I refer to a 1st Generation Everything as someone that is the first to overcome life changing obstacles in their immediate family. Most of the time, we are reaching these milestones within the areas of personal and professional development without support or guidance from our natural sources. That reality requires us to develop strong relationships with other influences, mentors, coaches, teachers, colleagues etc that have successfully completed the journey we are looking to take. This approach presents its challenges but without the trials and tribulations associated to going at it alone, a 1st Generation Everything will not be able to obtain the growth and expansion permitted through economic advantages.
It is no easy pill to swallow when you realize that you are nothing like anyone in your immediate family, and have to deviate from what you've been raised to believe. Being the person that challenges tradition, norms and any regularities that don't make sense in a world that will leave you behind without expanded knowledge is no easy task. This creates a wedge between you and your family members, sometimes it creates a wedge within you. You become conflicted with what you should believe, compared to what you actually want to believe.
So this requires some internal de-cluttering, as I call it. Early on in my life I knew I was different and my immediate family on both my mother and fathers side missed no opportunity in reminding me as often as they could. I am an intense introvert, so I'm always thinking, processing and analyzing everything, which promotes my desire to spend most of my time alone. Being in that space more often than not allowed me to teach myself a plethora of things and to unlearn things I'd been taught that I just did not agree with. For example, I don't believe in the "What happens in this house stays in this house," or the "This is how its always been done, this is how its always going to be."
Unpacking these things can often produce emotions that require processing, attention and thorough clarity which should be done with a professional upon notice. Deciphering the root to the things you do or don't do, have or don't have, all the reasons why, and where they come from can be quite the experience. So I encourage you to be open personally to this work as its necessary to take on the things you don't want to affect your life in order to accept the things you do. Its important to live your life on healthy beliefs and values passed down from your family and leave the negative ones that don't enhance you personally.
This is a 1st Generation Everything issue because we often find ourselves alone with our feelings and thoughts among our families and if we are not careful, these emotions can affect our growth in other areas. We are normally the first to "go against the grain" if you will, in this area. Therefore I encourage you to gain your support from professionals and not friends here so that your path to patching and moving forward to the uncertainty you are preparing for can be without unhealed barriers.
As a 1st Generation Everything, we are normally the first to tackle lateral advantages within our professional development. This may look like, coming from a family where no one actively executed networking, training, international culture exchanges, financial dialogue, team work activities etc in front of you. All the things necessary to become and grow as a professional, we normally see them for the first time when we embark on the journey of becoming the version of ourselves that doesn't exist in our families. So, naturally we reach back home and look for insight, clarity and knowledge from our families in this area, even though we know the information is not there. To us it's like, "If I can't get it from home, where am I supposed to get it from!?" The advice is normally filled with fear or drenched in judgement, discouragement or alienation because of course you can't do something professionally that nobody before you has done.
Once again, 1st Generation Everything's are prompted to take a leap of faith into another space of growing, independent of natural supports. We get out there and attend trainings, networking events, conferences, seminars etc. in hopes of watching and learning from those that function in a way that we want to professionally. This brings about anxiety greater than someone who's been exposed to simple things like talking to people you don't know, can understand. We are forced to learn our professional skills by trial and error instead of directed experience and guidance like most of our colleagues. It is frustrating, irritating and downright frightening but once again if we don't do it, we'll be left behind the economic development curve required to get ahead in this world.
So, fellow 1st Generation Everything, walk up to those people that present themselves to be where you're going professionally and build a relationship. Learn from them what it takes to become a professional that does not have to clear fear before entering a door. Attend those training's, attend those conferences, attend those summits, attend those networking events with intentions to build the network you need to overcome your lack of professional foundation and resources. You will experience anxiety, you will talk yourself out of it and you will question your confidence but all it takes is for you to show up one time. When you show up that one time, someone that resonates with being a 1st Generation Everything will walk up to you and begin to make the process of inclusivity easier for you; trust me. FYI: When you're in the right place, this will happen naturally, so be specific and intentional with the rooms you choose to be in.
As a 1st Generation Everything we're normally the 1st in our immediate family to not only attend an institution of higher education but to graduate with degrees. This process is different for us because our families are not involved with our enrollment in school, nor are our families helping us move on campus, in our apartments or even contributing to expenses because it's not something our families value as a necessity. Once again, they've never done it before, so they can't relate and don't know how to contribute. So you're left with feelings of neglect, abandonment and feelings of being misunderstood.
1st Generation Everything's gain a sense of self-motivation and self-determination in order to make it through tough classes, exam periods and during any decision making process while in college. No one is calling us to keep us on the straight and narrow, giving us encouraging words or sending us care packages during the semester because our families don't know how important those things are. Conversations during family dinners, events or holidays get awkward because everyone else is doing the same things and you're doing something they can't understand, so nobody wants to hear it.
If you're anything like me, everything about completing all three of my degree and six of my certifications was beyond a challenge. I had to work full time while my peers enjoyed the "college life." I worked all day, went to school three times a week at night and on Saturdays throughout the day, so building a social life was out the question. From age 18-25 I fought the admissions and financial aid offices during enrollment every year in order to register as an independent student because funding college was not an option in my family. I remember moments of being extremely exhausted after semesters of work and not being able to go to my family and get refueled for next semester like my peers. My college friends' parents and family quickly became mine on holidays. Some of these things seem very simple to overcome, but they are the very reason why most 1st Generation College Students don't graduate.
