Advice: Job Hunting

now-hiring-signIt is absolutely horrible, it really is. It is hard and, let’s be honest, really tedious. No one wants to fill out application after application and have to buy 37 ink cartridges for the printer because you’re printing out 4507315435 copies of your resume. That being said, jobs are necessary. You can’t get away from it, but there are ways to make your life easier during the job hunt. Here are tips for job hunting, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

1.     Make sure you have a really good résumé.
Every career driven girl knows that a resume is the most important thing. Employers ask for a résumé all the time, so it’s really helpful to have one on file at all times. Make sure that you have your résumé updated so that it includes all your recent accomplishments, jobs, volunteer positions as well as current personal information.

Nothing looks more unprofessional than having typos and incorrect grammar on a résumé. After using spell check on your computer, have your parents or a teacher look it over. If you’re a college student, you can take your résumé to your university’s career center — an office that helps students with free career and interview advice.

2.  Apply everywhere.
Many upper-level jobs require some type of previous experience, and it is incredibly difficult to get a job like that without it. Now is a good time to get a head start. While it won’t sound too glamorous to say that you’re a sandwich artist at Subway, it will help you when you’re trying to get that job as an assistant chef at a classy restaurant down the line. Even if it’s not your dream job, you will pick up skills to boost your résumé and help you land your dream job in the future. For potential employment opportunities, look in your local newspapers employment section or visit websites like Monster.com and Indeed.com. Word of mouth can also be helpful, so ask your friends and teachers if they know of any job openings.

Jasmine Hansberry,19, recommends that girls try to apply to jobs that are closely related to what they are good at. ”If you are good at certain things, go after a job that you know you can work at and get promoted. For example, if you are good at talking to new people try customer service.”

Even though you are applying at several places at once, chances are you might not receive a follow-up e-mail or interview from each application. The more you apply means the greater your chances are of landing a job.

“I applied to a lot of places during the winter break and only one place called me back, but I ended up getting that job,” shares Marlett Mojica, 19.

Playing the waiting game can be stressful, but while you’re waiting make sure you practice for the next step in the job hunt: the interview.

3.     Make sure you’ve practiced for an interview.
 This is a biggie. Not only will it keep you calm but it’ll help you practice answering difficult questions like why do you want to work there and what you can contribute to the company.”Make sure you are friendly during the interview. Be nice and don’t be rude. Make sure you are honest in the interview and tell the truth… [and] say thank you for this interview at the end, ” shares Marlett.

It usually helps to have a parent, teacher or someone with a job help you practice your interviewing skills. When you get an interview, you need to make sure you are dressed professionally and be very respectful and positive during the interview.

4.     Make sure you play up your skills and talents.
 Ask your family and friends to share what they think are your biggest skills as a starting point. Are you a good writer, working with children, and meeting new people? Think about any awards you’ve won, any leadership roles you’ve held in student organizations, or any volunteer experience you have. You can use this to create a list of skills and talents to add to your résumé or mention in an interview. There isn’t anything bad with bragging about what you’re good at.  It makes you seem confident and it helps convince potential employers that you’d be really good at helping them.  Be careful though, don’t overplay it because you may run the risk of seeming cocky. Also, and this is a biggie, don’t say you have a skill you really don’t have because it can backfire.

Jasmine encourages girls to have confidence and not be afraid to step up and take the initiative to follow-up with a job application. “If there is a certain job you like, make the effort to call them. A lot of bosses will think that you really want this job and that they should give you a chance.”

Finding a job can be difficult, but always keep your head up. ”Even though it may seem hard, don’t quit. Give yourself a chance and you will find a job,” reminds Marlett.

The Big Move: Living with a Roommate

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

Photo Credit: Studentuniverse.com

The fall semester is around the corner, and many nervous college freshmen are anxiously waiting to take the next big step of moving away for college.Whether you’ve shared a room at home or will be sharing for the first time this upcoming fall semester, transitioning to living with a roommate is a big change that requires some adjusting of your daily routine, maturity, and ability to compromise.

What to expect if you’re rooming random

Moving away from home is a big step, and, most likely, you might be moving to a college with little to no friends or family close by. Every college has a “roommate matching” process, which is an automatic system that pairs you up with another student living in your dorm based on a questionnaire. This assigned roommate might be in your same year, and most schools will ask you about grade level, how late you stay up and how early you go to bed, your social activity (how likely you are to bring guests, if you’re thinking about pledging greek life, etc.), and your preferred room temperature (for dorms that have their own thermostat in each room). The system will then “consider” these factors during the matching process. However, you are not guaranteed to end up with someone who answered these questions the same as you. You also have the option to put a “roommate preference”, but, again, it’s not guaranteed you will end up with someone you prefer. However, there are ways to room random that will make for an okay living situation.

