Embracing Your Fragrant Ethnic Food

Apr 06, 2023

Have you watched the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding?" 

There was a scene where the main character, Toula, was sitting in her elementary school cafeteria at lunchtime. Her classmates had standard "lunch" food of sandwiches while Toula had moussaka (a Greek eggplant dish similar to lasagna). The other girls teased her, calling her food "Moose Caca." Toula was visibly ashamed of her "lunch weirdness."

I never had moments like that growing up around food-- probably because my family saved the super ethnic food for my second lunch at home. Not to mention most of my classmates were the children of immigrants too. However, I remember having a lot of moments that pointed out my differences, and relative lack of privilege once I was out in the world. A few examples: 

  • My high school classmates kept up with all the after-school activities while I stopped them to start working at 14. I wasn't ashamed of working, but I often felt like I missed out on something. There was some freedom that I missed out on.
  • The kids who took unpaid internships in the summer during college could just go home after a long day, whereas I headed to work from 5- 9 pm after a full day as an intern to have some money to pay for my personal needs. I usually worked weekends too. No one pointed that difference out, but it definitely put my peers' economic privilege in stark contrast to my own.

There were times I would look around resentfully. Why couldn't I just go to school, have a nice apartment close to campus and not worry about working while attending school full-time? 

However, when I think about how far I've come as a person, and how far my parents and grandparents have come, I can't help but be so proud of that trajectory. My grandmother was one of 18 children born on a farm in rural Puerto Rico. My mother was a teen mother and the first in her family to go to college. My father came to the US alone at 24 with whatever little savings he had and knowing one person(that one person was supposed to pick him up from the airport and never showed up). Despite all that, I am here running a successful wealth management firm, a graduate of two amazing universities, I have beautiful healthy children, and a level of financial abundance my grandmother never dreamt of. 

When I consider that, I feel my struggle and remember I need to embrace not only my fragrant ethnic food but also my family's progressive journey too- the beautiful and ugly. It's what made me who I am today. 

If you are a first-gen wealth builder and feeling frustrated at your lack of financial progress- or find yourself comparing your financial journey to someone else's, please remember how far you and your people have come. It might have taken Connor's family 5 generations to be in a position for him to inherit money. You are building a career, establishing a life in America, and building wealth in 1 or 2 generations. You're in the same room as Connor and killing it too.

Remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. Remember that generational wealth takes effort(starting a business, learning new skills to increase your earning power), intentionality(knowing what you're building for and how you want to do it), and consistency(doing the same boring activities like saving and investing for years). 

Give yourself and your parents some grace. You're doing great. 



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