Driven By Emotions

It can seem like life is a rollercoaster of emotions with feelings like anger, sadness, fear and nervousness. You may feel like one day you’re up with happiness, the next you find yourself feeling down. Millions of things and situations can make us feel all sorts of emotions and these include bad emotions too. Have you ever done something you regret doing because perhaps you were too busy thinking about what you were feeling and not about the consequences? It is important to make sure that emotions are you not driving you to bad decisions.
Making Bad Decisions
Mariana Govea, age 17,  got an injury on her knee. She recalls how she felt upset, angry and scared and all these emotions led to bad decision making. “The moment I got hurt I was very upset and angry at myself for the fact that I knew I had hurt myself really bad. At the moment, I was very angry and I was kind of scared of telling my mom that I had hurt my knee. So I kept it for a while and I did not tell my parents and unfortunately that led to me injuring myself even more.  I think that if I would of actually express my feelings to my mom, told her what had happened and not let myself get driven by the anger and fear, that wouldn’t have happened to me.”Sisters Mariana and Fernanda Gutierrez, ages 14 and 11, tell similar stories where they both lied when they got taken over by emotions.

“There was this time where my friends were like trying to joke around,” said Mariana. “They were saying that they wanted to have a sleepover and they didn’t technically invite me so that kind of got me angry so I told them I was also going to go to a sleepover party even though I lied to them.”

“I lied to one of my friends that I was going to go somewhere with them and I ended up not going and they got really mad at me,” added Fernanda. “I lied to them because I had a lot of things to do. I had homework and a project coming up that had to involve a book report I had to read over the summer. I couldn’t do anything else, I felt stressed and pressured on.”

Hiding certain things from others or lying to people are very common things to do when you are driven by fear anger or stress. You may do it in order to not upset others or as a way to defend yourself. Yet remember that these decisions can end up being worse and at the end you may end up doing just that, hurting someone else of even yourself.

Once the emotions wear off you probably find yourself  wishing you hadn’t done what you just did. When you’re stuck in this situation there are two things to do. First, think of any way that you can fix the situation. A great example is apologizing. When you know you hurt someone’s feelings without intending too, taking responsibility for your own actions and mistakes shows that you are responsible and that you care for that other person. Hey, everybody makes mistakes, what counts is how you react to them.

Avoid Bad Decisions

Once you’ve apologized there’s one more thing to do. Reflect on what just happened. What a mess right? It is now time to think of how you can avoid all of this from happening again. Think about what steps you can take next time to avoid making the wrong decisions when you’re rushing with emotions.

Jeanette Ortiz, Mariana Govea and Bianca Castrejan give some advice on what to do before acting on impulse and making wrong decisions.

“Stop. Breath and take a minute to think before you act,” shared Jeanette Ortiz, age 24.

“Think about what you’re actually doing because if you don’t stop and listen to what your doing you can commit something that you might regret later and might actually turn worse than how it would of been if you actually took the time to pay attention to what’s going on,” shared Mariana Govea, age 17. “Feelings are just feelings and they can go away if you know how to handle them.”

“The best thing is to try to calm yourself down.When you’re full of emotions it’s hard to think at that certain moment but I think it’s better to just leave the situation and take the time to calm down and once you’ve calm down then you can address the problem that you had,” added Bianca Castrejon, age 24.

Emotions can be controlling and sometimes they can lead to making the wrong decisions. So the next time you are being driven by one of  these emotions just…stop, take a breather and take a minute to think before you act!

Check One: Hispanic, Latina, or Spanish

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In the wake of new and upcoming presidential debates, we are preparing ourselves to hear candidates’ proposals on improving our nation for the people who calls it home. The issues are broadly ranged, discussing topics such as healthcare, education, reproductive rights, and, of course, immigration.

It’s no surprise that the subject of immigration – which is somehow mostly referenced to Latinos – are going to be brought to the debate table in both negative and positive perspectives. It’s inevitable. However, there are perhaps a few simple adjustments every political party should make in their choice of wording regardless of their position on immigration. One of these vocabulary cautionaries includes attaching the description “illegal” and using derogatory stereotypes to purposely dehumanize us.