Having an assigned roommate is a learning experience. Be prepared to adjust to living with a completely different personality. The system may think that you two are compatible, but sometimes personalities will clash. When rooming with someone you have never met or know, it can be difficult to decide which issues are meant to be further addressed and which are not issues at all.

“I used the roommate finder [for my school] and met a girl,”22 year old Brittany Golden said. “We hung out a few times to make sure we were compatible.”

Some may not as lucky as Brittany, and there are a fair share of roommate horror stories out there. Don’t be afraid, not all random roommate situations turn out bad. One useful thing to know about rooming random is to try to understand the other person’s point of view. For example, if your roommate does something you consider unethical or rude, your roommate may not even see it as a problem. With that being said, if it really is a big issue, it’s important to let your roommate know in a way that it does not appear you are attacking her.

Establishing boundaries with a roommate

When sharing a room with someone else you’re bound to have some conflict because, even though you’re no longer with your parents, you are still living with someone else’s standards and boundaries. It’s important for you and your roommate to establish boundaries in order to avoid conflict in the future. For example, if you are absolutely not okay with friends staying the night in your room, it is important to let your roommate know instead of waiting for the day you come home to a stranger three feet from your bed. Yikes!

“We made list of things we liked and disliked,” Golden said. “We’re still friends today.”

When you establish boundaries you will also need to be ready to make compromises. For example, if you love staying up late and blasting your music, chances are you will need to turn it down. Not only will it annoy your roommate, unless you both like to do this, but in a dorm it will lead to noise complaints and be paid a not-so-lovely visit from your RA (Resident Assistant). The key to a successful living arrangement with anyone is communication, but there will be times when boundaries and compromise are not enough to avoid conflict.

Handling conflict with a roommate

Pick and choose your battles. Ask yourself: “Is the issue I’m having effecting the both of us or effecting me in a big way? Is it in compliance with housing policies?” These are important things to consider before confronting your roommate. While it’s important to be an adult and confront an issue, it’s also important to make sure the issue is really an issue before having heated discussions with your roommate.

Using the “It’s ‘we’ not ‘you’” statement can help resolve conflict. For example, if your roommate is leaving their laundry everywhere, saying something like: “It’s important that we respect each other and the room in compliance with housing policies and maintain its cleanliness and odor” sounds less defensive than saying “You’re a disgusting slob! Pick up your mess!” When phrased with a “we” attitude, it addresses that you have an issue, but in a way that the benefit of fixing the issue is not just for you, but for the both of you. Highlighting mutual benefits can be a great way to help your roommate see how something can be a problem.

Living with a roommate is a learning experience, but, in the end, you’ll find out more about yourself. You might even wind up becoming best friends with your new roomie!

Do’s and Don’ts on Throwing a Grad Party

Photo Credit: Partycity.com

Photo Credit: Partycity.com

For the month of May and June, calendars are full of graduation ceremonies and celebrations. When it comes to planning your own graduation party, it can be a little hectic for some party planners. ”I try throwing a party every now and then, but something just isn’t right-  some of my friends have fun and some don’t. I want everyone to have fun and everyone to say what a great host I am,but I need help to make it extra fun,” said Bailey, 18.

Like Bailey, Jane feels stressed when it comes to throwing parties.

“I always try throwing a party, but somehow it always gets ruined. I get really insecure about the people in my home. I am always in the lookout of something breaking, or of someone getting hurt,so most of the time I don’t even have fun because of how much I am worrying about it. I just want to have real fun without over thinking every little detail my friends do,” said Jane, 17.

Throwing a graduation party takes a lot of planning, but, with a little help from Latinitas, planning a party can be stress-free. But where should you start? Here are some Do’s and Dont’s for throwing your very own graduation party.

Do’s

Make sure to invite people that you can trust, because your real friends wouldn’t disrespect your home or your rules; always stay positive and have an upbeat attitude. Don’t rely on everyone else to be upbeat, smile, jump around, laugh, have a great time, it’s your graduation night!

