As the National Hispanic Heritage month winds down, I find myself reflecting on what it has meant for me to be a Hispanic in the United States over the past twenty years since I first moved to the "mainland" as some will call it. When I first moved to Atlanta, as a Puerto Rican, I often met Latin American friends and was curious about their background and culture. I made friends from Cuba, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Venezuela to name a few, all of them fellow voyagers on this journey to attain the American dream.
We had more than one thing in common. We were dreamers, who came to this country with the goal of "making it" and succeeding in our endeavors.
The goal of "making it" was always a common thread in our interactions. I wanted it all: the career, the relationship, the marriage, the family, the house, the travels and the fun. I wanted more than anything to learn about different cultures.
In my book, Anxious Mom, Anxious Child: A Mother's Journey from Anxiety to Serenity, I talk about coming to a place that was ripe with opportunities. Enter Venezuela. Of the many friends and cultures I encountered back then, I found Venezuelans to be so fun, so full of life, super smart, family oriented, and outgoing. Getting together with my Venezuelan friends was easy, being with them felt like home. Among the many friends I've made along these years, a good amount have been from Venezuela. I made a deep connection with Brazilians, too - hence my love affair for the country of Brazil, but that's a topic for a separate blog -. My fellow Venezuelan friends also love dancing salsa as much as we do.
And so last week, when I was being interviewed by Venezuelan actress and podcaster Valentina Izarra, I was reminded of that feeling of comfort that comes when you are talking to someone who "gets you." You know that feeling, right? There is a familiarity that comes with speaking to someone in your own language, who can understand your jokes, "get" your sense of humor and enjoy the taste of garlic, onions, achiote and cilantro among other spices, in our food.
Valentina and I connected in more than one way. Like me, she has been divorced and like me, she has had to pull through as a single mom battling with the emotional ups and downs that come with stress, depression or anxiety. This came up during the conversation that will soon air on her podcast, Mamas con Ganas.
We also connected at a spiritual level, something that I thought was all the more special. We both have found love again after divorce and we both want to be the best moms that we can be:
- Not perfect but WHOLESOME
- Not in one language but in TWO
- Not as part of one culture, but BOTH
When I say BOTH I mean that we have embraced the American culture and its values while still keeping our Latinaness. That is one more thing that, as I reflect upon my Hispanic heritage, I cherish.
It's lovely to connect with fellow Latina voyagers such as Valentina. It reminds me that we can be both, we don't have to choose. Our personal universe expands when we allow ourselves to connect with others and embrace our similarities. We can become more of ourselves by incorporating these aspects of our personality into our unique experience as women, entrepreneurs, and mothers.
As I like to say: Life is full of greys. It's a wonderful thing to celebrate this.
Adacelis (Ada) Pérez is a Certified Life Coach and the Author of Anxious Mom, Anxious Child: A Mother's Journey from Anxiety to Serenity