Jasmina Bašić is a first generation Bosnian immigrant. She is a Loyola University Chicago alum and now works as an assistant editor. In her story, she reflects on her past and the many facets of her identity to discuss the pressure that many children of immigrants share – to make one’s parents proud.
I’m afraid of mediocrity. As a Muslim, a woman, and a first-generation immigrant, I face certain additional challenges as I try to shoulder the weight of expectation placed upon me by my parents’ move to this country. They did not choose to come to America just to give me a better life but to ensure I had one at all, as war threatened their lives in Bosnia.
As I sit in my warm home in a safe Chicago suburb, I remember the barbed-wire fences my grandfather and uncles knew as walls for months in the confines of concentration camps and the sides of a tank my dad relied upon for safety. As I look up at the airplanes often flying overhead to nearby O’Hare, I remember how their engines sometimes frighten my grandmother and mother, reminding them of the bombs that often followed such sights in Bosnia. I’m afraid of mediocrity because I see how happy my family is for my brother and me as we see success in a country to which they never planned to migrate, and I know every other Bosnian Muslim family looks upon the success of another member of the diaspora with similar pride when we prove that we can not only remain unbroken by the horrors we’ve faced but stand stronger than ever before.
It’s no easy time to be a minority of any kind in the U.S. right now, and while I acknowledge the privilege I have as a Caucasian, which also means I’ve never been randomly selected for random screening at an airport in spite of my Islamic faith, I know that certain obstacles stand before me. I sometimes struggle to determine what step I should next take, hesitating to make a concrete decision in fear of disappointing myself and my family as well as closing off other paths as I move forward in one.
During this holy month of Ramadan, I pray for confidence in my decisions among the usual wishes of health, happiness, and forgiveness. I have certainty in my faith, and that has prevented me from being rendered immobile by that fear of making a misstep, because I know God will nudge me along to where I should be when I look to Him for guidance.