Food

A good party always has some sort of food, not a whole meal where you have to cook, but snacks that you know the majority of people like. Everyone loves free food, especially if it’s something they like. Throw in some chips, a salsa or dip, maybe some wings of different flavors, some nachos,  or even pizza; you want to make something that will be fast and tasty, nothing that will make too much of a mess. Make sure to use paper plates and cups so that you don’t have to worry about washing dirty dishes!

Music

Always have upbeat music at the party! Try creating a playlist beforehand to avoid different music you don’t like to play. If you love Spotify and Pandora for a quick playlist, put them on hold in order to prevent the ads from breaking up the fun atmosphere! Everyone is at your party to have fun, so keep it upbeat! Putting instrumental music or slow music will make it seem like it’s a prom. Lively music will make your party a hit!

 Theme

Try choosing a theme to the party so everyone can dress up accordingly. Plus, having a theme can make the party seem more entertaining.  For example, a Hawaiian theme can lead to people wearing hay skirts, flowered patterns, etc. A themed or costume party means people can show off their creativity or wear their favorite costume.  If having a themed or costume party is not your thing, that’s okay!

Don’ts

Angry Neighbors

If you are throwing this party at your house, make sure to tell your neighbors you’re going to have some friends over and if they have a problem to call your cellphone. Your neighbors will appreciate your initiative to take action when your friends are laughing a little too loud. Being the “noisy” neighbor may lead to a neighbor reporting you for noise complaints. Avoid having to shut down your party by keeping the noise and music level to tolerable level.  If you can’t hear yourself think, then the party might be a little too loud.

Rules

Having a few house rules, like not going into your parent’s bedroom or touching your mom’s fancy and expensive decoration or painting, is normal, but having too many or outrageous rules can ruin the fun atmosphere — like yelling at a friend for not putting a hand towel in the right place. Unless your guests are disrespecting your home or one another, relax and have fun! Don’t think something bad is going to happen, be positive.

No One is Alone

Don’t let your friends wander around your home looking for the restroom, instead lead the way to the restroom in order to avoid them getting into the wrong room. Talk to everyone, it’s your party, your house, don’t exclude anyone out. Make conversation with everyone, don’t let everyone hanging. Come up with ice breakers to break the tension or come up with small talk about  at anything you can think of –the new movie that just came out, how they feel of being done with school, where they are going to college, etc. — be creative, be friendly, and be yourself!

Not too many Do’s and Dont’s to remember, but make sure to simply be yourself at your party. People will love your party and they’ll want you to throw more; don’t be worried about anything, just have a good time and be friendly with others.

Honoring Motherly Figures

Latinitas Austin - Parent and Daughter Workshop

Latinitas Austin – Parent and Daughter Workshop

Mother’s Day is the day you go above and beyond to support, spoil, and go over the top to find the perfect gift for your mom. You tell your mom you love her, you tell her things you don’t tell her every day, the same things, year after year. For some people, this is an exciting and a happy day, but for others, it’s a bittersweet feeling. For some, a motherly figure is sometimes not even a woman.

Some girls experience the love of a mother for a temporary amount of time and only have one person to look up to. “I still have a mother, but she left when I was only 8 years old. I have siblings, but they all live in different cities and I’m not as close to them. They’re much older than I am, and it’s only my dad and I. When it’s Mother’s Day, I don’t feel mad, but I also don’t feel happy. I sometimes do feel sad, because I really have no feminine guidance or help,” said Stephanie, 23. She grew up on her own, went through a girl’s passage to a lady on her own, with no one but her dad to look up to.

“But I love my dad, and he goes beyond what I ask for him, only to make sure I’m well. I wouldn’t trade him for anything or anyone, he might not be my mom, but he’s much more; he’s both parents,” Stephanie added. Although she no longer has her mother, she still feels secure and happy with her own motherly figure, her father.

Even though Stephanie went through harsh times, she always knew she could count on her dad, and doesn’t hold grudges against her mom for not being there. She considers her dad as both parents because he has been trying to play both roles throughout her life.

Other girls have experienced a great loss of their mother, but still feel close despite her passing. “I lost my mom 2 years ago. I loved her with all my heart, and it completely destroyed me when she left, but I know she’s in a happier place now. When Mother’s Day comes, I don’t feel sad. My family and I still wish her a happy Mother’s Day, and we still appreciate everything she ever did for us,” said Maria, 19. Although Maria lost her mom when she was 17 years old, she still takes flowers to her mom, she still talks to her, and she knows her mother is watching out and taking care of her.