Maintaining a Career
1st Generation Everything's are normally the first or youngest to earn a salary and benefits from a major corporation in their immediate family. They normally have high work ethic which results in climbing the corporate latter fast, however, the trials and tribulations associated to these entry level and sometimes top-tier management positions are overwhelming and unbearable. Without parents and family to rely on when being faced with department culture, company culture, diversity, HR issues, lay-offs, etc. etc., a 1st Generation Everything can begin displaying their frustration inappropriately in the work place. In some cases this result in termination and even an indirect black-ball from an industry.
When your family members or parents can not relate to the navigation of a corporate system in order to give you insight, direction, instructions or exposure to a network of people that can, you are left to once again figure it out on your own. Therefore you bump your head more than your colleagues in the workplace. If you're anything like me, you just wanted to do a damn good job and go home. But I'm sure you found out just like I did that doing the job is only 1/3 of the position. Interacting with people, learning new skills, working on a team, conflict resolution etc.etc are all apart of those interpersonal skills we didn't gain from our natural. So 1,2, or maybe even 3 companies become guinea pigs for us to learn it. Don't worry, there's also going to be a manager, director or executive that's going to see you struggling and they're going to give you the hard truth. When they do find you, correct you and redirect you, be open to it, permit the growth and allow the relationship to foster as you'll need it to continue pursuing your career goals.
As a 1st Generation Everything you are more than likely the first to embark on a profitable and legal business. You may come from a family of people that work jobs for a living and maintain hustles for other income but no one has established a business structure that can be passed down through generations or used to build skills in those coming up. Therefore, when you go to your family and parents to start talking business, you are looked up side your head and told, "Won't you just go get a job."
The risk taking, macro and micro vision, management, financial insight and overall business acumen it takes to run a successful business because those are more skills you have to learn on your own. Then you learn that you weren't quite taught that failure is apart of the process so when you fall short as a 1st Generation Everything, you can't go cry to your family and parents because "You should have just went and got a job." Then we kick into self-preservation where we gather our mental, emotional and spiritual selves, soak in the failure for a minute, process what we learned and pick ourselves up just to be knocked down three more times before we get it right.
Although it sucks that you can't rely on family and parents to get your company or companies started, you still have to follow through. If you're anything like me, you're willing to do whatever it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur, therefore every resource I can think of that will further my business, I'm going to get it. I'm always in the process of teaching myself something, exposing myself to something and applying something new everyday. Of course it would be much easier if we had someone close to us that has already done all of this before that could give us a blueprint to business, but honestly if I didn't have to figure it out on my own, I would love business like I do.
As 1st Generation Everything's your insight and outlook on finances obviously look different from your family and parents. Your family didn't discuss things like investments, interest, assets, liabilities, retirement planning or government taxes that affect everything. If your family is anything like mine, money was never a topic of discussion. So, everything I know around the tool of money, I taught myself.
Items like budgeting, financial planning, business finances, credit, investment, insurance, interest, asset purchases, debt-to-income ratio and items on down to W-2, W-9's and benefits documents I had to teach myself. No one in my family has planned for retirement. Everyone is living to sustain and maintain for right now. So, yep, you guessed it, I taught myself how to plan for retirement as well.
As a 1st Generation Everything you introduce yourself to professionals that can teach you the things your peers have knowledgeable enough family members and parents to teach them about. No big deal, contacting a financial advisor, financial planner, CPA and lawyer about preparing for retirement will prepare you for dodging co-dependence at the end of life. Putting things in place like trusts and wills that help your family navigate your estate once you are no longer alive to do so is just one of the things 1st Generation Everything's can lead the way on. Diversifying financial portfolio's throughout your life helps to prepare for retirement and contributing the ending a long line of generational curses.
1st Generation Everything's have decided to take on the blows that come along with ending generational curses. We are constantly met with opposition to change the norms set before us as we look to set our own, or simply set the tone for new conversation, values, morals and traditions. For me, I worked to change the following generational curses:
- Generational wealth passed down through home ownership and investments.
- Generational academic investment.
- Generational wealth passed down through business ownership.
- Financial literacy and education as open dialogue.
- Ongoing and intentional mental health investment.
- Open dialogue about emotions, mentality and physical health.
- Ongoing guidance, support and direction beyond moving out.
- Elimination of avoidance, isolation and abandonment for family members.
- Elimination of fear as it relates to traveling, networking in other other cultures and expanding knowledge into other regions.
- Keeping things in and using excuses of how I was raised as to why I don't learn to do better for the benefit of my life and the lives of those around me.
Lastly, 1st Generation Everything's have to learn to love themselves in ways that others don't have to. We're not only reteaching ourselves things that may have been taught to us directly or indirectly, but we're learning to love ourselves even when no one else understands why they should. This is powerful beyond measure and extremely beneficial when done with intent for us because we lose the need to be co-dependent. We gain freedom mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually that enables us to live beyond our circumstances in order to create an environment around us that we thrive in. Ways that I've practiced self-love as a 1st Generation Everything:
- Maintain boundaries and practice saying No often.
- Acknowledge and process through my triggers, anxiety and worrying moments.
- Spend time with myself, by myself and for myself daily.
- Organize regularly scheduled activities that require me to love, live and laugh.
In conclusion, its no easy task to set out on your own and be the first to take on and successfully accomplish goals in the areas of personal and professional development, career, business, education, retirement, generational curses, and self-love but somebody has to do it. Build a community of mentors, coaches, counselors, therapists, consultants, professionals and friends that double as family around you and success is guaranteed. Make no mistake about the fact that it requires a strength that lies beyond grit but there's nothing that can't be done with the heart of a 1st Generation Everything! #LetsWerk
Your Peer in 1st Generation: Jazzmine Nolan