I’m not hiding my accent or who I’m anymore. Here is why :
When I arrived in America, my nationality was stamped on my forehead. I had a heavy accent, my voice was loud, and I laughed even when the joke was about me and my culture. A few years passed and I started to understand all those jokes were about how I sounded my quirky behavior, and all the judgment coming from my new American friends.
While I wanted to blend in, I was cutting the tree branches, one by one, until I felt like I had no identity anymore. That behavioral change hit its peak when I lived in Georgia.
Georgia on my mind
Working in a restaurant, as a server, with an entire Southern American crew, the boss, the supervisor, and the other servers, I felt compelled to muffle my feelings and choke on sentimentalism. Get up, put on a happy face, work 14 hours a day, while being homesick and broken inside. You have no right to complain. You are a second-class citizen.
I listened to diminishing jokes about my culture, which some of those people thought it was funny to make fun of, second-guessing my abilities to work like the others, leaving me to be the last one to be a trainer. Only because of the place I came from and the way I sounded.
Never arrived late at work, never called in sick, and it was on the team since the first week they opened. Being oversee by management, bothered me because I knew I was working hard, crying on the way back home. Exhausted, because I knew I needed to be better than everyone else, even when I was not being watched by anyone.You can’t relax like you peers. I was still a second-class citizen.
The hard path to belong.
One day, I was so irritated by that situation, I started to look on Youtube, how Hollywood actresses changed that accent for different roles in movies. I found exercises you could do, to minimize, and make your speech clear. My husband got mad at me, saying he loved my accent, while I told him,” I need the job, we need that job. I can’t be fired because they think I have language barrier by the way I sound.”
I couldn’t quit, because for the entire year I worked there, I was still working towards my permanent residency. And he was still at Chiropractic school.
Many of the problems I encounter here in America, is because of the lack of confidence I have ingrained in me because, for the longest time, I had been quiet just to get by. Every time I look for a job that’s not restaurant-related I think “why would they hire me, instead of a born and raised American?” So I freeze and don’t complete the application. That’s where I find myself these days.
My Production Company is going great. In my mind. Not in real life.
There is nothing in this country that encourages people like me, to step up and find their way. I’m always held back by some stupid insecurity that shouldn’t exist, that it was caused by the system. Since the dawn of time, if you are different, you don’t feel like belong here.
I’m working towards having my own production company, which right at this moment is very successful in my brain, but completely paralyzed by fear in real life. I wish I could blame the Pandemic, maybe I can partially. Being a multi-hyphenated person, I did more than just write. I also draw, photograph, make videos and learn about websites, among other things to fill up my days. Instead of focusing on only one thing.
Why would someone have to change their names to fit in?
A segment on the news just showed a lady who had to adapt her name, to succeed in Corporate America. Once again, if you are different from what’s expected, you have to suffer, to adapt to a certain way people will accept you.
It happens to all of us that fit in the box. It’s frustrating to live in a society that makes us all sound the same, dress the same and look the same. The lady from the segment decided she was going to use her full name, instead of adaptation, and she looked happy. How can you tell someone to change who they are, to fit in? That’s pure evil.
People are easy to judge and label you. Either by where you came from, the way you behave, or your name. I had to lower my voice, because “it’s too Brazilian” and we are loud. I stand too close to people in the line, and we talk touching people. Americans hate that. I learned about it at the first restaurant I worked in in Chicago. Every time I talked to them, if I move my hand to touch their shoulder, they would flinch. Sometimes, I did it on purpose, their reaction always made me giggle.
Practically having to be reborn as a new person, learn all the values, all the habits, the food, the behavior, the laws of the land in my 30’s. While still being who I’m and who I was before, it’s a daily challenge. Because of that pressure, I let go of worrying about my accent and I’m not worried about it anymore. If I sound like I just arrived here, while asking where the bathroom is in Disneyland, deal with it.
The beauty of being yourself it’s to live free. There are no laws that say that you have to fit in, look and act the same to belong. I wonder why we are so drawn to characters on shows that are funny and quirky, its probably because they are a portrait of something we would like to be in real life.
As I get older, I care less and less about what people think about me and my life, and you should too. It’s fun to be different, to have your vocabulary and the unique way you sound to others. Don’t hide anymore. Make a promise to yourself that, after the Corona Crisis, you will be reborn into something you always wanted to be.
There is no more time to waste. Not after this crisis. Not after being locked up at home, like a bird in a cage, for an entire year and counting.
My promise to myself is not trying to change who I’m anymore to fit in the American patterns. That means that I will be loud, I will be emotional, and I won’t hide where I’m from anymore. I belong to this country as much as any other person born and raised here. My culture will just add up to stir the pot. Like many other cultures that makes this country so amazing and so appealing for all of us.
I had a similar post about this last year Be True to your School
This one was about empowering and embracing your weirdness. This time around it’s to embrace your plenitude and your culture, as part of yourself, of who I’m.