Tag Archives: #Mexico #conformity

“El que nace pa maceta, del corredor no pasa”- Mexican Refrán (Proverb)

Literal Translation: “He who is born a pot, doesn’t leave the hall”

*Originally spoken in Spanish. The following is a rough translation. 

Description (From Transcript): “It means that… people would use it to conform with what they were. For example, for us, we (young people who finished high school) weren’t allowed to continue our studies. We had to get married or conform, no longer have aspirations for anything. Like- one who is born poor, has to stay poor. Like the pot, because it’s a pot, is gonna stay in that hallway. It can’t be in the refrigerator because it’s not a frozen food. So for people- if you were born to be where you were born and not go out anywhere else, you have to stay there and make your life there. Another example is, if I’ve always done custodial work and I want to work in a school, I can tell myself “I don’t think so. El que nace pa maceta, del corredor no pasa”. 

Context: TR is a Mexican woman, born and raised in Zacatecas, Mexico. She immigrated to the United States in 1995. She says that this is a very popular saying that she has heard for as long as she can remember. Everyone would hear this and everyone would say it. She believes that most of the world is familiar with it now because it’s so popular. She has followed it because it’s always been popular but recently, she’s learned that it’s about conformity, which she doesn’t like. 

My interpretation: I interpreted this proverb as both a possible excuse and a possible explanation for a person’s inability to change. Because a pot is a non-living object that literally cannot leave the hall in which it was placed against its will, the proverb makes a commentary about how people in circumstances (such as poverty) have no agency to change their situation, in this case economic status. Because of the informant’s background and upbringing, it makes sense that she would be familiar with this saying, as most people in rural Mexico experience high rates of poverty and struggle to achieve economic mobility. However, just like my informant explained, it could also be an excuse for conformity. If people believe that they can never achieve progress (economic, academic, in the things they pursue) because of their current situations, this phrase can be used as an excuse to not even try to create a change.