Being Latina and Living in Minnesota - Miles + Smiles







Being Latina and Living in Minnesota

Photography by: Emily Voss

We should start from the beginning and you are probably asking why in the world do I live in Minnesota? Well, about a year and eight months ago a week before my wedding I flew out here for an interview at my dream job. In comes Target. On my wedding day at exactly 1 am (because I could not sleep) I signed and accepted a letter that I knew it was going to change my life as I knew it. And boy it did!

Not only I was starting life as a married woman but also I was yet again starting from scratch at a new state (yup, this is my second time around). A state completely the oposite to what I had known at that point in my life, and basically I didn't know anything else about it besides IT IS COLD. I was terrorized, but the thought of finally working at my dream job and building my life with my husband at a new place seem pretty exciting at the time.

I met a lovely latina girl who later became one of my best friends and a couple more latina girls that only stuck around for a couple of months. The first year was mostly a breeze, yeah winter was cold but bearable, I learned that Minnesotans don't simply stop their lives because there is a foot of snow outside but rather embrace it. It was a big lesson to me since in Miami everything stops simply because it rains, ha!

Summer was lovely and we enjoyed it as much as we could. My husband and I were also trying to figure out this marriage thing and how this new life would work. With plenty of high and lows we survived the summer and by the time the second winter hit that's then everything started going down hill for me.

One night I attended an event here in Minneapolis with a blogger friend and there I bumped into two gorgeous Latina models. Everything a Latina "should be" long, dark, thick hair, as outgoing as they come, sexy outfits and beautiful accent all over their English. I saw everyone gravitating towards them like flies, and at that moment it hit me.... Who was I? I was obviously not perceived Latina "enough" and is not that I craved the attention but I didn't felt like I belong there. Im not curvy, I don't have a thick accent, I am mostly blonde from my balayage, and I don't like to dress "sexy". On the other hand well, I was obviously not perceived as American, well because I am not.

I fell into a deep hole of identity crisis. After 16 years in the states and living in various cultures like Washington DC, Miami, Texas... and Minnesota out of no where made me question everything I was. So I started to evaluate the connections to my culture; the people that I knew around me that were part of the latino culture were very few, there are no real Colombian restaurants here, for the first time in my life I am working with all American peers (I've always had quite diverse working environments), standing in a meeting room where no one who looks or talks like me, I natively speak more English and Spanglish than Spanish and on top of it I realized I had lived more than half of my life far away from my native country without going back once. Yup, the hit was hard and I cried for days. I had an internal battle that one part said "stay, this is your dream job" and the other side of me screaming and begging me to go back to what I knew and where my culture was.

Im getting quite emotional about this as I write it, but only because looking back I had to go through that low before things got better, so much better.

I lost inspiration on the blog and took some time off to deal with all this emotions. On top of everything the dream job was crumbling apart and I stopped seeing the point to be in Minnesota. We made a trip to Miami and I remember asking my husband to drive us to our last apartment there. and we sat outside and I cried for about 30 mins. I was angry and sad and I kept asking him why do we have to go through what we are going through when so many people in other cities like Miami had it so easy. Someone else decades ago was the trailblazer for all of them to be comfortable and they just take it for granted. I kept asking; why us?, why do we have to pave the road in Minnesota?. I didn't have the answers then and I sure don't have them now.

One day, a girl on my building as we were riding the elevator said hi and asked if we were form Colombia, and I saw some light finally at the end of this tunnel. She was also Colombian! and she lives on our building! I was so excited! We quickly became friends with her and her husband and they also opened up their circle of friends to us and we felt so welcomed. I think I forgot how much friends truly can make things easier basically because I was focused on my marriage and I had given up on friendship all together a couple of months back. But there they were like a life jacket on this sea of emotions I was immersed in.

April came around and as I was almost ready to wrap up my journey at Target, I proposed to create a new position for me since well, I just don't fit the mold and they agreed to help me create it. I finally saw a purpose to what I was doing and now even more because my role now is much more involved into helping Target talk to latinos. It almost felt like my soul came back to my body, I was me again.

I am a big God believer and I know he had a plan for me all along and now I realize that I had to walk through tough paths and put to test everything I was down to my core, but only then I was able to discover who I truly am. So, Who am I you may ask? I am still the no curves, skinny, partially blonde, spanglish speaking LATINA and most importantly COLOMBIAN but I found a purpose in Minnesota. I found that my surroundings don't define me and that I do have the power to change it. There is truly no point of playing the victim on being a minority, I rather now look for ways to change what bothers me. I'm trying to get involved in organizations, talks, meet ups, groups both at work and in my every day life to keep my Latina self alive and happy.

Which is another reason why I wanted to share this story with all of you, I figured a lot more people have lived through this and I would really love to know your story so drop me a comment below or send me an email!


  1. You are such an amazing, strong woman! :)

  2. YASS! God has amazing plans prepared ahead of us!


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