Is the “Burnt Tortilla Syndrome” Holding You Back?

Texas State Senator, Leticia Van de Putte , who is running for lieutenant governor next year, has said that Latinas can suffer from the “burnt tortilla syndrome”!

You know it’s true. Latinas give of themselves in our families, in our community, and at work — sometimes to a fault. The kids, abuelosprimasamigas, y novioscome first. We settle for less. We take the leftovers. We take la tortilla quemadaso that no one else has to!

We do it for all the right reasons but the end result is we often grow up feeling uncomfortable investing in ourselves. Feeling good about investing in your professional growth needs to become a priority among Latinas.If you want to develop new skills, if you want to have a career that creates more financial security for you, and if you want to transform your career, you will need to invest in yourself.

What does that mean?

It may simply mean taking a free webinar or reading a leadership book that costs under $30. It can also require taking time to attend a seminar that a professional association offers at a low cost. It may require remaking your wardrobe so that your look says “I’m in charge or should be.”

Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that Latinas can feel good about buying a great handbag, the best stilettos, or getting the French manicure or the sizzling party dress — all fun and good, yet temporary. That same amount of money — $250-$450 — invested in the right things might create more financial freedom in the future to do much more. It can mean feeling empowered to get a raise, get a promotion or get a better job! And yes, that new opportunity can lead you to afford more for you or your family.

When I was a college administrator, I was responsible for interviewing applicants and I recall asking a young Latina why she wanted to attend college. She had been in foster care and had experienced real financial and emotional struggles. She impressed me by saying, “I can lose everything I own but no one will ever steal from me what I learn. When I learn the skills I will gain in college, I can create opportunity for myself over and over again”.

A wise Latina indeed! Not only did she graduate with honors, she also completed her law degree!

The cost of college can range from $5,000 to $50,000 per year depending on where you enroll. But depending on your career ambitions, a college degree is now just one step on your way to your dream job.

You will also want to show that you have the capacity to lead, the communication skills to get you noticed, and the networking skills to promote a project. Some of these skills may be found in workshops at your campus career center or your employer may offer these programs, too.

If not, what do you do? Or, if you’ve moved away from your college, what then?

The good news is that it is not hard to find those programs online or professional development programs that allow you to invest in yourself. A great way to begin is to look at the amazing groups on Facebook dedicated to Latinas that have open membership.

As part of my own commitment to Latina professional development, I have initiated an open which shares links to readings and professional development opportunities for Latinas. Tell me about how you invest in yourself at or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA

This post appeared in LatinaLista, March 3, 2014. 

Copyright 2014 LatinaVIDA