In this article, we will be talking about another flawed system of categorization when it comes to Latinos that is made by politicians and even Latinos themselves. It’s the difference between the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish.

First, let’s review the difference according to their dictionary definition:

Hispanic – “of or relating to Spain or to Spanish-speaking countries, especially those of Latin America; A Spanish-speaking person living in the US, especially one of Latin American descent.”

Latino/a – “a person of Latin American origin or descent.”

Spanish – “the people of Spain; the Romance language of most of Spain and of much of Central and South America and several other countries.”

In a simpler explanation, we are not all Hispanic. Brazilians, who are Latino/as, are not a primarily Spanish-speaking country, but Portuguese-speaking. It is also important to note that not everyone of a Spanish-speaking country necessarily speaks Spanish. A lot of indigenous civilians converse in their native language. And for those of us who speak Spanish, we are still not Spanish. To be Spanish only means if you are a person of Spain. Since Spanish people obviously speaks Spanish, they are Hispanic, but they are not Latino/a because Spain is located in Europe.

This should be a vital observation. Every September, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, but porque “Hispanic”? Why are we disqualifying Brazilians from this annual celebration when Hispanic Heritage Month is not celebrated by the Spanish either? Is it because the term Hispanic is automatically assumed to coincide with Latinos? Is that wrong?

An experiment was recently conducted in a video by Peruvian and Columbian Youtube personality Kat Lazo. She displayed three different Latinas in pictures to the people of New York, asking them which one is Latina. The Afro-Latina was least likely to be chosen as the Latina. After, Kat Lazo asked the participants if they knew the difference between Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish. Spoiler Alert: most of them didn’t.

However, commenters brought another perspective to the discussion of terms. Many argue the labels are only important in the US, and the confusion wouldn’t of occurred if it wasn’t for European colonization. This is why several people of Latin America with indigenous roots are starting to reject the labels ‘Hispanic’ or even ‘Latino’.

And the various terms do for the most part complicate us. Latinos are united, but we are definitely not duplicates. We are not a race. Some of us are Indigenous, White, Black, Asian, or a mix of some (or all!). It is important to remember that each heritage and culture is unique.

What are your opinions, chicas? What do you describe yourself as? Are labels important to you? Let us know in the comments down below!

The “Perfect” Fit

As the years go by some might remember things of the past, such as technology or fashion, as in the case of young girls. For some, they might remember wearing chokers or wide-cut jeans with with the baby doll shirt, etc.

But now, the girls of today are noticing a trend when they go shopping for clothes and find more revealing fashion trends.

“I definitely felt pressured to dress more provocative when I shopped for clothes as a freshman,”  says Bailee Ortiz, now an incoming sophomore.

As young teenage girls get older they are pressured to look perfect by society. This occurs when young freshman girls in high school attempt to look older in order to fit in. This can be daunting for them as the transition to the ‘big kids school’ means entering young adulthood. Such mind set can be negatively damaging for girls as they can develop mental and physical health problems, such as: depression and  eating disorders.

“The outfits found in clothing stores today are so much more ‘out there’ than what I was used to. All of the current trends are everywhere that you cannot escape it without scavenging other stores,” shares Amelia Guitérrez, 16.

Fashion designs for older teen girls have indeed been steadily targeted to younger consumers. According to a survey by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, found that 95% of students with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.8.  This shows the negative effects of advertising where young girls are so afraid of not looking like the images in the media, that they turn to harmful methods to please society.

“I just finished shopping for clothes,” said freshman bound Lily Estévez. “Most major clothing stores have these displays of current trends-which I don’t like- and it was really hard to find simple shirts that at least had the back fabric sewn on.”

Many girls are fighting back against this by ignoring pressures from society and the media.

“I fight back by purchasing clothes that I am comfortable in,” says 14 year old Leslie Muñoz. She added, “We shouldn’t give power to people who break down the confidence of young girls.”

There are many ways staying positive in the world today by surrounding yourself with family or friends that make a positive impact in your life. If you’re ever feeling down about your body image, you can keep a journal where you can write all of your insecurities just to let all  the negativity out. But at the end of each entry, you should list five things you love about yourself and why you’re happy.

