“You Seem American to Me”


I struggle with finding balance for all my experiences and characteristics. It seems that others have a much easier time at expressing themselves in all the ways that they can. Like most Americans, I am multi-ethnic, meaning that I have more than one ethnicity. But my background is more than that, too. I have a Caucasian father and a Puerto Rican mother (and if anyone knows anything about Puerto Ricans, it’s that no matter what percentage it is, it’s Puerto Rican blood nonetheless). I’m not quite multi-cultural in the sense that I was raised in two cultures, but my mom did her best to teach me about Puerto Rican traditions. I’m apparently not really biracial, either, as one co-worker remarked “you seem American to me” after I commented about being biracial. She prodded further, “Do you really consider yourself biracial?” As if to disbelieve that I could be anything more than the one-dimensional office admin.

That’s my issue: people fail to see the multi-dimensional me and I want them to see that. And it’s more than just culture and race, too. I have diverse experiences around the world and in several different communities that it’s hard to piece together. My life feels scattered all over the world, like a dissembled jigsaw puzzle. It’s not that I want the whole world to see who I am–that wouldn’t be possible anyway–but I would like a few friends to see that at least. I think the first time I realized that I wanted a lifelong companion to share all these aspects with was when I stood in front of the Acropolis for the first time and thought “no one will ever know what this means to me.” I want someone to be there for all the important moments in life. Instead, the closest I can get to have that kind of intimacy is in the retelling of those events.

So, my dear co-worker, you see me as the receptionist. But have you seen me with my Puerto Rican family? Have you seen me teach a class? Have you been with me while I lived in the remote areas of Uganda? Or worshipped in a church? In each part of life I am a little different, sometimes very different. I long for someone to see and accept it. Even more, I long for a place where I fit in–but I don’t think there is any place that has all the pieces of the puzzle for me.

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