Writing my name can be an out-of-body experience sometimes. I’ve known about the origin of my name since I was a child. I was born on April 7, 1995 – exactly a week after Selena Quintanilla-Pérez tragically died. 

I was the first child to be named by my father. He wanted his children to be named after important people during our time of birth. It made sense to him to name me after the famous Tex-Mex singer. 

There are two common reactions when people learn my name.

photo: Selena Barrientos

One is to make a Selena Gomez joke. It’s true, she was also named after the beloved Chicana, but there is no relevance between the two of us. The second, and my preferred one, is a Selena Quintanilla reference. 

While paying for a crepe at the Chelsea Market last winter, the cashier began singing one of her songs to me. This isn't unusual. 

Others love to say, “Anything for Salinas.”

Growing up, I visited my aunt’s home where she had a framed poster of the singer.

I would stare up at the wall and think about what it meant to be named after her. Watching the movie for the first time was a beautiful experience. 

Of course, I was emotionally wrecked after watching the ending, but it was necessary to watch it in order to understand her true impact.

People across the world are connected by the late singer and the legacy she left behind that’s been marked in history forever by her movie, memorial, museum, and annual festival. More than two decades later, Selena is more relevant than ever. 

Even after death, she continues to bring together different generations.

There are many who still can’t fathom that Selena is gone. In a recent interview, her father admitted to sometimes forgetting his daughter was no longer with him. Adults are still brought to tears simply by watching her sing. 

In one video, a viewer named Jonathan becomes emotional saying, “I just think of her and I’m just like ‘What could’ve been?’” He’s not the only one who wonders this years later. 

Selena crossed boundaries no one had before.

She took over a music genre that was dominated by men and wrote songs empowering women. But what made her unique was her ability to deliver messages in two different languages – English and Spanish.

My childhood memories are filled with my dad playing her Spanish songs on the weekends. But as I got older and preferred speaking English more than Spanish, I could still appreciate her music through hits like “I Could Fall In Love” and “Dreaming Of You.”

Selena is a primary example of how to embrace two cultures to create something beautiful.

The Mexican-American artist resonates with people in two countries that are at odds right now. But with the 22nd anniversary of her death, thousands of fans are coming together to remember the “Mexican Madonna.” 

Being named after her reassures me that I'm not alone in my struggle of understanding my two cultures at once.

Selena sung in Spanish but she wasn't a fluent speaker. She initially rejected her Mexican background, much like I did, but after coming to terms with her diverse heritage, it didn't make her any less American. 

Many Mexican-Americans deal with being too American and not Mexican enough, or vice versa. But Selena found a great balance between the two that we can also achieve.

However, it's bittersweet celebrating my birthday — because while I turn another year older, it also means it's another year without her.