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Navigating the Heart

Ana Silvani’s book ‘Half Love, Meta(de) Amor’ mirrors many of the issues that affect immigrants and first-generation people. The bonds between oneself and our ancestral homes are tethered in a rat’s nest that sometimes takes a lifetime to somewhat understand and unravel.

Trapped at crossroads in one’s psyche, Silvani touches on the struggle of wanting to live a successful life, finding love, and the guilt that comes with the want to be successful.

Most people have an idea of what their own personal happiness looks like. No two people have the exact same idea of happiness, but everyone is in pursuit of it. Happiness is an ever-fluid concept changing based on your life experiences and personal dilemmas. It is up to each individual to find what makes them happy even if it ruffles feathers in their circles. However, sometimes being happy comes with the burden of guilt, especially if you’re from the Latinx community.

Why guilt?

A common issue first-generation Latinx people face is guilt. Many within the Latinx community feel guilt for leaving their families to grow. This can be as small as leaving for college to immigrating to another country in search of a better quality of life.

You're taught that everything you do reflects on your family. While you may be leaving to pursue something better, there is guilt for leaving your family because you have a responsibility in your home. Leaving can be interpreted as abandonment or even a flat-out rebellion. Sometimes, it also means never seeing your family again due to financial or political circumstances beyond your control. All these things could weigh heavily on the mind of people who choose to immigrate.

Once in America, there is a culture shock that many have to navigate. A struggle that many people wrestle with is that in America, you’re taught to not care about anyone to the point where it’s, for lack of a better term, sociopathic, making them void of empathy. American Individualism contradicts what you’re culturally taught at home: to be considerate to those around you. You’re eventually conditioned to be okay with potentially murdering people because you don't want to do things because it’s an “inconvenience” and “you just want to live your life and have fun”. However, this is not to say that Latinx communities are holy beacons of basic human decency. In Latinx communities, you’re trained to take physical and/or mental abuse to keep the peace within your familial circles, which is extremely problematic in its own right.

By making this sacrifice, you must wrestle with the aftermath of the decision to leave your family and the new, sometimes scarier reality of being all alone and no one caring about you unless you have some sort of value to them. It’s a dystopian nightmare that thrives on ripping apart the psyche and morality of any individual.

There is a beacon of light amidst the chaos. While there is trauma from leaving, it is important to keep in mind this is for the best. In many cases, leaving opens loved ones to more opportunities because there is now a path for them to follow. It can also mean having the opportunity to support them from abroad if in a financial position to do so at some point in life. This all depends on individual relationships; however, it doesn’t change the fact that love for oneself is at the core of the decision to leave. The choice to chase aspirations is a choice that is difficult to make, but it is one made with love as the central focus. It is important to keep love at the center of decisions because voluntary exile opens doors to new possibilities.

Find comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in this journey by picking up a copy of Half Love, Metade Amor today and join us on Friday, August 19th at 7 pm at Barnes and Noble The Grove at Farmers Market for the Latinx Author’s Panel.

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