Growing-up in Mexico

I grew up in an industrial city in northern Mexico, right by the border. Monterrey was nothing like the stereotypical Mexican city you see in TV shows or movies. The city as I know it has beautiful mountains, tall buildings, and an industrial section home to over a million people. A metropolitan city, it’s grown so much over time that it absorbed all surrounding areas.  Like any other hometown, it had its pros and cons. Our culture was dominated by money, as it constantly moved through established businesses. Reflecting on my time at Instituto San Roberto and Tecnologico de Monterrey Valle Alto, my middle and high school, social relationships were defined by socioeconomic class and the luxuries people could enjoy. 

One’s value was based on how much income you had or how well you fit into predetermined stereotypes of the Mexican “elite.” Deviant behavior automatically made you an outcast. You had to fit what everyone else wanted you to be. I spent years trying to fit into this mold. When I left for college, I had no idea who I was. I dreamt of belonging, feeling at home where I was, and finding acceptance – but I took the wrong paths to do so. In a big city, it’s hard to become the person you want to be. It saddens me that there are still so many people who struggle with this. 

Recently, a movie came out called “Cindy la Regia” – a reference to my city, as our people are called Regios. It’s supposed to be funny, so no one gives importance to how it portrays Regia women as privileged, ignorant, and conceited. I didn’t dare watch it. I knew it would totally misrepresent my experience as a Regia woman. 

Once, I went to Epcot Park at Disney Orlando. In the Mexico section of the ride, you’re taken in a pyramid for a Mexican fiesta. Sombreros, tacos, mariachi – all of the stereotypical objects of Mexican culture were represented.  Disney World's Walt and Mickey Statue Pixabay

As I sat on the ride, I didn’t know how to feel. I am proud of my Mexican culture, but I don’t feel a connection to those objects. The only time I came into contact with them was during Mexican Celebration Day at school. During parties and family gatherings, they were nowhere in sight. What do these experiences mean for me as a Mexican and Regia woman? Which one is wrong? My idea of Mexico or the media’s portrayal of it? In a society that pushes you to follow what’s expected, you feel like you’re on the outside looking in. We can’t all fit into these stereotypes and molds. 

Growing up in Mexico had its beauty, and I’m proud to call myself Regia. People are warm here, especially in Merida. They are hard workers with a sense of commitment, and they have companionship and love for one another. As a country, we have been through so much. From Narcos, to Machismo, to terrible presidents, to times when safety or the lack of it prevented us from living normal lives. 

Still, our spirits are unbreakable. It is what connects me to all other Mexican people. We have the heart of fighters. When it comes to hard times, we stick together. In Monterrey, people may be individualistic and materialistic. But once you find yourself and realize how much is out there and how many challenges life has, you feel lucky to have a home. 

In Monterrey and Merida, I can find that peace. I go back two or three times a year, and I have so much nostalgia for the beautiful memories the city has given me. When I see my best friends – Cynthia, Vanessa and Julia – it’s like no time has passed at all. We stay connected by the fact that we share so much history. When I go to my beach house, I feel close to the beautiful Mexican beaches. Joined by my parents, Hector and Maria, and our dog, Casper, we walk down the Yucatan shore every day. I go out with my friends, Nushi and Janina, and we dance all night in the company of delicious tequila and mezcal. We listen to the best setlists created by talented Mexican DJs. Or I hang out with childhood friends by the poolside and under the Mexican sun.  two women sit on the beach, facing the ocean. the sun shines in between them. Briana Tozour | Unsplash

There are so many beautiful things about Mexico. If I could name my favorite one, it would be the people. No matter where I am in the world, if I meet someone from Mexico, I immediately feel like there is a piece of home right there with me. It’s an indescribable connection. Even though all of us experience our culture in different ways, we are still connected by this country.