Cultural narratives of our parents may no longer apply for First Gen Latinas. Especially if they create self doubt and loss of identity. One of those narratives, ‘Qué va a decir, la gente?’ places importance on other people’s opinions rather than happiness and self confidence. This episode explores how to identify cultural narrative traps and free yourself from them.
[Intro with music]
Welcome to your weekly episode of the Life Lnxx Podcast. I’m your host, Consuelo Crosby, coming to you with some news that longtime listeners have been waiting a little while. It took even longer than expected.
But that’s okay. It’s just as joyful. And, you may have caught this in our social media at Life Lnxx, but it’s official now. I have been blessed with a new title. I got a promotion. Are you ready for this? Can you believe it?
My daughter has graced this world with a little prince. We have an ally in the making, Amigas. I want to thank all of you for sending your support and blessings along the way. Because it has meant so much to me to be immersed in our sisterhood during this adventure. This really unknown place for me. And especially, that very long night of his arrival.
Oh, my Lord. All my mama powers were tested. You don’t know what you’re starting when you have these little ones. This world greatly understates the power of women bringing their babies into this world.
So, if you haven’t done it in a while, please go hug your mama. Ugh. Blessings to them for going through so, so much to bring you into this world, you amazing, sassy listeners and growing our community. So, join me in celebrating the arrival of esto hermoso príncipe!
So, lift a glass. Viva y Salud to all the mamis out there! We are so grateful for your health and wellbeing and everything you’ve done to care for family.
Now getting into our episode today, this is a Pod Club week, when we reflect on what we learned in last week’s episode. It’s the book club version of our podcast when we’ve had time to let all the gems heard last week really sink in, give ourselves a little time to think about how it affects us personally, and then chat about our own experiences with our friends and this community, because that’s what tethers us together and strengthens this community.
Even though I interview solo una amiga at a time, it may often sound like an echo of your own thoughts, and that helps feel like we are part of something greater rather than doing this #FirstGenVida alone.
In last week’s Episode 72, I interviewed this fabulous woman, Dr. Joanna Feliciano, a proud First Gen Puerto Rican, an outstanding career professional with academic accolades off the charts, who’s breaking down doors for the Latina community. Joanna shares her own experiences and offers us insights on how to move beyond cultural barriers that may be holding us back.
And even more so, to identify those cultural barriers because we may not even realize that it’s culture. It’s so much a part of who we are. They’re so ingrained in us. We were brought up learning this as just a way of life. And, we don’t realize that it’s these cultural standards that are holding us to making decisions that maybe we otherwise wouldn’t make.
It’s what keeps us on that hamster wheel that Joanna spoke of. That wheel of life where you’re running and you’re trying to succeed and you’re doing great in school, getting that career position and going for promotions and raises. And yet, you may feel like you really aren’t going anywhere. Can you see that? That hamster wheel, run, run, run, run… that guy does not realize he’s in the same place. It’s the best visual ever that she shared.
There were so many aha moments in her interview. So, many “como así” shared experiences that just made me lean back and wish I had met her earlier in my life. I mean, how many times do we have that experience? It’s like, “oh, if only I had met you earlier”.
Examples of Cultural Narratives
Sometimes we dig into things for all the wrong reasons, like our parents’ cultural rules that affect our choices in how we dress, who we have as friends or partners, where we go, what we do. Yeah, there’s a lot wound just around those rules. But, then there’s also the pressure to succeed, but succeed on society’s terms. And that in itself is kind of like assimilation. It’s not succeed by being happy and enjoying what you do and being able to care for yourself financially. It’s be successful by what society sees as success.
We’re told to go to college, get highly educated, and strive for big careers in industries that are literally foreign to us. And a lot of times we turn our compassion into our career by trying to help others because we know how difficult the experience is. But, like Joanna said, education is everything. It is a powerhouse.
But, what you do with the education, that should be your passion and your joy. So, the pressure of trying to achieve it all. The pressure of meeting our parents’ expectations can get us really weighted down in a place that we weren’t meant to be. And we get it. I mean, our parents just wanted security for us. They did all the heavy lifting in coming here, and they wanted to make sure that we were going to be okay. But, it just was not the right execution.
Like Joanna said, her own parents emphasized that education is the one thing that they cannot take away from you for being different. Now give that another minute to sink in. Cannot take away from you for being different. That is one of my aha moments in listening to her powerful journey.
Now, the one como así moment, that really struck a chord with me, was Joanna’s highlight of that cultural narrative that gets us trapped in confusion and can make us withdraw. Because in our life, when we think we might be cruising along and we’re doing great and we’re having fun, and we may even go off track in our attempt to do well for ourselves.
Instead of receiving compassion and understanding from our parents, we may have gotten that finger wagging, ‘Qué va a decir, la gente?’ What will people say?
What will people say if you don’t do well in school? What will people sayif you dress the way you want, if you go to places like that, if you have a boyfriend, eyebrows raised, right? Is this sounding familiar? I’d love to just gather all these stories of you because we could write a book on these experiences. Not only the experiences, but how it made us feel in that moment.
I remember being so proud, thinking I looked so great in an outfit, when I was in my teenage years, only to come running out and have my mom just shriek, tell me to take it off. Go change for a plethora of reasons, because it was black, because it was too short because “good girls don’t dress like that”.
I didn’t think I was just good. I thought I was hot . And there’s only so many times in your life that you can say that.
And the real kicker we’ve come to understand, as we get older, is that they weren’t trying to protect us from the sometimes harsh opinions of others. You know, like foreseeing where we might get made fun of. You know what this is, like shows up on your social media even today. No, it went a little further than that.
