I want to talk about family. The pressure of family and how it affects us.
Boss Lady touched on it a little in her last post.
Growing up, I was lucky to have a very large, supportive Turkish family behind me. Dad’s family lived in Melbourne, Mum’s family in Sydney, right around the corner from us. My Grandad (in Turkish we call him Dede) picked my brother and I up from school every single day since we were in kindergarten, until we graduated from Year 12 at high school (well, year 10 for you Lil Bro, haha). Mum and Dad worked in the city, so we would hang at my Nene (Grandma) and Dede’s house until they picked us up and took us home.
I remember driving into the city with Mum and Dad, and every time we would drive by the Sydney University entrance gates my parents would say, “that’s the best university in Australia, and you’re going to go there.”
This message was drilled into my head. Drilled in along with, “You’re going to earn $150,000 in your first job.” Blah. (Dad must have thought I was going to be a banker and even then, to get that type of salary, I would have had to be on Wall Street in New York City, so I still would have ended up in the USA.)
So of course when it came time to choose which university I wanted to go to, Sydney Uni was at the top of the list. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to spend a year in a place where the kids dressed up as if they were going to the races and everyone did the same degree: Cafeteria Studies. (A little like Gossip Girl). I would rock up in my black X-90 and in my red Adidas tracksuit like Missy Elliott circa 2002, straight out the ‘burbs—not cool at Sydney Uni, no way.
I was never a conformist, but this pressure to go to the “best University in Australia” made me choose a degree I really didn’t give a shit about. Liberal Studies, a double degree in science and art, with majors in Japanese and Psychology. Don’t get me wrong, I was great at both, but was I passionate? No.
I transferred the hell outta there as soon as I could and ended up at the University of Technology, Sydney, again in a double degree, majoring in Public Relations and International Studies.
This was the first and last time I ever did something because I was pressured to. We all face these pressures from our family:
“Why don’t you settle down”, “Why don’t you get married” or in our case, “Why don’t you live in the same country as your family, there is work everywhere.”
My Nene still doesn’t understand why the hell I have to be all the way across the other side of the world alone, with no family, busting my ass just to work in music (sometimes I ask myself why, too). But honestly, apart from the university thing, my family have always been supportive of everything I’ve ever wanted to do.
When I was 20 years old and I came home to Mum and Dad and said, guess what, uni gave me a $5000 scholarship to go study in one of the most “dangerous” countries in the world (Mexico) right next to the American border, where drug cartels are battling for territory, my parents said, “Sure, have fun!”
Again, when I was 21 years old and it was time for me to go on a one year exchange to Madrid in Spain, alone, without knowing a single soul, my parents said: “Great, have fun!”
And again, two years later, when I said, “Hey Mum, you’re moving to the UK with your fiance” and “Hey Dad, we don’t live in the same state anymore—I’m moving to the USA” they of course were not surprised, given my history of living abroad and gave me their blessing.
But it was my Nene who didn’t actually think I was going to be away for this long. The other two trips were all planned, extended school excursions, with return dates booked. This trip was, and always has been, a one-way ticket.
Every time I get on the phone with her she cries and begs me to come home. The guilt and the pressure kill me every time. So much so that sometimes I avoid calling her. And that in itself kills me.
I LOVE and ADORE my family.
They are my backbone.
They have always and will always be there for me.
So, if these people mean so much to me, why do I live on the other side of the world, seeing them only once a year, for a couple of weeks at a time?
Why am I being so selfish?
Why can’t I settle for a regular job near them?
Because, just like the university thing, I might be able to do it for a year or so, but then my itchy feet and heavy heart will get the better of me. I’ll end up in another panic attack in the middle of the night, wondering why I’m not happy and I’ll end up doing what I want anyway.
So I guess this post is more about sacrifice, using family as a prime example.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Charles Bukowski’s novel Factotum:
“If you’re going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don’t even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is.”