American Dreamin’: Family (Sacrifice)

Published on February 23rd, 2013 By Sherin


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.”


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  1. Suna Avni says:

    Touching! Xx Your truly a inspiration.

    1. Love you girl – thanks for the support xoxox

  2. Sue Fevreau says:

    It is so hard to make your family happy all the time-but you try…….I am so happy that you are doing what is best for you-so proud of you xxxx.

    1. Thanks Hala!!! You are a perfect example of conforming to what the family wants. But look at you now!! xoxoxox

  3. Kristine Pandelas says:

    This might inspire those who are in the same situation to get up and do what they really want to do. I applaud you for chasing your dream

    1. We grew up together. You knew me in the days when I was too busy to hang on the street coz I was always studying. You saw me grow up from the days when my dede and your mum would take us to the pool, to when I had my first boyfriend, my first car and first moved overseas and came back. I'll always be your friend Kristine, regardless of the various paths life takes us on xxxx big love to little Mia and Mario. xxx

  4. Justin McRae says:

    Great read 🙂
    I can some what relate to it since I'm now living in Melbourne.
    Everyone should live with no regrets. Sometimes it's just not possible to have everything you want in one spot and it is definitely tough (even though I'm only an hour away)… A little more difficult for you.

    1. Justin – your story is touching!!! I can't believe you ended up with a Turk!!!! hahahaha…. AND in Melbourne!!! Where it all started for me! Enjoy this time…. and good luck with those twins !!!!!!

  5. Ash says:

    Being a dad to two girls/daughters which I support every week, its great to see the support that you receive from your dad and family! X

    1. Sherin says:

      Ash! You are a good Dad. Your girls are lucky to have a male figure like you to look up to. And I do too. Love you xxx

      1. Ash says:

        Good one little kid! So does that mean I have three girls?? Love ya xx

  6. Cidem Nazim says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post and I think anyone who has or is dealing with these type of pressures would appreciate it just as much. It's not an easy journey staying true to yourself while hoping to please those that you care about most. But I believe even if it means making mistakes along the way, if you follow your heart everything will work out j n the end. You will learn and grow from every experience and the tough times will only make you stronger. Well done Sherin on all your achievements thus far. I know with your kind of passion, like that expressed in the post, there Srebrenica even greater things to come !!! Go chase your dreams baby. Family will always be here to ssupport you. Love you cuz x

    1. Cuz – your story is a perfect example of following your heart, learning through the ups and the downs and coming out on top at the end. I am so happy for you in this new chapter in your life and I can't wait to see you again. xoxoxox big love to all the Nazims xoxoxox

  7. doesn't matter where in the world you are or how long your gone for…. We will always be YOUR FAMILY and here for you xxx miss you kid…..

    1. Aw man, i woke up to this in the morning and my eyes kinda welled up coz i miss you guys SO MUCH. Thanks you xoxo

  8. Vesna Kules says:

    Love you my little Turkish delight!!! 😉 I miss you just like your nene does 🙁 xxx

    1. Ves! You are THE sweetest thing. Thank you for posting the blog. It means a lot to me. I WILL see you soon xoxox

  9. sherins' mum says:

    At the age of 10 months you took your first steps and from that day I knew that you would take on the world.
    My strong willed little girl. Family sacrifice is unfortunately something we have to endure when we move onto bigger and better things in life. Just remeber you may have sacrificed being near family, however, you have not sacrificed the connection with your family which is very strong and special. I miss, love and adore you every minute of everyday, I carry you in my heart and that is the one thing being apart can never take away. You bring up your children and with that you teach them values, and you definitely have values. You stay strong and know that your family will always be with you in our hearts, no matter where you are in the world. Just remember that your nene and dede also left their families to create a new life in Australia in the late 40’s and the one thing your Dede use to say, may he rest in peace, “no matter what the odds against you, never give up”. The day will come and you will look back at these times and say that it was all worth it, you are a true example of courage, inspiration, strenth and spirit. Love mum x

    1. Sherin says:

      Hi Mum – this made tears come to my eyes at my desk at work and i ruined my make up. thanks. love you

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