“Susana, why are you always looking down to the ground? You need to hold your head up and be proud of who you are. You don’t have to worry about the knuckleheads around here, you will never end up dating them, you are too good for them.”
Words from my 7th grade Physical Education teacher.
I must say that the only reason I was a good relay race runner was to please him and get him off my back. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not quite the coordinated athlete I wish I was.
But his words stayed with me for a long time and I wish I could find him to thank him for seeing the real me. I wish I could go back and thank all of the teachers that believed in me when I thought I was doing a Damn Good job of hiding whatever they caught a glimpse of in me.
Mr. Eubanks, Mr. Turner, Ms. Thompson, Mr. Quezada: Thank you for holding me across the dearth of kindness in our neighborhood. You helped prove time and time again that sometimes it all comes down to drive and perseverance and the belief that you deserve better no matter where you come from.
So many times I clung to the words of my Calculus teacher,Mr. Quezada, “There are many roads to the same Destination”. ESPECIALLY when I would inevitably fuck up. Which I did, time and time again:
When I left school, thinking it was for the greater good of my family. When I got married at 19, thinking it would please my father. When I had two young infants under my care and I put up with circumstances I would never wish on an enemy (if I had one).
After a while I started to doubt those words. I started to think that maybe I was holding onto false self-created hope. And I sunk deeper than I ever thought I could. I was underwater for a long time, thinking that all I could do was go through the motions. That I was Oh So Lucky! to be loved by anyone.
I reverted back to infancy. To the days when I craved love and affection from those closest to me.
Years went by and ignored my dreams and thoughts of a better tomorrow. I suppressed my hope that I could improve the lives of others. I shut down the thought that I was worth acknowledging, much less worth following to the solution of improved circumstances to many.
But suddenly I took a leap. For once, it was planned, I jumped and figured I had sufficiently cared for my children so that if I failed, I would survive and so would they.
Once I felt the exhilarating sensation of flying into the story I had written, I could no longer hold back. I could no longer lie to myself and believe the seeds of doubt that had been planted.
Now I feel the strength of every stride that I take grow in intensity because it leads me to the path that I had carved out for myself years ago. Ask me in a few years how I conquered that sadness and I will tell you with certainty: I grew tired of pushing it away, I grew tired of being reminded where I came from and not where I was going, I shook off the doubters and focused on the positive outcome that I hope to achieve upon this Earth someday.
But I will silence my thoughts for the night and leave you to it, leave you to think of your own plans and dreams.