“Before I go to bed I like to talk to her about my day. I ask her for help when I need it, and sometimes I even feel her hugging me when I’m sad,” Maria added. She knows she isn’t physically with her anymore, but even then they still have a close relationship. Maria still thinks her mom is with her, even if it is only by spirit, because she feels a strong bond that unites her and her mom.

While certain girls have the privilege to have been raised by their own mother, some didn’t get the chance to ever meet their own mother. “I never met my mother. I’ve seen her in pictures though, and she was beautiful. I was raised by my grandma, and I consider her my mother. I know she’s always there if I need anything. During Mother’s Day, I celebrate my grandmother, even with her age, she took me in and gave me everything and much more, even when she couldn’t. I look up to her, she is my motherly figure,” said Andrea, 20.

We all have different stories, some are similar, but none are the same. A mother is irreplaceable, and some play the role wonderfully. Even though some people have gone through roller coasters of feelings, they always have that one person to look up to when they’re feeling down. Make sure you say thank you, not just during Mother’s Day, and show them how much you appreciate what they do for you, a mother, a father, your own motherly figure.

Advice: BFF and Boyfriend Woes

art pieceLatinitas received questions from our readers asking for advice.

What can I do when my friend is trying to take away my friends? And sometimes I get so mad I want to hit the girl that tried to take my friends away, what can I do?

The important thing to do is to always stay calm. First, try talking to the girl that wants to take your friends, tell her that what she is doing is making you feel sad and alone, maybe she doesn’t realize what she is doing. If your friends go with her and leave you by yourself then they’re not your real friends. You can meet new people and make new friends, don’t get mad over things you have the capability of fixing, you can have better friends and be happier with them.

My friend just moved to another city recently. We promised we would call each other and keep in touch, but lately she hasn’t called or even texted. I miss her very much but I don’t want to force her to talk to me or bug her. What do I do?

I know you miss her and you want to talk to them as much as possible, but maybe they’ve been busy lately. Think about it, she moved to a whole different city, with different people, different schools, and different everything. She has to get used to it and change her life to adjust to her new one. Give her some time, she will come around, it isn’t easy changing your life style from one day to the next. Be patient with her, I am sure that she will call or text you soon, if she doesn’t just send her a friendly text or call on how she is doing and why she lost touch with you.

What should I do about one of my friends who I feel isn’t being a true and honest person? They’re not a bad person, it’s just certain things they do that makes me question their character.

Talk to your friend and tell them how you feel, I’m sure they would appreciate you being honest with them, maybe they don’t want to do those bad things, maybe they’re being forced, talk with them and tell them they can count on you. Let them know you’re there for them; make them realize the way they’re behaving isn’t right. Don’t be afraid to speak up to them, and try approaching them carefully, calmly, and patiently in case they get anxious or hostile.

My boyfriend changes a lot, and his attitude is disrespectful and when we broke up he was super sweet. Should I end it or should I see if he comes around?

First of all, a boy should never be disrespectful to you, it shouldn’t be done. When you were together he didn’t treat you right, and when you broke up he decided to treat you nice only for you to fall for his lies so you would get back together with him and so he could keep treating you with disrespect. If he did it once, there is a slight chance he will do it again, don’t go back to him, find someone else, there are plenty of fish in the sea and you don’t want that mean fish.

Street Harassment

Written by Rebecca Jackson

Latinas and women around the world are thinking creatively about ending street harassment. From sharing their experiences online, to writing poetry and taking photographs of their harassers, women and girls are doing their part to put an end to the fear and intimidation.

What is street harassment?

StopStreetHarassment-2Street harassment is just a new name for an age-old experience: women and girls receiving unwanted comments or gestures from strangers (mostly men) in public. In a 2010 study, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control identified street harassment as “harassing the victim in a public place in a way that made the victim feel unsafe.” Unfortunately, street harassment happens to ladies of all ages living all over the world. Gabi Deal-Marquez, 23,  recalls that, “catcalls have been a part of my life, a part of growing up as long as I can remember.” In the United States 33.7% of women will experience street harassment in their lifetime. The percentage is even higher for Latinas, 36.1% of whom will experience street harassment. Internationally, studies have shown that anywhere from 70% to 95.5% of women living outside of the U.S will experience street harassment in their lifetime.

Women Fighting Back

While the statistics are bleak, Latina responses to street harassment provide practical guidance on living with street harassment and inspiration for ending it entirely. “Early on I was taught by my mother to keep my eyes open, know where you’re going, look street smart,” says Deal-Marquez. Jocelyn Cardona, 21, shared her techniques for dealing with street harassment, “I want to feel safe when I am walking. Sometimes I would make a funny face or ask them to mind their own business. . . Now I walk down the street and the expression on my face is hard, cold, and unwelcoming.”

