This year is my senior year at Mills. I’ll be graduating this coming May as a sociology major and journalism minor after starting in Fall 2013. I have pushed through these last few years, learning all the ins-and-outs of campus life and learning about myself too. I’ve become aware of my personality traits: what little things I do when I’m stressed or confused, what motivates me and what challenges me. What I don’t know enough about myself is my heritage and cultural identity. That’s something I need to know before I leave Mills.
The people I have surrounded myself with have taught me the importance of knowing my identity and being proud of who I am. I’ve also learned that I decide how I identify. Society can assume who I am, but no one can ever tell me who I should be or deny me of my identity. So what should I do then when I question what my identity is?
I am a third/fourth generation Mexican, and also half Salvadorian. I know a lot more about my Mexican side compared to my Salvadorian side, however I hope to learn more. I grew up with more American culture than Mexican in the household. We speak Spanish at home and have occasional tamales, enchiladas, pozole, caldo, mole, but I didn’t always feel very connected to my culture. In high school, and even here at Mills, there were peers of mine who were glowing with pride in their culture and heritage. They would always talk about a celebrity, band, food, a word, a tradition that I had heard about, but didn’t really know. My second year was when I realized I felt a huge disconnect.
Since my sophomore year, I have been trying to understand the dynamics of my identity more. Why do I feel this disconnect? Is it entirely all my own doing or have their been external factors that have led to how I feel? These are the questions that have been floating in my mind since my second year. I’ve joined Mujeres Unidas, the Latinx club at Mills College, which has been made a huge impact on how I see myself. I’ve talked to some of my close friends about how I feel so they can educate me. Slowly but surely, I am learning more about myself.
As I have learned more about myself and my heritage, I have found others who have similar feelings or situations to mine. This is why I have decided to do this series. I hope to enlighten those who are feeling lost the way I have and show that they are not alone. I know that I’m not alone now, and I know that as long as I continue to immerse myself in my culture, ask questions, and truly want to learn more, then I’ll find who I am in time to walk at commencement in May.