Because I don’t want to make you seem like I’m bragging or like, oh, you should have gone away? If that makes sense.
Dr. Monica Band 10:16
Yes, yeah, it does. And that’s really interesting, because what you’re talking about is the fun. So it like the joy and the excitement of this experience. And so I’m thinking about how our siblings might want to hear at the very least are curious about your experiences. But there’s this withholding that guilt does that says, oh, no, don’t share that. Because if you do, this will happen. And I’m wondering if you can Tamera, if you want to expand on that, because you also laughed a little bit and kind of agreed, I think, with Rose when she mentioned, oh, the fun things.
Yeah, I definitely do still share like similar dynamics in the sense, because out of like, all my sisters, I was the one who like, left to go to college. And that was like a really, it was a very hard thing to do. Because my older sister, she didn’t get to leave for college. And like, I’m so close with my older sister, but when I’m talking to her on the phone, I’m like, we went to a party, or we did this, I just feel bad about talking about that part. Because I know that’s not something that she really got to experience or like the social aspect of college. So I’m always very aware and hyper focus on what I say and what I leave out.
Dr. Monica Band 11:40
You know what I’m appreciating in this conversation? Just Eva, and thank you so much for both being vulnerable. So early on in our conversation. It’s almost as if guilt prevents us from being real. Even with the people that we are closest with, let’s say that you shared truly how you were feeling excitement. And all I mean, what what is it that we’re worried about? In reaction to that?
I think my biggest worried is changing the dynamics of my relationship with my sister are feeling like a sort of resentment towards me. My sisters have always been like the one thing that’s a constant no matter what. But I always fear to like if I share too much about certain aspects of my life, I don’t want her to feel like I’m living a life without her. And like that caused, like a resentment or a shift in our relationship.
Dr. Monica Band 12:33
Well, thank you so much for sharing that I got chills. And I would love to hear what you both have to share about this idea of keeping your family always in mind. I mean, we’ve been focusing on like sibling dynamics. But I’m curious to know how you navigate talking or thinking of your parents in these scenarios.
That is very interesting dynamic, for me, especially does like brown households, Caribbean households, or just like immigrant households, Mother Daughter, relationships are just a struggle to navigate. Let me just preface it. I love my mother dearly.
Dr. Monica Band 13:14
We, I understand the preface Go ahead. Yes, we know you belong.
I love her dearly, but the way I describe my relationship with my, my parents, especially my mother, it’s like, like, if you sit down for a business negotiation, and you’re negotiating, like certain aspects of your life that you’re kind of giving up to make them happy. That’s how I feel sometimes it’s like a quid pro quo thing. You know, she immigrated from Guyana to come and you know, just provide and then to bring us over. But also she had nine siblings to total, so she was always a caregiver. And then she had children pretty young, like around the age of like, 20. So, you know, she didn’t get to live that like wild 20s You know, she gives up, you know, dreaming about certain things, so that I could achieve everything that like I ever dreamed of. You know, I’ve been saying that I wanted to be a lawyer since the age of six after watching like a movie with my dad. And that hasn’t changed. And you know, they’ve pushed me towards like a path that they knew was going to be stable. And everything that I’ve done was like for me to reach that goal.
Dr. Monica Band 14:25
Okay, so I do you just have so many wonderful things. I want to pause because I think we need to respect every single moment that you’ve shared. So first, I’m hearing you say as I get older, I am realizing and learning more about my mom and it shifting my own feelings and knowing that yes, she’ll always is my parent, but I’m also recognizing she’s not just this sort of authoritative parental figure but she’s someone who had sacrificed a lot in order to help me afford the choices that I have now and and going to school. I think you were landing on this idea that, you know, my parents are extremely supportive. And because of their background and their immigrant story, they really value stability, and they really value safety. And so a career and say law is safe and is stable, but they might not have known anything outside of that. So going back to expectations, I’m curious to know, if you feel there are any spoken and unspoken expectations of your time, in college, and even just sort of growing up.