Coming to America

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Christina Lorenza Aybar (Peralta – her mother’s maiden name which was removed when she became a U.S. citizen) was four years old when she moved from the Dominican Republic (DR) to the United States. She grew up in Washington Heights in Manhattan, New York, and now lives in South Texas. She is a wife and a mother of three children. She works with children at a school as the Science-Technology manager.

Q: Okay, so to start off, do you remember anything from the day you came to America?
A: I remember when, on the day, we were coming to the United States, I remember saying bye to everybody.

Q: Did you know what was going on? Were you sad?
A: I think I knew we were leaving to move somewhere else. Yeah, I was sad saying goodbye to everybody.

Q: Do you remember anything from the trip?
A: I remember being on the plane and looking out the window, and then I remember fussing with the curtains, and it feel down. I guess it broke, and I fell asleep until it was time to get off.

Q: When you were sixteen and visiting the Dominican Republic, did you wish you had never moved? Or were you just happy to be visiting?
A: I was happy to be visiting, happy to be meeting my cousins for the first time that I had never met before, but I was happy I lived in New York.

Q: Who was in the U.S. when you came over?
A: My mom, dad, one sister, and one brother.*
*Christina is the youngest of ten, she has six sisters and three brothers.

Q: How old were you when your parents moved away?
A: I think I was about two and a half when my parents first moved from the Dominican Republic.

Q: Do you think you know enough about Dominican history and culture?
A: No. I wish I knew more.

Q: Did you ever want to live there or move back?
A: No, I never wanted to live there because I was used to living in the United States, and over there it’s very different. The electricity goes away for periods of time and the water comes and goes, as does the hot water, and I couldn’t get used to that.

Q: Where were you born?
A: In Santiago, well, in the country…but I don’t remember the name. En el campo.

Q: In New York, what were your parents’ jobs?
A: My mom worked as a seamstress in a factory, and my dad had several jobs, but when I got there he was a dishwasher in the Sheraton Hotel.

Q: So were they gone a lot because they were always working?
A: The way it worked, my mom worked during the day and my dad worked at night. He would make me breakfast and lunch, then around 3 o’clock, we would walk halfway to the train station (subway station), and my mom would pick me up. Then he’d take the train to work, and my mom and I would walk back home.

Q: What’s your favorite thing about the Dominican Republic?
A: When I visited when I was 16, and then again when I was 20, it was so peaceful and everything was nice and clean, just the country itself. Skies were blue and the trees were really green. People could leave the doors open and not have any problems.

Q: So you visited again when you were 20?
A: My parents had retired, so they went back and I went with them. I visited and I was going to live there, but I had a job back in New York before I left, at Albert’s Hosiery, and the owner kept sending messages asking me to come back, and I hadn’t gotten a job in the Dominican Republic, so I decided to go back to New York and work.

Q: You said you loved that the Dominican Republic was peaceful when you were younger. When you visited when you were older, it wasn’t as peaceful anymore?
A: Things had changed, there was more violence. We stayed in Santo Domingo with my mother-in-law. No, it wasn’t as peaceful.

Q: What’s your favorite Dominican food?
A: Sancocho. It’s kind of like a beef stew, rather than soup, I guess. It has the meat and a mixture of vegetables.

Q: And your favorite Dominican dessert?
A: Dominican cake with a guayava filling in the middle.

Q: Did you get to go to all of the “cool” places in DR?
A: No, not all of them. When I was sixteen, I went to Puerto Plata with my uncle. We stayed at this resort kind of thing, called El Sombrero because all of the huts were in the shape of a sombrero. And then we took telefericos, cable cars, to go up into mountains where the huge Jesus statue is. It’s beautiful up there and there are these beautiful gardens with plants and flowers. It’s really beautiful.

Oh! And on the way to Puerto Plata, when we were almost there, we were on the cable cars and we could see a house built on the side of the mountain shaped like a ship facing the ocean. I thought it was really cool!

We went to a beach, Puerto Escondido, or Playa Escondida, and it’s called that because it’s hidden. You park and then you have to walk through trees and stuff, and you get there and you see the beach and the water’s clear and everything.

