Commentary: Battling two worlds at a time

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Photo credit: Graphic Illustration by Molly Solowitz

The graphic illustrates the two worlds I feel that I have battled since coming to Archer. As when I am riding on the bus towards school, which is a different environment than I was ever used to, it felt as I entered a second world when I walked up the school’s front steps.

By Lizette Gonzalez, Senior Reporter

Every day, as I walk up the steps of Archer it feels as if I’m walking into my second reality. It has grown to be a place that I love and it has been an experience like no other. Coming to Archer, a predominately white and wealthy institution, provoked new inner battles and questions that I doubt I will ever get a set answer to. 

As someone who comes from a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood and was used to going to school with the same kids since kindergarten, it was hard to adjust to Archer. It was quite literally a whole new world for me. It started with my education, but eventually, the changes bled through every aspect of my life. For the first time, I wasn’t with a lot of people who looked like me or came from similar backgrounds. The bubble around my life that I was so familiar with finally popped. 

At the start, I had a heavy feeling in my stomach every morning. I experienced confusion and anxiety every time I was on campus because I wasn’t comfortable as everyone else was. It was daunting to me because I didn’t expect that my freshman year, the year I came to Archer, would be so life changing.

As I reflect, I now understand that what I was feeling were repercussions of imposter syndrome and culture shock. I had failed to define what I was feeling for so long because these emotions infested my daily life.

These emotions became normal. They shouldn’t be normal.

I was navigating a space that, in my mind, wasn’t meant for me.

I wish I could go back to my ninth grade self and give her a hug. It felt wrong to say that I was not doing okay emotionally and mentally because I didn’t want to be seen as ungrateful. When in reality, I understood every emotion I had because I was so grateful and knew how meaningful it was to be at a school like Archer. 

I was conscious that the abrupt change of my environment and feeling like an imposter were the root cause. But being aware and accepting what I was feeling are two different things.

Opportunity guilt became something very real in my life. I was constantly wondering about “what ifs,” or if I was actually worthy enough to have opportunities that I never had before or even knew existed.

For the first time, I had to realize what my identity signified in today’s world. As a young Latina woman in a predominately white and wealthy institution, it makes sense why I first felt as if I didn’t belong. Even though I knew that I should be proud of all that I’ve accomplished and all that I do, I couldn’t drown out the comments I received or the feelings that I felt. Not only were the words of others my opponent, but I was too. 

Now, I know that I shouldn’t have been experiencing these battles in silence as I know I am not the only one. Being a part of Archer’s Latine affinity group, Hermanas Unidas, and connecting with family and friends have helped me turn these wounds into beautiful scars that motivate me every day.

These two worlds that I battle with have intertwined so much that they have united. They have united into another fragment of who I am and my identity. 

But, it still is hard. Very hard in fact, but I now have places that I can openly talk about these struggles and hopefully create change. No one should go through these feelings alone or at all. 

I truly think that maybe I won’t ever reach that 100% comfortability level that freshman me yearned for and now I realize that that is okay. There isn’t a set solution to battling with identity, but I hope that I just reached the first of many steps by finally being able to talk about it.