While many women can share their methods for avoiding street harassment, it is important to know that street harassment, and sexual violence of all kinds, is never the fault of the victim and always the fault of the person doing the harassing.

Lauri Valerio, 23, shares that “To me [street harassment] represents a power struggle. It seems that when I am cat called or shouted at on the street, or when someone makes those gross kissing noises, it has nothing to do with how hot or not I am and everything to do with the fact that I look vaguely female from where the harasser is standing.” Street harassment is about men displaying power over women and it is unacceptable. Valerio went on to say that “talking about it, for now, may be my main way to find comfort and solidarity and put up a little fight against it.”

The power of talking about street harassment is the founding principle behind Hollaback! “a non-profit and movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 64 cities and 22 countries.” Research by Hollaback! shows that responding to street harassment, instead of ignoring it, can help women ward-off feelings of isolation and powerlessness. Writing about your experiences, taking a picture of your harasser on your cell phone, and even giving you harasser a pointed glare can help minimize trauma. The organization provides a forum online for women to share their experiences with street harassment, enjoy international solidarity around the issue, and brainstorm ways to end street harassment for good.

Artist Hannah Price uses her camera to respond to street harassers. Price takes photographs of them after they call to her on the street. Price shared with NPR that, “just turning the photograph on them kind of gives them a feel of what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position — it’s just a different dynamic,” Price says. “But it’s just another way of dealing with the experience, of trying to understand it.”

Overcoming Street Harassment

Whatever their age or location, women are taking inspiring and innovative approaches to making  the street a more welcoming place for all of us. You can be a part of that change! Remember that street harassment is never your fault! If you encounter street harassment don’t be afraid to share your experience with Hollaback! or a trusted adult. Older women especially will likely understand your experience and offer you support.  Walking in public in a group may help you feel less threatened if someone yells at you on the street. If your harasser is someone you know report the incident to a trusted family member or teacher. If someone you know is harassing someone else, challenge their behavior if you feel safe doing so. Ask them if they understand how their actions impact others. Tell them it isn’t funny and make your disapproval clear.

Love Knows No Boundaries

Modernization has pioneered interracial relationships. The 1967 Supreme Court Case Loving v. Virginia overturned the illegality of mixed race relationships. However, in such a modern world, how does culture influence the dating game?

Vietnamese-American student, Tiffany Vo has been in a relationship with her boyfriend, Jesus Urzua since they met in high school for over three years. Urzua identifies as Mexican-American.

Both Vo and Urzua say their relationship is more acceptable to the outside world, considering the United States’ history. “I think society has definitely grown to accept it more and more,” said Vo.  Urzua added, “But not every single person is accepting of it.”

Vo’s family values have affected her relationship. “My parents holding such strong traditional Vietnamese values, they only accept him as a close friend, even though I have made it quite obvious that he is a lot more than that,” said Vo. To this day, Vo says that her family does not consider Urzua her boyfriend.

Urzua said that his family however, is more open to his first interracial relationship despite cultural or racial barriers. “There is definitely a language barrier with her parents and I, and also between my parents and Tiffany,” said Urzua.

Dating, however, is different than marriage. Colombian native, Elizabeth Maker has been married for 12 years to her U.S. born, white husband. Maker and her husband met in Bogota, Colombia.

Two different countries mean compromise. “My religion is Catholicism. When we started our relationship, he was not involved at all in my Catholic Parish,” said Maker. She added that the difficulty of the situation changed as he learned to practice her religion.

Maker’s first and only interracial relationship also results in language barrier. It is a feat overcome by combining each other’s culture into a Colombo-American life.

As diverse as cultures are from one another, couples are capable of learning much from their partner. “I have learned a great deal about partner communication in these past couple of years,” said Vo. Urzua added that his commitment to Vo has taught him a lot about relationships and has given him the pleasure to explore a different culture, while sharing his too.

“[A relationship] changes you point of view of what works in the world and realize each human is equal,” Maker said, “I am happy and lucky to have this cultural marriage… and grow as a human being.”

Relationships may face problems over race, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. In any case, there are times where a person has to choose between their traditional family values and partners.

“In my opinion, society sees interracial relationships as normal situations because we are living in a different time with a more open mind,” said Maker, “I had a very private life with my husband when we started our relationship.” For that reason, Maker says she never felt criticized.

