My name is Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez, and I have taken a sabbatical from life because I am currently in recovery. I am recovering from sexism, White academic spaces, and a devastating heartbreak.
Graduate programs are interesting spaces to find yourself in, as a Brown working-poor Latina immigrant. Graduate programs are full of highly intuitive and introspective personalities, and it is a recipe for disaster-- a beautiful and enlightening disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. I can only compare it to oil, because when you heat oil up, a lot of it, it splashes and someone in its proximity will get burned. Students of color in graduate programs are like oil, in rest, and in these predominantly White spaces we are made to think and question everything because we are living situations where we are experiencing racism with newly-found language – and THIS, this is the heat to our oil, this is the combustible situation.
That was my experience. I was “okay” before. Then someone told me, that spicy was actually a dehumanizing way of referring to me, in front of the person who boldly called me spicy in class. And then someone recommended a book on sexual liberation, as I found myself in a marriage that was void of those types of conversations. I began to boil.
I was having conversations that turned my life, as I knew it, upside down.
My entire body started to react to my realities through a new lens, a lens that I could not un-see through once I saw through it.
In 2013, I spent October-December in a sleepless haze. As I began to shift my convenient friendships to intentional circles of resistance, my aesthetics became intentionally hyperfeminine, hypersexual, hypervisible. My writing was becoming sharper, angrier, and indignant.
I was changing right before my eyes, and it affected EVERYTHING.
When the boiling turned into an explosion, my entire life fell apart, or as I say now: fell into place. But I found myself separated from someone I loved but could not be with anymore, writing a thesis that had my sweat and tears streaming through the paper, and I felt alone in an academic space that at one point had felt inviting, and suddenly felt suffocating and tokenizing.
I could no longer see my future, I could no longer see me in any future. I felt like I was struggling just to get through the day to day. I did not dream. I no longer aspired. I felt like I wanted to disappear -- and a lot of that had to do with my own mental illness, depression, and anxiety.
But thankfully, all my intentional efforts meant that I had a phenomenal network of friends and mentors who said: you need to rest.
And not in the “You can’t do this, this isn’t for you” kinda way, but more so in the “Heal, because when you come back from this darkness and this abyss you are going to be unstoppable,” and, “When you gain your strength, and cry this change and oppression out of your system: no one will be able to stand in your way.” I knew I could no longer keep going--that at that point, I did not have the energy to keep going.
Currently, I do not make anything close to livable wage, I write to heal and manage everything that I have gone through. I cry and I go to the beach with my mother. I have said to life: I’ll be right back. Because being Brown, and female, and a non-citizen from a working-poor context is like having all the decks stacked against you when you enter White male upper middle class academic spaces. And I feel the pressure, and I process that intensely. And I needed the time to let that oil sit still, because the explosion burned me, but I made it out alive and I intend on staying alive by being intentional about how I take care of me.
I also know that I have a huge advantage, in having a home to come back to, no one to take care of but myself, and a mami and papi who have opened their home to me, rent-free. I know I am living a dream, and a nightmare in my mind, all at the same time. I know I am going to look back at this point in my life, and never regret not feeling like I was not productive enough, or making enough money, or being sufficiently caught up to what is expected for a woman my age; because I know that my life depended on this much needed sabbatical. I cannot stress this enough: my life depended on this sabbatical. And the work that needs to be done so that other people do not have to recover from White spaces that are uninviting to us, will take all of us being strong and present and intentional about taking moments to heal from our own traumas.
My name is Prisca and I am currently on sabbatical, fighting for my life.
Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez is a chonga Mujerista from Managua, Nicaragua currently living in Miami, FL. She recently graduated with her Masters from Vanderbilt University, and is looking to take some much needed time off to refresh. She is also the founder of Latina Rebels, a blogger for HuffPo Latino Voices, and a columnist/editor at Chica Magazine. Her interests are within biopolitics as it relates to Latina embodiment, specifically concerning models of conquerable flesh around narratives of naturalization for women of color. Thus her work is around reclaiming and upholding embodied resistance, particularly within chonga and chola subcultures. Que viva la mujer!