I think like, the spoken expectations was like to go straight into college. And then I’m expected to go straight into law school right after that, like no breaks and like, not giving myself time in between, I think also, in terms of like, staying focused, it was never, like, get up dating or anything like that. It was always like, the books are your best friends, boys and books don’t go together. Unless he’s like holding it up for you to read. And I think the other expectation is that like, like, you keep your eye on the prize at all times. So like, even when we had like, certain tragedies in the family. I remember my grandmother passed during my sophomore year of high school. And that was like a really big thing for me. But it was after the funeral, and we went back home it was you process it there. And that was like the end of it kind of thing. And then you keep your eye on the prize, you never let any emotional things get in the way of that. So it really took a lot out of me because now I’m still navigating how to process anxiety and navigating how to process sadness, because after a certain time, you’re like, Okay, get back on track. It’s gone. It’s past.
Dr. Monica Band 16:50
What Temera is talking about took me a while to really understand in my own life, I can relate to the fear and anxiety that comes with not knowing whether my parents will tell me if something’s wrong. Here’s what I’ve discovered. Much of our parents reasoning for withholding information is because they don’t want to worry us, or they want us to focus on being successful at school work, etc. To them, it’s a sacrifice to shoulder the burden of bad news so that it doesn’t impact others. On the other hand, not knowing what’s going on doesn’t actually stop the worry. In fact, not disclosing information can make a person feel like a child or even others from the family. It can create internalized narratives of questioning our abilities and our judgments. This goes back to what Temera was saying about still learning how to process emotions like anxiety, or sadness, and how are internalized guilt only makes things worse? So how do we deal with these feelings? Do we forgive the mistakes our parents make? Because they’re human too? Or do we feel hurt and stuck because we’ve inherited their generational trauma. More in reconciling those emotions and deaths after the break.
Dr. Monica Band 18:11
Before the break, we got to know Temera and Rose and the universality of being children of immigrants. Let’s go into marriage metaphor. Imagine carrying a backpack full of bricks. Now picture each one of those bricks with a message written in Sharpie in all caps. Some might say things like, be the best succeed at all costs, while others might say the world is your oyster, I want you to have everything I never had, over time, the weight of these messages adds up. And that can have some pretty harsh consequences on our mental health. Let’s listen in. I’m curious to know then you’ll have different identities intersectional identities, you have a first gen right you have your race, ethnicity, your immigrant status, right? All of these things, you know, that kind of meld together and can inform how we’re showing up in these spaces. I want to ask about mental health. So how are conversations about how you’re feeling how you’re struggling? Or how is that approached?
In terms of like how mental health is represented in my family, or like how I’ve seen it is that I have struggled with anxiety for a very long time I started developing it when I was like pretty young, especially when I entered Middle School, it was ranked really great. And I remember when I got in, everyone was like so proud of me that I got into like the top choice for middle school. And I just remember that when I entered sixth grade, it was like, Okay, now you need to like make sure that you’re getting your grades up. And you’re, you know, making sure that you’re getting good teacher recommendations, you’re building those relationships, like it was okay, we’re done, celebrate. And now it’s like really time to start thinking about like, what’s going to be next right. And that’s when my anxiety really started, like manifesting itself to something really bigger. And I think, much scarier, I remember when I was starting to stick for my state Middle School testers and stuff like that. I had trouble really like breathing, my palms were gonna really sweaty I was, you know, that was like, Really, when I was starting notice, like I was developing like a problem. And I didn’t tell anyone about it. I kept it to myself, because again, I didn’t really want to like, put my problems on my family. But it’s because I know everything that they’re going through. And I just don’t want to add to that. And I downgrade my mental health problems. Until I get so bad. I remember the first time I call my mom, it was actually this semester. And that was the first time I’ve ever cried on the phone with her. And she stayed up and she was supportive. Like she was like, you know, you have to calm down, you have to breathe, but and she was like, you have untapped potential you can allow yourself to be so upset. And in the moment, it’s just a reminder, like, I have so many things to bear. And this is why like, I don’t know how to process emotions, because it’s not really talked about.
Dr. Monica Band 23:20
I wanted to ask, what would have been more helpful? Or what would you have preferred to hear from your mom in that moment?
I just wanted to hear that, like it was okay to feel sad. And it was like, okay, like, I don’t have to think about like, all my untapped potential, you know, or I don’t have to think about everything that like I’m bound to do in life. Because that had nothing to do with like the the problem at hand. I know, she meant to be in good spirits, obviously. But, you know, the comfort part is always hard.
