East L.A. has shaped my life in many different ways, and I don’t deny my roots. It’s because of East L.A. that I can describe myself as a strong, independent, young lady that will face all the challenges the world will throw my way. I am a girl that is strong in certain ways, but sentimental as well. The people in my neighborhood taught me how to stay strong in difficult situations. I made the decision to never break down because of my sisters and my mother, and simply because I don’t like to cry or talk about my problems to others. Since I’m the oldest child, I have to stay strong for them. I wouldn’t want to see my sisters break down because I know how it would affect my mom if I ever did break down. I want to experience new things that will help me not only physically but also emotionally and mentally. I have learned and seen that some experiences may be difficult to go through, but the best outcome will always be learning from them.
I think of myself as a physically strong girl because I grew up with my cousins who were all guys. The only girl cousin I had was five years older than me, and she was all about makeup and was kind of girly. I got along with her well, but I got along better with the guys. I always fought with them. Most of my childhood friends are guys who I still talk to. We played soccer or football certain days in the middle of the street. I didn’t actually play because my mom and dad said that I’m a girl. They said that I should be inside playing Barbies with my sister, but I never wanted to so I sat on top of a car and watched them play. We also played with toy guns, marbles, and we played cops and robbers. I’m pretty sure that everybody played that game some time in their childhood. Sometimes in school I was never known as a girl. I was always known for kind of being a guy. The guys described me as one of their homeboys or little sister. I always liked working out and I know that most girls don’t work out because they don’t like to sweat or to have a “guys” body.
My mom has always thought that there are certain things for men and women. She thinks that pink is for girls and blue is for boys. Cars are for boys, make-up is for girls. Coloring is for girls, sports are for boys. My father thought the same in the beginning but started accepting the idea that I wasn’t a typical girl. When you grow up as a Latina in a Latino family it’s complicated. The girls are raised differently than the boys. You’re raised thinking that there are certain things for boys because it’s a “dangerous” job or it’s a job that requires strength. The women are expected to do better in school to get an education to be a doctor or a nurse. My parents wanted me to be a nurse but I disappointed them by saying that I want to be an FBI Agent. They’re still trying to talk me out of it,but I’m not going to change my mind.