When I was five-years-old, my parents and I moved to California from Mexico. Entering first grade and not able to speak the language was hard because I was not able to communicate with anyone besides my parents. I remember my classmates looked at me funny since I sounded different and could not understand what the teacher said. Being six-years-old, I felt judged by my classmates because I was different. On top of not being able to speak English, I got picked on for my height. I got lonely because I wanted friends to play jump rope and handball with during recess time. I already felt lonely because nobody would play with me and I could not even communicate with my classmates. All I knew was that I was in the first grade and I had a hard time adjusting to my new environment. Even though learning a new language was challenging, it was important to learn English in order to communicate with my peers.
Being a young child, I did not understand the reasons why my parents decided to leave Mexico and move to California. All of our family was in Mexico — my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and my cousins — and I was puzzled why we had to leave them behind. I remember everything in California seemed so scary. I had to remember U.S. currency and the names of the coins and bills, how the bus system worked, and remembering my way from school to my house. Vividly, I remember going to the beach for the first time since I left Mexico and smelling the salty ocean water that reminded me of home. In that moment I felt happy, the ocean water brought back memories of the adventures I had in Mexico, and it was comfortable and familiar. Despite the problems, the impact of moving to California affected me in a positive way as a result, I was able to learn about different cultures and the diversity that comes with it.
As time went by and with the help of teachers, I learned to speak English fluently and made new friends along the way. Things were going so well for me because I made friends and school was fun. I thought things were going great at home until my parents started arguing constantly, and my dad decided to leave. I was very depressed and blamed my dad for the decision he made. Things were not going to be the same anymore. Like most kids, I wanted a perfect family where the parents stay together. Now that I’m older, I understand that staying in a marriage where you are not happy may not always be good for the family.
It was difficult for my mom being a single parent. I saw the struggles she had gone through to have food on the table and a roof over our heads. My relationship with my mom grew and we were closer. I still spent time with my dad on the weekends but I got knots in my throat whenever I had to say bye to him. As a child I envied my friends because they all lived with both of their parents. Throughout the time, I wondered why my parents could not forgive each other and be a family again. Now that I am 21-years-old, I understand the reasons why parents decided to separate. I have learned to respect them both each individually.
Because of the life lessons I learned as a little girl I am more knowledgeable of understanding situations more better and seeing the bigger picture. A quote that I can relate to is from a best selling author Steve Maraboli is, “Happiness is not the absence of problems, it’s the ability to deal with them.” This quote reminds me when I was little and things were not going well at home, I still found something to be happy about whether it was going somewhere fun or hanging with my friends because deep down I knew things could of always been worse. I am proud of who I am and have become a persevere young woman because of the obstacles in life I have been through.