Dr. Monica Band 23:48
I’m appreciating through the back and forth, I’m hearing you go through and trying to be understanding to your mom and her strengths and limitations. And I hear you saying like, in that moment, as much as I can empathize with my mom, I was hurting to fit sometimes that’s when empathy can get in our own way of asking for what we need asking for help sharing. Yeah, go ahead.
I think the like, empathy is like my strongest aspect in life, but like, I think it it definitely made like the guilt a lot stronger for me. And I think I I don’t know where to draw the line sometimes of like, I need to like empathize with myself and understand like, you know, I’m going through something.
Dr. Monica Band 24:29
I’m curious to know, Rose, you’ve been patiently quietly sitting there listening in and I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of the things that we had just mentioned.
Yeah, I can be like really stressed or like really struggling. And I’m like, Yeah, I’m fine. Like I’m pulling through, because I feel like in my family. We’re not really someone that like processes things together. I remember actually, my freshman year of college, I struggled a lot. I remember because I took chemistry for like the first few weeks of us semester. And that class like really took a toll on me. At first I was like really getting there like, I’m like, Okay, I got this, like, I was doing the homework. I was like in the lectures, but after like the first week, I was completely lost. But I still push through cuz I’m like, I can’t just like withdraw from the class. I did end up withdrawing. But in that moment, I’m like, I can’t just give off. And freshman year, me and Temera were not roommates. We lived in different dorms. I was sleeping over her dorm. And I literally could not sleep because I kept thinking about my grade. And I kept thinking about chemistry. Yeah. And I went to my room at like, nine in the morning, I literally did not sleep. And that’s when I like texted my parents like that same night, I was like, I’m like struggling so hard. And they were just like, You got this, like, you’re smart and stuff. And I think sometimes, you want to hear that from your parents, like, although you know that they support you. You want them to verbalize that to you. Sometimes they don’t do it enough, or they just don’t know that it needs to be done. And that was the first time I ever told my family that I was struggling with school.
Dr. Monica Band 26:08
In the end, you know, how our parents and caregivers share and show affection to us can be so different. And often in acts of service or sacrifice that we lose, kind of what we would think is the more common sense like the words of affection, the Hey, you got this, I support you. It’s almost as if it’s like, well, of course, it’s implied. It’s implied because I did all these things for you. Yeah. When it’s like, yeah, no, I’d love to hear it though. Rose, that moment must have been tough for you. I mean, it doesn’t fall short on me that that was a critical moment in your own. I imagine mental health and even just you being vulnerable with your parents. So I applaud you for doing that. When you were feeling like you were struggling, you know that no sleep, that anxiety that kind of like intrusive, just cycling of thoughts. I mean, I can hear just how distressed you were in that moment. And the word that came to mind was, like, endure, like we learn from our parents sacrifices, our caregiver sacrifices to Ender ally should just power through it. And then there was that real moment where I hear rose that you were really coming to terms and accepting like, I’m struggling right now. And just because I can doesn’t mean I should. So here’s my question. Where was guilt in that scenario?
The guilt with that was that I initially came into college on a pre med track, because that’s like what my family expected of me to like, be a doctor. But after that, I was like, I don’t really want to deal with science, like my entire life. I was like, how am I going to tell my mom, like, the person who pays for my tuition has sent me a wave, like five hours from home, that I don’t want to do this anymore? And I don’t think she processed it. I think she was like, Okay, this is just like a phase. Like, she took a class, she struggled. But she’ll be back. I did not go back. But that was like the guilty part. Because like, for me, it was like, this is like what my family expects of me. And I’m not doing it. Like even now. They like to ask me like, are you gonna study medicine? And I’m like, No, I’m not. But every time I answer that question, I’m like, should I go back?
Dr. Monica Band 28:30
There’s tension there for you arose. I’m hearing you’re still in this moment, kind of weighing it out. Yeah. So Tim Herrera, how has it been for you to watch rose go through this struggle?
