Our parents built a foundation. Time to level up

As I get older, I develop a deeper sense of appreciation for my parents. I can honestly say they have done a fantastic job of shaping me and my siblings into the people we are today. And I really respect everything they went through to get us here. Like many of you, my parents emigrated from Africa(Nigeria to be precise) to the UK in their late teens/ early twenties. Now that I’m a similar age to them when they made this huge and life changing move, I understand more and more just how significant what they did was. I can’t imagine completely leaving my life behind in one country to go to another, where I barely know anyone, and start a new life (not to say I never will). Realising the magnitude of what they had the courage to do all those years ago has given me somewhat of an epiphany. I’m not here to be mediocre, it’s time to level up and the same applies to you.

What do I mean by level up? In our first Let’s debate on 2nd November, one of our panellists said something that resonated with me. He said,“our parents have created a really solid foundation for us which means we don’t have to do the things they did when they first came here” and it’s true, we don’t.As a result of them moving here at such a young age, we have access to a good education system, a good healthcare system and whether you’re for or against Brexit, many of us will agree that there’s access to a lot more support through the government. As our panellist said, “our parents have created a really solid foundation”and it’s now down to us to choose whether to soar or sink. I know which one I’d rather do. We need to make sure we’re truly utilising the opportunities we have available to us, to be as good as we can be, at whatever it is we choose to do.

Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer… the only three career paths for atypical 1st Gen African child, according to an African parent. It can be quite jarring if your parents think these are the only respectable careers out there and even more so if you don’t actually want to do any of them as a career.I think we need to look at it from their perspective. What they know is that as a Lawyer, Doctor or Engineer, you’ll make enough money to live comfortably and you’ll most likely have a steady job. What we know, is that these aren’t the only careers in which to achieve those two things and that sometimes people do jobs for enjoyment and the money eventually follows.  As the new generation, I think we should work on educating our parents not only through our words but also through our actions. Show them there are other options by having the courage to take up roles that we love and excel in those roles. Don’t just do the job, level up!

So what exactly am I trying to say with this post? A) I think what many of our parents did with coming to the UK was brave and I don’t think we always appreciate the magnitude of it. B) We have the opportunity to truly excel and reach heights our parents never would have thought possible when they left their respective countries to come to the UK. C) In everything you choose to do, strive for greatness because you’re not here to be mediocre. As Black Brits, it truly is time to level up.

Paula M

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