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¡Hola! Im Ana, the Nonconformist

ana flores the nonconformistI don’t usually introduce myself by saying I’m a nonconformist. It sounds quite negative, doesn’t it? Yeah, most people would agree it does, and would hate to be labeled as such. Me?  I’m beyond that; I embrace it, but it wasn’t always like that.

I was born in Houston, Texas, to parents from El Salvador. When I was 6 years old my parents got divorced and my sister and I found ourselves being relocated to El Salvador. It was probably the most defining moment in my life. I was immediately enrolled into the American School so I could continue with my bilingual upbringing. Every year my sister and I would visit my dad in Houston and stay a month or so with him. This defined my unique bicultural upbringing, which gave me the tools to be perfectly comfortable in either culture and with both languages — Spanish and English.

The bilingual, bicultural girl who was a catered-to princess in El Salvador  and a reluctant dishwasher and mopper in the U.S., never realized this clash of cultures would actually define her way of viewing the world; a way that was just too different from the norms of a society that was defined by class, social status and last name.

Thus, I became a nonconformist. I didn’t even realize there was a label attached to my personality until my senior year in high school when the class superlatives were announced  and I scrolled down the list waiting to see my name under “Class Nicest,” “Class Most Likely To Succeed,” or even “Class Cutest!” But no, there I was, right under “Class Nonconformist.” And, of course, I hated it. It was so not cool, not cute, not even funny. But at 17 I really had no idea what cool even was. I mean, I had been listening to Menudo and Timbiriche half my life!

Now, 20-something years later, I embrace the title of nonconformist. I  love the fact that I’ve been transparent and even aggressive with my wants and needs ever since I was a teenager. My classmates knew that, but it took me a while to get there. It took me a journey of a life lived in over 11 cities in four countries; a life of quitting what didn’t feel right and throwing myself into the unknown time and time again; a life knowing my family never quite understood my decisions because I refused to fit into society’s norms of how I should look, who I should marry, and even who I needed to pray to.

And here I am, as a nonconformist who refuses to have a second child and who left yet another cushy and uber-cool job to become a blogger who had to constantly explain what the heck a blogger does. The nonconformist in me wasn’t finding anything online that spoke to me or my bicultural and bilingual Latina friends, so I created it.

I’ve found that my new life as a blogger has me urging parents to become nonconformists as well, to refuse to believe their children need to speak only one language, and do everything possible to expose them to as many languages, cultures and colors as they can.

I have found my nonconformist comfort zone, as contradictory as that may sound. I’m creating a movement by embracing that which I denied when I was younger.

Have you reached out to the nonconformist in you lately? Ever? Do it, embrace it and shower it with besos…it will lead your way.

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Check out the forthcoming book I co-authored, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America.

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