They ask us as children: What do you want to be when you grow up? Who are your heroes? What do you believe in? What do you want for the future? All these questions and the answers as we get older tend to stray from our original answers. Sometimes radically different sometimes just in a different way.
As a kid I wanted to be a teacher or nurse, someone who helped people.
My heroes were my mom, dad, a priest our family knew by the name of Father Joseph Martin and someone I never knew, but stood for what I believed to be right Martin Luther King Jr.
I believed in everyone is the same, we should treat each other the way we wanted to be treated, that you judge someone by how they act towards you not by disability, race, religion, etc. I believed in family and friends, marriage lasts forever and you don’t go to bed angry and always remember that words do hurt and once they are said can’t be taken back.
I wanted a future for myself with a family of my own a husband and house. I assumed all these things would happen by the time I was 30. I would be married by 25 and have babies by 30. I figured my parents would be around to see grandchildren and they would live to be in their 70s or 80s like my mom’s parents. So my kids would have wonderful experiences of trips to grandma and grandpa’s house. I figured I would be a teacher or nurse like I wanted and my husband would be someone who was kind and worked hard. Didn’t really matter if we had a ton of money but we were stable.
I wanted a future for my country that was safe and secure like I felt, that people would learn to stop judging and being so mean to others. I wanted to be able to know that people are judged like how I was taught, by how they treat you not what they look like.
Then as we grow up we become disillusioned of the world we live in. I still wanted to help people but after a few years of college and realizing teaching wasn’t for me full-time, I was terrible in science and I didn’t know what I wanted, I left school for a few years. It also didn’t help that I let myself slack by skipping classes and flunking two classes to spend time with the guy I was with at the time. I also was busy trying to help my family. I wanted to do everything but failed miserably because I couldn’t ask for help. After a few years and jobs that went no where I went back to school, this time I knew. I wanted to be a social worker. I wanted to help those who were struggling with drugs, alcohol and mental illness. So for 3 1/2 years, I pushed and pushed got good grades and graduated with an excellent GPA and hopes of graduate school. I got in to a program that was supposed to be wonderful, and in different circumstances it probably would have been an environment I flourished in.
Until the weekend before classes started and I found out my father was not going to live till the end of the month. He wanted me to go to my first day, he died the day before peacefully, I wasn’t there. I was stuck in Ohio because that’s where he told me to stay. I went to class the next day and home for the funeral the day after. My first semester, I buried myself, ignoring the nightmares, the self-doubt and loathing. I went home for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but cried myself to sleep every night I was there without anyone knowing because well it wasn’t the same. Dad was gone and my family had to deal with it every day. I was able to pretend it wasn’t as real living 8 hours away and buried in school. Second semester came and the trouble started. I was depressed and it was taking its toll at my internship, I was told I had to put my internship on hold for a semester, I could continue classes but my supervisor was worried. I didn’t really believe them to be honest and i was in denial. I lied about what was going on and didn’t tell anyone and really didn’t ask for help. I did well in all my classes except one and that gave me a c- and put me on academic probation. I started my internship back in summer and felt like I was doing better. And I was, I had a job, my internship was going well, my classes were decent. That is until I messed up and didn’t get one form signed. That one form was my downfall and I had to leave school once again. Now I am working on getting a license to practice here at a bachelor level, maybe I’ll be able to finish my masters one day. But I guess focusing on one thing at a time is key. I’m still helping people just not the way I thought. But that’s life huh?
My heroes still remain the same, I have added others along the way who I felt stood for helping people and making sure the world is a better place. But my fundamental heroes have never changed. Now Father Martin and my Dad are in Heaven so it’s hard to talk to them for advice but I know they listen.
I learned at an early age that people can be filled with hate and judgment without even knowing me as a person. Was I a smart ass kid? Yes, I come by it naturally, I’m now a smart ass adult. Was I unkind at times? Perhaps, but generally it was unintentional. If I thought I hurt someone I felt bad and tried to make up for it. Middle school is a time in my life I have blocked out a majority of the time I spent in school. I wouldn’t wish my experience on my worst enemy. High school wasn’t too much better. I was overweight, not very popular though I did have some friends. I was a choir kid. I always tried to be nice. I don’t wish to rehash that time but I learned something very early on in my preteen years, people can be mean and nasty especially if you are different. My dad used to tell me “teenage girls are the nastiest people on this earth”. I honestly have to say I agree.
I never stopped myself from getting to know people for who they are because they were different from me. After middle school some of my friends from elementary school came around and remembered why we were friends back then and I had a small but eclectic mix of friends by the time I moved from my home in Maryland to Connecticut in my junior year.
Hello culture shock. We moved to white suburbia where all the diversity had been pretty much sucked out of the town and the school was a complete 180 from what I knew. Small and kids that had known each other since pre-k. The first few days I felt like I was in another world. And I was. I had some dummy asked me if I owned slaves…… me in my full smart ass no filter self said “No we let them go last week before we left Maryland”….. yup fantastic.It got better and I met some amazing friends, that I still have to this day.
My belief in love and relationships were challenged and dashed for a while after I got married and less than a year he had moved out and cheated on me with a close friend. It was an emotionally and verbally and in other ways abusive relationship. Where I was blamed for him leaving and I honestly believed it. After a few years and working on me I was able to realize it wasn’t me and he was scum.
I finally have met someone who loves me for me and has never demanded I change who I am. I have learned that there is no time line for marriage and children they come when the timing is right. My children will never know their grandfathers except for in stories that their father and I can tell them. Trips to grandmas house and being able to travel like I did as a child is probably out of the question. I traveled a lot as a kid but reality is the 2015 dollar cannot stretch like the 1990 dollar could. I know my children will have a stable home filled with love and will have everything they need, and that is all that matters.
I remember the first time I asked one of the amazing women who used to watch me what the “N” word was. Not knowing I used the full word. I’ll never forget her look of shock and sadness when I said it. She told me it was a hateful word that people used to talk down to her when she was young and still to that day sometimes. She said people who use that word hide behind it and the hate behind it rather than trying to be loving and kind towards people. That people will say it’s ok to use because it’s meaning isn’t hateful it means ignorant person but that for as long as it has been around has been used in hate for people who are black.
I remember the first time I didn’t feel safe in my country, the day my delusion of America is loved around the world was shattered and the day my protected bubble my parents had been pretty decent in building was popped. September 11th, 2001. I was in Chorus. A senior in high school and I couldn’t understand why anyone would attack us and kill so many people. I was uniformed, naive. Days and weeks even months after people who were thought to be from the middle east or Muslim were attacked in various parts of the country. It blew my mind that people couldn’t differentiate between the radical group that attacked us and people who live here. Was I afraid?Yes but not of the guy who ran the gas station or a doctor who took care of me in the ER. I was afraid that something else would happen and more innocent people killed.
We still have hate and ignorance in our country. A country that was supposed to be the melting pot, the land of opportunity, where everyone is created equal. The injustices that happen every day to all races are mostly ignored unless someone thinks they can spin it into some political agenda or to further their career. People are killing people without any rhyme or reason. Children killing other children, children being bullied to the point of suicide and parents saying kids will be kids. Children being raised to think that the world is handed to them and they are so used to electronics that they wouldn’t know what to do in a power outage. Our interactions on social media are so instantaneous and conclusive that sometimes we don’t think about what we say in the heat of the moment and have hurt someone and not even have meant to. But instead of being able to say we are sorry, its still on the internet, for the whole world to see how we have acted.
So when you think of your answers to questions they asked when we were kids what do you see as being different? Me? Well I am who I am, I don’t expect this to have too many people reading it but honestly its for me. Not for others. Thats all for now.