DEAR YOUNGER ME, BY YOSELINE PEREZ
by Yoseline Perez
Dear Younger Me,
I want to start by apologizing to you. I'm sorry for being so harsh on you, and not letting you be a kid when you had the chance. I know you were forced to grow up at a very young age due to certain circumstances.
But, I think that's what made you who you are today.
Everything is going according to God’s plan, as Mom always said “Dios siempre esta contigo.” And she is right, the number of blessings in our lives is never-ending. There is no doubt that God is not with us because he has been so good to us. His faithfulness and goodness brought us to the Olympic training center, as a Team USA athlete, making way to her first Olympic qualifier in Chile. Again, I'm sorry for being harsh on you, maybe it wasn’t always necessary, but look at where we are now!
Despite Mom and Dad's doubts about you competing in a male-dominated sport, you convinced them otherwise. Your 10-year-old mind convinced two old-school Mexican parents that girls can also box, and you wouldn't let them change your mind. Regardless of your amazing abilities at that age, you would still allow others to make you feel ashamed of your name.
So what if your middle name is Guadalupe and not Grace? And so what if English wasn’t your first language? That is all Mom and Dad ever knew, so of course they're going to give you a Mexican name and only speak to you in Spanish. They sacrificed a lot by entering a foreign country to give us a better life. How could you be ashamed of them?
Gracias a Dios, I am now ranked number one in the U.S. at 54 kg, and paving the way to becoming the first Mexican-American female Gold Medalist at the Olympic Games Paris 2024!
They love us and only want to protect us. We are so close to getting what we have always wanted and what we have always dreamed of. I came to the Olympic Training Center a week early — before the Pan-Ams Camp starts — to get into the right headspace while putting in some extra work.
I miss my family because we don’t get to see them as often. It can be hard because Mom and Dad aren’t there to push and motivate me like they always have. And my brothers aren’t there to make me laugh after having a rough day.
But still, we are not alone. As Mom says, “Dios siempre esta contigo.”
Thanks to them, you are a strong Mexican-American female athlete, who hopefully inspires other Latinas to feel empowered by their culture. If it weren't for Mom reminding me that there are other girls just like me who seek a role model, I would have continued to struggle to accept myself.
So, every time I step into the ring, I remind myself to push past my limits. I hope to inspire women to chase their dreams because not only am I representing 2 flags as a Mexican-American, but also I am becoming someone women can look up to.
As a result, now I walk around shameless of my name, language, and appearance. How could I not be proud of my culture? Why would I want to be anything other than a Hispanic woman who had to build herself from the ground up?
As of today, I am a proud Mexican-American female athlete holding the Mexican Flag in my heart while putting the American Flag on my back.
I know it’s challenging doing it on your own pero si vale la pena, push through it. I promise you it is so worth it, because not only are you changing your life but you're making an impact in your community.