On August 8, 2014, I became an American Citizen, almost twenty years after I came to live in the U.S. My life has completely changed in the last year. I moved across the country to pursue new opportunities. I am no longer a banker, but an activist and a writer. My future is the most uncertain and brightest it has ever been.
Every single day I am reminded of the privilege I have to hold a U.S. passport. To come and go as I please, to cross "The Border" as freely as a bird, even if the Homeland Security officers stare at my passport for five minutes before "welcoming me" home. Every single day, I am also reminded of the responsibility I have to make sure others have the same privileges as me.
I've had to fight not to believe those that think there will always be a big, bright, scarlet letter over my passport. Did I misrepresent myself in achieving career success? What about my marriage? Am I really doing this for others or to "build my brand"? I used fake papers to get a job, but everything I did to get that job, I did, I earned by hard work and dedication. Marriage is complicated, love is complicated, just ask anyone that has ever been in love. One day, I'll write an entire book on how deeply I have loved and how deeply my heart has been cut to ribbons. I have always wanted to be successful, to make an impact, to change the world, those things haven't changed. But I measure success and impact entirely different than I did before. People ask me why I feel like I must justify myself? Because I can, because I have a voice. Because others can't.
By the time I turn 2, in American years, we will be months away from an election that will be critical for communities of color, for middle-class families, for women, for undocumented immigrants. Tuesday, November 8, 2016, will be the first time I can vote in a Presidential election, and I will do all I can to make sure that the candidate who best meets our interests, wins.
As I celebrate my American birthday today, I am filled with hope that soon I will celebrate 12 million other birthdays.