I turned 40 almost two years ago, and honestly, I was so excited to enter this new decade. But this isn’t always how I thought—I can vividly recall being in my 20s and thinking 40s was old. I truly believe this mindset shift happened for me because of the amazing women in my life that are the same age or even older. Ever since I can recall, I’ve always had close relationships with my girlfriends—but in my 40s it’s even better because we are even more authentic. These women are like sisters to me—we laugh together, we cry during the challenges we’ve faced, we tell each other everything about life, work and especially when it comes to dating, love and relationships. Sometimes it still feels unreal that we are in our 40s together but I am embracing it fully and loving every minute of it, especially when we are spending time together.
Anyone who knows me also knows that I am an ultra proud Latina representing the South Side, especially since it can get a bad rap from North Siders (it’s a Chicago thing). I was born and raised on the far southeast side of Chicago, in a working class Mexican-American community just near the Indiana border. To this day, I go “home” every weekend, to visit my parents and bring my kids to see them. Every time I cross the bridge and train tracks—besides having that quick moment of panic that it becomes a long wait if the crossing rails drop—I feel so at ease because it’s where I grew up. I always recall the time when it felt like everyone knew each other and we spent hours playing outside, riding bikes and eventually cruising with friends, and everyone pitching in for gas that was less than a dollar a gallon next door in Indiana.
As an only child, I never knew what it felt like to have siblings and always wished I had some. Because of this, I treat and consider my friends as if they are my family and would literally do anything for them. I am an extrovert and have always enjoyed being around people, but as I’m getting older, I definitely value alone time more and more, which is really hard to get as a mom. Many people, including friends, see me as someone they can talk to about anything—I always try to listen without judgment, give input or advice only if I’m asked for it, and I will challenge those who need it to make decisions about their next steps for self-improvement, relationships or anything else.
My education shaped me into someone who is caring, passionate and committed to equity, especially for Latines of all races and nationalities. Side note: I know Latinx and Latine are still not fully accepted terms—I prefer the inclusivity aspect but I can appreciate the comfort of some people sticking to Latinos, even if I do not agree with it. All of my career has been dedicated to serving young people and I operate with the idea to “never forget where I come from.” This was a phrase my father often said to me and it has always stuck with me (yes, I’m also a daddy’s girl, even at this age). The more I think about it, I probably quote my dad every day.
In my 40s, I have both the experience and confidence professionally, and while the imposter syndrome still creeps up, it’s definitely a much more minimal feeling.
From my point of view, SLBL represents a space for Latina women to come together and share life with one another—all of it, the good and hard parts. For me, it has been essential to my own growth and evolution and these women—Cristina, Selena and Yvonne—have shared the same sentiments with me. As a Latina, I have often grappled with how I am supposed to act, look and function and what I have learned is that it is totally up to each one of us. We are deserving of being vulnerable, being strong, being excited, being confused and all the other feelings we feel alone and with one another. My hope is this space will invite other Latinas and women of all backgrounds to share their stories, their wisdom and their feelings so that we can be there for each other and reach our full potential.
SLBL will become what we ALL want it to be and need it to be. It will be a space and place for us to talk about our joys and sorrows, our struggles, our achievements and anything on our minds. I have no idea what my 40s have in store for me, but I know that the people in my life will surround me with support, cheer me on and love me unconditionally and that is all I can ask for!