I believe that stereotypes only make me stronger.

Jessie - New York, New York
Entered on November 12, 2008

I believe that stereotypes only make me stronger.

Although New York City seems to embrace diversity, it is not hard to imagine multiple individuals who judge others based on stereotypes. Yet when I am on the bus to school, I am seen as a risk because perhaps I will be the one to disturb other passengers. Perhaps I will be like the rest of the children sitting in the back of the bus who curse and speak loudly.

I am not like them.

Unfortunately, I may fall under the label of a Hispanic girl that lives in the projects destined to become a young mother, drug addict or hoodlum. This of course does not describe me. In fact, I am a Hispanic girl, who lives in the projects, destined to become a successful woman. I strive for my achievements and prove that I am going to be greater then what some expect me to be.

I thank my parents for this. As a child, my parents were always cautious of who my friends were, or how I prioritized my school work. They constantly reminded me that I would not and be like the teenage mothers who cradle a child in their arms. Or like the kids that hung out in the street because they had nothing better to do. Or like the addict that trails the hallways, waiting for the dealer to sell their product.

I have repaid my parents by working towards my future and not towards failure.

Yet, no matter how hard I have worked or what I continue to do, individuals that live around me are surprised to know that I am still in school. They are also shocked to know that I am applying to college. My neighbors believe that I am an odd person because I’ve managed to be successful while being surrounded by addicts and gang members. I believe that I am just a stronger person because I have proved that I am not a statistic.

Stereotypes may discourage others to break the barriers that surround them. However, labels have actually assisted me in realizing that I do not have to be like everyone else.

I am proud to say that I am a Peruvian-Puerto Rican girl that is not what others expect me to be.

I am proud to say that I am a Latina that strives to not only better myself, but to better others.

I am proud to say that stereotypes can not stop me from becoming a successful person.

I am proud to say that labels make me stronger because they make me work harder.

So, while others are concerned about placing me under a label, I encourage them to do so. They are not harming me or placing a halt on my desires; they are only debilitating themselves with their own arrogance. I believe that stereotypes have made me stronger and hopefully others will be inspired to understand that they are only as triumphant as they chose to be.