Make no mistake about it AfriGens, we are all golden eggs.
The moment our parents left Africa to forge a new life in the West, we became their golden eggs. Even though this expectation is prevalent in our culture, the pressure is even more on this side of the pond.
It’s assumed that our career success will be their future reward, a return on investment in you. These returns are expected in the form of financial support (It’s all about the benjamins…errr…Tubmans baby!) when they choose to retire–sometimes even before they’re fully retired. This expectation can create tremendous pressure, especially since we have watched our parents struggle so much in the West. Their struggle is deeply woven into our DNA and, for that, the need to meet their expectations is all too real.
While AfriGens do not openly balk at fulfiling our part of the unspoken covenant, there are real competing objectives that give us pause when thinking about signing over that check to the “family house back home” building fund.
So you want to pursue fashion design or become an artist instead of a doctor or an engineer? Instagram says you can make it big as a fashion blogger, but how do you reconcile the entrepreneurial nature (the broke years) of the creative industry with the hard cash you need to keep up with remittances? Will your parents wait patiently until you become a so-called influencer?
Don’t worry creatives, those in the safe fields – doctors and engineers are asking the same questions. While their income is steady and more dependable than the creative field, they are also coming to terms with the fact that it is expensive to raise a family in America even on a six figure income. Sometimes there isn’t much left to support aging parents and still fund their own 401k.
You may be wondering how our parents were able to provide for us working in low wages and why you are struggling while making more than your parents ever did on American soil.
Even though we are making more money than our parents, our lifestyles are diametrically different. Our eyes are open. We want to do more with our money. Our parents fought to meet our basic needs, we are self-actualizing. We are exploring new interests, hobbies, ambitions, businesses all which requires us to invest our earnings. We are also more interested in experiences, eating at new restaurants, yoga, traveling to new places, and we are enrolling our children in activities more so than our parents did.
While carrying our own families or pursuing personal ambitions such as careers in the arts or other non-traditional jobs we are reconciling our sense of individualism (need to follow our dreams) with the collectivist nature of the African culture which demands that you give back to your parents. If we were raised on the continent, we may have less of an issue with our golden egg status. The peer pressure alone will make this discussion a non-starter. But our reality is that we have lived in the West and we have seen firsthand that we can dream big and can cherry pick which traditions we want to bend a bit.
We are all trying to figure it out. The reality of being a golden egg is new to us and to our parents. I don’t have the answers to how we get accustomed to being the golden egg. I’ve learned that stating the issue or a problem is the first step in discovering a solution or acceptance. Let’s begin the dialogue. What pressures do you face as a first genner?