Cultural Barriers: A Blog Post

By Destany Rodriguez, October 11, 2021

*Young Adult Advisory Member*


Growing up in a hispanic household as a woman, the priority was never to learn how to read, or to be the most fluent, or have the largest vocabulary. The priority was learning how to be a lady, take care of the household, and the people around you. 

This resulted in me struggling a lot in school growing up, specifically with my engagement in reading and advancing as well. I was never a straight A student. I never found books interesting, or viewed them as opportunities. It wasn't until I was 21 years old that I was diagnosed with ADHD, which is also a learning disability. Not knowing this information for all of my life, I struggled with focusing, studying, working with others, comprehension and much more. There were many times in my academic life I was very embarrassed because I didn't understand information like my peers, or my grades were not as good as theirs. At home I was picked on by my siblings because of this, but I was also targeted at school from people in my classes as well. My family was never focused on literacy, so I am not sure of where their struggles lay. It was rare if anyone in my house had a book in their hand. 

I remember being in middle school, and visiting the classroom library and never resonating with anything. Most cases I'd force myself to pick anything just so my teacher wouldn't get upset. In middle school I also stayed away from writing because my grades in my English and writing classes were low so I figured I wasn't any good. 

It wasn't until I was in eighth grade, when I was introduced to the "Pretties" series, that I changed my attitude about reading. It took me out of my world full of trauma, and allowed me to imagine something different and feel I was elsewhere. This formed my love for sci-fi stories, and is why I began writing my own in private.

As I grew older, and explored the world of books I realized that I could not allow my cultural barriers to influence the power books could have on me. Instead of learning how to be a lady, I grabbed a book that taught me how to be who I want. Reading is even more than just a hobby, or a way to pass time. Reading and writing both offer ways to challenge cultural barriers, or societal norms. They offer opportunities of imaginative expansion, a push of creativity, or a way to connect with yourself. 

When I entered high school and took speech and composition, my teacher asked me to join the poetry team, and she claimed she loved my writing. She gave me the confidence I needed to write again, and to allow my imagination to be free. I was surrounded by people who were accepting and saw the world in a different lens, and that is when the love for writing and reading was truly formed. 

When I worked at Girls Inc. during the summer of 2020, I worked with a lot of girls that looked like me, and had a similar mentality to me when I was younger. Most of them did not enjoy reading, and would usually say they hate it. Our library was extremely small, and I realized there was no variety so that is probably why they do not like it. But I remember reading books to them, and giving the characters a personality and a voice so the book came more alive. I told them to try reading a book to themselves like that as well. Make the book what you want it to be.

If this was to my younger self, I'd tell myself to ask for help, and to not stop until someone helps. Reading is what you want it to be, you just have to be patient until you touch the spine of a book that is meant to serve you. 


About the Author: Destany Rodriguez

My name is Destany Rodriguez, I am Puerto Rican but have been raised in Lynn, Massachusetts my whole life. I am currently an undergraduate at Lesley University with a major in Global Studies and Human Services. My interests vary but they are deeply rooted in helping people, and bettering the system in all ways. 

*Destany is a member of our new Young Adult Advisory Panel. She and her peers enrich Storyshares’s work with their stories, insights, and ideas.