Honestly, like, you know, when she dropped chemistry, and then she like, really, like, found sociology as her love. And she does amazing. I mean, it took a lot of courage for her to be able to drop chemistry. And I want to say that, like, I’m just as courageous as her, but I’m not. I but it always inspires me because Rosa and I share the same struggles in terms of like, the classes that we take in has like, taken a real emotional toll on us. And she’s seen every chapter of those classes for me. And I think what you brought up with, like us enduring and what I learned from my mother, especially with her being a single mother, is that like, I stuck through all the classes and Rose noses from like, see me like I cried a lot of times, like all because I felt like I couldn’t leave the class. Like I told myself that if my mom can handle all these things, if my sisters can handle all these things, why can’t I handle class and I sacrifice a lot of my mental health to be able to succeed? And that’s not something I talked about with my family at all. But Rosa seen it firsthand is that I burnt out and it took me so long to recover because I didn’t have the courage to leave those classes. And you know, I love that I’m gonna be You lawyer, I love using my voice to amplify a lot of communities that I identify with. But a part of me always wonder, like, do I stay on track because I’m scared of leaving it not knowing where I’ll end up, or not knowing any other passions, because I recently discovered like, I’m a great dancer, I love dancing. But that’s not something I ever like, was encouraged to pursue something. And I always love rose, seeing like that she was able to pursue something that she absolutely loves. And I find it so inspiring, because I don’t think I’m, you know, as courageous as her as much as I want.
Dr. Monica Band 30:38
I want to pause you there because I’m seeing rose, nodding her head no, Rose, you want to say something to Temera about that
[…] like you said, row, you stayed in those classes, even during those classes, even though they they took it’s only which we learned a lot. And you know, when you’re doing something that you love, like you love law, and you want to work with immigrants.
Dr. Monica Band 31:04
I love that you both find inspiration and even you know, envy certain things about each other. But the idea of that courageousness can only come in one form is tough. And I think what’s even tougher about this, that I’m appreciating through this conversation, is that it feels like you have to choose, it feels like you can’t fully be you without the worry, the guilt, the tension, the concern of how it may impact other people that can feel like you’re navigating two worlds at the same time when you are making these decisions. But do you think about that, and you’re welcome to disagree, too?
No, I definitely agree. Again, like my parents are like, you know, supportive as long as I keep my head in the game. But I think it goes back to what we were saying that, like, it’s implied that they’re proud of us. But when it’s implied, I feel like I work harder to just hear them say it. And I don’t allow myself to be multiple things. Unless I know that I could get that. I’m proud of you out of it. And that’s something I struggle with, like doing things for fun. Or like picking up a hobby versus something I know I can get like an achievement out of it. Or you know, people who say like you want a cookie or you want a gold star. Yes, I want that cookie. I want that gold star from my family. Yes, I do. And it’s so bad. I built my worth around that. And then that’s something I’ve learned how to break down. But it’s a challenge because I feel like I have to earn everything. And hobbies. Don’t make me earn anything. That’s the mindset I’ve always been in. Like, even though I’m a great dancer, and I love dancing. It’s not something I would do professionally, right. But I don’t allow myself to like pursue it as a hobby. Because what am I getting out of it? Where’s the cookie? Where’s the Goldstar? And it’s like, it doesn’t give myself time to breathe. And I think that’s like a hobby, something to relax. It allows you to like separate two lives. And I didn’t have that separation. So of course it took a toll on me mentally.
Dr. Monica Band 33:03
I want a cookie to I agree with that sentiment. I totally agree with that sentiment. But you know what came up for me when you started sharing that this idea of relaxing and doing things for fun? And what did we witness though? Our mother’s doing? Did we see our moms exactly they laxing and having fun?
Exactly. But then even when I remotely was relaxed, that’s where the guilt comes in. It’s like the women in my family just in general, they’ve gone through so many struggles, and made so many sacrifices like they’re always been caregivers, they’re always looking after someone they’re always working. So why Why should I be able to relax?
Dr. Monica Band 33:41
Why should I be able to relax? Rose, what’s coming up for you when you hear your best friend speak these things into existence.
I really but I feel like on a different scale because I prioritize like having time to relax. Like sometimes a little too much. But something that tomorrow brought up that I really really relate to is like doing like all the academic achievements because you want to like hear like, I’m proud of you.
Dr. Monica Band 34:12
Do you want the cookie too?
I want the cookie I want the ghost I like growing up. I was definitely the child that had straight A’s who always tried to like do my best in school. Just because you don’t only want to hear that your problem to wonder, like be able to give back to your parents. Like I feel like that’s the main thing. For most immigrants. It’s like, you go to college and you get a job. Yeah, so that’s all I’ve ever worked towards is like I need to get straight A’s so I can get into the best high school I need to get straight A’s so I can get to the best college and I need to get straight A’s so I can get to the best grad school.
