¡Oye, mi hija!
All my life I’ve been told what the perfect mold of a well-mannered, Puerto Rican girl was. Rambunctious (check). Tan (check). Loved the food (check). Spanish-speaking (check). Boy crazy (erm). Straight (okay we’re not doing well here). Baby machine (NO). Beautiful (eh). Confident, flirty, coquetteish — you get my gist? Bred into a Southern American environment, I always felt conflicted with who I was supposed to be in society. Do I satisfy my mother’s grandchild needs and stuff my face with the terrifying jello mass of pasteles? Or was I the dainty, conservative Southern girl who scrubbed at my skin for being so dark and married a Republican prince at the end of the day?
At the end of the day, I’m these things: very proud to be Puerto Rican and from the Southern United States, very proud to be tan, extremely adept to all palates of food, Spanish, English, Portuguese, and German-speaking, girl enamored, lesbian, and writing machine. A fair compromise, if you ask me. As confident as that may read, I’m far from it but which girl is? Which PERSON is? The head of Universal Studios fucking hates his life, no matter the dollar signs in his eyes. If I was in his position, I’d just suck it up and lie but you know what I mean? Even old white men benefit from constant identity crisis!
What concerns me the most are my fellow womyn and men who butt heads with their cultural ideals every single day. I constantly wonder how things are in countries such as the UK, China, or Turkey, whether there is a continuous struggle for cultural identity as deep as it is here in America. Whether it’s Barbie dolls, Britney Spears, or Usher, we’re bent into these expectations from peers, counselors, and authority figures to follow this line of roboticism. What do these people tell us? Barbies tell us it’s okay to be a basic, plastic bitch; Britney showed us the complete deterioration of the American dream via media; Usher tells us we will all eventually find a Justin Bieber on OkCupid.
I’m only twenty, and I’m sure I’m bound for more identity crises. Off the top of my head, I can name a few. “If I enjoy the word cunt so much, does that make me a bad feminist?” “If I listen to British Top 40 over the American Top 40, am I like those Beatles freaks in high school that only knew ‘Across the Universe’?” “If I hate bars, drugs, drinking, and can’t play Halo to save my life, am I not really a college student?” In a few years, I plan to move to “The Big Apple” (I’m sure poor NYC faces an identity crisis with this name) and I can only imagine the meltdown to come. But why should this scare any of us or anyone else on how to embrace ourselves and live in the moment with our flaws and greatness?
I reflect on this now because it’s taking a long time to say, “HEY. I look this way. I don’t get why I do, but I do. I’ve met a few people who like my face and how I am. Maybe I should get over neuroticism and just go with it.” To unforunately quote Demi Lovato, sometimes you gotta fake it until you make it. It took a few months, and in those months, I realized how awesome I actually was. As a person, you like and do certain things because you think they’re better than anything else. I hate to break it to you low self-esteemers but…that reflects on you! You like Parks and Recreation and own an original Lite Brite set? You’re fucking AWESOME. You bust your ass looking for a job and still can’t find one? Dude, you’re trying. You’re golden. Hang in there. You embrace your curves and aren’t the skinniest bitch on the bus but the one the black guy wolf whistles at? Honey, I wish I was you. Us stick thin bitches have nothing going for us.
The guide to loving yourself has never and will never be written. Yet, there is a lot of yourself to share with the world or you wouldn’t be here. The first step to even approaching any healthy point in your life is at least allowing yourself the one victory point for the team at the end of the day. I swear it’s not as scary as it seems. Just slightly egotistical.