Today I am thankful. Thankful that I have the privilege to be here. That I have the privilege to write this post – as imperfect as it might be. I am thankful that I was born into a family that provided me with the opportunity to travel; to get to know other cultures other than my own; to learn a language other than my own. I am thankful for the chance to get an education, and to know, that if I fall, my family will be there to catch me. I am thankful for the support they give me each day to find my passion – pursue my dreams. They encourage me yet they do not pressure me.
You see, I come from a strong Venezuelan male-dominated catholic family. By male-dominated, I do not mean to say misogynistic but that there is a majority of men in my family, however, they do hold the typical patriarchal latin values. I am the oldest in my household with two younger brothers, but I am also referring to my extended family (cousins, uncles, grandparents, etc.). Growing up in this family, there was always a sense of competition among the boys; and I wanted in. I wanted to prove I was capable of doing all of what the boys could do, and maybe more. I hated pink and even wearing dresses (that has changed over time because I realized these were just symbols). I wanted my brothers and cousins to not see me as a girl who needed saving but as someone who could protect herself, and even them.
What does this have to do with anything I stated in the first paragraph? You might wonder. Well, it is that strive to prove myself, to prove that I can do more, it is precisely the need to prove that I can be more that has gotten me to come to NY on my own after college to make a life for myself here. Maybe after a few years I will leave, but that is another subject.
All of my travels, my education, and adventures that have been facilitated by my family, have ironically led to me becoming estranged from my family’s beliefs and culture. I have seen, learned, and absorbed values and ideas from across the western world. I have heard and become familiar with the politics of other countries. Experienced socio-economic differences. Seen and tested gender rules in each place I have visited, in each city I have lived in. This constant process has caused me to question my views, to study them, to change them and solidify them.
While living in NY, I have seen the diversity. I see it everyday. There are a thousand different views on religion, gender rules, politics, and economy. With the mish and mash of the city comes a certain acceptance that your neighbor probably disagrees with you, and that is alright. An opinion that might have been shocking in my native city, is quite ordinary here.
My extended family is in town, I feel a sense of belonging with them; but it is now that I can feel the difference, the clash. The people that in a lot of ways I am closest to and feel most comfortable with, view the world differently than me. Many of them abhor a lot of the ideas which I have adopted; while they admire my independence and my “free spirit,” as they say. Yet I hold my tongue when it comes to religion and other controversial topics, because I know they will look at me with different eyes in their disagreement. With that, I have learned to accept that many opinions will not change, I have learned to practice patience and detachment.
I am thankful for my family, and I am thankful for my difference. For my “espiritu libre.” Strive to feel the clash, strive to connect with the differences. Strive for constant change.