Happy Wednesday, happy midway through June day and National Smile Power Day! Don’t you love that one? I don’t usually chime in on those National days but this one I wanted to share with you. Just wanted to check in and see if you’ve had a moment to smile about, maybe a memory or something in the moment? Usually it’s my dog that makes me smile because he is always smiling. I put a pic of him up on our Life Lnxx Instagram story today in case you needed a reason to smile.
So, I hope this episode brings a natural, soulful smile to you because it’s fully based on loving every ounce of you that pulses with your heritage and culture. And whether you are living it out loud or have it turned down a tad, it’s still thriving in you. All those generations of culture have created the beautiful version that you are living today. Your sassiness, intelligence, humor, kindness, compassion, joy, faith, courage… all of it comes from those who loved you in advance, who hoped that one day you would love who you came from.
But, it can be difficult to be all of you, all that!, when you are living in a different country or culture. Even in kind surrounding and inclusion, sometimes you can still feel like the odd one out. It can start at a pretty young age. Now, maybe it feels easier as you get older. Maybe the threat feels less heavy or maybe you feel more accepted.
The Price of Self-Editing Yourself
But, what if feeling more accepted comes with a price tag? Have you maybe quieted part of yourself when you are out in the world? It’s too easy to compartmentalize our personalities depending on who we are with, where we are or what we are doing at the moment. Seeking out all the different scenarios to nurture your whole personality takes a lot of work and you may not have the time.
If you aren’t actively living all the parts of your personality out loud, then some of them are going to go dormant. Or, do you ever feel like you shouldn’t be a certain part of you and start self-editing your own personality. Oof!
This is what we are talking about today: have you self-edited your natural personality, your cultural soul, in order to blend in to your surroundings? It might make life easier in the moment, but since life passes so quickly, you may forget to regain your cultural soul and not even realize it. You think you may be living your true self when actually, it’s may only be the version created to manage life outside your culture.
The world needs your whole person living freely out here. You were born with a purpose on this planet, a purpose that has yet to be discovered because that’s a life journey. So, if you begin self-editing your personality, shutting down parts of you that make others uncomfortable, then you may be erasing the very part of your purpose here on earth.
So, how do you know if you have been self-editing your personality?
Cafecito Shout Out
As you’re thinking about that for a bit, I’m going to give you a head’s up on this week’s #steamycafecito moment. For any new listeners, this is our way of supporting women of color small business in any community so if you have one in your neighborhood or a global recommendation, then DM me on our Life Lnxx Instagram or email me through our website, at TheLnxx.com.
I went to the Petit Cafe in Oakland, California, intentionally to try one of their unique lattes. Amazing!! And, some delicious noshes based on her travels through Europe and South America. I’ll tell you more about this amazing business at the end of the episode so stay tuned!
How Parts of Identity Get Put Away
So, let’s get into today’s topic and take some time to consider your whole personality. Your identity is an important connection to yourself and also to your heritage. So much of your soul comes streaming through your personality. It may seem that it’s influenced by your culture but really, that culture has already influenced the DNA that created your hardwiring generations ago.
So, let’s check in. Are you living your true identity or have you self-edited yourself? Have you changed something about yourself but maybe don’t remember why? What have you left behind from your culture because it was too difficult to deal with when you were younger?
It’s totally understandable. We really don’t come into ourselves for a long time. As a young person, you may create an identity and just get accustomed to it. With life changing so quickly and life necessities piling up, it’s difficult to stop a moment and reassess. Is this really who I am?
The easiest target is your name. We talked a lot about names in Episode 42 and their importance as an individual. Culturally, your name is bestowed on you with intention, with grace and blessings for a good life. Still, as you come into yourself, that name may not resonate with you.
But were you ever asked, “what else can I call you?” And maybe, eventually gave in to being called whatever was easier for someone else to say? That may have been the first thread that pulled away from you, this gorgeous tapestry woven from all the ancestors that danced freely in their fullness.
You know how this goes once that one thread gets torn free from fabric. Pretty soon others follow and the tugging of life begins a hole that gradually gets bigger and bigger. Your identity, your cultural connection, is being undone.
Why Self-Editing Occurs
A lot of times, this goes unnoticed. It can happen to anyone and that’s why it’s important to check in with yourself every once in a while. See where you are with yourself. Sometimes I’ve found when I’m struggling, it’s because I have moved away from who I am. Not intentionally, but just as a way of dealing with life.
So, take a moment and consider if any parts of you are missing? Has a disconnect, an unraveling occurred while you were busy trying to get yourself ahead? Think about what else you may have edited from yourself as a way to keep moving forward. It could be the way you speak, your spirituality or faith, your passion and feistiness.
This may help in the moment, may get you the job, the promotion, the partner, but in doing so, in self-editing your cultural identity, something else happens. Remember, you are representation for more Latinas out there, for more badass chicas. If you begin to self-edit your cultural identity in order to have a seat at the table, then others will be expected to do the same.
People will want you to accommodate their comfort with you. If your heritage makes them uncomfortable, whether it’s your name, accent, faith, how you represent, they will want you to turn it down a notch, maybe eliminate it altogether.
But, it’s up to you to fight for it rather than let it go. If you let it go, pieces of you go with it. As you let each piece go, the hole gets bigger. As the hole gets bigger, your identity, this treasure tapestry that tells a story becomes unrecognizable even to yourself.
Threads of Identity
It happens so slowly that you tend to adjust to each piece that you let go of and normalize its absence. You may even be cognizant of it happening, agree to let it happen and consider yourself the stronger person for it, the accommodating person that can give up parts of yourself for others.
