Features | February/March 1998

Loving Thyself
By David Mendez

LovePicLATINO MALE: 5'7", 27, 160 lbs., short faded black hair, brown eyes, moustache, goatee, good looking, cool attitude ISO the same. Yup! I am looking for love again, but this love is different. This time I'm looking inside-I mean really looking inside. I think if I'm going to make a positive difference for both myself and others, I first need to look at myself. It's not easy discovering things about yourself that the outside world doesn't accept. But you know what? I'm strong, and no matter what, I will always try to be the best I can be. If I'm QV-so what! I'll keep reaching to the top! If I'm Latino-so what? I'll still keep reaching to the top! And that's where knowledge is so important.

Everything we do requires knowledge. Discovering that I was QV required knowledge about myself. Learning to ride a bike took knowledge. Even talking took knowledge-the knowledge of understanding a language. Understanding my culture required knowledge, too. Do you remember how we were taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America? Boy, how we were wrong! Do you remember how we were taught that QV people were bad and evil? Boy, how we were wrong again! It was through mainstream knowledge that we were deceived, yet it was through a dedicated amount of time that we were able to find the truth! But we each have different perspectives. We all see different truths, ¿qué no?

My truth is that we are a group of people with a lot of potential: we are civil-minded, goal-oriented, hard-working, and very talented! My truth is that our community is getting stronger than ever! My truth is that we are beginning to see a new light-a closer feeling-in the community.

But to find the truth starts with loving thyself. It's the greatest gift we can give to ourselves. But in order to love ourselves, we have to dedicate time to learn about ourselves and our own truths so that we can know exactly who it is we are loving! Unlike in school, we have nobody to teach us about ourselves. We've got to do the homework ourselves. We've got to be the investigator, the navigator of our lives, so that we can make decisions that will enhance our body, mind, and soul. Once we come to an understanding of ourselves, we can begin to truly love ourselves. And once we love ourselves, we can become more open to life, treat others with respect, see life as a great opportunity to achieve many things, realize our dreams...and the list could go on.

So this year, Valentine's has taken a new meaning for me. Yes, I'm looking for love again! But I'm starting differently. I'm reaching out to myself, finding my inner strengths, facing up to the skeletons in my closet, but respecting everything about me. I'm going to take this love and knowledge that I find in me and give it back to my Latino community. I'm going to contribute in paving a road for myself, my community, and the younger generation to succeed!

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