When you're from Miami, you grow up kind of oblivious to a lot of things — like the fact that Cuban coffee actually gives some people heart palpitations or that Publix Sabor isn't your average supermarket. And because most people in Miami are bilingual, it creates a very distinguished accent.
Here’s the thing, though. I didn’t know I had an accent until I was about 17 or 18 years old. Of course, I knew accents existed, but in my mind they were reserved for longtime residents of Boston, New York, Chicago, Texas, and most places in the South. That is until the first time I heard another person from Miami on television.
It was a typical afternoon watching MTV’s Room Raiders after school when I heard a girl from Miami introduce herself — and she sounded just like me. I was mortified. Not because I was judging her or because I thought she sounded unintelligent. In fact, she didn’t bother me at all. I was mortified because up until that very moment I never realized I had an accent. I always thought I sounded like Katie Couric or the automated lady’s voice you hear when you dial 411 (you know, feminine but mysterious). Now my cover was blown.
Since then, I’ve both loved and loathed my accent. Here are eight very real struggles on the road to embracing what makes me quintessentially a Miami-bred Cuban girl.
Seeing yourself on video
In college, I took a public speaking class where the professor recorded our presentations, which we would later watch along with the entire class to get feedback. It was the worst kind of torture that could exist in the higher education system.
For someone who is self-conscious about their accent, there's nothing worse than having to leave a voicemail. I (still) avoid them at all costs.
My first job out of college was working for a travel magazine, which naturally meant I spent a lot of time traveling and meeting fellow journalists from all over the country. My accent always made me feel a little less professional than everyone else, so I tried hard to keep it under wraps.
When your out-of-town friends poke fun at you
For overusing words like bro, super, and random.
Battling the word "like"
I've gotten better. But the struggle is still real.
Sometimes the effort it takes to hide my inner Miami is just too much.
I can go from ultra professional to super Miami with a phone call from my mom. My code switch game is strong.
For a long time, Pitbull felt like that relative you want to lock away in a back room when you're new boyfriend comes over to meet your family. He represented everything about Miami and being Cuban that, to me, felt stereotypical and sort of embarrassing. Miami doesn't always get the best rap, and I felt like certain things (like my accent) would lead people to judge me before they knew me. But as I've gotten older, I've realized that every single culture has something that makes them feel self-conscious. So instead, I'm working on learning to love those things now. Yeah, even Pitbull.