One World Vs. The Other

When thinking about what I wanted to write for this essay, I was clueless. Writing an essay about yourself isn't so easy as it seems. I wanted to write something that was meaningful but different. I wanted to show people not everyone is different from each other as it seems. I feel that I really got my message across in this essay about how it doesn't matter about what others think. What matters is how we accept ourselves as the individuals we are even with all the negativity that can be portrayed on the culture we come from. In my next essay, my goal is to expand more on my ideas to give the readers a deeper understanding. 


When I hear the word “culture,” I picture a big gathering of people all coming together to celebrate their similarities with one another. I see colors, lights, dancing, singing, rituals, etc. To me, it is something to cherish because it’s where you can find belonging. It’s where you have almost everything in common with the people surrounded by you. It’s home. I was sent out into the world where there wasn’t only my culture. There were hundreds more and it’s when I realized I won’t always belong wherever I go. Stereotypes are put on many cultures, putting people to shame about the culture they come from or are apart of. Being a part of two cultures is when things can get very complicated. I am stuck between the Puerto Rican culture and the American culture and it is like I am stuck between two worlds. Two worlds that cannot interfere, it is either one or the other or even sometimes neither. But I believe that there is a world where the two can coexist because both are who I am.

I love being Puerto Rican but being Puerto Rican in Philadelphia is completely different from being Puerto Rican in Puerto Rico. I pick and choose when I want to show the Hispanic side of me since it isn’t something that’s normal to people in Philadelphia. English is the main language and speaking another language is a “cool” thing when it’s really the same as knowing English. We all make each other feel so different just because we don’t come from the same culture or ethnicity or especially when not all of us are the same skin tone.

The stereotypical Puerto Rican is being “too ghetto” or “too loud.” In a way, I can see this being true but usually to me, it is taken as a joke until I notice it out in public.

“Mom, can you please stop?”

“Stop what? Come on Nani, lighten up.”

“But you are being loud, and you got people looking at us like we crazy.”

I look around after saying this and instantly see all the eyes that were on us. It was kind of awkward and uncomfortable because I do not like to attract attention to myself.

“Man f*** them, la gente son presentao (People are nosy). And that’s not my fault.”

“Ooooookay,” I said rolling my eyes. I can sometimes feed into the idea of the stereotypes. I try so hard to not seem like a stereotypical Puerto Rican, when deep inside I know I am not. I do not care about what others think but when it comes to being judged because of my race and culture is when I take it seriously. For this reason, I tend to change myself depending on where I am at.

The main character in The Hate You Give, Starr Carter, experiences the same feeling of what it is like being stuck between two worlds. The author, Angie Thomas, talks about Starr’s desire to fit in when she wrote: “That means flipping the switch in my brain so I’m Williamson Starr” (71). “Flipping the switch” is something I do a lot especially when being in a place that represents the definition of professionalism or being somewhere where someone considers me as a stranger. “Flipping the switch” is like changing your whole demeanor. Many people say I tend to give off the idea that I am always mad or upset so in a way I try to do the opposite by changing my facial expressions and giving good first impressions. We all want to be viewed or noticed a certain way when in reality it won’t always work that way. In some situations, people can be seen as the target depending on where they’re from or what they look like and at times I can feel like this person.

Being around my family is when I don’t have to worry about how my culture affects anyone else, but this changes when I visit Puerto Rico. The people in Puerto Rico are much different than the Puerto Ricans here in Philadelphia. Since Philadelphia is filled with so many other cultures, I tend to shut myself out from my culture so people will see me and not my culture. In Puerto Rico, I don’t have to do this since everyone is mostly the same over there but it’s when I feel out of place or an outsider because I am not from Puerto Rico. I am from America and a part of the American culture. They have different traditions that I never learned or heard of and I speak more English than Spanish. Knowing more English is where I feel out of place the most, especially with family around my age.

Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of Between the World & Me has similar experiences to my life with the people around his age. He tries to understand a series of ideas he has developed about his body and the generation he comes from by saying: “Now I felt the deeper weight of my generational chains” (124). He digs deeper and understands why these “generational chains” have such a significant meaning. The generations we come from, are apart of our identity. We all want to feel accepted by the people we’ve grown up with and can relate to the most. When we don’t feel comfortable around these people, we can often tend to question who we are and our belonging. I remember speaking to one of my cousins and she did not know any English. I was able to communicate with her to the point where we can both understand each other pretty well. After our conversation, it really hit me that I don’t fit in as much there as I do here in Philadelphia. It made me feel good about where I’m from but also put me in the position that it doesn’t matter what culture I am apart of.

Being a part of two cultures can make someone wonder who they really are as a person. Being aware of the person I am can help me rely more on myself. I listen to my own opinions more often than others. I have an inner connection with both of my cultures that I have learned to use as an advantage, like being able to communicate with people who speak both english and spanish. I’m learning to fight the stereotypes that are chasing after me. I am learning to accept myself for the person I am and not care about those around me. I am learning to live in a world where both of my cultures coexist with each other and not having to shut one or the other out. Knowing who I am is a relief because I know how to face the challenges of who I am when the time comes. I know me.