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What Success Means To Me As A Latinx Artist

Growing up, the illusion of the American Dream allowed my imagination to run free with hopes and aspirations, but I was at a disadvantage. As a little Latinx girl, I wasn’t fully aware of how hard it was going to be to navigate a male-dominated and controlled world, where racism and classism would constantly test my strength in the journey to success. 

As a first-generation student, I often feel the pressure to hold it all together even when I’m falling apart. Even though I’ve found healing practices to bring peace into my life, I sometimes feel like I cannot help but feel like I am not doing enough.

These feelings of inadequacy stem from the definition of success that’s been instilled in me since childhood. In capitalist America, success is measured by wealth. Hustle culture reinforces the “not doing enough” narrative, making people believe that overworking will equate to profits.  

However, wealth doesn’t guarantee happiness. When people think about success, the default meaning is often viewed by the amount of money one earns. Of course, stability relieves stress, but if you’re working in a career or job that you absolutely hate, are you really living your best life?

For a while, I felt guilty for choosing to major in the arts. I thought perhaps I was letting my family down. The stereotype attached to being an artist makes it seem as if I’m predestined to fail as a professional in the U.S.

You would think that I would choose a more “secure” career. Instead, as many have lectured, I should’ve studied to be a doctor or lawyer. It might sound cliche, but I didn’t choose to be an artist. Creativity simply runs in my veins.

In the end, I think about not wanting to regret the life I envision for myself. Though my dreams have transformed over time, I refuse to compromise what makes me happy. Maybe one day I won’t love what I’m doing and I’ll change professions, but my current self thrives in creativity and the challenges it brings me. In addition, rather than overworking, I desire for a more balanced life, where my mental and physical health is not compromised. 

Three years into university, and I’m proud I stood by my decision to study art and film. I hope that as a generation, Gen Z continues to redefine what success looks like and what it means in our ever-changing world.

Mayra Sierra

UC Irvine '23

Mayra is a third-year studying Art and Film & Media Studies. In her free time she likes to watch movies, dance like no one's watching, spend more money than she has shopping and take nature walks when it's time for her social battery to recharge. Mayra currently has a coffee AND boba addiction she can't get rid of, but is working on it.
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