by Giselle De Silva
I couldn’t turn away when I heard my own thoughts being relayed by someone else. How can you when it sounds like someone has read your personal writing and shared it with the world without your consent...but in more moving words, and more eloquently? This is what I experienced when I read Consuelo Martinez’s "Advice I Would Give To The Girl I Was Before.
Martinez explores the painful bumps of youth in topics like childhood bullying, failed romances, body acceptance, and the pain behind saying goodbye amongst many key moments in her life. Her execution of this exploration is not self-indulgent, rather poignant, self-reflective, and personal without a doubt.
My favorite writers make me feel as if I’m not alone in my own personal battles. They validate my existence and struggles when I cannot do so for myself. This is largely the effect that attracted me to Consuelo and this piece. She writes:
"when the kids in school tease you for your name,
do not shorten it, do not assimilate to a culture
that took yours to begin with...”
My full name is Giselle Mariel Boongaling De Silva. Growing up, I was rather ashamed of its entirety because of its length (all 30 letters would hardly ever fit on the line where you write your name) and how “ethnic” it sounds when you say it out loud. I still hold similar reservations against my full name to this day, though time has conditioned me to forget this. In reading Consuelo’s advice on the matter, it reminded me that I shouldn’t be either ashamed nor afraid of my name. It is a piece of my identity and it denotes my history.
This poem, although written for herself, translates easily into courage for me. Admittedly, I am biased, because like Consuelo, I too am a woman of color with "bushy eyebrows" and "hopelessly in love with anybody I ever meet". However, there’s something ethereal, that still packs a punch, in the universal way she talks about getting back up and standing your ground in every moment of defeat.
Consuelo Martinez's "Advice To The Girl I Was Before" can be read in entirety in the Fall 2017 Issue of Inscape magazine.