The Quest for Legitimacy Blog

Guiding the Rising Generation of prominent families

Tug of War

Tug of War: The Quest for Legitimacy

Growing up in a prominent family can be both a blessing and a challenge. While it comes with certain privileges and opportunities, it also brings its own set of unique difficulties.

It can be tough to find your way, your purpose, and your identity when trying to live up to the expectations, either real or perceived, of your family. These pressures, coupled with a lack of peers in similar situations, can leave you with feelings of isolation.

Thankfully, there are ways to work through these difficulties in your quest for legitimacy. Understanding more about the common phases that others in your situation have also experienced and learning how to navigate them whilst also building resilience will help you progress toward finding identity and purpose outside of the life you feel that others expect of you.

Let’s explore these common themes that you, as a child of a prominent family, most likely have been experiencing. Doing so helps you identify the phases of your own quest for legitimacy and the importance of understanding and embracing your experience on the path to taking ownership of your life.

The Desire to Feel Legitimate

The desire to feel an internal sense of legitimacy was one of the most common aspirations for those we spoke with throughout our research. We sought to understand the experience of growing up in a prominent family. For myself, growing up as the son of a rabbi caused me to struggle with the desire to feel significant and legitimate in my own right, but was I alone? Our interviews revealed that this was, in fact, a common occurrence.

We found that growing up in a prominent family often results in a sense of isolation, despite the opportunities and support available.

We heard of moments in people’s lives where they became aware that the environment within which they were growing up was in some way different from that of their peers.  This can create a feeling of disconnect that is difficult to articulate.

Am I Enough?

Am I Enough: The Quest for Legitimacy

Someone growing up in an environment or community with many prominent individuals may not feel as isolated, but there may still be a sense of each person being in their own shell. It is often not until experiences like going to college or entering a larger environment that your feeling of being different becomes more apparent.

This awareness and resulting isolation can be uncomfortable to experience, and not knowing where to go to find an answer is frustrating, within their family and those they’re growing up with, that is normal; that is life. Outside of that, there is a different world.

However, the feeling of isolation does not have to be seen as negative or detrimental. The goal in recognizing this is to help you find a sense of comfort and belonging in who you are. To do this, you must face up to the unique challenges you face. This is where growth and ownership of your life comes.  

We want to offer support and resources to help you navigate through your experiences.

The Tug of War

These transitions can be difficult, and you may feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. But it’s important to remember that you are not alone in these experiences. Others have gone through similar challenges.

We’ve used the phrase ‘the tug of war.’ It is a tug-of-war between the world you’ve grown up within and the world out there that you’re becoming much more aware of. The sense of isolation and the challenges of growing up in a prominent family can lead to a desire to explore the opportunities available to you, better understand your upbringing and take ownership of an identity that is truly your own and not defined by your family’s identity.

It is essential to navigate these complex emotions and experiences to find a balance between being true to yourself.


The feeling of lacking in legitimacy is a difficult one to put your finger on. When you are surrounded by support, opportunity, and resources, it can be hard to articulate that something is still missing. However, with the right strategies and resources, you can find ways to navigate these complex emotions successfully.

It is important to recognize your unique challenges and strive for a balance between embracing who you are and staying true to yourself. With dedication and resilience, you will soon discover that there is no limit to what you can achieve when stepping out on your own!

Download a chapter of The Quest for Legitimacy - How Children of Prominent Families Discover Their Unique Place in the World

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