But there’s no finish line. The finish line keeps me.
Dr. Monica Band 34:55
So it turns out so many of us want the cookie and the Gold Star When you grow up hearing your parents immigrant stories and seeing the sacrifices they’ve made, you recognize the extraordinary obstacles they’ve overcome. It’s really inspiring. But it can also feel like your parents ran a marathon and then pass you the baton. Now it’s your turn to hustle and win the race for your team, AKA your family. But as said, the finish line keeps moving. Because of that nagging anxiety telling you that Nothing you do will ever be good enough. The thing is, our families aren’t keeping score we are by telling ourselves that we’re not enough. But remember, we’re on the same team. Our parents didn’t make sacrifices to hold it over our heads. While their parents may have told ours that hard work is the great equalizer. We need to learn that our productivity is not the sum of our worth. And it’s not the only reason why they love us. So how do we actually start to believe the act more after the break. Welcome back. Before the break to Marian rose swapped stories about moments where they felt immense stress and responded by doing something out of the ordinary, calling up their parents and being vulnerable with them. I was curious about what their future selves might do. And similar moments with a phone calls home happened more often? Or would boundaries be set as a protective measure?
I think for me, like one of my goals is always to like be closer to my family. Like every time I make like New Year’s resolutions like have better relationships with my family.
Dr. Monica Band 38:25
That’s a New Year’s resolution. Be closer to my family.
I don’t really necessarily know how to navigate it. Because I feel like being so far away kinda does make it difficult. I feel like with my mom, and my stepdad, whenever we talk, it’s kind of like, I’d like ask my mom like, Oh, can you like send me like money? Or my mom would call just to like, tell me like what’s going on. But I feel like a way to be closer is just to be like honest with each other like about what we’re going through and how we’re feeling? Because I feel like both my mom and I do downplay, like, our emotions and our feeling.
Dr. Monica Band 39:05
Yeah, that sounds really familiar. Because you had shared with us that when people initially asked you say you’re fine, too, but I’m hearing you say like, being more honest, and getting closer is a hope for the future Temera, you had some time to think.
I think that’s something that’s helped me like in the recent years, especially since leaving for college is that I’ve kind of learned how to accept my relationships as they come. And that really put a lot of expectations on them. Especially with my mom just because I see the struggles that she’s been through but I also see like the generational trauma that like you know, she only shows love the way she’s been shown love and I find myself like being caught in that like cycle sometimes with the way that I handle emotions. So I’ve seen how hard it is to break it. But it makes me sad that like I’m physically on able to like talk about my emotions or like my feelings with them. But like, it’s gonna take me a while to talk about because I know that they’ve like, done so much. And they’ve gone through so much.
Dr. Monica Band 40:12
Thank you, thank you for sharing that I really appreciate it, it helps kind of bring to light everything that we’ve been talking about, but also getting to know you better, and also the, how each person in your family has helped you. And I think you are so aware of that. That it disqualifies sometimes your own feelings and needs for things. And I hear you saying like, that’s something I’m going to bookmark and kind of continue to work on, maybe it’s going to be a New Year’s resolution, like with Rose and not compare my struggles to my mom’s or my siblings. And that it is enough, you know, that I’m enough.
I definitely think that’s why it’s so hard for me to like draw boundaries, because like, I feel like it’s me shouted them out. But it was also like, when I became friends with Rose, and now like I talk about my feelings, but it’s definitely helped me heal in a way. And like, I’m slowly like, you know, starting to make boundaries, like right now about what boundaries look like, is just like me sometimes, you know, making the phone call, like really short, when I just don’t feel like very up to it. You know, maybe it’ll get to a point where, like, I’ll talk about like how I’m feeling in the moment. But also, that has to start with like me learning how to process how I’m feeling in the moment.
Dr. Monica Band 41:30
Yes, that is not an easy skill. I’m curious to know, Rose, from your perspective. You know, you mentioned a lot of you sort of what’s in progress, what you’re going through, how are you continually finding ways to heal for yourself and make sense of these things? I mean, I hear Temera say like, one of those ways is our friendship. How about you?
