We have all had those days. The days your self-confidence shatters once more. The days you embarrass yourself to astronomical levels. Yet, when these moments encapsulate your entire existence, problems larger than a bad hair day or poor math grade arise.

Like most teenagers, I have had my fair share of these experiences, self-deprecating thoughts, and chronic stress. They have produced a conundrum of mental health crises in my brain with a label not always needed to identify its significance. I can feel it in my heart before I speak, think, or act. In these moments, schools recommend counsellors and therapists. Speak to absolute strangers? No, thank you. The obvious choice is to confide in someone you can trust. Someone who has known you for longer than you have known yourself. Speak to my parents? Most definitely not.

The immigrant story of trials in a third-world country to venture over oceans for opportunity is not uncommon. The children bred from these travellers, like me, know what gratitude is, and yet, we also know a different pain. When your parents’ adversity makes yours pale in comparison, feelings of inadequacy and isolation arise. How can I talk to my parents about this when they have endured much worse? Do they think I am just overreacting about the “anxiety” I face? These questions remain unanswered.

Throughout high school, I have reached too many breaking points and the frequency of these was only exacerbated by the pandemic. Yet, if you were to ask my parents how their daughter is doing, they would say, “She is fine! Getting good grades, reading books, and watching movies is all she does.” Without needing to step out of our homes, the children of immigrants live double lives suppressing our feelings and agitations to avoid angry and unproductive confrontations with our parents.

For me, this stems beyond the fact that my parents had arduous lives in India and worked from the ground up to provide for us. Disputes between relatives remain as gossip on the phone rather than materializing into progressive solutions for the sake of the family. The reasoning behind strict parenting was never discussed, just demanded. In this, parents lose the essence of what it means to care for a child. The trusting and confiding aspects.

“Try reaching out to them and explaining how you feel” or other nonsensical solutions may be proposed. The only remedy is generational. My peers may have suppressed their struggles as I have but we will not allow our children to do the same. We must understand them even if we were never understood.