Love Series: Love Your Roots
I remember the days when life was simple, back in the days when all we knew was our little world. I was born in Honduras, went to school in Honduras, had all my family and friends in the same place. Visiting family meant at the most a four-hour drive. My friends went to the same school. My world was small and manageable.
Summer of 1999, my family was blessed to get residency papers for the United States, and that’s when it all started. My parents were bold, I’ll give it to them, packed up three children, their entire life and moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana. No family, no friends, no real English, just us five and an apartment at Sigen Village. This was back when Sigen Lane only had the Shell gas station and nothing else. I remember being frustrated at how my parents uprooted us to bring us to the middle of nowhere or so I thought.
I started school, didn’t know how to speak the same language as my classmates and was treated by most people like I was handicapped. My frustrations grew When I was consistently getting called out of class because my sister would be crying in her classroom trying to communicate a need to her teacher and wouldn’t know how to say it. Doctors appointment, going out to the store, school, and anything else we ever had to do got 10x harder because of the language barrier, but that was nothing compared to the culture shock.
Keep in mind that I was 8 years old when I moved to the US and that I am now 27 years old. I was technically raised in the States. But at the time the culture shock was hard and then became my reality. I was being raised like a Honduran child in American culture, and that was a constant battle with my parents and myself. As I experienced the culture in America, I began to feel sheltered. My curiosity was at all time high, and I just wanted to know more about the culture my parents tried so hard to keep me from.
I loved how few limitations were imposed on me when it came to who I could grow up to be. There were some areas where the limitations would have done some good in a public middle school, but that’s not the point. I began to see how much trust people had in people and the systems in place (government, police, etc..). I began to experience and see both good and bad things that my parents would probably have packed us up and left if they knew. I began to love the culture I was so drastically shoved into, but my parents began to worry and set even more boundaries for me.
This constant battle of cultures and boundaries made me start picking a side. This could have been a product of the constant battle, hormones, or just trying to fit in as a teenager in a place that I started to know as home. I think I was constantly seeking this belonging feeling because I felt like I could never be like the others around me. I was not born here, my parents didn’t let me got to friend’s houses, I didn’t wear the same clothes, I didn’t look the same ... and the list goes on.
Then 7th-grade year ended and my parents decided to move back to Honduras. Part of me felt like I was being uprooted again and the other part felt like I was going back to the place I belonged and I didn’t have to try to fit in. But definitely I had a rude awakening.
When I began school realized I was now considered Americanized. I wasn’t like the other kids, I thought differently, I dressed different, I was more outspoken, and I just wasn’t the same girl that I was when I left. To add to the problem the school I was in didn’t really respect individuality or share the views on gender equality that I was very fond of in America. Again I was left feeling like I didn’t belong. I started to see the wrong end of the culture I was once brought up believing. I had never had anything to compare it to, and so it was an eye-opener to get to see in person how much different I would have been raised if we had stayed in Honduras.
That year in Honduras was both fantastic and rough. My family got really close that year because Honduran culture calls for a lot of family time. Work comes second to a home cooked meal at the table with your family. Weekends were about the beach or visiting family. I played every sport at school because there wasn’t trying out or people left out of a team. If you wanted to play you were allowed to play or at least be part of the team. But all that was overshadowed by the fact that I was constantly in trouble for dumb stuff. Nail polish, the length of my skirt (skirt had to be 2” under your knee, and mine was at the knee), talking back (for good reasons), the sweaters I wore, and anything else they could come up with. This made it hard for me to love where I came from. I began to feel like I had to pick a side: Americanized or Honduran.
We moved back to the states after a year and then I jumped right into what I knew. Life went on, we visited Honduras every summer, and did school in the States. The confusion and frustration never left, I still felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. I hated being Americanized in Honduras and hated being different in America.
Loving my roots took me a long time to learn. I was raised in America but was Honduran, and I didn’t belong in either, so what now?
I think one of my biggest issues was that as a teenager I felt that this matter was black or white. It wasn’t until college that I started to see that roots can be obscure sometimes. Your roots and your beginnings can have sprinkles of all kinds of things. What made me different in the States made me stand out in such big crowds and was a lot of help when it came to testing out of 4 levels of Spanish classes for college credits. What made me Americanized in Honduras made me create a perfect balance of what I wanted to take from both cultures for my own life.
God places us in the exact situations that will help us become the people we are meant to be. We can grow and learn from it all, bad and good.
Fast forward to today, I married an amazing man who doesn’t see cooking as a woman’s job, who respects my strong personality and we get to be family oriented too. We love to travel, we love to try food from different places, I get to speak to him in Spanish and English at home, and that’s just some of the ways my too cultures made one perfect balance for my life.
I am also blessed that to be able to relate to my children who will be 3/4 Hispanic 1/4 Arabic. I get to share with them something that I would have never known if my world would have stayed so small and simple.
Today, I love my roots. It has made my world so much bigger and better even if it’s a little more complicated. I am entirely made by God and everything that has shaped my life, my values and mentality have made me a better person. This was a hard lesson to learn, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
So I encourage you to love your roots, love where you come from, where you were raised or whatever your upbringings were because you wouldn’t be you otherwise. 💕
With Grace + Gusto,