Before reading further, it should be noted that this is not to discredit any obstacles you’ve overcome and continue to trudge through.
People talk about all the hardships that come with being a minority. The need to persevere and be resilient is emphasized. Whether you’re the youngest, middle, or eldest child in your family—you want to make it. We construct the narrative in our heads that if our parents made sacrifices (e.g. leaving their family and crossing the border), we too can keep going. Because when you’re crawling to the finish line that is graduation what else is there but to keep crawling till you find the strength to stand, to walk? What other choice do you have when breaking the cycle starts with you? Resilience becomes an obligation. We tend to wear it proudly. I wore it proudly.
My father’s father was an alcoholic, my father was an alcoholic, and my mother put up a strong front but denied herself feelings of sadness. My sister wasn’t given the proper mental health resources she needed due to money and the stigma surrounding it in Hispanic cultures. I’m not perfect, but I was known to be resilient. I’m not quite sure I agree with this … See, with every unfortunate event that happened, I gained a sort of numbness — because what else was there? To me, there would only be dwelling. Every time I’d go to my mom to talk to her about my emotions she’d say, “Eres fuerte. Tu si puedes mija, nomas echale ganas.” You are strong. If you can, mija, just give it a try. I know she meant well, and I carried this mantra with me my whole life. I always interpreted it as a reminder to keep going no matter what because you always have the strength to. In several ways this is beautiful, and in other ways, it is exhausting.
By definition, resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness.
To recover is to return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
I, like others, have continued to move forward—just kept moving forward while setting aside “mishaps.” I never recovered. Throughout life, we acquire wounds, whether it be from family or friends, household dynamics, economic struggles, or institutions. Sometimes, we don’t treat the wounds, letting them bleed and running the risk of later infection. Instead of processing my emotions, I am scared to dwell, and I am uncomfortable at the thought of sitting with an event that happened and thinking about how I really feel about it. Yet, here we are, stickering resilience onto someone who had no choice.
Like I said, this isn’t to meant discredit what you have overcome, so if you’ve read this far and are reassessing your resilience, know this:
There’s a strength you’re denying about yourself because, yes, you did push through and perhaps ignore your emotions, but the motivator and purpose was something greater. This is not to praise setting your feelings aside. This is to say there was an intense yearning to not be stopped from going where you wanted to go. Trust that yearning. Trust that hope when you do decide to feel, to recover from wounds that seem unhealable.
So what if we do make it to the finish line? Will we be scabbed or will we be bleeding?
Featured Graphic by Liz Schwab/ Heights Staff