I don’t typically do this but I’m going to use the cliche “there’s always a first” to start. All of my mentors whether young or old have told me in some form or another that life is a roller coaster. I always believed them and I still do. Not once do I question my mentor’s teachings.
Here’s another cliche: “no one passes through life unscathed.” And one more…”everyone has a story, a lesson, a moral.” So as you can tell or already know, I’m filled with cliches, old sayings and popular teachings of the “golden” days. This isn’t because I’m wise or have experienced the most for a person of my age but I listen.
During the few family gatherings, instead of sitting with the little kids glued to the television, I seek out the individuals conversing, sharing stories and actually having some form of interaction. As I listen to their conversations, I can’t help but smile and revel in where I am.
You know those popular questions that surface when there is doubt?
Am I living my life how I should? Am I missing something? Why haven’t I reached a revelation yet?
Well, I ask myself these questions but it’s all for a waste of time.
In life, I am exactly where I should be, facing the challenges I need to face and dealing with the ups and downs in the best way available for me. What I endure is no less or greater than others, it simply is my own. Everyone gets casted from their family. Everyone gets heartbroken. Everyone receives a life crippling pain. But no one experiences or learns from it in quite the same manner.
When I was a little girl, my parents would push me academically and socially to no end. Eventually, as school grew harder, the importance of academics outweighed my social life and they encouraged a sharper focus on school.
One may begin to think that I ended up “hating” school but what happened was quite the opposite. I ended up loving to learn. I find that a part of being human is to have the ability to learn and grow no matter the age.
Often, my father would sit me down with my brother and we would pour over COLLEGE level textbooks. Don’t get me wrong, it was rough and a struggle and it didn’t help that he would get frustrated like any other and exert his frustration in the form of yelling but I can’t blame him.
Now that I’m a tutor and mentor for others, I understand and feel his frustration but use my experience with him to guide me into being a better teacher for future generations.
However, at the time, those lessons with him were exhausting and purely resulted in me gaining an exuberant amount of knowledge at the price of being afraid.
For years, I worked hard in my academics just to please and satisfy others instead of myself because I didn’t believe in myself. Rather, I believed that I would amount to nothing and go no where.
I was lost, confused and afraid.
Then one day, I got my “Hogwart’s” letter saying I’ve been accepted into some college and it is here where one may think that was the day I stopped feeling lost but no. People congratulated me and said a job well done but I still didn’t believe in myself. I still worked hard for others.
It wasn’t until the end of my second year in college that I began to realize how great I truly am. A grade, a congratulations, a pat on the back was only a fool’s goal. The real goal is in the act of doing and accomplishing.
By working hard, learning, and gaining, I am succeeding. I am getting somewhere.
With this realization, I began to have a voice. I spoke up; but, to my disbelief, by speaking up, I ended up losing several connections that I thought the world of. All summer I lived in a struggle between what I thought was there and what really was there.
As the new school year began, those connections still remained mangled on the floor by my bed in a pool of tears. I started to believe that those connections would remain there but then I received a major accomplishment.
Obviously, the first people I wanted to tell was my partner and my mom but I also wanted to tell the individuals at the end of those crippled bridges. So did I? Nope.
I remained just as stubborn as those individuals who could not accept who I am and what I feel now. Yet, days passed and I found myself thinking back upon them more than I would like to admit.
It wasn’t until one morning I awoke and a voice over my shoulder told me to stop being stubborn and to focus on my own enjoyment that I realized I hadn’t quite learned to live in the moment just yet.
So here I am taking a long winding path to say that I am still learning and I am still hurting but I’m willing to mend. Only this time, it didn’t take fear to teach me this lesson but love.
As my day approaches, I can only hope that my out reached hand won’t be rejected; and once it is grasped those connections will begin to believe in me too. Because, at the end of the day, the life I’ve lived so far is not half bad. It has its ups and downs but more importantly it has its lessons. And it is with those lessons taught by the very people who destroyed those bridges that I have grown to believe in myself. So why not grow with me and believe in myself the way I believe bridges can be mended?
© 2015 Jessica Santos