Vo says her family is very traditional and claims she chooses her boyfriend over traditional family values. “It’s a real struggle, but it’s worth it.” She says she realizes that in the future, she will have to abide by her parents “guidelines on what guys to date and which career to pursue.”

Who a person dates may be highly influenced by their culture. While some know that they will face cultural barriers, in the most cliché of terms love overcomes anything. For now they are happily committed to a person of a different race.

To Your (Mental) Health!

Girls JumpingHave you ever felt really, really bad but worried that if you told someone, they just might not understand? That they might totally miss the point, overreact, or, even worse, not react at all? As teenage girls, we go through a ton of changes in a short period of time. As Latinas in the United States, we face the added pressure of having to navigate and satisfy different cultural expectations and social pressures.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, it is projected that up to 46% of Latina women  in the US have experienced or will experience clinical depression (NAMI). Satisfying varied cultural and gender expectations while constantly feeling “different”  is certainly not easy, and can sometimes make us feel overwhelmed, lost, anxious and sad. Sometimes these feelings are fleeting, lasting only a few days, but sometimes difficult feelings can linger…and linger….and linger.

Unfortunately, there are people who will tell you to just “snap out of it,” as if at the flick of a wrist your emotional clouds will disappear behind happy rainbows and unicorns. Others might tell you to simply “get over it.”  As if.

Time for Help?
It is true that sometimes we just have some good old teenage angst.  And yes, sometimes we do overreact. For example, your crush going on a date with your frenemy is not the end of the world (even though it feels like it). Neither is being grounded for a weekend. But sometimes feelings go beyond regular troubles. Maybe your parents recently divorced or you feel lonely at school. Maybe you lost a loved one. Maybe you worry about everything so much that you cannot do anything.

Lucia Schmidt, 23, confides “sometimes I get so anxious at school that I just go in circles, paralyzed, feeling worse and worse. I cannot seem to accomplish any amount of productivity. On a good day, I can conquer my anxiety. On a bad day, I fall into an attack of sweats, shortened breath, and loss of emotional control” (known commonly as a panic attack). It is important to recognize at which point emotional stress exceeds healthy levels.

Sometimes we get so low and stressed that we need help coping with our feelings. This is the time to consider talking to a trusted adult. This person can be a parent, a teacher, a school counselor, or perhaps a psychologist. A psychologist is a professional trained to help you work through hard times. A psychologist specializes in mental health care, and your school counselor can probably recommend one to you (and help you find the most affordable—even free—options).

Gabriela Mendoza, 19, is grateful that she was encouraged to seek professional help.  ”It is so comforting to have a knowledgeable, unbiased person to talk to. I feel like I can truly unload my stresses and fears. My therapist helps me untangle my emotions and develop ways to handle emotionally difficult situations.”

It is neither weird nor bad to need and seek help. The hormones of adolescence, stress of school, and social pressures can make times feel pretty tough. You are not alone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. On the contrary, kudos for recognizing that something is getting in the way of you being your absolute most fabulous self!  Asking for help shows not only great maturity, but that you want to live the healthiest, happiest life possible. Cheers!

You Are Never Alone
Feelings can be pretty tricky to talk about. It is normal (though unnecessary) to feel shy when talking about the inner workings of your mind and heart. Don’t beat yourself up if the right words seem hard to find, and never think a particular feeling is weird or bad—if you have felt it, so have millions of others, and you can be sure any psychologist or counselor knows exactly what you are talking about. In fact, amongst your friends and family you are almost guaranteed to find someone who has at some point struggled with a similar feeling. Unfortunately, not everyone acknowledges his or her emotional struggles. Not only is this unhealthy, this contributes to a culture of denial and poor mental health. Be patient with yourself, open up to a trusted person, and afford yourself the emotional care and space you need in order to be your happiest self.

Mental health is perhaps the most overlooked yet most important aspect of our overall wellbeing. You, querida amiga, deserve the best in this world. In order to lead the most fun, fulfilling, and fabulous life possible you need to take great care of your entire self: body, heart, and mind.

Dealing with Depression

Whether you have been feeling blue for a week or for a couple of months, you are not alone when it comes to dealing with a constant feeling of sadness. Fighting depression is a tough battle for many Latinas, but there is hope for those feeling under the weather.

DSC_0057

What is depression?

