Yesterday, 09:19 PM
Cry me a river or two. There were three other Hispanics I can think of at my HS. None of them regularly spoke Spanish (one of them even failed the class, sadly enough). I didn't have shoes that lit up. I didn't have shoes that fit most of the time, since my feet are wide and the only wide width shoes available were out of our price range at the time. I knew precisely what those cute guys I liked thought about me, and it wasn't anything nice. I still had friends at school because I made an effort to maintain those relationships, even though most of them had very little in common with me and I didn't really see them outside of school for that reason. In middle school it was along the same lines, except that it was not the nicest school and I was in the Gifted program. That marked me as warranting a few extra words of discouragement, and a lot of nasty comments about my parentage. The worst part was that "Gifted" at that school was essentially what should have passed for normal curricula at "the good old days" schools. I was in a few fights in school, and I certainly was never particularly popular; most of my friends were the fringe leftovers that ate lunch sitting in the trees, or walked in the rain instead of squealing and running from it like we'd melt.
So I grew up and I started working to afford those wide sneakers. I hardly wear anything else at this point, because there's no need to.
I learned that I really am more comfortable with myself and a good book or a familiar movie than faking enjoyment with a group of people, and I also learned that it isn't a bad way to live.
I realized that those "popular" girls were popular for a reason (one graduated shortly before her due date, I believe), and that the rumors about so-and-so going down on what's-his-name were not really something she'd likely want on her resume. I also noticed that when we were out on the senior class trip and we all had to get into bathing suits to go canoeing and use the Slip-n-Slide, it was those of us that actually had some shape that were getting the twice-over, not the girls who were wearing padded bikinis, with towels around their waists so they could pretend they had hips and butts that were too sexy to be seen. Sometimes you get a more interesting reaction if you're the jeans-and-tee type who has a fantastic reveal in the bedroom or on the beach, rather than the one who lets everything hang out every single day.
I also learned a lot about whether or not I was proud of my personal heritage --- proud enough to deal with a little ostracism. Was I going to calmly stand up for myself and correct misconceptions, or would I be like those others in my HS who pretended not to know anything about family traditions? Did I want to lie to folks and say I didn't speak any Spanish? Did I want to straighten my hair and keep out of the sun (I used to tan at the drop of a hat) and wear blue contacts, like some of my classmates were doing to look less "ethnic"? Or could I be myself and get through it, knowing it wasn't some after school special where everyone would come to realize what a beautiful, diverse, amazing swan I really was? I was still going to be the covered-up latina with latina hair and parents with accents and good grades and the narrow shoes and the ballerina sister and the awkward blink rate (I seriously have never blinked as much as other people; do not get in a staring contest with me) and the shoulder that can dislocate on demand and the birthday that made me a year younger than some in my class.