Settling in a new country is hard. It’s a journey filled with excitement but also with uncertainty and doubt. For an immigrant, the first few years are often marked by feelings of loneliness or isolation, as well as confusion about navigating a new culture. You’re surrounded by people who don’t speak your language and understand your customs, but they’re not your family or friends—and that can be hard to get used to.
But there is hope. The hard times do not stay forever, and we have some real-life examples of individuals who have been through these tough times and come out better than ever, inspiring many others. And today, I am here to talk about one inspiring woman who became a successful professional and entrepreneur despite the problems faced by immigrants.
Recently I had Majet Reyes as a guest on my podcast, and we had heart to heart conversation about our immigrant journeys and more. Maria Reyes Majet is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master of Science in Community and Trauma Counseling from Jefferson University.
A former paramedic, Majet now owns Resilient Mind Works, a counseling practice in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. She works with first responders and other individuals struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or past Trauma. Majet also owns DivaGirl, a lifestyle community that educates and empowers women by hosting conferences, volunteer abroad programs, workshops, webinars, and parties. Diva Girl Tribe is a community of women from different backgrounds aimed at building direction, support, education, and empowerment, a tribe of women that is inclusive, kind, and inspiring. This community focuses on giving back, accepting women with their flaws and skills, and providing a safe space for women to connect, learn and grow.
We talked about what the Trauma of being an immigrant is, in some ways, that you want to blend in and not stand out. You want to be seen as a “typical” American to avoid discrimination and persecution. How important is self-care for her, and how far has she come considering her project, The Diva Girl tribe?
Being an immigrant, just like the others, she faced many hurdles, including understanding that blending in and following the rules was important for survival. She wanted to blend in and not stick out, so they didn’t speak up or express her needs. She didn’t want to draw attention to herself because being different could lead to ridicule or ostracism.
Assimilating was important, so she did what most people did, even if it meant suppressing her authentic self. She describes this coping mechanism as a form of colonization and is now learning to decolonize herself. Majet Reyes shares an example of using a nickname, “Jet,” instead of her birth name, Maria Janet Pino, to fit in better. Adapting was important, but it caused her to suppress their authentic self and made it challenging to advocate for herself. Talking to Majet was enlightening to me in many ways as we share the same story of being an immigrant in a foreign country and now running successful businesses.
Q. I asked Majet what she thinks about the idea of self-care.
A. It’s really important to consider self-care as self-care devotion.
What comes to mind when you think about the word “devotion”? It’s a sense of adoration and worship—something that you devote yourself to or are dedicated to. And when you bring it closer to home, where there’s self-devotion, there’s commitment and a need for self-care.
Think about it: we don’t usually take care of ourselves in the ways that we know we should. Maybe it’s getting a pedicure, massaging our faces, or exercising regularly—whatever it is, we need to do it!
As a woman, I’m always trying to make time for myself. It’s not easy, especially when you’re in this realm of wellness and beauty and wellness. But I feel it’s important to take care of yourself—not just for your own sake, but because if you don’t care for yourself, who else is going to?
Q. What is the difference between big Trauma and little Trauma?
A. I’ve seen a lot of people ask about Trauma, and I think it’s important to understand that there are two kinds. There’s big T trauma—like assault, natural disasters, or death—and then there’s little T. Little trauma relates to all the moments in our lives where we feel invalidated, neglected, abandoned, or invalidated. For example, you’re dealing with something at work, and your boss calls you “stupid” instead of asking what happened. That’s an example of little T trauma.
But here’s the thing: we all have experienced little T trauma at some point in our lives! Even if you’ve never been assaulted or lost someone close to you, all of us have had moments where we felt like we were being invalidated or neglected by someone else in some way. And those moments are often passed down from generation to generation without ever being healed.
When we heal ourselves from those little T traumas—when we let go of our shame, anger, and hurt—we also heal our parents and their parents before them (and so on). This is why Art healing is so important! It helps us heal ourselves so we don’t pass down this pain to future generations.
Both big and small events can cause trauma and emotional distress, manifesting in unprocessed feelings triggered by current stressors. Society often teaches us to push through our feelings and suppress them, but this only puts us in survival mode and can lead to more Trauma. Instead, it’s important to acknowledge our feelings and give them space.
By responding mindfully instead of reacting, we can learn where our feelings are coming from and avoid being triggered in the future. This is an act of kindness towards ourselves that helps us heal and prevent passing down Trauma to future generations. By not feeling our emotions, we can cause diseases and dysregulation in our nervous system, making it important to take the time to feel our feelings and regulate our emotional responses.
Q. What made you decide to keep the Diva Girl Tribe vision alive?
A. Have you ever felt like you didn’t fit in? Like the world was just too big, and no matter how hard you tried, there was no way to make it all work out? That’s what I felt, and most people think at some point during their lifetime. That motivated me to build a community of like-minded women, which keeps the Diva Girl Tribe vision Alive.
We are Diva Girls because we believe every woman deserves to feel confident and empowered—and we’re here to ensure they do. We know there are so many different backgrounds and experiences, which is why women create our community for women. It’s not about networking or getting ahead; it’s about learning new skills and meeting new people who will support you to become the best version of yourself.
We understand that only some have the same background or experience as someone else. That’s why our events are designed for everyone—not just those with certain skills or talents. We want everyone who comes into our community to feel welcome and loved for exactly who they are because we know that together, we can change our world into one where every woman feels confident and empowered in her skin.
Q. What do you want our listeners to take away from our time together today?
A. Being an immigrant in a foreign country is hard. It’s true. But hang in there—you will get through this.And if you’re a woman? There’s one thing that can make it easier: letting go of all the big and small traumas in your past.
It might sound counterintuitive, but it makes sense when you think about it: if we’re holding onto all these traumas and hurts from our past, then we’re not moving forward into our future—we’re just stuck in the same place where those things happened to us. And that’s not good for anyone!
So today, let go of all those bad feelings. You’ll be glad you did. In 10 years, when you look back at yourself now compared to then, I bet your life will be so much better!