As I think about my story and where I come from, I realize that I am the first generation of a lot of things.
I am the first in my family to leave the home at the age of 17, the first in my family to go to college, the first in my family to receive a Master’s degree, first in my family to work within a corporate setting, the first in my family to seek mental health services, and the first in my family to own my own business.
Wow, that is a lot of responsibility!
Often I am asked, how do I do it? How do I find the hours in the day to hold so much responsibility, run a business, and take care of myself. The honest truth is, there is no other option.
For me, it feels as though while I have a choice, the resilience and continuous need to keep pushing is very much present. I remember seeing my mother work two jobs, provide for her children as a single mother, and do the best that she could with what she had.
I was a latchkey kid.
At the time, I didn’t know what that term meant because getting home after school to feed my siblings was part of my responsibility. It did not feel like I was missing something because this was life.
I am fortunate that my mother valued education. While she worked long hours, she made sure to get up every morning to drive me to school so that I could make it in time for zero period – you know, that one class that came right before first period? Well I was in that class.
As I got older, I was allowed to work a part time job after school and after I was admitted to college, I remember my mother driving two hours to pick me up from school because she didn’t want me to take public transportation while visiting on the weekends. She kept pushing…and therefore unconsciously, so did I.
I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. I don’t have a business background and entrepreneurship always felt like it was not for people like me; not for people that looked like me, and definitely not for people with my upbringing and background.
When I decided to work full time within my private practice, there was definitely fear that was present. I didn’t know what I was doing but I knew that I needed to change things within my life. I was tired of the same routine over and over again. I knew I had it in me but just didn’t know how I was going to do it.
So I thought about my life, my upbringing, and my mother. There is no other option, this was my path and I was going to step into it proudly.
I asked many questions, wondered if I was doing the right thing, even bargained with myself and said, “If this doesn’t work, in 6 months I’ll find a ‘real job’…” not realizing that this IS my real job…and not just a “job”…but a career, a passion.
I am now motivated by the stories of those that came before me, the pressures and struggles that my mother, grandparents, and great grandparents went through. I sit here knowing a glimpse of their life, wishing I knew more, and at the same time honoring a drive that lives within me – to make my family and those that came before me proud.
While I understand that those of us that are first generation may feel pressure to make their parents proud, to make the world proud – I can acknowledge that. And also, I see it differently…I want to honor the legacy of those that came before me to show that as a first generation Mexican American woman I too can continue that legacy. I too have a message to share and I too want to pursue more each day…to change lives and continuously honor my family through the work that I do.
So what’s the message that I want to share?
The message is you can do whatever you want, you can become whomever you dream of becoming.
You have the light within you so don’t let anyone or anything dim that light that so courageously was meant to shine.