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September Zoom Meetup Recap | Family
Values & the Meaning of Success

The September Meetup explored the many perceptions of class and its effect on our familial relationships and generational shifts. We asked our audience in a journaling exercise: What is your definition of success?


With a few new faces to join our community and our seasoned meetup members, our audience shared their experiences balancing their definition of success with a sense of identity. Whether it is through a traditional career path or following their passions, our community brought stories that shaped who they are today.


Our host Mike Avila opened the meetup with a quote from bell hooks’ book Where We Stand: Class Matters, “it is fashionable to talk about race or gender; the uncool subject is class.” He spoke about how rare it is to hear the term ‘class’ publicly, yet the topic of success finds its way into newscasts, books, and social media. We took that as a moment to open up immediately.


Mike continued by saying that while we don’t get to choose the class we are born into, it still shapes our identities. “As a child, I was drawn to music and playing instruments,” Mike explained, “While I was not discouraged from learning to play any instrument, I was not encouraged to pursue music as a career. Instead, my family urged me to study hard and focus on learning with the goal that I could pursue traditional working class desires like becoming a doctor or a lawyer.” Which opened the question, why do our families often push us to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers and nothing else?

Family Values

A first-time community member opened up about her experience as someone who immigrated to The United States from Africa. Coming from a highly-educated family, the path to medicine, law, or engineering was agreed to be the guaranteed path to financial security. She eventually learned, “like colonialism and all of that stuff, it’s just to get more bodies in the system.” Once that fact revealed itself, and as soon as she reached a point where she could thrive independently, she began the journey of true self-discovery. “We’re supposed to be creating. We’re supposed to be passionate,” she continued, “connected with our passions, and help others to do the same.”


We discussed the benefits of keeping our heads down in the grind. “You just have to muscle through it sometimes…but that allowed me to achieve some things people might have given up on along the way,” one community member stated, along with her gratitude for the tools her parents gave her so she could independently do what she wants. Her ability to reciprocate and help her parents was how she defined success.


Mike then asked what some of the values were that we’ve carried or even let go of along the way. Many of the values left in the chat were synonymous with the word “excellence,” both striving toward and letting go of in the pursuit of being ourselves.

September Zoom Meetup

Another first-timer shared the importance of claiming both physical and mental wellness as their definition of success. Even along her journey as a yoga instructor, mental wellness didn’t feel like it was prioritized, just the goal of getting certified. She defined success by saying, “I get the privilege of being with my dad,” she said as her dad coincidentally passed behind her screen, “and playing cards after dinner every night.” Inspired, another member revealed how much she enjoys gardening with their mom.

As we continued discussing the imbalanced definitions of success between ourselves and our parents, one member shared the mixed messages she’d received from her father. With the encouragement to become whatever she put her mind to, she entered the field of natural resources (a very male-dominated profession) and felt successful. “To be a woman of color in such a field,” she began, “I went to college, got my degree…and had a successful career. My father would still say to me: Anytime you want to go back to school and become a lawyer, we’ll pay for it.” She explained how even though she “made it,” he didn’t see it the same way she did.

After our first breakout room, we had a community discussion about a segment from the daytime talk show, The Real. A caller asked, “how do you tell your parents you don’t want to be what they want you to be?” The hosts’ advice varied from clearly communicating what you want to do to remaining respectful of your parents’ investment in you. One host suggested that it’s not so much the job, it’s just securing independence, sticking to a plan, and having a backup plan so they won’t have to worry. Another host simplified it to, “Be respectful. They’ve invested a lot,” and ended with, “You’ve gotta pay them their money one day.

“Capitalism sucks,” a community member expressed, “That’s all I have to say.”

There was immediate feedback on looking at your child as an investment. Community members agreed that children are important to invest in, not just monetarily but as a spiritual, emotional, and physical investment.

In our second breakout session and before we ended our meetup, we discussed how we could take care of the communities we come from within this capitalist system and if individualism and self-interest stunt Americans from keeping a sense of community. We dug into finding ways to give back, expanding the conversation beyond monetary values.

To close the evening, we watched a moving video by Elijah Miles asking the question: who’s defining success? We all agreed that what outweighed self-interest was the support of our communities, our families, and the goal of cherished moments versus material wealth. Our meetup ended with a sense of empowerment in what we do, gratitude for what we have, and a vision for what we want for our communities and loved ones.

Chat gems:


“Letting go of what I ‘should’ be doing and tuning into more of what is best for me right here, right now.”

“Living as opposed to being bodies in the system.”

“Getting rid of higher, better, faster, stronger (the Olympic creed). My best is enough. I don’t have to win.”

“Finally hanging out [with] other 1st generation folks (as an adult) [is] so affirming!”

“How can we take care of the communities that we are a part of?”

“Values and priorities shift with each generation.”

“There are days I wish I could turn back time and just move in with my parents instead of the cycles of roommates I went through; roommates pushed me into individualistic endeavors.”

Community Recommendations:

Check out Mike’s playlist!

Sand Talk: How Indigenous Thinking Can Save the World by Tyson Yunkaporta