Culture Shock: Will I ever be free?


Will I ever be free? My family is full of recent immigrants, eager for success and stability and a new life in the United States. We moved to the US a year ago and I enrolled at UConn around then. I have always been uncomfortable in my relationship with my parents. Their love has always been very conditional – get into good universities, we love you, get good grades, we love you, get high SAT scores, we love you. When I failed in one of the conventional barometers of success(getting into a high-ranked college), my parents were so upset that my whole relationship with my father changed. We went from having a nice father-daughter relationship to not interacting much, our exchanges revolving around “heat up the food” or “you don’t help around the house”. When I got a B in a calculus class in college, and converted it to pass-fail, my father didn’t speak to me at all. This was during the peak of the pandemic, when we were stuck in our houses and unable to escape. My mental health tanked during that time, because the only conversations I had were barbed, usually filled with criticisms of me. In every interaction, they would level the ultimate trump card over me – we brought you to this country, now do whatever we say. This came to a head when recently, my brother physically assaulted me in one of his angry tirades. He has always had anger management issues. My parents have always ignored this, choosing to sacrifice his poor mental health in their eternal quest of emotionally blackmailing us to do well in class. After the assault, I couldn’t stay in the house another second. I packed up my clothes and prepared to leave for a friend’s house the next day. The next morning, they sat me down and told me that they had wiped my bank account of all my savings. The money that I had earned from winning a national scholarship was gone. Apparently, they had sent it back to my home country. Additionally, they hung my graduate school applications and immigration process in the balance, vowing to not pay for my education and to send me back to my home country if I didn’t bend over to their wishes. I couldn’t begin to express the anger I felt at that moment. I felt helpless, wondering how I was supposed to salvage any kind of relationship with this family if they were determined to be so cruel. Whenever we walk outside, I am consumed by how other people perceive us. Do they see the nice brown family, or do they see the seething, depressed daughter, the exceedingly proud, wilful father, or the uncaring mother? As immigrants, we have almost no security in this country. I find myself in the unique, unenviable position of having no security in anything. The only thing that keeps me alive and hopeful is the knowledge that I am a smart, driven young person, and that I can do anything I set my mind to. I find comfort in my brains and my ability to connect with people and succeed. Without that surety, would I ever be free? Would I even be alive? Until I figure out the answers to those questions, I wait for winter break to get over and I wait for the time I can go back to my dorm on campus and escape this horrible year. I am grateful for the independence and happiness I feel at UConn and I can’t wait for spring.

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