My brother and I grew up in a small town close to the border with my parents and it was really just the four of us. We barely had a relationship with our grandparents or extended family.
I remember moving down close to the border and being told by kids and adults alike that I was not “Mexican-enough” because of my skin color and my lack of Spanish skills. I was in the third grade at the time and I didn’t even know what it meant to “not be enough.” But I was given clues that the way I looked and the way I spoke and the way I acted was not enough in some way. And I was immediately dismissed as different. My identity was dictated for me and instead of having the opportunity to define myself, I was left with this label that I did not create for myself.
The whole thing was sort of a perfect storm. Because we weren’t close to extended family, and we didn’t have conversations about our family legacy, I didn’t know where we came from or how we got here. And then I had this lived experience of being told I was not good enough. It left this void where I really didn’t know who I was or who I was supposed to be.
In the long run, it’s a good thing though as I don’t have any pressure to fulfill certain expectations. I have the freedom to write my own story and determine my own future. On the flip side, I struggle to define what success looks like. I’m not sure at what point I’ll consider myself “successful.” Do people who are successful define themselves as such or are they still chasing success as well?