The Time My Boyfriend Made Me Cry About My Identity, But It Was OK With Me
Lifestyle

The Time My Boyfriend Made Me Cry About My Identity, But It Was OK With Me

My children will have their struggles like all children do, but the struggle of "where do I belong" will not be one of them.

41
Anna Hernandez-Buces

It's the end of summer.

I leave home for college in two days. The months went by too slowly for my liking, but too quickly at the same time. It's late at night. I'm in the car with my boyfriend, on the way back to my house. We've been talking the entire ride. Well, it's more that I've been talking, waving my arms around for emphasis with my boyfriend glancing over every once in a while to smile and nod. I talk too much, but he says he doesn't mind.

That night, I can't even remember what I talked about.

Going back to college maybe, the unfortunate hair dye I did to myself (it was supposed to be lavender, but it came out bright purple, pink, and brown). I know I talked about Texas. El Paso. I complained about the state of our society, I talked to try to find the logic in the mess, but there was none.

So I told him he had to read my article that had gone live that day. I was proud of it. They say to write what you know, and what I know best is my family, God, and being Latina.

The latter point is tricky, though. Living as a second-generation American has always been a struggle and a constant internal battle of trying to decide whether my struggle was valid.

I mean, I'm not my parents who traded family, warmth, and stability in Mexico for loneliness, snow, and doubt in America. I wasn't the one who worked to learn another language, get a Ph.D., and make a living. My parents never fail to remind me how easy I have it here.

And while those lectures bored me as a kid, I know they're right. In this country, I'll never have to struggle the way they did. And even though I don't have to learn another language, I still juggle the two of them, just as I juggle two cultures. And that's where the struggle comes in.

I have one foot in an American way of life, and one foot in the Mexican heritage of my parents.

Thus, the lifelong question all second-generation Americans face is born: Where do I belong? Do I belong in the culture of the country I was born in or in the culture of the country I was raised with?

After almost 20 years of pondering, I still don't have an answer to that question.

And after that night, driving home, I realized that I had been selfish in the search for my answer. I had always been so worried about where I belonged, which culture I was allowed or supposed to call my own, that I forgot about anyone else. I never stopped to think about the struggles future generations would face.

Because those struggles aren't the same. Just as my struggle is different from that of my parents, so too will my children have other issues. Despite a perpetual baby fever (a severe case, unfortunately incurable) I had never given much thought about them until that night. I had been talking too much. I probably only stopped to breathe, but Gavin saw his chance. "When we have kids," he said, "yes, they're going to be American but yes, they're also going to be completely Mexican. They're going to be both. Is that OK with you?"

In a perfect world, I would be both. I would be equally Mexican and American.

I wouldn't be forced to choose one culture over the other. But this world is far from perfect. In this world, immigrant parents tell their children, "We are Mexican, which means you are too. But you were born here, so you are American."

I remember my mother explaining this to me when I was young, when I had asked what I was. I remember being dissatisfied with her answer. I wanted to be Mexican.

I felt that being born in this country created a divide between me and my parents, an obstacle that wouldn't be easy to move around (I was right). So I asked my father what I was. I asked if I was Mexican, hoping he'd give me the answer I wanted. "You're American," is what he'd say each time I asked.

It wasn't until I was older that I understood their answers.

I had so desperately wanted to be Mexican at a difficult time. My parents were only here because of visas, with a renewal process that my mother described as a type of lottery. It was a time when we had to go through separate check-in lines at the airport, and I didn't know why.

I had wanted to be Mexican at a time where something could have happened to my parents, and if I refused to call myself American, what would happen to me?

But nothing is going to happen to me. I was born here so nothing can happen to me.

Time and time again, I felt pressured to choose one culture over the other because I was scared. Scared of losing my parents, scared of losing my culture. I have been so scared of one thing or another all my life, but those fears stop with me. My children will never, ever have to worry about something happening to me.

And because of that, they won't have to feel forced to choose one culture or another. They can be both. Or they can choose one because it feels right, not because they feel they have to. My children will have their struggles like all children do, but the struggle of "where do I belong" will not be one of them.

My fears will not be their fears and because of that, they will belong.

I belong in this country, and it is something I have to remind myself every day of. But my children will belong in this country, and they won't need to be reminded. They will simply know.

I never answered my boyfriend's question. Instead, I sat in silence for the remainder of the ride home. He had made me cry, but I was entirely OK with it.

Report this Content
Lifestyle

13 Father's Day Shirts Under $30 To Gift The Dad Wearing The Same Two Every Day In Quarantine

You've been begging him to change it up, and now he won't have a choice.

Let's be honest: most of our dads are wearing the same shirts today that they probably wore while changing our diapers and holding our hands as we learned to walk. Sure, we love them for it. But whether you're quarantined with him wearing the same two shirts on rotation every week, or every time you FaceTime him, you know what he'll be wearing before he answers the phone, he needs to add some new items to his wardrobe rotation.

