“If I have Seen Further, it is by Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.”

By: Mindy Laroco

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

While this familiar quote is probably recognized as being said by Isaac Newton referring to others in the scientific community, it is a quote I think about often, especially now as we celebrate National Immigrant Heritage Month. Being a child of immigrants, I’ve often thought about how my life has been so different from the lives that my parents must have lived when they were my age (some of this thought process is fueled by me hearing how different it is from them). 

My mom came to the US when she was 21 years-old with a few suitcases and two hundred dollars in cash. Not only can I guarantee that I would not have been able to handle such a feat at 21 years old, I do not think I will ever fully understand that level of mental fortitude. Both of my parents have put in a tremendous amount of work and effort to allow me to live the life I do today. They are my giants.

Being a first-generation American is something I take great pride in as it shows the fruits of my parent’s struggles to create a life in the US. I also have privileges that my parents did not. One of the striking differences that I have spent hours thinking about is the “luxury”  to not only address any mental health struggles I may be experiencing (such as stress, anxiety, and even depression) but to admit that I am even struggling with such things.

Having the opportunity to address and navigate feelings has been one of the greatest privileges of my life. However, feelings can be hard! And it was challenging at times to figure out what to do with these feelings while experiencing an inherent level of disconnect from my parents; not because they did not want to help me, but because they did not know how.

 Being biracial/bicultural disconnects me from my parents in certain ways, but it has been truly an honor to introduce feelings in all their glory (for example boundaries, communication, emotional regulation, etc.) into a family dynamic where they were not very present or at least were not talked about. Now, when I talk about feelings and engage in a genuine conversation with my family, especially my parents, a part of my heart always warms with the realization that after shouldering the load for so long, my parents can finally sit back and soak in the new perspectives that come with life in the US.