We are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Alejandra Gonzales is a very outgoing and proud Boliviana that’s absolutely obsessed with skincare! Her passion for skincare drives her desire to educate Black and Latino communities on skin health, and is working on starting her own skincare line that caters to darker skin tones. When she’s not researching skincare ingredients and taking bomb pics of products for Instagram (@glazed.skin), she’s a full-time marketing professional at a large tech company, who loves the outdoors and getting lost in a book, but loves her dog Jakey even more.
In this conversation, Alejandra Gonzales takes us on a journey through her experience between professionalism and authenticity.
These are some of the episode highlights:
Authenticity for Alejandra means having no filters but not being rude about it.
“When you start editing your thoughts, your self, how you act, then you start becoming something that you’re not. If I have to edit myself then I am not really myself" Alejandra adds when discussing what authenticity means to her.
Alejandra discusses that she was raised to be a super perfectionist which required a lot of editing. She adds, “It makes you believe that if you aren’t perfect then you are a failure.” Unfortunately, like many children of immigrants, we are conditioned to aim for perfection because our parents sacrificed their lives to give us a life with better opportunities. However, for Alejandra’s family, the decision to leave their place of comfort was not an easy one because they were relatively well off in Bolivia.
“My mom is a perfectionist to the core. She is clean cut and she raised me that way. I could not make a mistake. It was a serious issue for me to make a mistake. It started young because my mom was adamant about getting into certain schools. It's a lot of pressure for a child.” - Alejandra Gonzales
Upon arriving in the United States, most immigrant families arrive with very little to no money. Alejandra then feels that as a result of that,“the editing begins as soon as you arrive and want to fit in.” She believes that in order to fit in, we usually have to put our own cultures on the back burner to understand this new one we're stepping into. I would agree with Alejandra when she says that it’s not because we’re shunning our culture, but because now we are tasked with creating a separation while figuring out who we are in the context of this new place.
Alejandra and her parents came from Bolivia, a third world country. And within those underdeveloped nations exists a lot of political instability, which leads to violence, poverty, and famine. She mentions that the triggering point for her family was when the government wanted to privatize water. Alejandra says, “We were well off, but leadership was lacking so the uncertainty led to the move. We ended up in Miami, the melting pot of Latinos.”
After arriving, Alejandra remembers feeling shock at the exposure of so many different cultures because she’d never seen those people before. “I was so intrigued by all the other cultural places…It was really interesting to talk to different people and their experiences,” says Alejandra. However, as interesting as those experiences were for her, she also recounts how, like many new immigrants that do not speak English, she was treated differently. She adds, “What frustrated me the most at school, was when they would discount me because I couldn’t communicate. That’s how a lot of immigrants feel. The assumption was that they can't even talk so why would their opinion matter.”
While adjusting to America and to the numerous locations that she lived in, Alejandra experienced many identity crises. As a result of these experiences, Alejandra had always been standoffish about sharing her life and getting close to people that weren’t Spanish or Black. She adds, “With other people, I felt like I had to explain myself a lot and I don't like doing that. If you want the raw, unfiltered me, just shut up and listen. It's a lot of work to have to constantly explain myself.”
After having such a rocky relationship with perfectionism, Alejandra felt that she could not continue being a perfectionist nor could she continue to be a victim to these circumstances. She says, “I’ve been edited for so long. I feel like I’m at the point where I really understand who I am and what I want. I've worked really hard to be this understanding, compassionate person that I am, but I do not take any sh*t. I've become the person that I've always wanted to be because I've always been very insecure and like a watered down version of myself, which made me extremely sad.” It’s actually quite disheartening to be forced to suppress one’s uniqueness. To drown out what makes us stand out, what makes us who we are, and to keep to a whisper our heritage and traditions especially when we have so much to offer.
Alejandra shares that she is inspired and empowered by being the voice of little light brown girls like herself and by being the kind of person she needed when younger. Therefore, it is important for all of us to tap into that inner child and nurture it by showing up for others in ways that we needed others to do for us.
Alejandra Gonzales inspires us to change the narrative by showing up as our authentic selves. Make sure to connect with Alejandra Gonzales on Instagram.
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