As Latinos, we are culturally wired to appear to be better than we are. Our houses must be clean when friends come to visit, we must wear makeup when we go out, and we must be polite to our elders, even if we don’t have time to clean, work from home, and really don’t care what other people think. The fact is that we are a community based on respect, and without that respect, our community will fall apart.
I appreciate and welcome the general ground rules of being a Latina, even if it means I have to go out of my way or take the extra time to be presentable. (Fortunately, it usually means I end up with a clean house and great relationships!)
But can it go too far?
Think about it this way: Have you ever pretended to be someone you’re not, based on unwritten expectations? Maybe you dressed up uncomfortably for a date. Maybe you took on a project that means nothing to you because you’re the “Go-To” person in town (or want to be). Maybe you kept quiet on an issue that is important to you because you were in room full of people who were different from you.
Who wins in those situations?
Doing something that goes against who you are as a person is dangerous. I know, because I’ve done it. For years.
I spent a lot of time trying to be everything to everyone. And it cost me, at the low, low price of me.
Every time I lied to myself, a piece of me was lost. Over time, I became a shell of a person, unsure of who I was or what I was capable of. I couldn’t make any decisions because I was concerned about what someone else would want. Worst of all, I had forgotten how to be happy.
About a year ago, by the grace of all that is good, I was on the receiving end of an intervention. “This isn’t you,” they said. “You’re so much more!” (But who was I? And how could they possibly know?)
Being the practical person that I am, I recognized the good will being sent to me from the people I trust and love the most. So I got out of the situation I was in, and started over. Really - I started completely over.
The first step for me was listening to my favorite music. I’d spent so long listening to other peoples’ music, that I had forgotten what I liked. (It turns out I like anything that lets me sing along as loudly as I like!)
And then I got to working on what clothes I like to wear, what books I like to read, and what TV shows and movies I like to watch. Eventually, I figured out what type of work I like to do, what kind of business I like to run, and what kinds of relationships are important to me.
I learned to say no and yes, on MY terms.
And you know what? I’m happy! I’m overjoyed with the way my life has turned out, mostly because it’s finally MY life. I’m in control. And I can choose to keep my house clean or not, to wear makeup when I want to, and to speak my mind when I feel it’s appropriate.
It’s okay to be me. In fact, I LOVE to be me!
I grew up where I grew up, I believe the things I believe, and I do things the way I do things.
I am who I am.
Pretending to be anyone else is a waste of time.