It's a big day here at CA101!
- We have an awesome guest post from Raimy Diaz of Creative-Guru. She was one of CA101's original students, and has been on a fascinating journey to find her path, as you'll soon read. I believe there's no better way to find your road through your twenties than by hearing how your peers are making their way.
- The post I wrote a few weeks ago, Letters to Graduates: Do No Harm, is being featured today on the fantabulous GenY site The Questionable. My guest post is a shortened, reorganized form of my original post, so I strongly encourage you to check it out...even if you already read the original!
- And now, here's Miss Raimy D:
I grew up in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, and being completely foreign to my true identity. Last year, after many painful years of being exiled from my self, I decided to return home. My home, my soul, was unwelcoming, cold, and elusive. I don’t blame it for eluding me, I had for so long been shunning it as if somehow it was all wrong. And to think, all this started in an elementary playground where I experienced the first culture shock that triggered an identity crisis and many years of shame, guilt, and fear.
As Cuban political refugees, my family and I were granted welfare assistance and paid rent in a small apartment somewhere in “the hood.” I got to attend a nice inner city school, made up of mostly Mexican and a few African-American students. It was here where it all began. I remember the exact moment: I was 10 years old, I was in the 5th grade and we were out on the playground for recess. A group of girls and boys were playing tag, I stood out on the sidelines watching excitedly as one of the girls was reaching for a little boy’s shirt collar, I yelled “cojelo, cojelo.” In Spanish-- let me rephrase- in “Cuban Spanish,” the word cojer means to get. What I thought I was saying was “get him,” what my little peers heard was “get some.” Unbeknownst to me, the word “cojer” in Mexican lingo means something completely offensive, with heavy sexual innuendo. The stares I got right after the word escaped my mouth were painfully humiliating. I had no clue what had gone wrong and why everyone all of a sudden just stopped running.
This was when I first realized that my Spanish was not their Spanish, that it was different, and different was not good. I was teased endlessly for that and then some more for my funny accent. You see when Cubans speak Spanish it sounds like an angry rap, when Mexicans speak Spanish it sounds like a melodious ballad. I wanted desperately to make friends, I was in a lonely and strange city with no extended family and no friends, and I would do whatever it took to fit in, even changing the way that I spoke. To blend in with the Mexican little girls, I started mimicking their speech styles and patterns. Eventually, it was so well ingrained that when I would meet new people they would say “but you don’t sound anything like a Cuban.” I would smile and consider myself a success.
The rest of my adolescent years were comprised of similar cultural encounters each eroding my identity into tinier and tinier pieces. I spent a such long time trying to be anyone else but me, eventually I lost my real identity. This loss led to unnerving anxiety and stress and shame and guilt and fear, lots of fear. The moment I renounced my true self for a more “acceptable” pseudo-self, I inherited a world of fear-- a paranoid fear of being found out and being exposed for the fake that I really was.
I developed a debilitating social anxiety and was in mental turmoil even while alone. When you don’t know who you are as a human being and are unaware of your individuality, living becomes a real ordeal. Veiled behind fear and social anxiety, I couldn’t even see which direction to take my life in. I felt misplaced and embarrassed that even at the late age of 24, I was still wandering. Setting goals that were in line with my true self was impossible, I had no clear sense of self so how could I realistically expect achievement of myself. I was completely unaligned within; what I frantically needed was physical, mental, and spiritual calibration.
At first I turned to self-help literature. Soon I found that scientific, well researched pieces of data did little to comfort me. It was a different type of literature that made sense to me, the kind that comes from the soul and speaks to the soul- poetry, art, and creative writing. Only when I started embracing the creative-spiritual path did all the pieces start to fall into place. Only when I turned inward was I finally able to see the outward picture.
Creative-Guru I call it, my soul searching project-- the process by which I started becoming comfortable with myself by identifying who I really am as person, both physically and spiritually. Through creative exercises such as subconscious drawing, poetry writing, and color meditation I’ve come to learn my self anew. I found the root of many of my fears and insecurities and have gained the confidence and courage to start moving toward realizing my dream of writing and designing for a living. I’m no longer afraid of what others might think when I tell them I want to create for a living, this is me and I can’t for the life of me try to be something else.
There are many ways to go about finding yourself, your purpose, your career path. For me the way was poetic spirituality. For some, this way may seem too impractical, new agey, and incompatible with who they are and that’s fine. The important thing is realizing which way does speak to you and gaining the necessary self-awareness that leads to a fulfilling life.
For too long I was unaware and because of that, I constantly worried about creating an impression, meeting expectations, putting on pretenses, and being judged. It hurt like hell living like that and creative soul searching helped me heal. I forgave myself for all the pain that denying my truth caused and decided to share my experience with others who might be going through a similar hell. To be true to your soul, to live purposefully, to seek self-knowledge and to live in light, these are the creative soul searching objectives at www.creative-guru.com. If you are up for a little soul searching stop by, the first step to becoming comfortable with yourself is to start identifying who you really are.