Life as an Immigrant Daughter
My adviceMy one piece of advice to others, regardless of what situation they may be in, is to be kind to yourself. It is easy to beat yourself up and talk down to yourself but that only stops you from healing and improving. This may not feel natural at first but like everything else it takes practice and you deserve to practice those muscles of kindness and show yourself some love. Oh, and please do seek therapy if you can! No problem is too big or too small!
My name is Hanna and I'm the second (first daughter) of 7 children born in London to Somali parents. Growing up I felt a lot of pressure to act a certain way in accordance with cultural and religious beliefs, but I particularly struggled with the level of help that was expected of me in the household. I was expected to maintain the house and look after my younger siblings whilst still getting good grades at school and as a result I struggled a lot.
I am now in my late 20s and I'm actively trying to live a life that I enjoy has often been hard because years of conditioning has left me feeling very guilty if I focus on myself too much! I spoke to a lot of women around me and found that this is a common feeling with other eldest daughters in immigrant families, so I decided to start a support group.
I now run Home Girls Unite (@homegirlsunite) with my friend Yasin and we run monthly events and a weekly podcast; all centred around self-improvement and equipping other eldest daughters with the skills they need to flourish. The events are also an opportunity for us to come together and have some fun!
Many of us were forced to grow up before our time and as a result missed out on a lot of play that is afforded to children, so we work really hard to ensure that there is always fun involved. This has really helped me overcome a lot of the struggles that I experienced growing up. I'm able to learn from other women who are in a similar position whilst being in a safe space that allows me to talk without the fear of shaming my parents or family.
We have quickly become a (very understanding!) family and I love being around the other women. I'm able to take the skills learnt during those sessions and apply them in my day to day life. As a result I am now able to say no to things which I don't want to do (!), I am able to ask for help without the fear of looking incompetent and I am able to show myself love without the intense feelings of guilt.