Latino Giant of The Week: Valeria Lopez

As I stepped on to the plane, thoughts of my life in Honduras kept flashing back, and suddenly those infinite thoughts of breaking away all seemed so tangible. Everything seemed so surreal, secretly, deep down in my heart I never believed the day would come, when I would leave it all behind and start a new life, a new chapter and reinvent who I was and what I wanted. I never understood why I chose UM of all schools, after all Miami was not an unexplored city to me, considering how I was born, spent pretty much every summer and more there. Most people want a complete adventure, and something entirely different for college, but something of their envelope was just so different than all the others, it felt so .. right.

There I was, international student orientation day, and as I heard all those different countries being named and people standing up as they heard there origin, I could not help but feel curious as to who I would meet and a little insecure considering how I came from such a small country and was the only one from it. Slowly, things started to change, I developed a group of friends whom I cherish till this day and was finally stepping out of my shell. Yet, I wasn’t completely sure that this person, the person who I looked at each morning was the person I wanted to be. I would look back and think to myself, well, at least your not so invisible as you were, but I didn’t want to be “not so invisible”, I wanted to be seen and stand out. Of course, I always believed that my personality was something I would be remembered by, but that just was not good enough.

Towards the end of my freshman year I could not believe how much my life had changed, I finally had friends who I knew where real, I had the world at my feet and could not complain about how good I had it. As I looked back I kept remembering how much I had dreamt of all this, how bad I wanted it, but there was something missing. Thoughts of my ugly duckling self tumbled into my head, as I saw a slightly familiar girl looking through her mom’s magazines and wondering when I was going to look like the girls that filled those pages up. I remembered, why it was so hard for me to accept that girl that kept looking back at me when I stared at the mirror. She just wasn’t who in my head I was sure I was supposed to be. I meditated and planned it out, how I was gonna be that other girl, the girl who I would wake up and think “you’ve finally done it”.

Miami is not only know for it’s beautiful beaches and amazing weather, it outshines almost every other city for it’s gorgeous women, and I was determined to become one of them. After months of hard work and ups and downs, there I was, standing and being remembered, just like I wanted. Needless to say that I had let something that seems to many, including myself, so unbelievably superficial and plastic, overshadow my past and who I truly was. Things that were usually a huge part of my daily life, like praying to God for guidance and strength or talking to mom and dad seemed unimportant for I had it all. Needless to say that despite having what seemed like all still left me feeling empty. Which was when I realized how unbelievably materialistic and shallow I had become. I had let what I once believed to be unnecessary and ridiculous consume me and who I was. I had spent so much time trying to erase my past and who I was that I did not realize that I needed who I had been in the past to help me shape who I was gonna become in the future.

When you leave the place you have called home for so long you are faced with so many difficulties and you are faced with the challenge of who you are and who you want be. Life is not only about getting to be the person you always dreamed of but it’s always about that adventure and all those small memories that make each individual so unique. My biggest advice to anyone who is looking for who she or he is, is to be fearless and persevere against all odds, for you see it’s always about allowing yourself to make the journey it is never about erasing it and leaving your final outcome.

Valeria Lopez is a Miami born, Honduran native, currently studying  at the University of Miami.
She’s the co-owner and founder of Kalúa Swimwear. 

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