I’ve never felt entitled to the notion of being “under pressure.”
A surgeon in the ER. Pressure. A mother with triplets. Pressure. David Bowie… I’m here all week gentlepeople.
I, however, no pressure. I don’t hold a particularly stressful job nor have I had life throw me any crazy curveballs. I have a fortress family, spoils of friends, great (ex)boyfriends, and a mostly non-traumatic childhood. There’s no objective form of pressure as far as a prairie dog can see.
Well. Except for one pesky little thing – a phantom threat imposed by the misinterpreted knowledge that my existence has to make up for all the very real pressures my parents underwent to afford me the right to glide through life like a white man. (Say that three times fast).
First generation immigrants know this threat well. Sometimes it’s explicit – the label of your naturalized citizenship thrown at you like a dirty towel of murky privilege and soiled tradition.
“Ugh, you’re so Canadian, so ungrateful.”
My mother has a colourful tongue and takes creative liberties with vulgarities, yet the dirtiest thing I’ve seen fall from her lips is that word, “Canadian.”
Other times it’s more implicit – an understanding that you have to be “more than.”
More than you would have been otherwise.
For me, this wasn’t necessarily cultivated by my parents. The seed was sown by an immigration officer in a Syrian embassy as he floundered through the depths of would-be immigrants’ motivations, taking the scenic route through my mother’s as she pointed at her two daughters and reiterated their gender.
Women. Poor things.
There were other motivations of course, but “for-my-daughters-to-have-better-opportunities” is what made it impossible for me to ever accept “less than.”
Enter 2017. This year has managed to make me feel so very “less than.”
I tried. I failed. I tried again. I failed differently. I stopped trying. I felt like a failure for not trying. I tried to try. That failed. I’m tired.
And I’m grateful. As cheesy as that is. It’s been a strange year for so many reasons (the world going up in flames included), but I was simultaneously humbled and reinforced.
I lost my temper but found my voice. I broke down but practiced how to build people up. I cut ties but mended old wounds. I forgot my place but remembered my home.