Depression is not just stress. According to PubHealth.com, clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer. According to “Understanding depression,” an article published by Harvard Health Publications, depression is more complex than a chemical imbalance in our brains. It is believed to be caused by a combination of faulty regulation of chemicals in the brain, stressful events, genetics, medication, or medical problems.

Anyone can be affected

Anna is a Latina teen dealing with depression. “I remember my frustration with my parents as a teen. My friends were going through the same problems. Yet, I began isolating myself and pushing them away.”  Anna’s life is different than from her friends. Her father has gone through cancer treatment, her brother is currently serving time in jail, and her mother lives in Guatemala after being deported. Although she smiles each day as she is around friends, Anna hides her suffering and sadness, claiming it is merely the stress all teens experience.

According WebMD, certain types of depression can be hereditary, meaning depression can run in the family. Yet, depression can occur if you have no family history of depression. Depression is not limited to adults, it happens to children and adolescents as well. The US Department for Human Services reports that Hispanic students (12.8%) are significantly more likely than White, Non-Hispanic or Black Non-Hispanic students (6.7% and 7.3%) to attempt suicide. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2007 report found  Latinas suffer the most from this culture clash. The report states “Hispanic female high school students in grades 9-12 reported a higher percentage of suicide attempts (14.0%) than their White, non-Hispanic (7.7%) or Black counterparts.”

Symptoms

MedlinePlus explains that depression can change the way you perceive yourself, your life, and others. Those diagnosed with depression usually see everything with a more negative attitude. They have difficulties imagining a positive solution to a problem. A depressed person feels agitation, restlessness, and irritability. They become withdrawn and isolate themselves. They often describe lacking the ability to concentrate, lacking energy and have a feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, worthlessness, self-hate, and guilt. Depression can also cause trouble sleeping or too much sleeping. In extreme cases, depression can lead to thoughts of death or suicide.

A Lack of Understanding

Wendy Gonzalez, 19, shared her experience with chronic depression. “I told my parents that I had chronic depression and my dad responded with a ‘Tu no tienes nada.’ He said I didn’t have anything and that it was all a product of my fast paced life. I lived a fast paced life in order for me to not be so aware of my emotions,” Gonzalez said.

Depression can result from cultures clashing. As these two cultures share different values, a lack of understanding between parent and child develops.

Remember, depression is temporary. You are not alone; follow these tips in order to kick depression to the curb.

1. Add an Energy Boost to Your Diet

The first step in feeling better is to focus on taking care of yourself. Adopt a healthy food diet that contains quality nutrients. This means adding whole foods, fruits and veggies, and healthy fats to your diet. Eating junk food can make you feel weak and sluggish, while eating properly will give you the energy boost to get moving. Adding structure to your meals and eating at same times each day can help you avoid overeating or skipping meal. Being healthy also means being active. A healthy exercise routine of 60 minutes three times a day is helpful when combating depression. Take a walk around your neighborhood with a parent, pet or friend.

 2. Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

This may be a no brainer, but to some drugs and alcohol present themselves as tempting mood boost. Reality check: those boosts are only temporary and will cause more damage than you think. Not only do drugs and alcohol damage your body, the use can also increase suicidal feelings once their effects fade. Additionally, drug and alcohol use can lead to addiction, which can also worsen your depression. While people often use drugs and alcohol to forget their troubles because it temporarily relieves their anxiety and relaxes them, this habit can develop into alcohol or drug abuse once the individual becomes dependent on the “boost.” The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that teens with depression are twice as likely as those who are not depressed to start drinking alcohol.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

There are many forms of help out there. One common form are self help books varying from guidance published by professionals, scientific explanations of depression published by scientists, or collections of inspiring stories of people who have overcome their own depression. “Before I learned that I had chronic depression I got to a point that I did not know what to do anymore…My therapist recommended a book called The Mindful Way Through Depression,” explains Wendy Gonzalez. Do not be shy to talk to your school counselor or therapist; you will not be judged for your actions and these are professional people that can help your fears and frustrations, as well as give you the contact information of a psychiatrist to get you some therapy or medication.

  4. Catch Those Z’s

Make sure you are get enough sleep. When feeling depressed, 8 hours simply isn’t enough. Attempt to sleep early by removing distractions like TV, laptops and cellphones. Sleeping will help you think clearly and give you energy. Experts say sleep disorders could be the hidden cause of depression among the youth. A study presented by Dorothy Bruck at the Australian Psychological Society’s inaugural Health Psychology Conference  found that about one in ten women between 21 and 25 years old  experienced recurring problems sleeping, but otherwise had no symptoms of mental illness. But nine years later, those women were four to five times more likely than others in the study to be diagnosed with depression.

