New Skin, Please

December 6, 2010
By Jas1234567890 GOLD, Yorba Linda, California
Jas1234567890 GOLD, Yorba Linda, California
10 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Growing up in Orange County, I was always surrounded by the same type of people: white. Being of Mexican-American and Guatemalan descent, I was constantly aware of my difference in ethnicity from others around me, even when others overlooked it. When I was younger, ignorance guarded me from stereotypes and allowed me to have a blithe and carefree attitude toward anything I couldn’t have power over. However, as I grew up I exceedingly became aware of the prejudices often associated with being of Hispanic descent. In fifth grade, nearly every one of the kids in my class was white, and I began to notice. They didn’t acknowledge our difference in color, but I did; I allowed my insecurities to make me feel inferior to my peers. Though no one has ever directly commented on the color of my skin or on my ethnic lineage in a negative manner; I became conscious of the labels that could potentially be put on me and I continued losing confidence in myself as a being. It now seems a silly thing to be worried over, especially knowing that I was friends with everyone in my small private school elementary class- yet it still saddens me to know that this misinterpretation of myself was a reality in my life as a child. I also felt that if people did not know me, they might think I did not try hard in school because Latin Americans are not generally distinguished as academically notable. I hated the barrier of feeling one step lower than everyone else because of something I could not control.
Finally in eighth grade and throughout high school I came to realize that I was influenced by these stereotypes because I put them on myself, not because anyone else ever put them on me. Though they at first made me feel unconfident and un-assured in myself, I later changed my perspective and wanted to show everyone that I am not a group listing who is in a set of identical persons, I am not hindered by the fact that I am different.
Knowing that I am Hispanic now encourages me to do even better in school; since I don’t want a stereotype labeling Latinos as uneducated, then the best way to disarm that label is to break it down with my own accomplishments. Being diverse could have crippled me if I would have kept the same attitude I had as a child, however through my personal growth, I used it as a reason to succeed and mature. I have learned to see diversity as a good thing; a way to bring fresh and new perspective to the table. Since my diversity in ethnicity has allowed me to be motivated to do better as a student and an athlete. I have since middle school made it a goal to show that diversity is a good thing and rather than use it as an excuse to disintegrate, I will use it as a drive to improve.

The author's comments:
This piece is inspired by my feelings of who I was and the pressure I put on myself on because of feeling different than everyone else around me. It shows the heavy influence of internal thoughts and pressures one may put on herself. It's also about breaking through that and realizing the value of diversity.

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