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Born Into One Culture, Raised Among Others

A personal look into the struggles of a “third culture kid.”

At one point in our lives, we will all ask ourselves “So, who am I really?”

Now, as a child of immigrant parents and being a first generation American myself, I’ve spent countless, unimaginable hours contemplating this infamous question.

Although my age is at a mere 15 years, I have spent the majority of that time stuck between two worlds, a polarization of my identity. I have never felt like I am Argentine enough or American enough to check either one of the boxes.

I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong neither here nor there.

To most people, I may look like your average, run-of-the-mill American, descendant of some sort of European heritage- but that all changes the moment my native tongue slips from my mouth. It’ll happen every time I talk to my mom while at Kroger or call my dad to pick me up.

People think they’re being covert or secretive, but I feel their eyes on me like daggers. I’ve had many things like these happen to me and my family.

Words like “I’m more legal than you”and “But you’re not really American…” have left the mouths belonging to people I once considered friends.

Students and teachers alike have treated me differently once they’ve learned of my family’s nationality. Although these acts are small and many people have it a lot worse than me, they have caused an ethical dilemma in my life for many years.

To make things worse, I have always felt as if I didn’t quite belong in my friend groups or felt as if I couldn’t relate or have any sort of similarity with the people around me.

From my viewpoint, my friends have always felt as if they were hundreds of miles away from me and in order to fit into the puzzle, I had to dial down my personality.

But, on the other hand, I have contemplated my Argentine identity just as much as my American one.

One of my biggest fears is that the next time I go to Argentina, I will find no relation to the people or to the country and will have lost a piece of myself there. I’ll swipe through Instagram and see my childhood friends sprinkled through my feed.

But I’ll get this sinking feeling in my stomach… I truly have nothing in common with them, there’s no correlation between me and them. Even when I’m walking down the street in Buenos Aires, I feel as if something’s off and I don’t quite belong completely.

It feels like I’m just a tourist getting an all-included, VIP tour.

Because of all these small acts of slight suppression from both sides (and even from my side), I have been left in a constant state of contemplation, an abyss of self-reflection.

Always questioning which box to check: Argentine or American?

Although I speak of both identities in a negative connotation, I cannot imagine a world without my endless dilemma. I love both countries with a fierce love. I am so incredibly proud to call myself an American and an Argentine, so grateful for my parents and their sacrifice for me and my sister.

My struggle with cultural identity has left me with an incredibly unique viewpoint. And by that I mean the one of an outsider.

I have the perspective of an outsider looking in while belonging to both cultures; a precious and rare gem in the midst of it all.

Which brings me back to my original question: So, who really am I?

Well for now, I’m not Argentine or American – – just Victoria Bravo and that’s enough.

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About the Writer
Victoria Bravo, Staff reporter

My name is Victoria Bravo and this is my first year on staff at Lamplighter. As both a freshman and an avid writer, I am really looking forward to becoming...

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Born Into One Culture, Raised Among Others”

  1. Missy Talbert on March 17th, 2019 5:29 PM

    This was an absolutely amazing piece to read. I am an avid reader, and have yet to encounter anything so intuitive and introspective. I personally know Victoria, and am super proud to call her my friend. While I myself am not part of an immigrant family, so I can’t possibly understand the struggle that immigrants and alike face, I feel as though this piece will help those with the same feelings understand who they are just a little better. Again, super impressed and amazed with Victoria, congrats!!

  2. Frank Reckitt on March 21st, 2019 10:14 PM

    Brava, Victoria,
    Your essay and it’s subject, brought back a memory of the time I was fortunate to meet you and your family.
    When your family and you welcomed me into your home, and we spent hours sharing our history, thoughts and desires for the future, there was no country nor nationality. We were all from the same place in our hearts. And that happens each time we meet. Away from your family and friends, I still get the sense that you all are with me. Yes, sometimes I feel like a “Stranger in a strange land”, right here, in my native country. Often, I have felt more at home in other countries than my own. It is the center, the locus inside, that grounds me, when I have those emotions. It is that my homeland is made of the wonderful, sometimes funny, courageous people who exist in my life. They bring their gifts of the past, present and future, of the arts, discourse, compassion, laughter, hospitality, friendship and more. We share ourselves while animating each other, restoring our spirit and enhancing each of our lives.
    Oh yes Victoria, just being you, is absolutely enough. Gracias.

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