I went to Santo Domingo, to El Malecon, which is a big wall by the ocean where people go to hang out and there are restaurants there. I visited the Basilica en Higuey when I was older, it was my first time there. It’s beautiful, and we saw La Virgen de Altagracia – she’s treated the way La Virgen de Guadalupe is treated by most Mexicans. I went to la playa de Sosúa, which is near Puerto Plata too.

When I was sixteen, we’d walk from my uncle’s house to el monumento de Santiago, and people would hang out there. It was a long walk, but my cousin, Milagros, and I would do it anyway.

Q: Anything else?
A: No, I’m sorry I can’t remember a lot about coming to America. I was little…I’ve forgotten a lot.

Although Christina may not want to move back to DR any time soon (or ever), she is happy to be from there and happy to be able to visit whenever she gets the chance.

Impact of the Supreme Court Ruling for the Latino Community

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On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage across the nation, making this a historic victory in the gay rights movement. Before this decision was made, 37 out of 50 states (and the District of Colombia) had already extended this right to same sex couples throughout the course of eleven years. With Massachusetts becoming the first state in the United States to allow same sex marriage in 2004, many states began to follow suit as this issue picked up wind. With the ruling, the remaining states that had yet to recognize the rights of gay couples will now be legally required to issue marriage license to them and give the legal benefits that come with it.

Upon hearing the news, individuals across the country rejoiced with their loved ones. Celebration of the decision took on various forms throughout social media as people rallied together to show their support from likes to tweets. Hashtags like “LoveisLove” and “#LoveWins” spread throughout the internet as people embraced the news. Websites like Google and Yahoo modified their logo appearance, while Facebook created a rainbow filter to go over a user’s profile picture to show support and acceptance. Historic landmarks and tourists sites alike were illuminated with rainbow colored lights on Friday night.

Simultaneously, there was explosion from those that opposed the ruling. From justices to conservative Christian pastors, their stance on the issue began to appear in headlines and their reasons varied anywhere from states’ right to religious freedom. Homophobic remarks and attitudes were seen throughout social media when the news broke, often resulting in online arguments.

Whether you are in favor with the ruling or not, it cannot be denied that the decision will go down as an important moment in the history of the United States. The Supreme Court’s verdict was based on the idea that denying gay couples the right to marry meant they were being denied equality and therefore fundamental rights as Americans.  As members of the LGBT+ community continue to fight for their rights, they have slowly been chipping away at barriers that oppress them. Celeste Ledesma, a junior at Bryn Mawr College, knew that the legalization of marriage was not the end of the fight.

Latino culture is centralized around the family unit and there are often strict social rules to uphold its values; coming out as queer can often challenge those ideals. Since that is the case, queer young Latinos/as often face the reality of being thrown out of their home or of being mistreated, of living in a homophobic household where religion or ​machismo​ often contribute to this attitude, and of facing discrimination. Often times, Latinos/as might be forced to choose between their ethnic and sexual/gender identity for their own well-being.

Ledesma argues that acceptance of being queer might depend on the generation. “When you go back to our parents’ generation or our grandparents’ generation, they might not be ready [for the change]…[the challenge then becomes of] explaining the changing world to a generation that already has their world view that set.”

Not only are queer Latinos/as fighting for the ability to be accepted by their own families, but they fight to be respected within their communities. According to a 2011 study by ​Mujeres Latinas en Accion​, a Latina advocacy organization, and ​Amigas Latinas,​ an organization to support lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning Latinas, found that 25 percent of the 300 survey Latinas felt that they were discriminated against in the Latino community. In the same survey, they found that many queer Latinas had had racist remarks directed towards them in predominately white LGBT+ support services. This discrimination and racism can have detrimental impacts on the individual’s life. When you are rejected by your loved ones, it causes extreme emotional stress.

Apart from their attempt to be accepted, queer Latinos and Latinas also have to fight against stereotypes placed on them by their own community and those outside of it. The media continues to perpetuate the stereotypes that all Latinos are lazy, uneducated, and undocumented. Some stereotypes have been created with the help of ​machismo ​and religion, while others have been created through the systematic oppression that all Latinos and other people of color face. Standards have been placed on Latinos/as on how they should act, the roles to perform, and how they should look. When individuals deviate from these standards, it causes problems.

