I have a pretty big family. You wouldn’t really know it because I don’t really talk about it (and despite what you may believe I am not related to every single other Asian person out there).
My dad was one of 12 siblings. My mom was the oldest of three. Between the two of them, I think I have 43 first cousins (forgive me if I left someone out). Yep there’s so many of them that I can’t keep track of everyone. And with about 3/4 of those cousins having kids of their own, I don’t even know how many second cousins I have. 100? I’ve yet to go to a family reunion for just my dad’s side of the family with EVERYONE there but it’s safe to say that it’d be freaking huge.
The thing with having such a big family like that is you get lost in the shuffle. I honestly believe about at least 1/3 of my cousins don’t remember me or my name and I know for a fact, a lot of their kids have no idea that I exist. We didn’t grow up with any of them close by (some of my cousins still live on the other side of the world and I’ve only met them twice). Plus my sisters and I only grew up speaking English whereas a lot of my cousins speak their native languages with their own families at home. Let’s also not go into how no one has the same surname so future generations will have an incredibly hard time tracking down how we’re all related.
It’s very weird when I meet people who are only children and their parents were only children as well. I can’t imagine a life where you don’t have any siblings or even cousins for that matter. So much attention on just one person sees like it would be too much to handle.
It’s also weird when I hear of my friends going to every single one of their cousins’ weddings even if they live cross country. Then again, most of my friends only have on average 10 cousins so this is rather manageable. Plus again, all their cousins know their name and that they exist.
Still it’s pretty cool to realize that I’m related to a bunch of people. It’s a bit hard to track down ancestry due to coming from an Asian background where records aren’t kept as well as those in western culture. I can track back a few generations but then it just ends. I’m super jealous of my friends who know about their families’ backgrounds and how they fit in wars or who they’re all related to. I researched the background of my friends and found that not only was he distantly related to President Obama on his mother’s side, he also was apparently a descended of King James IV of Scotland on his dad’s side! As a historian, I’m freaking out about this and they’re like “oh ok.” And I’m like how can you be so nonchalant about that???
I think this is why I also became a historian. I can’t track down my family’s history in as much detail as I would like so I’ll just tackle the history of the country I was born in. Some people will probably say, it doesn’t matter where you came from, it’s what you do with your life now. Well my response to that is, first, thanks a lot for dismissing my entire career. Second, I do want to know where I came from because if it wasn’t for who came before me, I wouldn’t be where I am today.