Growing up bicultural in the United States, as a Mexican-American, has been a difficult journey for me. It has led me to become far more understanding of both the external world and of myself. Living at the juncture of two cultures has forced me to develop various identities throughout my life, and I often felt conflicted between those identities. It was painful and confusing, and I didn’t know where to channel my energy. I took it out on others and on myself. Eventually, I realized that it did not matter what culture I identified with. The only person I needed to identify with was me. I found my true calling through sustainability, and realized that I was not connected to anything more than this planet. This is when the world really started to make sense to me.
My experience belonging to two cultures has brought me a unique understanding and perspective on people. I have found this to be a useful tool in life as I feel I can deeply relate to almost anyone or any situation. I developed an innate sense of compassion through my intense understanding of culture or people.
My background can be a little confusing as I was born in the United States while living in Chihuahua, Mexico. I spoke only Spanish and attending school in Mexico until my family decided to move to Dallas, Texas at the age of 6. Shortly after arriving in Texas, I started classes where I learned to speak English. I can clearly remember the teacher asking me if I knew the alphabet, to which I responded in broken English, “Si, pero in Spanish.” It was a challenge but it was exciting for me to learn a new language and to experience the American culture. This is where my thirst for life was truly born.
However, leaving Mexico was difficult for me as I was leaving my home and my large family that included my friends, my six cousins (whom I loved), my four aunts, my Tito and my Tita (grandparents). Every Sunday in Mexico we would gather for family lunch, and do things together during the week. That was just part of our culture. Since I moved to America, the stark difference in family culture has made me miss how close and supportive family in Mexico was. It was a support system that I would forever feel estranged from, and never completely accepted back into.
So, as a tall, light-skinned girl with light green eyes, I do not look like what an American thinks a Mexican should look like. When someone asks me where I am from and I mention Mexico, the first response is, “What! You don’t LOOK Mexican?!” In my head, I say “IGNORANT.” But I usually politely explain that Mexico, like the United States, is made up of a lot of different people with a lot of backgrounds including Europeans. My ancestors were in fact from Portugal and a few from France, and Germany. Usually, European Mexicans have lighter skin and darker-skinned Mexicans have ancestors more native to the lands like Aztecs or Mayans. Every background and story is beautiful and unique.
I have encountered many obstacles with my own self-identity while living as a Mexican-American in the United States, but a close relationship with my parents has always aided me on my journey. I’ve also done continuous work on myself. I felt inspired to open up about my personal story as I want everyone to know that I am proud to be both Mexican and American.
My journey to the United States was an easy one but for many, it is, in fact, a dangerous journey. Many Mexicans are fleeing the country in hopes of a better life or even running from a very dangerous situation. I believe rather than holding negative energy towards immigrants to our country, we need to have compassion and understanding. We took this land from the natives just 250 years ago, and unless you are a Native American, we are all immigrants from all over the world.
One of the most beautiful things I felt when I arrived here in the United States was the incredible diversity I witnessed compared to Mexico. I am proud to be a part of this beautiful and diverse country and I am proud to be a part of Mexico. I hope you enjoy this exploration of my bicultural life!