In a time where we encourage young people to be who they are and to love themselves, we should not be hypocritical and reject those that are different from us.  Rejection of queer Latinos only fragments families and communities, driving a wedge further between them. There is nothing wrong with being queer. We love who we love, and we are who we are. If we wish to overcome things such as racism and discrimination, if we wish to overcome systematic oppression, we have to start by looking into our own community and fix the problems within. We cannot ask to be free of oppression, when we act as oppressors to others. Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, colors, sexualities, genders, and background. If we wish to create a better world for the future generations of Latinos, we have to learn to accept one another and through this, a positive social change will occur.

Tattoo Taboo in Latino Culture

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Tattoos have long been a controversial subject, and often a social taboo. The reasons for their negative image are many, but mostly they stem from their historical association with criminal activity. They were oftentimes used to brand criminals, and sailors utilized them as well as a means of identification in case they were drowned and washed ashore somewhere. In more recent history, and nowadays, tattoos are intimately associated with gangs who use them to pledge loyalty by permanently imprinting gang symbols on their bodies.

In the US and parts of Latin America, however, this trend is changing as more and more young people are choosing to get tattoos for personal reasons. A poll conducted in 2012 by The Harris Poll showed that 1 in 5 American adults possess at least one tattoo. Approximately 15-20% percent of those tattooing are Hispanic. The majority of those interviewed in the poll were not gang members or criminals but rather chose to tattoo because they wanted to express a facet of their identity through body art.

Nonetheless, tattoos are still regarded negatively within the Latino culture. Parents of tattooed young people often react to their offspring’s decision with anger or even horror. Daphne, 23, a Mexican-American of immigrant parents, recalls the day her parents discovered a large tattoo on her ribcage. While her father was disappointed in her so-called “foolish choice” her mother was especially upset. “She was screaming and cursing and crying,” Daphne says. “She didn’t speak to me for months after that. She said this wasn’t how she raised me and I looked like I belonged in gang.” She and her mother finally reconciled, though her mother still can’t stand to see her tattoo. She believes her mother overreacted, but admits that after speaking to her mother about the issue she has come to understand a little better her reasons. Daphne’s mother is from Mexico, where currently gangs involved in drug cartels terrorize the country. The gangs are often recognizable by their symbolic tattoos, and for many who live in fear of gang violence they often try to spot danger by scanning questionable-looking individuals for their telltale tattoos.

Throughout Central America the attitude towards tattoos is based in similar realities. Candi, 26, grew up in Honduras and says that in her home country tattoos are also deeply connected to violent gangs that the people greatly fear. Having lived in the United States for a decade now she has one small tattoo on her wrist. “The attitude here is so different. Most people don’t have the same fear of gang violence so tattoos have a different meaning. They’re just art.”

So, because of the differences in ways of life in parts of Latin America versus in the United States, older-generation Latinos are often more wary of tattoos than cultures not currently entrenched in gang warfare. As shown by Daphne’s and Candi’s anecdotes tattoos often make them think immediately of dangerous gangs, while for those raised outside such fears tattoos are not so instantly threatening. Latinos raised in the US, while sometime having encountered gang activity, do not endure the national fear of violence by drug cartels, so their view of tattoos is not as extreme. It is easier for them to view tattoos as innocent works of art and self-expression. These differing experiences, however, have caused some disagreement between generations about the nature of tattoos. In the end it is important for those for and against tattoos to understand one another’s point of view. As far as the art of tattooing is concerned, its stigma will likely never disappear as long as gangs and criminals continue to use them for their own purposes.

Guide to a Better Mental Health

Sad_Girl_bee-media.blogspot.com (8)Everyone in their lifetime has struggled with some kind of problem and has sought out help for advice, comfort, and reassurance. There is no shame in asking for guidance when you need it nor does it mean that you are weak. Humans are complex, social creatures and we cannot live life in emotional isolation from one another. Yet, strangely enough, something has changed. When we seek help for our troubles, it now means that you are not strong enough to deal with it alone, that there must be something wrong with you. In other words, seeking help for our emotional troubles has become stigmatized. The good news is, that there is absolutely nothing wrong for asking help nor is it indicative of the strength of your character.