 5. Acknowledge and Share your Feelings

  “It’s a process of being mindful of our feelings,” explains Wendy Gonzalez. “When I started feeling depressed I acknowledged how I feel. I’d say: Okay, yes, I am feeling sad…unfortunately this sadness may never go away and I can’t sit here all my life, so why not try and do something more entertaining,” she adds.  Opening up to a trusted adult or friend can help reduce the feeling of loneliness. Find a way to express your emotions because it is not healthy keeping them bottled up. Instead write music, paint, or write in your journal.

6. Don’t Isolate Yourself

Remember to keep your friends close because there is someone there who wants to help you. When you want to give up, keep pushing yourself to move forward. A helpful way to accomplish that is by continuing to do those things you enjoy and never fear getting help. It may be difficult seeing an end to your depression, but through therapy, medication, or a combination of both, your depression can stop. Lack of communication is a severe problem with those suffering from depression because they have so much going on inside. It is best to deal with your problems than having to deal with depression longer than necessary.

With the high statistics of depression, you are not alone. There is hope to fighting the blues, but it starts with taking the first step. Even if it is a small step, it is the step in the right direction.

Divided by Two Cultures

A major part of our identity is shaped by how culture shapes lives. Growing up we learn about cultura through our family and incorporate them into our own identity; our cultura brings us orgullo. People learn about the amazing and vibrant multicultural aspects of the country, whether it is through daily interaction or media exposure. One topic connected with culture is assimilation. 

What is Assimilation?

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In 2004, the Pew Hispanic Center found assimilation is “now broadly accepted as a way to describe the ways that immigrants and their off spring change as they come in contact with their host society.”

While mamá y papá may seem traditional and old school, assimilation is used to describe the changes the second, third, etc. generation Hispanics experience when we start to re-think nuestra cultura.

On the topic of assimilation and different generations, Kayleig Wade, a Chicano Studies major at Santa Monica College, says ”I am pretty assimilated, my sister is pretty assimilated, and that sucks. I wish [my mom] didn’t have to do that to feel that she’s successful in this country. Our generation’s parents’ decision to assimilate is affecting our generation in more negative ways they intended to.”

Kayleigh shares her mother’s experience with assimilation and how it has caused her to seek out and learn about her roots.

“[My mother] hates the fact that she still has an accent. She [says] ‘I don’t feel like I am taken seriously.’ She goes through a lot. She has a huge internal conflict because of the whole assimilation thing, because she’s here–she’s a successful teacher, she has a white name, she looks white,” Kayleigh says about her mother. “I don’t wanna be like that at all. I don’t wanna feel like they do,” she says.

What happens when our cultura is shunned and turns into negative stereotypes? Some tension and confusion may arise if people from different cultures are unable to understand each other. Think about a situation that includes people from two different cultural groups. People from the first group may only see people from the second group through the narrow lens of a stereotype or a set of stereotypes.

Effects of Stereotypes

This causes another confusing conflict, one that consists of a person carefully trying not to fit the definition of the negative stereotype. Claude Steele, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Education, states that “to remedy the situation, you cannot have homogeneity*; you must have diversity to create excellence.” Discrimination happens when people are labeled as the “Other.”

In some cases, the younger generation becomes self-conscious of the stereotypes assigned to their culture through the process of assimilation.

Internal Struggle

Natalia Toscano, saw a clear connection between a quote from the Zapatista movement and cultural dilemmas.

“‘Vivir en mundo donde quepan muchos mundos.’ One world in which many worlds fit–that’s what we should strive for. We’re all the same, yet we are all different. As individuals, we have our experiences that shape and mold us. Multiple cultures make up someone. That’s why I have a hard time figuring out what assimilation is. I think that’s why we have a hard time defining what [assimilation] is because what is it really? What culture are we really assimilating to? Is it that we are assimilating because we are not accepting a culture that we are supposed to be coming from? Is it because of skin color? My skin color is supposed to define [how] I’m supposed to act or how I should act and what I should believe in?”

Americans can learn to live in a positive and healthy environment that fosters equality and a complex national identity. As intelligent beings, we do not have to put aside our differences and instead celebrate the vibrant culturas that are present in the U.S. We are unique human beings and our identities cannot be completely reshaped to fit a one-size fits all perspective.

*Homogeneity: Sameness throughout, and therefore lacking variety.

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