Nopal en la Frente

What it’s like to be Mexican-American and yet still not be Mexican or American

To be born a first generation Mexican-American is to be born to always be too much and never enough. One culture will reject you for the language you know, another for the one you do not. The American part of yourself will battle with the music flowing out of your mouth. It will flatten your tongue, make you forget about the first language you ever learned, and leave you with a calloused mouth. The Mexican part of yourself will call you a sell-out, whitewashed. It will never understand the reason behind your now flattened tongue. It will never understand the self-preservation as anything less than a betrayal.

To live as a Mexican-American is to live with a constant understanding of confusion. To always be wondering which part of yourself to express. If you give into the American culture, you will feel as if you are betraying your family. The two cultures you hold will always be pushing up and against each other. They will never see each other as equals. They will constantly be battling within you. The wisdom passed on from your abuelitas and tias – grandmas and aunts – will never seem to cover this, but while it may seem like there will always be a war within yourself, you learn to see the beauty in things others do not.

You will learn to cherish the sound of music as you have learned the bridges it can create. You have seen how music pushes people together, and whether it is cumbia or pop, music tears down the walls inside of you. You learn to laugh in two languages, understand the humor in Spanish that will never be as funny in English. You learn the beauty of the languages you can create. The beauty in rapidly switching between Spanish and English until they finally unarm themselves and start blending together.

While these two cultures within yourself will never fully come to peace with one another, the beauty they each hold will wrap itself around your heart. It will make you forget the constant misunderstanding between the two until all you are able to see is the benefits. It will be hard at times, but to be born a Mexican-American is to be born with a strong backbone. To understand the beauty in never accepting defeat, to understand the beauty within yourself.