Summing up enough courage to seek help to treat a mental illness or a personal struggle is a huge step towards the right direction. Seeking help is indicative that the individual acknowledges that they are not “okay” and that they cannot go through the process alone. Luckily, there is a large amount of resources available for those that want to receive help that range from therapists to hotlines. Each type of resource varies in its treatment, but ultimately they serve to improve the well-being of the individual.

Professional Help
Seeing a mental health professional has the benefit of having a face-to-face, private session. Having a safe space where you are able to freely express yourself in any way without judgment can be liberating. According to Celeste Nevarez, a licensed psychiatrist who works at the Family Service of El Paso, she believes that confiding in someone, whether it’s a professional or a friend, helps remove the feeling of isolation for the individual. Just talking can be therapeutic in of itself.  Often times where might be situations where the cost of therapy comes up and whether it can be affordable in the long run. Fortunately, there are systems in place that can make therapy a viable option.

Nevarez urges to call your doctor, regardless if you think you can afford therapy or not, to see the options that are available for you. The doctor will direct you to the right places. The “sliding scale” is a paying system that some private practices have adopted to help their patients. In this system, the patient pays only a portion of their earned income or what they can afford at the time. This varies with the private practice you’ve gone to, so you’ll have to call. Another way is to search for the local community mental health center since they are generally less expensive than private practices. These health centers are open to the public and are there to serve you.  Other times, there could be organizations in your city that offer their services completely free or therapists that do pro bono.

Support Groups
Support groups are another viable option for teens or adults. Sitting in a safe-environment where you are able to hear people having their own struggles helps alleviate the feeling of isolation. According to Wichita State University, support groups are often effective since it provides an environment where members “provide emotional support to one another, learn new ways to cope, discover strategies for improving their condition, and help others while helping themselves.” Knowing that you are not alone helps cope with feelings of isolation.

Mental Health Websites and Hotlines
Going to mental health websites are often helpful since you are able to obtain important information such as knowing what resources are available around you, give you tips, and to make you know that you are not alone. However, Nevarez warns that the internet is not the way to diagnose or to treat yourself. This is dangerous since the individual needs to be able to talk to someone and receive guidance.

If there is an urgency to talk to someone, hotlines are there to help you. According the Nevarez, “these will help you to bring your energy level down” and to make sure that you are okay. There are hotlines that operate 24/7 to be available to anyone that needs their help. There are also some hotlines where you will be helped through text. These serve as important functions since they are always there to

There is help out there, chicas. You do not have to go through this alone. The best option will vary between individuals, but they have one thing in common: they acknowledged that they need help.

Not sure where to start? Below is a list of resources from Celeste Nevarez that you might want to use:

Websites: www.speakyourmindtexas.org
www.bevocalspeakup.com
http://projecturok.org
www.netsmartz.org

Hotlines
Crisis Call Center
800-273-8255 or text ANSWER to 839863
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://crisiscallcenter.org/crisisservices.html

National Suicide Hotline
800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
800-422-HOPE (4673)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.hopeline.com

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
800-273-TALK (8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Thursday’s Child National Youth Advocacy Hotline
800-USA-KIDS (800-872-5437)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.thursdayschild.org

National Institute of Mental Health Information Center
866-615-6464
8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST, Monday to Friday
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml

National Mental Health Association Hotline
800-273-TALK(8255)
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week
http://www.nmha.org

Bullying Support and Suicide Prevention
(855) 581-811 (24/7) or text TALK to 85511 (4-8P.M. everyday)
Chat is available Monday-Thursday from 7:30 P.M.-12:00 A.M.
http://www.yourlifeiowa.org

5 Things You Learn In a Crowded Home

Families are complicated and living situations vary from one household to another. Latinos are typically associated with strong family values. Familismo is a term used to describe how Latino culture values the importance of immediate and extended family ties. Among many Latino families, it is common to have a big family with several extended family members and multiple generations living under one roof. Latinitas shared what they learned from having large families living in a crowded home.

