Unashamed Truths of a Middle Class Twenty Something

I'm figuring it out as I go.

Parents: The Biggest Lesson They Never Meant to Teach Me


My parents have taught me many a life lesson. Some important like: keep track of your money or education is important or work hard or don’t commit murder. Some of them are crap like: don’t eat too much candy (not possible) or you’re too old to Easter egg hunt (I’ll die hunting those eggs) or good things come to good/patient people (nope life sucks and bad things happen/sometimes patience can lead to losing out) or grown ups act a certain way (grown ups act a certain way… in front of kids unless they’re boring) or family will always be there for you (biggest lie ever).

The absolute most important lesson I have learned, my parent’s accidentally taught me. I’m pretty sure they hate that I learned it. I think what they hate even more is that I live by it. I will never make my parents proud and I will never earn their approval.  It sucked learning this lesson. What was even harder was accepting it.

I tried so hard for so long to make my parents proud and earn their approval. In the general sense I have. I graduated high school with a great GPA. I attended a fantastic college. I graduated from said fantastic college. I have started a life and a career. They are proud and approve of my cookie cutter accomplishments. Those are not me. They will never be me. The things and accomplishments I am proud of, those are what make me me. Those things are the things my parents hate. I will never make my parents proud. If I do and say and write about what is meaningful to me, I will no longer have parents.

I have accepted that I am the family embarrassment. More over the fuck up. I am the daughter that had so much promise. I spent 17 years of my life being everything they wanted. And it was killing me. I can’t be that person. I never was that person, but I put on a very convincing mask. I had two options 1) Kill myself and forever stay the daughter they wanted 2) Take off the mask.

When I started taking off the mask, problems started: The last two years of high school are known as the trouble years. Let’s be honest, those were the years I was being beaten and raped by my boyfriend; parental approval wasn’t exactly a top priority. I also spent those two years realizing how completely unhappy I was pretending to be someone I’m not.

Then, I went to college. I let me loose. I love me. My parents love me in the sense that they love who they molded me to be. They love the memory of who I used to be. They do not, nor ever will, love me. They refuse to see who I am in my entirety. They turn a blind eye or ignore the things that epitomize me. I am not who they raised. Actually I am. They told me to be me. They just didn’t realize me was someone they hated. I am the daughter that is better silent. The beautiful daughter they created with my height and slenderness and striking blue eyes. I am the daughter who has the intelligence to speak three languages and a memory for trivia. I am the daughter who worked in downtown Chicago. I am the Cornell graduate daughter. I am the daughter who finally brought home a wonderful boyfriend. I am the daughter who can cook and sew and care. I am the daughter who will make a great wife. I am the daughter who will make a great mother. I am the daughter who is so very talented. I am the daughter who can play piano, flute, sing, and dance. I am the daughter who smiles. I am also the daughter who was raped. I am the daughter who talks about rape. I am the daughter who wears shirts that show off my back, and skirts that show off my legs. I am the daughter who calls people out for perpetuating rape culture and really any kind of unacceptable behavior. I am the daughter who took control of her own life. I am the daughter that won’t let anyone tell her what to do. I am the headstrong daughter. I am the daughter that clings to an ex-boyfriend because he saved me. I am the daughter who paid for her expensive college education, study abroads, her car, her housing, her health and car insurance, her cell phone, her books, her food, her clothes, her every possession, her every activity. I am the daughter who moved away. I am the daughter who has PTSD. I am the daughter who is crippled by fear. I am the atheist daughter. I am the feminist daughter. I am the daughter who isn’t afraid to say I am who I am. I am the family disappointment. I am the daughter who fell short of her potential. I am the daughter who has fucked up her future and doesn’t even know it. I am the daughter who can’t pull her head out of her ass and move on. I am a fuck up.

I don’t need my parents to approve. I don’t need to make them proud. Not anymore. I will always wish I could. I am strong. I am my mistakes. I am proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve been through. I can’t change the past, but I will claim it.


Author: Midwestern Twenty Something

RaeAnna is a wanderer on a mission; though, she's not always sure what that mission is. Taking on adulthood with a sense of humor, a book, and her dog, she's ready to conquer the world. Unafraid to celebrate her faults or photograph her tumbles, she aims to help people see life as an ever-rolling, lopsided wheel instead of the perfectly manicured and Instagrammably stationary square we wish it were.

2 thoughts on “Parents: The Biggest Lesson They Never Meant to Teach Me

  1. I feel this way a lot too. It’s why I can’t stay in my hometown for more than a few days at a time. Mine has most to do with being a raging liberal feminist non-christian bisexual. Voicing those things and actively working for women’s and lgbt rights are things I am very proud of but that get no mention there. And goodness when they found out I had a bf they did a happy dance and literally praised Jesus then tried to hug me…completely invalidating the previous years upon years of my relationships that I worked so hard to get them to recognize. They wondered why I refused the hug… You’re not the only one who’s self that you love is vastly different than the self that your parents intended to raise. But that’s why we choose our “family” the people we keep around us who are proud and love us unconditionally even when we forget to love ourselves and who push us to become the best possible ME we can be. Those are the real family members. You’re writing is amazing. Makes me wish we interacted more during our short overlap at Cornell cuz I would be proud to be part of your chosen family. 🙂


  2. I love the honesty and thought in your telling.


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