It’s human nature to seek your beginning, to know where you came from, and to revel in your story (or stories) of origin. And this desire may be most evident amongst individuals of the X Generation. Now don’t get this confused with Generation X, which encompasses the generation of people that followed the Baby Boomers. In this discussion, I use X Generation to stand for the generations that follow the initial migrant that set off for a new country, a new town, a new destination. X is simply a variable to stand for a number. And it isn’t always a simple number to come up with. Some people consider the initial migrant to be the First Generation, but in this discussion I define the First Generation as the generation that succeeds the initial migrant. Otherwise this discussion about the X Generation’s desire to return to their origin would be a bit complex if we also included the initial migrant. But even past the First Generation terminology dilemma, this number is still a tricky topic. For instance, I myself only become Third Generation once I average the two sides of my family (Fourth from my father’s and Second from my mother’s).
But no matter what number the X stands for, I truly believe that every individual from the X Generation eventually feels the need to return to their roots — whether it be through literature, art, travel, etc. This desire may be so evident amongst members of the X Generation because they oftentimes face the struggle of always being “Other.” They can never really fit into the culture of their birthplace where people will always see them as “Other” for their family’s origins; and at the same time they can never really fit into the culture of their origins where people will always see them as “Other” for never having fully lived that lifestyle. But for the X Generation it is impossible to be one or the other; they will always be both (or all). So eventually they will feel the desire to learn more about the side of them that is most unknown to them, which most often than not tends to be the side of their family’s origins.
To steal some imagery from the poet Dan Vera, humans are like Monarch Butterflies. The First Generation may start in Canada and fly south for many generations (it usually takes about three or four) until they reach Mexico, where they birth the next generation that will begin the journey back north. So even though the butterflies in Mexico have no way of knowing what Canada is, by nature they are inclined to fly back to their place of origin, generation after generation. This gives a little hope that no matter how great the number X is, there is always some way of getting in tune with your origins.
As a member of the X Generation, I have just recently embarked on my journey to learn about my family’s origins. Although I have always felt a desire to be a part of this culture, I have never really taken the necessary steps until about 2 years ago. And it is only now that I have begun to realize that instead of dealing with the struggle of “Other,” I would like to take on the glory of being “Both.” Thanks to the Jennings Family Brave Companions Fund, I am able to take this journey not only figuratively but also literally as tomorrow I leave to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for my study abroad. Although it may not be one of my cities of origin, it is one step closer to understanding how both parts of me fit together as a whole. It is one step closer to being Mexican-American, not one or the other. And I invite you to join along on my coming-of-age tale (or Bildungsroman for my fellow English majors and literary admirers) as I will be writing about my adventure throughout the next six weeks.
And to all of you X Generations out there (aren’t we all?): Stay strong in knowing that ALL parts of you are beautiful; no part is Other.