web analytics
Black Velvet
December 16, 2012 – 3:09 pm | 17 Comments

Childhood memories are vivid, almost indescribable in their detail, and impossible to forget. A Christmas memory I have is that of a black velvet dress  a family friend gave to me for my seventh Christmas.
The …

Read the full story »
casa + cultura

The sabor of Latino living.

dichos + del alma

Inspiration and reflection.

el buzz

News and pop culture.

foto + video

See us. See yourself.

the habla habla

Our stories.

Home » headline, the habla habla

Time Traveling

Submitted by on October 7, 2009 – 11:05 amOne Comment

When I was in my teens in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I had that feeling that most teens struggle with: I don’t feel like I quite fit in.

When I was sixteen, my family had only been in the U.S. for ten years. Ten years! That’s nothing (well, except maybe in dog years, but that’s not important right now). And at that point, my cultural Cuban identity was much more imprinted on me than my (relatively new) Americanism.

cheer 1070
In spite of all the ways I tried to fit in, I knew I was different.

My hair was out-of-control curly. At that time the fashion was stick-straight-parted-down-the-middle in a “hippy-ish” fashion. So I straightened and ironed it. I slept on giant, uncomfortable curlers. I suffered in order to conform.

My body-type was what you might call “voluptuous.” I was not fat, just umm… developed. Of course, in comparison to the willowy, blond American girls, I called myself fat. (I was not.)

I still had a slight accent and there were words I had never known or used before. We spoke Spanish at home; we never used words like “awkward” or “sibling” at the dinner table.

But I learned. Obviously, I learned. I assimilated. I grew up.

One of the things I learned was that all teenagers struggle with these things. (Shut up. Who knew?) The cultural component just made me feel more glaringly different at times.

I think that having profoundly struggled with those issues of identity makes me a better mother, a better person, a better and more compassionate friend today. I am able to give my daughters advice and comfort based on my own life experiences with great confidence.

How I wish I could go back in time and tell the 16-year-old me a few things, very specifically, those things that I finally did learn over time:

1) Everybody else is just as insecure as you are.
2) Personality is so much more important than looks.
3) It’s okay to be proud of both your cultures. You can be 100% Cuban and 100% American.

Now let me ask you this:

If you could travel back in time, what 3 pieces of advice would you give to the teenage you?

Maybe, just maybe, she needs to hear those things today.

Share, por favor!

One Comment »

  • Angela says:

    Oh Marta, this is a tough one!

    Funny thing is, my kids are attending the same Catholic high school that I attended here in Fort Lauderdale…the uniforms are even the same (except that the girls can now wear slacks as well as the same pleated plaid skirt). Right now my oldest is a Senior, #2 is a Freshman, and #3 is still in 7th grade.

    I would tell my 16 year old self:

    1. Latin will definitely come in handy for those college science courses…pay attention!
    2. Listen to your Mom…Mas sabe el diablo por diablo que por viejo (as Mami used to say).
    3. Choose your friends wisely…more importantly, you probably haven’t even met your “BFF” yet!

Leave a comment!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

Be nice. Keep it clean. Stay on topic. No spam.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.

CommentLuv badge