1. Being Selfish Does Not Fly
“I learned to be happy with what I got because I didn’t really have the luxury to be picky in terms of the clothes that I wore. Like I’ve never really been ashamed or embarrassed about family and friends giving me hand-me-downs because I wasn’t going to ask my mom to take me shopping,” shared Kimberly Cabral, age 21 who grew up with five siblings and her parents under one two-bedroom roof.

2. You Were Brought Up To Be Close With Your Family
“I got to bond a lot with my family since it was a lot of us in a small space (in two bedrooms until her father made a third room). I think it helped me appreciate my family more when I moved out,” added Kimberly.

“There was never a dull moment because (as a kid) I could be inside playing video games and if I got bored I could go outside and join my cousins would be playing in the front yard. Everybody was just doing their own thing and were willing to include you,” said Angie Dominguez, age 23 who lived with extended family members, all eight of them in a four bedroom house.

3. There Has Not Been A Moment Where You Felt Alone

“There is just so much support I feel. If you need someone to lend you money or like talk to, someone is always there to give you any type of support that you need. You always have people watching out for you,” said Desirae Nicole Gomez, age 16 who lived with up to 15 people at once in a five bedroom house.

“You won’t ever get lonely. Like I don’t live with my parents anymore and where I live now there are only three people living there and it makes you feel a little crazy when you’ve had the house to yourself a couple of hours,” shared Kimberly.

“Even when we were going through rough times, it was easy to find happiness and turn to each other for that comfort or even a laugh,” said Christa Samaniego, age 34, who lived with up to 17 other people at once in a five bedroom house.

4. You Were Always Encouraged To Help Out
“It gave me a lot of responsibility. As soon as I got a job, my mom expected me to help out with the bills since it was six of us (kids) and our utility bills were not cheap,” added Kimberly.

“My mom worked a lot and because of that I had to babysit my four younger siblings a lot,” said Angie.

5. You Can Be Productive In A Chaotic Environment
“When I had homework in high school I got used to doing it while babysitting. I have become quite good at multi-tasking,” added Angie.

“It is hard sometimes trying to get my homework done if the kids are being rowdy ,but for the most part I am used to it and I notice it helps me balance life when things get busy,” shared Debbie Sifuentes age 23, who lives with 5 other people in a three bedroom apartment.

My Mom is Special

Latinitas share why their moms are special.

“My mom is special to me because she has been my best friend throughout my life. She is a strong woman and caring to my two brother and I. She is a very funny person and you can always count on her to trust your deepest secrets. She will always try her best to help and guide you to the right path. I love my mom with all my heart and I am sure I would be lost without her. Her name is Maria Luisa, but her friends call her Malicha. I can tell you that she is always smiling and having fun. As a regular mom, she has had her battles in life. She is always pushing herself for better opportunities and looking for the best way to educate us. She is my Super Women and I want to have the same spirit as she has. I own her tons! I know that I haven’t been an easy daughter, but she has been my best friend, partner in crime and my teacher thoughout my school years.” –Ariadne Venegas

 

“The most influential person in my life is definitely my mother. Growing up she always set an example of independence and what it meant to do things on her own without a husband. I remember seeing her come home from work when I was young. Even when she was very tired, she would kick off her heels and join me on the couch to watch movies and catch up on how our day went. She made me believe that everything was possible, being a great mother and having a career. I remember daydreaming of the day that I would be able to work and go to college, the very situation I am currently in. Seeing her busy and always having something to do was something that I always admired. The most important thing that I admire about my mother is her honesty. She never strays away from those hard questions that would reveal something about her not being a “perfect” mom. I think that all of those hard stories she told me about her personal life to answer my “life questions” definitely molded me.  My mother’s honesty is something that I have. I’ve always had an unfiltered way of looking at the world. It has helped me communicate better and ultimately it is responsible for my choice to stay in the communications field.” – Jackeline Gomez

 