It was a way to protect themselves, the family, from any scrutiny, from being seen as different to the people we were surrounded by. Okay. Talk about pressure.
So, not only are you trying to make decisions for yourself alone, most of the time, trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do and what kind of life you want to live, you have to answer to an entire family with expectations on those decisions.
I wanted to be a record album artist when I was young. I was so happy to make that decision. I had my whole plan of going to New York, being with artists, being with the bands. Oh my Lord! ‘Qué va a decir, la gente?” That was so unacceptable as a profession to the family that I got shut down so quickly.
No, you’re gonna be a doctor, a lawyer, or an engineer. You see what I say about getting stuck? What did you really want to do? What did you really want to do that you aren’t?
I mean, it’s hard enough just trying to figure out life as a First Gen Latina. Early on, we don’t have any supporters or mentors to show us how things are done. Spending the time to learn it all on our own. It takes twice as long and there’s a lot of self-doubt built in there. And the,n there’s dealing with being torn between cultures and really torn between two different worlds, right? And really nowhere to take that unless you find another First Gen who’s been through it all.
And that’s why I started this podcast. We needed a platform to feel supported and understood in what we were going through. And it just sounds so great hearing it from these amazing women that are on this show. Even for me on this side of the mic, it’s a big sigh of relief that what I was feeling isn’t unique. It’s shared. And in that sharing community, and in that community we feel like we belong somewhere.
But adding the ‘Qué va a decir la gente?’ guilt and woooah, oof, all of that burden can become unbearable. I mean, you don’t know what to do in it. You start second guessing yourself. And again, as Joanna shared, you may even start losing yourself, your own identity from avoiding things that could come back to you from the family.
And again, what will people say? You start crossing off that, “oh, I guess I don’t like being a record album artist. I’ll be an engineer”.
And that’s what Joanna was brilliantly helping us with last week on episode 72, reminding us to step off our routine every now and then, to check in with ourselves and evaluate if we’re doing what we love or doing what would make the family and others happy.
This is so important to grasp, and a lot of you may already know this from experience, but just in case, let’s shout it out again. You just can’t endure living life for others. It’s not sustainable. It disrupts our joy and ultimately that just leads to burnout, which again, is just one more weight, a feeling of inadequacy, feeling like we fail because we’re working so hard at something we may not even enjoy.
Trying to rise to the top, trying to meet other people’s expectations only to burn out. And that alone feels like failure.
But thankfully, from last week, Joanna set us straight. She shared how she changed her reaction to failure because truly failure is just a systemic term and has nothing to do with how amazingly you are navigating two worlds at the same time. I mean, how many people have to do that? You’re doing fantastic.
These shifts, these maybe even hard stops that can be difficult to take. Well, that’s just the universe telling you it’s time to move on. It’s time to keep growing into yourself. Or, it’s time to realize you are not even on the path that is yours. You’re on that hamster wheel of expectation.
Instead, she says, don’t sit in that too long. Don’t sit in that hard stop too long. Don’t consider that failure and a need to get back to that same place on the hamster wheel.
Instead, understand why it happened to begin with. Why did the journey end there and what did you learn from your reaction to it? Did you try to start up again in the same place, more like a sideways move rather than growing forward, even though you may not have even liked it to begin?
And we get it. That’s where we hear you. Yes, of course you did. Because we are so engrained in meeting that expectation. It has become second nature to avoid making different decisions because we don’t want to answer to what will people say. But, without that threat, what would you do next that really might bring you that immense happiness?
And, in answering that question, you pick yourself up and you move into that next adventure regardless of what others may say. Because you know you’re in search of your own joy.
Take that leap of faith and go do it because you won’t be alone in it. You have this community of empathy and understanding to support you and encourage you. We have been through it ourselves. We understand like only another First Gen Latina can.
We want you to do what’s best for you. Create the new narrative of what can get left behind, what you wanna bring forward, all in the love of the culture, but in your true identity.
Are you ready? Are you ready to take that leap of faith?
In talking about leap of faith…
Cafecito shout out
As you know, I like to give shoutouts to the go-to cafecito places of our guests, as well as, ones that I discover in my constant hunt for my cafecito. Now, today’s shout out is a little different. It’s going to be extra special because I’m hoping to have Gardenia Rosales, owner of Cipota Coffee, here as a guest very soon to share how she dumped her day job, stepped off of her own hamster wheel to dive into the passion of cafecito!
So, rather than wait for her own episode, I want to share her amazing brand today so you can learn more about it before her episode comes. Cipota Coffee is an online Puerto Rican coffee company.
So, you can buy her coffee there. And this is coffee that has different sources. It’s different roast and she’s testing it all. It’s called coffee cupping. I didn’t even know. She’s like the sommelier of coffee.
You may want to start asking the places you visit if they serve Cipota Coffee because that will help Gardi, as she likes to go by, take up space in the industry. Yes, let’s help our fellow amigas take up space, no?
So, look for her information and the links to Cipota Coffee in the show notes at the bottom of the podcast description on whatever platform you’re listening to here today. And they will also be on our website at TheLnxx.com, that’s L N Double XX in today’s transcript of the episode that’s located under the transcript tab on the website.
Let’s keep growing community by sharing this podcast with your friends and family.The larger this community is, the louder our voice speaks in our true narrative, in our own words, in our own. We’re determined to take up space and be heard. So what better way to start than sharing stories that create belonging, immersed in the love of culture and identity.
Step into your truth, ladies. Ciao!
[Outro with music]