But Do I Really Belong?

photo of Leslie Ambriz

I could hear the director counting down in my ear.

3, 2, 1.

It was showtime, and here I was a short, olive-skinned girl in the middle of an anchor desk surrounded by three blonde haired, blue- eyed journalism students. Earlier that semester I had the opportunity to audition to co-anchor my alma mater’s live evening newscast.

This is what dreams are made of.

I auditioned and a few days later I received the news that I was going to be co-anchoring the Wednesday newscast —then I looked at my co-anchors. They were all white.

The first thought that popped in my head was, “Oh great. I’m the token brown girl.”

Immediately I started telling myself all the reasons I got the job other than my talent. I told myself that I had only booked the gig for diversity reasons. “They just don’t want to look unbalanced or racist.” I was grateful for the opportunity, but I felt like a total fraud my first day on the desk. I had scammed my way in, and it was only a matter of time before they found out that they made a mistake.

This isn’t new for me. Imposter syndrome is something I’ve dealt with most of my life. It’s something that many people of color experience when navigating predominantly white spaces. Michelle Obama still deals with it and she’s a former first lady. We feel out of place, like a fish of water. We think that it must be a mistake or that we’re living in a weird version of J-Lo’s Second Act. Someone must have misheard me in the interview. They accidentally chose me, and now they’re too nice to say anything. Yeah, that’s it.

I’m 25-years-old, and to this day I’m still waiting for someone to figure out that I keep failing up.

One thing I do know is that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if they hired me by mistake, chose me as a token, or whatever the reason might be. Honestly, they hired me because they saw talent and potential. It was the voice in my head that tried to prove otherwise.

I’m deciding to take every opportunity thrown my way and make it work for me. If I need to put in extra hours at work to stand out, then that’s what I’m going to do. If I’m the only anchor of color in a majority-white news team, well then I’m going to be the best anchor on that team. I don’t do this to prove myself to others. I do it to show myself that I am capable and adequate. The saying is true. We are our worst critics. We beat ourselves up and listen to the voice inside of our heads that say we aren’t good enough because we aren’t tall, blonde, and beautiful. It’s stupid.

We are enough. We are brown-skinned women who know what it means to feel out of place from the moment we enter this world. We’ve had to fight to be seen. We are powerful womxn and powerful Latinxs. So, the next time you’re in a space and feel that you’re there by some divine mistake. Shake it off. Remind yourself that you’re a true Chingonx, toss your head back, and hold it high. You’ve got this and guess what…it wasn’t a mistake. You do belong, and you’re going to shine.

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