Thank you. THANK YOU. Sincerely, thank you.
For dealing with all the pressure of succeeding.
For having to learn the alphabet on your own, and not having many resources as your friend Sally down the street because her parents spoke English and were welcomed into the community.
For coming home and not understanding the homework, so you learned it yourself.
For being laughed at and bullied by the girls and boys in grade school because your skin and hair color were different.
For having to group with minorities. Because that’s all you were: A minority.
For living in a bilingual home.
But it wasn’t just the different language, was it?
No. No. Not at all. It was not just the different language; it was growing up with a culture that was nonexistent the moment you stepped into the classroom. The moment you stepped out into the world.
You couldn’t understand why you weren’t allowed to sleep at your best friend’s house.
You were accustomed to home-cooked meals. Nada de la calle.
You woke up at 7 am to music in Spanish and knew the day would be spent cleaning the house.
Your job was to do well throughout school and prosper.
Your job is to follow your dreams because your parent’s dream is to see you follow yours.
Your parents left their country to pursue a better future for themselves and their children. For you. They left not only their country but their family, their lifestyle, their culture… for you to have the opportunities you have access to now.
If you lived in a religious climate because this was the family tradition:
You were taught morals and values based off of God, based off of whatever religion you practice. Your parents utilized religion as a vehicle to connect to you, to teach you, and to explain why the world works the way it does. But sometimes, a little too often, to control you. They’ll hold on to you because they never learned how to let go.
(If you are feeling disconnected and you’re an out-of-state student, try connecting to a church. Your religion is everywhere. Your faith starts with you and ends with you.)
You’ll be 19, living across the country, and will still call your mom asking for her opinion on how you should handle a situation.
Or how to cook chilaquiles.
Your parents have tried their best to foster a home that includes both their heritage and traditions while acclimating to the U.S.-style of life.
I recommend to anyone reading this who feels out-of-touch with themselves, or a little lost: revisit your roots. Ask your parents where they come from, what their parents did to keep food on the table, childhood stories, and visit sometime in your life.
I promise you this will not disappoint. Or it will disappoint but you will grow from it.
In conclusion, yes.
Appreciate your parents because they would have helped you with your homework if they could. Appreciate they stressed themselves out over obtaining proper documentation. (green cards, visas, passport documentation is not f*cking easy. Don’t you dare come at me with this one. Undocumented people must learn and be harshly tested on laws, constitutions, history, and popular culture. Topics the average U.S. citizen doesn’t even care to know).
If your parents are constantly pressuring you to do well, it is OKAY to let them know they need to ease up. College is not easy if you’re a nursing or child study major. College is not easy. Becoming an adult is not easy, period. Learning how to juggle your traditions and American society while finding who you are or who you’re “meant to be” is a mountainous feat. No freaking doubt about it. If you parents are hindering you rather than helping you: Communication is key. This is not seen as ungrateful as long as you’re polite and rational about it. You have the essential and fundamental human desire to your emotions.
Ponte las pilas siempre.
(a Latino proverb: Remember to put your batteries in).
(P.S. The reason why I’m gritting my teeth through college is to design and co-found Chicanas en Chanclas, with my lovely friend Magda Lopez. This non-profit organization will be supporting young women, especially those of color. We all need to stand united. I am here to help you and hear you out for now. Stay tuned.)