Identity, Life

20 struggles that are way too real for anyone with a big family

It gets to a point where you forget how many damn family members you actually have.

Reading Time: 7 minutes

I come from a family that’s bigger than my senior class.

There’s not just one aunt, uncle, cousin, and a pair of grandparents – that kind of family is difficult for me to imagine. I have a ton of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and distant relatives. I have family on the East Coast, a couple in the West, a few down South, and some scattered across the North. Also, I have family back in Ethiopia, so the list is longer than three football fields. 

When I was younger, I felt weird for not being like most of the kids in my class. They knew all of their cousins and I still haven’t even met all of mine. I felt like my huge family was annoying and I wanted to disconnect myself from them. It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized that I wouldn’t want any other family. 

Every last relative has affected my life in some shape or form and I wouldn’t be who I am without them.

1. Crowded car rides are a given

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It doesn’t matter if you only have seven seats. If your car comes with a floor, a trunk, and a roof that means it can hold everyone.

2. There’s always something for you to do

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Only see your family on the holidays? Psssssh! That’s such a silly thing to think! There’s an uncle getting married, a niece graduating, a housewarming party, a grandparent who’s turning 87, and a baptism – and that’s just this week! It’s going to be a long time until you get to sit down again.

3. Saying hi to everyone when you arrive is an ordeal

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You walk into a room overflowing with people that you have to greet one by one. If you’re like me and come from a culture where kissing cheeks is a form of greeting then you’re going to be going down the line for half an hour.

By the time you’re done, your lips are tired and you’re worn out before the party even starts.

4. “Do you remember me?”

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That one relative you saw at your other aunt’s wedding ten years ago is determined to make you remember them. They swear they’ve known you since you were a fetus and won’t let you move on to the next person until you get their name.

What if you don’t remember them? Well, the best thing you can do is start off with “Weren’t you at that party that one time?” and hope they answer their own question with the conversation change you made.

5. Too many people in the family picture means you shouldn’t even try doing a selfie

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There’s the relative leaning back so far that they could do a back flip as they try to fit the whole family in the picture. After all the millions of adjustments and rearranging people you end up with the perfect mix of silly faces, missing people, and you trying to stretch your neck in the back to have at least your forehead seen.

6. You’ve got thousands of cousins and “cousins”

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When your friends complain about dealing with their five cousins, you pull out the list of all of the cousins you’ve got. You’ve got cousins 20 years older than you and cousins who were just born a couple months ago.

Then you’ve got “cousins” that come to every family party and cousins you haven’t met to this day. At this point in your life, everyone is just your cousin.

7. Not knowing all of your family members is a reality you’ve come to expect

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You may have been to tons of family events, but there’s still a large group you don’t know at all. Then when you meet them, awkward silences last for a lifetime, only interrupted by the usual “How old are you?” and “Wow, interesting.”

8. Continuous competition for everything in life

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From sports to who’s the best on the grill to which cousin is the best; you don’t know who, what, when, where, or even how it started.

All you know is that the last time you checked, you don’t like to come second best and you’re not going to let that happen.

9. Hand-me-downs arrive from all different directions

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Need a traditional dress? Your aunt lets you borrow one of hers. Want to try reading a different book series? Your grandma has two boxes of The Babysitters’ Club she wants you to have before she moves.

Do you want roller skates? Your older cousins gives you hers to practice in. The borrowing opportunities are endless.

10. Explaining to others how you’re related to your relatives is a journey

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Yikes, where do you even start on the family tree? That neighbor has a brother who married your aunt which makes that neighbor your aunt too. The man in the living room is your grandma’s younger brother, making him your mom’s uncle. The kid sitting in the corner is your great-aunt’s daughter’s son who was twice removed.  By the time you’re halfway through explaining, you see your friend is confused.

Sigh, sometimes it’s just easier to say “they’re my cousin.”

11. Huge family sleepovers are the best

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Floors covered with blankets, pillows, air mattresses, and sleeping bags. There are always five people per bed, a two-hour wait for the bathroom, and there’s never enough space at the dinner table. Did I mention how personal bubbles are non-existent too? Your house has never felt so small. It’s a lot of fun though, it gives you and your cousins a chance to stay up all night bonding!

12. “You can’t invite everyone, you need to limit your guest list!” has never been in your vocabulary

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“Limited guest list!” has never been in your vocabulary before and it never will be. Limits means nothing to you and your family.

Just like the car and sleepovers, you’ll just squish people in.

13. Sometimes, not all of you can go to events

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Despite fighting society’s strong “limited guest list” rule, there are times when you all really weren’t able to go. If your family can’t decide who’s going then the solution is that you all stay.

At least you can create your own fun at home.

14. Random drop-bys are just a part of life

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Whether you know that part of the family or not, it can be annoying. You go through a whole day of school and/or work and have a whole list of things you still need to do. Now you have to fire your social skills back up to please your aunties and uncles.

15. Organizing family events are never easy

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You have seating, food, time, date, place, and a budget that needs to be set. 500 people are coming across the country and/or the world for this one day. Nonetheless, perfection is never ever guaranteed or should even be expected.

From two weeks to a month, you’re dealing with crowded car rides, huge sleepovers, and wild little kids running around. It wouldn’t be a family gathering without it!

16. Family parties will never be anything less than fun

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All that family coming together can make special moments memorable. Ridiculous dancing, terrible jokes, and time for thanks and praise really reminds you why you love your family.

17. You always have an excuse to travel to places

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You can go north, south, east, or west. Sure, you may wish your family all lived close by, but without them, you wouldn’t experience things like the Rocky Mountains in Colorado or the sunsets in Tanzania.

18. Awkward phone calls happen way too often

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You go the kitchen to find out that your mom is talking to a relative across the Atlantic Ocean. Before you can escape the phone has already been pushed against your ear and you’re stuck in a long, awkward phone call with terrible service.

On the bright side, you learned that they’re your mom’s second cousin.

19. It’s hard for you to be alone

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As much as you love your family, you really do value alone time to collect your thoughts and reflect. However, it seems impossible to do so. The baby cousins keep asking “Got any games on your phone?”, your uncle wants to discuss your future needing to be in the medical field, and the long family-filled weekends can be overwhelming.

20. But there’s always a lot of love that surrounds you

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Your family may be a lot at times, but at the end of the day, you know you’re blessed. You get lots of love and your humongous family can never be replaced.

Lalissie Eteffa

Lalissie Eteffa

Editorial Fellow Lalissie Eteffa is a student who will be starting college this fall. Eteffa loves to binge watch shows and movies for hours, but don't worry she actually steps out the house and socializes once in awhile. Her favorite thing to do is to hangout in downtown with her friends. Eteffa also enjoys discussing current events, especially on topics surrounding race and gender.

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