When you juggle three things at once, it’s always going to be hard at first. But once you get it, you will learn how to make it work for you. I am the third child in my family of eight. I am also the first daughter, making me both the middle child and the oldest daughter. Both roles have different expectations that I try to meet, like being a good role model or being able to compare to my older brothers. As a result, I’ve learned to become more empathetic yet competitive.
“I hate washing the dishes,” I mumble. Next to me is a tower of additional dishes I have yet to get to. My aunties on the other side shove piles of food into tiny Ziploc bags. I continue to wash all the utensils as my brother brings even more dishes for me to wash. I can’t help rolling my eyes in irritation. I take a deep breath in to cool down and see my brother make his way back to the living room, while all my aunts continue to clean up in a rushed manner. In Hmong culture, it’s expected all women will devote their entire lives to taking care of the men and their family. Oldest daughters especially, like myself, must also have those skills to be a good wife.
My grandma’s expectations weighed on me a great deal. I felt that I could never meet her demands. It frustrated me that I didn’t have the abilities that she wanted for me. I didn’t fully understand why she was always so hard on me until I finally heard her story. Sharing the times when she didn’t have a choice between what she wanted and didn’t want to do. After learning about her past, I understood that her expectations were in hopes that I could flourish in a way she wishes she could have.
As a sibling, I would always find myself in the middle of fights, competing to see who was the best; we would always compete in academics, teasing each other about the bad grades we would get. As time passed, I continued to grow more competitive and soon enjoyed the rush of excitement from achieving something. Whether it be big or small, I gave it my best shot. I never thought negatively about my competitiveness. It’s always pushed me to strive for the best. I do my best to show my appreciation to whoever may be giving up their time for my well-being.
Throughout my life I’ve been trying to juggle one ball at a time — attempting to juggle the identities of being the oldest daughter, granddaughter and middle child. I soon realized that trying to choose one is the hardest way, so instead I chose to create a balance with each one. I’m looking forward to college because I see it as a way to steward my family’s legacy and to make my family proud of my accomplishments. Just as I have learned from juggling, the thing about college is when you first attempt it, you’ll have a hard time figuring it out, but as time moves on you’ll learn a lesson from that process.