Gloria Estefan's "On Your Feet!" Is A Reminder You Need To Make Yourself Happy First

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Every time I start to feel overwhelmed with responsibility, my boyfriend tells me that I need to put my oxygen mask on first, before I can help anyone else put on theirs. 

It's a tough concept for a Latina like me to internalize because I've been raised to believe that family comes above all. In so many ways it goes against everything I've been taught, in other ways it's the right that my mom and grandma fought for me to have - even if they didn't realize it. 

I grew up in a very large Ecuadorean-American family the likes of which I love. But, like most Latinx families, they never taught me the importance of the individual. You're lectured from a young age about how you do things for the family, how you work to make those who worked for you proud. Ultimately, all that rhetoric does is create an environment anchored in conditional interactions and totally disregards the need for self-care and individual pursuits. 

And, so, when I was sitting next to one of my cousins, a woman I admire for paving her own way, and watching the Broadway show "On Your Feet!," I actually could not relate more to Gloria's story. 

For all the ways we are different — I am not a Grammy-award winning artist, I am not married to Emilio Estefan, I cannot dance like she can — at the heart of it we're moved by the same realities. 

  • It's incredibly hard to stand up to your family, but it's even harder to live in unhappiness for them.
  • When love is your reason to act, action is easier. 
  • And, when those around you choose to not respect your decisions and to instead condemn you for them, it's okay to resort to an "I need to show rather than tell" perspective. 

It's what I resorted to when I started my career and my family could not understand why I wasn't pushing for a 9-to-5. To them, I was sitting on my computer all day and making no money. It wasn't until rather recently that they actually opened their eyes to the career I've built for myself (this, four years later). 

I'm at a crossroads in my life — I'm months away from turning 25, in a committed relationship and starting to reap the benefits of the work I've put in since I was 18. A priority in every decision I'm now making is whether or not I'm doing it for me and whether or not it's going to make me happy. 

I sat in that Broadway theater, and if I'm honest, I cried. Gloria struggled so much to get to a healthier place in her relationship with her mother and at the end (spoiler alert) she did. The lesson I took from her journey though is that regardless of how others may react, it's okay to want to be happy and to act on that feeling. Eventually the rest of the world will catch up.