Accepting myself wholeheartedly has been the toughest thing I’ve had to endure. I didn’t notice it before but now I do. I am a Mexican American who was always too ashamed of her culture; I was too ashamed to show people my brown skin and big eyes. 2014 was the year I was exposed to material I had never been exposed to before. I used to live in this bubble where I believed people like me didn’t matter but the only explanation behind that reasoning was that I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. I was completely lost and felt out of place. I asked my parents many times about my Mexican heritage but they didn’t have answers for all my questions. So, I had to dig a little deeper and find out on my own. The past 3 years have been emotional and I’ve spent many sleepless nights wondering and questioning everything around me. As a little girl, I never overanalyzed anything, no child does but as I started college, things began to change. For the first time in my life I started to learn my history, my roots, and the love for my culture.
Middle school was the phase where everyone was trying to figure out who they were or who they were meant to be. It was the age of labeling and bullying people and I fell into the trap and decided I wanted people to accept me even if it wasn’t for me but I was always the “shy girl” in their eyes, what they didn’t know is that I had many thoughts; thoughts I couldn’t share with them so I piled up journals with all my secrets and fears. It was safer to keep my ideas away from people and society, or so I thought. I hated letting people laugh at my appearance but what I hated the most was not doing anything about it.
I blame society for belittling me. I blame society for making me accept that it was okay to stay in the shadows. I blame society for making me believe it was better off this way. I blame my history teachers for not showing me part of my history and I blame all the history books in those institutions that still exist; they keep erasing us from history as if we never contributed to American history. Not just people of Mexican descent, but every person of color in this country. As a minority, I feel constantly attacked by people who have more prestige and power than me but I don’t let it destroy me like before.
I thank Hartnell Community College for offering Chicano courses and Mexican American courses that have made me appreciate my culture. If I hadn’t gone to college I wouldn’t have known any of this. I am still learning, and it is a beautiful thing to know who you are. I know there are those people who will always try to bring me down, who will always question my ethnicity, my brown skin, and my big eyes, but I have thicker skin and I have the courage to tell people I am not ashamed. I don’t hate myself and I am not trying to be invisible anymore.
“I want you to see me.
See my brown skin.
Look through my eyes.
I am here,
and I matter.”
When I received Dinora's story, I was reminded of why I do this in the first place. I am here to share stories of people from many different walks of life. People who have experienced different struggles, challenges, and shortcomings. Her story introduced me into a world that I have no idea about; Something that I would not naturally think about since I do not know what it is like to be considered a minority. It is because of stories like Dinora's that we are able to remind ourselves that there are others out there struggling for different reasons. That, although I may not relate to her story, I am able to give her a place to share her voice, and let the world know that it will not hold her back from being who she is, no matter how many times she may have wanted to be someone else.
At the end of her submission, she writes "I am here, and I matter," and I think that is such an awesome way to look at your life. Because no matter who you are, where you have come from, or what you have experienced, YOU MATTER, and that is something we can all take away from this.
Thank you, Dinora, for sharing this piece of yourself with the world, and allowing me to be a part of it. It is because of stories like yours, that we are reminded to look around and notice all of the beautiful people around us.
You are HERE, and you DO matter!
SO much love for you!