“I want to say I am so grateful with God for giving me the best mom that I could have. My mom has always been there for me even in my worst moments where I have felt so sad and I just go up to her and cry. She is always there to hug me and comfort me. She always talks to me for a long time and always lets me know how much she loves me no matter what. I am really very thankful with God because he is so good to me that he gave me my family that is the greatest gift I have. I can remember that my mom has always been there with me in my good moments and bad ones too. When I was little, I remember she would always go and volunteer with my pre-k teacher to go to the field trips we had. I have so many memories with my mom of when I was a little girl. When I look at the pictures I have with my mom on family vacations, I always smile. I will always cherish the moments I have with my mom. I don’t know what in the world I would do without my mom. I think I would feel a big emptiness because she has a very special place in my heart. I know of all the struggles she has been through, but she is very strong and still keeps her smile. I have seen her cry and it breaks my heart to see her sad. Every time she cries, I end up crying too. I always tell her that the problems and bad situations in our life are not forever. Everything has a solution in this life. She has done so much for me, she takes me to school whenever she can. She always cares for me and my little sister and brother. I would never let anybody hurt or talk bad about my mom or my family. I also have videotapes that my mom recorded when me and my brother where little, she loved to record every single moment she had with us and we have so many pictures together. My mom is always giving me advice  and is always there when I feel confused, sad or mad. I love to spend time with my mom. Whenever I don’t have something to do, we go to eat together, shopping or to watch a movie.” -Vanessa Ramirez

Find Your Perfect Career

Changing a career path is quite normal, and for Melissa Sanchez, her story of following her dream is one example that resonates with many young professionals.

Melissa Sanchez was a paralegal for ten years and it wasn’t until her experience with Bossed Up, an organization that provides a holistic approach to professional development, that inspired her to open up her own business, Belle Bayou Dessert Catering, in Houston, TX.

As a Latina, sometimes one undergoes the pressure from parents to follow a certain career path, but according to Sanchez it is crucial to follow your heart. Sanchez has always done dessert catering in some capacity, but it wasn’t until recently that she took this full-time leap and opened up her own catering business.

At the age of 32, Sanchez realized she didn’t want to continue on the law school path. “Your parents will want you to have a job that makes you the most money possible, and that is understandable. Most of our families came to the United States to escape poverty and struggle daily to make ends meet – this was my family as well. They want our lives to be easier than theirs are.  But from my own experience, I can tell you that having a high-paid job does not necessarily make you happier.  It isn’t easy to go against your family’s wishes, but at the end of the day, it’s your life and you have to stand up for your own happiness – you deserve to be happy,” stated Sanchez.

According to Jonathan Clements, author of Jonathan Clements Money Guide 2015, “If possible, never work just for a paycheck. I believe the keys to a fulfilling life are spending our days doing what we’re passionate about and our evenings with friends and family.”

Ultimately, what one wants out of a job is up to each individual, but being happy is so intrinsic to one’s well being and a career plays a big part of that. It doesn’t matter how old you are, life is about trying out new things and making a set of goals that will put you on a path to success.

When you’re young it’s also easier to switch jobs more often. According to Ladders.com, “Job seekers in their 20s are long on enthusiasm and education but short on experience. Family and financial responsibilities tend to be limited, so it’s a good time to take chances. It’s also a period during which you can take some time to figure out the ways in which your talents and skills can best be applied.”

It is okay to have different jobs, especially when you’re young, because that is not only how you learn what you want in a career, but it is how you will grow professionally and personally as well.

According to Melissa, her advice for all young Latinas is a three-prong process that has given her success: visualization, organization, and association.

  • Visualize Your Dream:
    “Visualize your dream – do you want to start a business?  Want to be a doctor or an engineer?  Have an idea for an app?  Start visualizing your dream and what it looks like – be specific!  When I thought of my business, I imagined what my logo would look like. (And now I have it!)”
  • Research & Create a Plan: 
    “Once you’ve visualized your dream, start organizing and planning. Research what you need to do to make it happen. Write out the big goal and the little goals it will take to get there.  Set a timetable to keep yourself moving towards your dream.”
  • Find Role Models:
    “Last, and very important, associate yourself with people that have done what you want to do and learn as much as they will teach you. Associate yourself with people that are positive and have their own dreams – you will encourage and support each other along the way.”

Following Melissa’s advice may even lead to finding new things about yourself that you never knew existed.