And you know dads — they'll feel guilted into using practically anything you were to give them. But these shirts are sure-fire ways to get him to switch up his wardrobe, and he'll be more than excited to wear each and every one of them. Plus, most of them are under twenty dollars, so no harm in dropping more than a couple in to your cart and letting Dad have his pick of his favorites.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Sat Down (Virtually) With Hollis Tuttle To Talk About Coronavirus's Impact On The Wellness Industry

Just because coronavirus has greatly impacted the wellness industry doesn't mean wellness stops.

If you're anything like me, your weekly fitness classes are a huge part of your routine. They keep me fit, healthy, and sane. Honestly, these classes help my mental health stay in tip-top shape just as much as they help my physical health.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, gyms and fitness studios are facing temporary closure. Yes, this means my personal routine is thrown a curveball, but this also means the wellness industry is one of many that is looking at unemployment and hardship. Do I miss my Monday spin class? Of course. But do the wellness professionals whose worlds were flipped upside down have a lot more to overcome than a slight change of routine? Absolutely. Thankfully, if anyone can prove the ultimate flexibility, it's the wellness industry.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

My Boyfriend Has Changed Since Quarantine Began, And I Don't Know What To Do

"All he says is 'I love you,' which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Dear Swoonie B,

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost a year, which has been the best year of my life (as far as i know). Well we go to different schools and are both very involved in sports and school activities which makes it hard to see each other. During this quarantine it is especially hard. Since we haven't seen each other in over a week things are kind of tense. He won't really talk to me much and I always check in on him to make sure he is doing well and to just see how he is, ya know being a girlfriend. Well apparently that is driving him crazy and I don't understand how. I'm not being controling or clingy, i'm just checking in on him. While this is happening, I also have noticed how he just doesn't really care anymore. I'll leave him paragraphs of sweet love letters to wake up to and I encourage him throughout his day but I just don't get it in return. I love him with all of me and I obviously care about him a lot. Also, I've compared how he talked to me before all of this has happened. He was so sweet and caring, texting me a lot and telling me he loves me and just making sure everything is OK but he doesn't do that anymore. All he says is "I love you," which is great and all but OMG I can't get anything else out of him. He is a little stressed at home with trying to find another job to pay for his car, constantly having to do things for his mom, being responsible for his siblings, and managing school. I know thats a lot but im doing a lot too right now and going through a lot of the same stuff he is but It seems to me he just does not care and i don't know what to do. Please help me or give me some advice on what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do. Anything at this point will help. Thank you!

If I had a dollar for every time I heard "these are unprecedented times," I'd be rich. But that's because it's true!

Keep Reading... Show less
Tower 28

On paper, Amy Liu appears to be one of the most intimidating women in the beauty business. Not only was she the person to build Smashbox Cosmetics into what it is today, she went on to lead luxury, high-end brands like Kate Somerville and Josie Maran — just to name a few.

But sitting down to meet Liu for the first time in an underground New York bar over a year ago felt like meeting a friend I'd known since childhood. As she walked into the bar in a chic red dress, it was impossible not to feel her immediate warm presence. When she talks about her history as an entrepreneur (and truly, at heart, she always was one), you don't get the sense that she's selling you anything, though with her impeccable taste, I'd use anything that had her glowing review attached to it.

Keep Reading... Show less

Sixth grade was the year that you were allowed to participate in a school sport. This was what my friends and I had all been waiting for since we started middle school. I had already made the cheer team with my friends, but I had to wait to start that in the winter since we cheered for basketball. I really wanted to have some sort of activity in the fall, but I did not know what to do. Somehow, I decided to run cross country. Not really sure how I decided on a sport where it was quite literally just running. A few of my friends were doing it as well, so I knew it was going to be fun.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Working Out Every Day During Quarantine Helps Me Feel A Sense Of Control

Physical activity helps my mental health in a world that feels uncertain.

Before the pandemic, I exercised a handful of times a week at best. In quarantine, I've been exercising every single day. I don't want this article to be another spiel about how exercise "changed my life," and all the other cliches that health gurus use to convince others to work out more. Rather, I want to reveal that exercise is a tool that works for me because it boosts my mental health when I feel like the world is spiraling out of control.

Keep Reading... Show less

To say that 2020 has been a bit of a roller coaster is an extreme understatement. Who knew that this decade was going to start off like THIS!? Not me, not you, and not that sweet old lady who lives down the street. One thing is certain though — while the world may be a mess right now, you can still fuel your body with food that keeps you happy and healthy. Thankfully, as we are all spending more time inside, you can get healthy snacks delivered straight to your front door! Amazon has never been more convenient (and tasty).

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments