I am proud to be Latina, but I also describe Latinx culture as a bit hypocritical. Picture this: It’s the Holidays, and you’re supposed to be eating, drinking, singing, and having fun, but instead you’re cornered and interrogated about your relationship status. I’ve seen it happen to my cousins, and it has also happened to me. It’s uncomfortable, it’s stupid, and completely unnecessary. And I think it’s even worse when you actually have had someone over in the past but you’ve been single for a while now and people start to worry that you’re going to be alone forever.
The thing is, if you’re Latina, the chances of the male figures in your life telling you that you shouldn’t have a boyfriend are very high. I grew up with male family members threatening my non-existent boyfriends. These empty threats made me terrified of actually having one. I also learned quickly that there’s a certain age when those empty threats transform into pitiful looks from female figures because they don’t want you to become “jamona”, in Puerto Rican slang, in other words: single forever. They don’t want their little girl to have a boyfriend, but they also don’t want their grown-up woman to be single, they want her to be a wife that cooks and cleans for her husband. Hypocrite.
In this dilemma, I also realized that in Latinx culture there’s a lot of black and white, but there’s rarely any gray. In their picture-perfect fantasy, you’re supposed to grow up pure and innocent, fall in love with a good man, marry them, move in together, and have kids. There’s never space for what to do if you end up not liking the opposite sex, or if you’re not comfortable with your assigned gender, or if you don’t like sex or don’t understand attractions, or if you don’t feel as devoted as they are. There’s never space or time to understand gray because that color is either a “sin” or they’re just “too old to change their beliefs.” And, of course, it just so happens that I grew up stuck in some shades of gray, white, and black. And being within these color pallets, give rise to very interesting memories to tell.
Retrieved from Pinterest.
One of the fondest memories I’ll treasure forever was when I fell irrevocably in love for the first time. I’ve never felt so sure about something, about someone. There was no hesitation, just feelings, emotions, a lot of late-night talking, and too many cheesy moments I’d rather not think about because they make me automatically cringe and laugh too hard. But I was so happy, the happiest I have been so far in life. I had read countless romantic stories at that point, but mine was my favorite. There is something so intimately beautiful about getting to know someone and simultaneously knowing that they are who you want to love and share moments with, even if it’s just for a short forever. If you ask me, it was the sweetest and most perfect relationship, it fitted exactly who I was and who we were at the time. However not everything worked out in the end, and the aftermath wasn’t pretty, but it taught me valuable lessons. I was mourning a part of me that was forever lost without realizing that life is just that way. You meet people, apply to jobs and you quit those jobs, you make friends and lose some, you fall in love and you break it off, if things don’t go well. You change, and life does too, but I wasn’t prepared for that…
It took a while for me to get over my feelings, but it took longer for my family to stop mentioning his name at any given time. Once again, I found myself in the irony of my Latinx family giving me a headache when I was in that relationship, but when I was single again, they couldn’t bear to see me like that. Oh, to be or not be single.
Time passed, as it does, and I found a particular love for being single. Most importantly, I started to love myself for who I was and not as the product of someone else. I once listened to a woman say that when you start to truly love yourself it’s harder to date someone, and I agree.
Knowing and loving me became a priority.
It’s not as if I was rejecting the idea of being with someone else, but I realized that it was okay to be with myself and to know my limits and my standards. It taught me to never settle for less than I deserve. So, when my family asks me nowadays when I’m going to stop being single, I just say my future partner is in some other country (This is not a lie. Love you, Jin!). But in all seriousness, this Valentine’s I’ll be as single as ever, celebrating love in all forms, showering my friends with love, pampering myself, and being content with life. While some of my friends are already settling down, I’m still figuring out who I am, who I want to be, and how to achieve that. After all, Ari was right, thank u, next!