Top Latina Blogger: Owning My Legacy of Success
While in Florida with my family a few weeks ago, I received an email that would alter the way I see this blog forever. After sending in my application, with nothing more than a wish and prayer, I found out that De Su Mama was chosen as a Top Bloguera (Latina blogger) by LATISM.
In my social media circles, I would often refer to myself and this blog as “small”. I would say things like “small blogs can do big things, too!” or “I hope they’re willing to work with small bloggers”. Supporters of my work would get angry, yelling at me that DSM was not small. Compared to them, I am. But what I’ve learned from those amazing women, and after the Top Bloguera’s retreat in New York City, is that my impact is not small. Nor can it be compared or replicated. I learned that I was the one thinking small, putting boundaries on the success and dreams I’m capable of achieving.
I admit that I ‘ve suffered from low self esteem for most of my life. But I’ve never been so low that I didn’t dare to dream. I remember, years ago, after my first love had broken my heart, I ran into his best friend while grocery shopping. I was still in college, unsure of my future. So when he asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I said, “I’m going to write a book. One day you’ll see my name on the shelves of Barnes and Noble.”
I knew the guy I dated for years had dumped me because I was a sappy, clingy girl. I wanted his best friend to go tell him how independent and strong I was; how attractive and sexy I was. While I did (do) dream of writing a book, I was totally faking it that day at the grocery store.
The Top Bloguera’s retreat started off kind of like that for me – I cried on the plane ride there and faked it for most of the first day. I knew my value would be assessed from the moment I walked in. I was terrified, yet determined to look like the legacy of success that LATISM believed me to be.
The organizers at LATISM had secured funding from very generous sponsors like Suaze and Google to completely fund my flight to New York, as well as many nights stay at the beautiful Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue. And while I felt honored and humbled by LATISM’s belief in my work, the ability to let my guard down occurred solely because of the 3 girls I roomed with – Staci, Tiany and Claudya.
As Latinas, we each have varying stories of identity and connection to our heritage. Even still, we connected as a unit, pushing each other to make the most of the trip, cheering each other on, crying together, laughing till 2am, and peeling away the anxieties that we all came to New York with.
The #TopBloguera retreat was jam packed with informative sessions on business plans, presentations by marketing gurus, film producers and others who are taking their social media presence to “the next level”. But the woman that most moved me was Pauline Campos, the new columnist at Latina Magazine.
Pauline is a writer. She makes no claims to be anything else. With her daughter sitting quietly at the table beside her, Pauline was barely audible during her presentation. I rushed up to the front. I wanted to hear her thoughts on getting published, taking her voice from online to print, and to soak up the wisdom of someone on a path I so desire for myself.
What she said will forever change my life… “Writers are both vane and insecure. You know your stuff is good, or you wouldn’t put it out there, but you are horribly insecure and need constant reassurance. You wonder, ‘why would anyone want to read this?’”
I want to thank Pauline, a complete stranger, for letting me own the most insane parts of who I am – the vanity that allows me to share and the terrified insecurity that shrinks from constant marketing and social media.
During the retreat, LATISM secured the opportunity to meet with UN officials and tour the United Nations building privately. As we walked into the building that is currently (as in, THIS week) housing political leaders of many nations, discussing matters that really impact our world (like Syria, not Cyrus), I felt my confidence budding. I felt faith seeping into my body. I felt my voice rise from a quiet hush to a yearning to rush home and speak, write and tell anyone that will listen why I am destined to create a legacy of success.
So, to my first love and to my forever love, to my best friends and my enemies, to the social media leaders who support me and to those who have no idea who I am: I am a Top Bloguera and I want to write a book.
I know now why I started De Su Mama. As a Latina married to an African American man, raising multiracial children has come with struggle. Even now, at 3 years old, Alina is teaching me that proactive parenting, when it comes to racial identity and societal diversity, is absolutely necessary. Our Latino culture sometimes shuns this discussion. Conversation of skin color and discrimination are almost non-existent. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can still honor our heritage and family legacies, while prompting authentic conversations on issues that impact our children. I am no less Latino for wanting this; in fact, I believe it makes me more whole. Ultimately, for brown moms raising black babies, we need to nurture our hopes, not squander the dreams we have for our multiracial children. And, dear Universe, I’m asking you to help me achieve this. I’m asking be apart of the change that my children deserve. They inherit two cultures, two races, yet I sincerely believe there is only one identity to build. Perhaps balanced by a hyphen, but one nonetheless.
With utmost respect and the promise to work my ass off,
Vanessa, la Mama de Alina y Sebastian