Yeah, definitely our friendship, I feel like love Temera, I’ve learned how to be more vulnerable. Because that’s something that I’ve always struggled with, just like talking about my emotions. But another thing like we’re feeling is just starting to let go of expectations that others have for you, and have your own expectations for yourself. I like to struggle with that a lot. I’ve always had my worth kind of equate. So like how other people see me. So if like they’re perceiving me negatively, I’m like, I need to change something about myself, it’s me, or presumed positive. I’m like, Okay, I’m doing something good. Like, well, my family expected me to like go on to like medical school had like a huge toll on me. So then letting that go to pursue, like, what I actually want to do was kind of hard, but like, I’m really like, glad that I did it. Because it’s like, letting go of what other people expect of you, and just doing what you want to do for yourself.
Dr. Monica Band 42:53
So I am curious to know, we talk a lot about guilt. And that was one of the many things that we wanted to mention in our conversation. And I’m curious to know, as as we move forward, what do we want our relationship with guilt to look like?
There’s the same, that there’s no amount of guilt that could change the past, and there’s no amount of anxiety that can create the future, right. And I think the like a beyond this conversations, what I would like my relationship to look like guilt is that like, understand the like, there are just events that like could not change, and I cannot go back in time. And also in terms of my family, I have to come to terms to realize that. You know, ultimately, I didn’t ask them to make the sacrifices, they made it on their own volition to try to create a future for me. And just like, like, I would like to, like remind myself and really anyone who would like listens to this is that, like, you’re worth every sacrifice that like your family has made. And you don’t have to put yourself through like blood, sweat and tears to feel like you’ve earned it.
Dr. Monica Band 44:04
Okay, Rose? How would you like your relationship with guilt to look beyond this conversation? And I think Temera brought up a good point as well, which is what would you like other people who might be listening and relating to you both to hear?
I think that very similar smell. I like learning that you really cannot change the past, like what your parents did what your family did for you, they did for you. So you shouldn’t feel bad for using the resources that they wanted for you to have. Like you want to do everything for your parents. And like, you should want to do things for your parents and like give back for everything they’ve done for you. But also, you deserve to like earn things for yourself.
Can I just add something to that really quickly that she said and I think Rose said this really well is the like we deserve to build things for ourselves and like build a life for ourselves. We should not build our life around just our parents or just our family expectations no matter how you define family, because at the end of the day is that everyone had contributed a sacrifice. So that’s like, we could have all these stairs to walk up to wherever we want. If we wanted to touch the stars, they made the stairs to make sure that we touch the stars.
Dr. Monica Band 45:17
Thank you, thank you let me just echo some of the words of wisdom we heard from Temera and Rose today. You are worth your parents sacrifices, and you are so much more than those sacrifices. You know that path your parents want you to follow. The one they work so hard to put you on. doctor, lawyer engineer, stick with it if it feels good to you. But if there’s a nagging feeling telling you to take a road less traveled, like one in pursuit of dance, for example, explore it. There are still cookies and gold stars to be had in the world of dance. And parents, your courage has already opened doors and your determination will propel them forward. Trust that the work you put into raising them will pay off. Thank you to Temera and rose for your sincerity care and good humor. This is I need to ask you something. And I am your host, Dr. Monica band. See you later. Next week on I need to ask you something.
There’s more I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content. There’s so many things we talk about and we’re barely scratching the surface. Tune in to learn more about what it means to be a perfectionist, to be conflict avoidant. And how to ask for help. I NEED TO ASK YOU SOMETHING is a Lemonada Media original. I’m Dr. Monica Band, the host of this show and a consultant with the Jed foundation. Crystal Genesis is our supervising producer. Giulia Hjort is our producer, and Rachel Lightner is our producer and audio engineer. Tess Novotny is our associate producer. Mixing and Original Music by Bobby Woody, additional mixing by Ivan Kuraev. Special thanks to Kelsey Henderson and the members of our youth focus group. Maria Perry, […] Erica Familia, Kofi Green and Cloud Ben. Jackie Danziger is our VP of narrative content. Executive Producers are Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs. This show was created in partnership with the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. This series is presented by HOPE Lab with, Stupski Foundation and Lumina Foundation. Visit I needtoaskyousomething.org or use the link in the show notes for resources related to today’s episode. Follow I need to ask you something wherever you get your podcasts or listen at free on Amazon music with your Prime membership