I have a personal example of what this looks like. And yes, another analogy for you. Have you ever seen saffron, the gorgeous, golden threads of the crocus flower that is used as a spice and to add color to food. It’s absolutely necessary for making paella! And it’s insanely expensive because of how little is accessible and difficult to harvest.
It’s much like you, a bundle of amazing threads that make you unique, valuable, delicate and absolutely necessary. I lost sight of this very young in my life, by the time I was 30. Although I had kept my name and my faith, I slowly had been accommodating people around me. The engineers at the office who had never worked with a woman before. My ex in-laws, who did not agree with women having careers.
With each raised eyebrow or harsh comment, I would retreat a little in order to make it easier on them. But, here’s what happens. As you retreat, as you accommodate their discomfort, they, too, normalize the “new” you. But it doesn’t stop there. They want more. Each time you give away a piece of your identity, you expose new parts of you that hadn’t come under scrutiny before. Now those fresh, newly exposed pieces come under scrutiny.
And another valuable saffron thread is tossed aside. I remember the day I realized I had only one thread left and how hollow I felt in the moment.
When There’s Only One Thread Left
I was still married with two little ones. Our industry had just come out of a major recession and we were struggling financially. Still, we had a house, two cars, and our jobs so blessedly intact.
We were walking all together in a quaint neighborhood, doing some window shopping when I saw my favorite coffee place. Now, you know me and coffee. When I want it, I want it. Enough said.
So, I said to my then husband, “I’m going to get a latte.” In 1994, this would have been $2.50. It was the one little pleasure that I rarely gave myself because I had been making my own every day since I was 21. Instead of acknowledging that I rarely asked for one, the man said, “Can’t you wait until you get home?”
In that split second, I felt like I was holding on to the very last thread that defined who I am. I had given away all the other aspects so that he could feel comfortable, unthreatened. And for what? I wasn’t even worth $2.50 to him.
I thought to myself, “if I give up on this very last thread, there will be nothing left of me. If I become some neutral version of myself, what will happen to my two girls and more importantly, how will they ever know their truth, their culture, the amazing matriarch that pulsed in every strand of their Double X DNA?”
That’s when I began to look around, feverishly searching for all my valuable threads that I irresponsibly tossed away. The unique saffron threads that boldly displayed my color, my heritage, my sassiness. Without those threads, I would have blended into the background of an uncolored world. My life would become a bland white, flavorless mass of singularity.
How to Undo the Revised Version of Yourself
Instead, I once again became the unapologetic Latina who regained every memory, sought all the knowledge of my mother and aunts in order to infuse my daughters with cultural pride. I tried my best to teach them to avoid unraveling their identities for others and instead remain whole. If they remained whole, then they would attract friends, peers, partners who valued their whole identity.
And I never wanted them to feel what I had felt. The feeling that my Latina identity was something to mask under the veil of sameness. I hoped they would be proud of their abuela, not notice her accent and embrace her vision; refuel their culture and bring it forward.
I hope the same for you, too. It’s never too late to take back the pieces of you that you may have given away. Take some time to consider what you left behind and why. Looking back from an older perspective repositions your story, gives it context and compassion. Be who you want to be, but be sure to have all the pieces to choose from.
Your heritage is in your DNA. It’s not something you move away from, or marry out of. It is the Life Link to your parents, grandparents and ancestors. It’s your identity and you are valuable, priceless. You are more valuable than people’s discomfort or egos and ignorance. You are made of legends that have gone unspoken. Find your voice and speak purely, admirably of the people you come from.
Strong cultural tenets can readily get left behind in a culture that doesn’t support them. We may see it as a way of evolving as the next generation. There are behaviors, traumas that can get left behind. But culturally, there are valuable ones to bring forward, too.
If we continue to leave behind valuable cultural tenets because it makes our lives easier, then we are self-editing to accommodate others. If we don’t invest in ourselves to retain our culture against pressure, against pop culture, against threat, then why do we continue to fight for diversity? Are we truly diverse if we are leaving parts of our culture behind by self-editing our individual identity?
Coffee is still coffee regardless of how much milk, sugar, spices or ice you put in it. It is still coffee. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Show Us Your Cafecito Moments!
Now, for the #steamycafecito moment. I hope you were following the hints on our Instagram Stories. If you missed our previous shoutouts of these amazing businesses, then you can find them on our Instagram highlights under the Cafecito icon and in the Links tab of our website at lifelnxx.com, that’s L N Double X.
This treasure is actually steps away from the Petit Cafe that I visited last week. The medical professionals in that area have it made! It’s a black woman owned business called Oaklandia Cafe. Now, everything about that name speaks truth.
The owner, Latorra Monk, had the courage to open in June of 2020 as a community hangout. I felt it even before I walked through the door. Her passion to fight through the pandemic closures and claim her business is felt in every corner of the cafe.
Again, I disregarded my absolutely nothing added in my coffee mantra and ordered the Black and Brown latte. To me, it’s the Sisterhood latte, with brown caramel bourbon and dark chocolate syrup. Oh yeah, did I just send you to a warm beach on the equator?
Plus, I had to dive into the luscious food and baked goods. Everything was so fresh and popping with flavors of summertime. I can only imagine what it’s like to be at Latorra’s table at her home.
She has a GoFundMe campaign so if you are not in the area, please consider donating to this. Check out her Instagram @oaklandiacafe. You can see all these links on this episode’s transcript on our website @lifelnxx.com.
Remember to tag Life Lnxx in your favorite cafecito moments, maybe your favorite coffee hangout in your community. I would love to see your favorites, especially from our global audience. If you have a favorite latte that is unique, let us know! I am such a rookie. I need all the education I can get.
Take a look on our website at TheLnxx.com for each episode’s transcripts and the articles linked to what you’ve heard here today.
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Step into your truth, ladies. I love you! Ciao!