I find myself constantly trying to strike a balance. Between my inner cultural values and the external pressures. Its not always my inner Ethiopian vs. the outer American. Sometimes its actually the inner American vs. the outer Ethiopian.
I write about this often in my previous posts. Now that I have completed my formal education in its entirety, I feel as though a new form of education will be dawning upon me. I am officially entering the classroom of LIFE. Life is clearly not simple. However, being an Ethiopian American add a little extra spice (berberra) to my life and future ahead of me.
There are expectations of me now. Both from my American Culture and my Ethiopian Culture. There are expectations that now, I have time to visit family and friends on a very regular basis. I am expected to go and visit everyone I’ve been too busy to see for the past several years while I was busy studying, interning, going to school in another state etc. To some, now is the time for me to have buna, messa, dinner drinks party….There is an expectation that now I have free time and suddenly my schedule has opened up tremendously. However, I am also required to find a job, become gainfully employed, make money, repay loans, become a success, create a legacy and give back to the community that made me who I am. Can you guess which culture expects what?
You see, the Ethiopian culture is tremendously social. American culture requires that we stay on track. But, there is an expectation from both cultures that we become successful. How is success even defined?
Is it by reaching a certain level of academic achievement? is it employment? is it graduating and now that you have a degree getting married, having kids, starting a family? Is it to become an entrepreneur? Is it reaching a certain income level?
Culture helps to define what success is. And sometimes that culture helps to motivate you to start on a certain trajectory. There is no right or wrong answer here. In my opinion, it is a combination of all of the things I mentioned above. Maybe its my Ethiopian American perspective. Or maybe that’s just the view of my generation as a whole. We want it all. I want the house the car the kids the husband the great paying job, and my name on the door of my own law firm one day. Is it all possible? The collision of my two worlds allows me to feel as though YES it is all possible.
Well only time will tell.
—Ethiopian American Girl, in my American Ethiopian World