A Journey in Motion | Teen Ink

A Journey in Motion

December 18, 2018
By rosiegomez24 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
rosiegomez24 BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

A little Mexican girl spends her early years surrounded with people of her color. She values her family and her Mexican culture. She is intelligent and eager to learn, so her mother enrolls her in a Spanish speaking preschool class. She loves to learn more about her language and explore new ideas. She enjoys going home after school and helping her mother make a traditional Mexican dinner and dessert once she gets home from work. It varies from tinga de pollo on Mondays to arroz con leche on weekends. She doesn’t know how naive she truly is.

Each year she grows more intelligent and becomes conscious of the world around her. She doesn’t have the brand name clothes her classmates have, instead she has the second-hand clothes of her siblings, which is all her parents could afford. She doesn’t go out to dinner with her family every night. Her dinners consist of frijoles con queso, tortillas and whatever leftovers are in the fridge.

The school places her in English speaking classes with all American kids, and because she has been bilingual from a young age, she advances quickly in her academics. When her teacher asks her to share her family values and traditions, the American students laugh at her when she speaks about her Mexican culture. As the years pass by similar reactions occur, and her once treasured memories become haunted recollections. She is hurt and embarrassed when speaking about being Mexican.

She grows into a girl who conforms into the American society she was thrown into. She doesn’t bring up her culture anymore and acts just like the other American students in her classes. Once she does this the Mexican students now judge her for suppressing who she truly is. She pretends to be two people at once as if it will somehow help her fit in.

A confident, intelligent Mexican-American isn’t very common to come across.

As Mexican children we were expected to choose an identity at an early age and we didn’t know it. Some students changed their whole identity in order to live up to the expectations set by either the American or Mexican kids. They would spend their savings to buy the brand name clothes, but then go home and act as if school wasn’t important. Those who were trapped by the stereotypes or lived a lie never found true happiness.

I remember standing in front of a mirror when I was younger having an internal battle within me. And only me. How did I want to define myself? As a Mexican where I would get criticized by the Americans? Or an American where I would live my life as a lie?

I refused to choose a side. I was both. I was smart. I was lucky. I realized I could celebrate my Mexican culture, but also intertwine it with my American side. My parents came from Mexico, but I was born in the U.S. and there was no way of changing that.

I realized I was more than a generalized stereotype. I wanted to be more than a statistic. I realized I didn’t want to live a double life. I had the opportunity to leave a mark and make myself known as a person. I realized fitting in didn’t matter. Looking like everyone else didn’t mean acceptance. It meant suppression. I was persistent to share who I really was. I wasn’t shy anymore. I was ready to shout as loud as I could about my passions from both cultures. I was trying to make myself heard.

The author's comments:

Sherman Alexie's "Superman and Me" inspired me to write this piece. When people read this I hope they will understand that they should be proud of their culture and passions. I hope they will realize that fitting in doesn't matter. 

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