From the airplane window, I see the island of Puerto Rico rapidly approaching. Another summer going to what most would consider a vacation spot, but for me, it’s home. I make the trip to Puerto Rico by myself for the first time. I’m nervous, but I won’t let my confidence falter.
Puerto Ricans view me as a tourist. Unknown to them, my Puerto Rican roots run deep. However, I am no longer comfortable and confident on the island. I’ve become an outsider, alone for the first time, surrounded by people who look at me with animosity.
Throughout the summer I realized that I would never be accepted as a “true” Puerto Rican. I questioned whether I was losing myself. Why are they unwilling to accept me as one of their own? What gives these strangers the right to decide who I am?
My life is a mixture of two cultures. I have a home and family in Puerto Rico as well as in Cleveland. I will never be able to identify with only one culture and neither culture will ever fully accept me. Why did I ever allow strangers’ judgments to define me? Now, as a young woman, I refuse to change a single aspect of who I am. I’ve chosen to embrace both aspects of my unique and diverse self so that, no matter where I go or who I meet, people’s only choice will be to view me as the proud, young Hispanic-American woman that I am.