• Migdalia Hernandez

Am I still that 13 year old girl?

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

When I was in 7th grade I wrote a paper for the chance at a $500 college scholarship. The entire class was required to submit a personal statement and I wrote about my aspiration to be a first- generation college student. My family always struggled to make ends meet and I remember thinking that a $500 scholarship would be the answer to funding my dreams, so I dug deep. I wrote from my heart, soul, brain, toes and elbows and shared details about my life and family that I felt ashamed of at the time. This is earliest memory I have of physically writing out my hopes and dreams for my future. I wanted to win with every fiber of my being.

A month later there was a huge assembly to announce the winners of the scholarship, who we were told had been notified a day prior. 500 students were squeezed like sardines into the musky cafeteria and teachers and administrators lined the walls and tried to keep students from fussing. I was sweaty and, not having been notified as a winner, felt defeated.

As the winners were announced, they were invited on stage to accept a printed certificate and read their personal statements. Are you kidding me? Not only did we have to write about very personal experiences, but the winners were then obligated to share them with the entire school?! A $500 scholarship was not worth not worth the trouble and I was grateful I was going to be spared the cruel torture and public humiliation. Notice how easily I was willing to give up on something I wanted so badly, something I had poured my heart into, at the first sign of discomfort. I was still sweaty, but the truth is I felt relieved.

So, there I was, sweating and minding my own business, trying to flirt with some boy, when I spot my family from the corner of my eye being ushered to sit a few rows behind me. I swiveled my head, gave them a confused look and they communicated with their ear-to-ear grins what was going on. My mom mouthed “you won,” and by the time I processed what was happening, my name was being called as first place winner and I was being dragged towards the stage.

I was terrified. I stood behind the podium on the brink of simultaneously fainting and having explosive diarrhea. My heart was in my throat, my stomach was in knots and of course, I was sweating profusely. A teacher had to stand behind me and rub my back as I wheezed my way through reading my personal statement. I absolutely thought I would die from the stage fright and I didn’t stop shaking until an hour after the assembly was over. I didn’t fully appreciate my accomplishment until that night when my family celebrated me with enchiladas and ice cream- the combination of which induced the same set of sick feelings as when I was dragged on stage.

This is not the story I meant to tell. I meant to write about my time as a Seedling in the Blossom Process so far, but my mind time traveled to a specific event that made me feel what I am feeling now. In some ways, I am still that 13-year-old girl with big dreams who is terrified of being vulnerable. Yes, I still have and am afraid of those huge fantasy-like dreams, but I am on a path of that empowers me to embrace those fears, not cower from them. I still sweat and my heart jumped to my throat when I formulated my Vision, but I am no longer a little girl who avoids the necessary discomfort. I am an imperfect beautiful hard-working woman deserving of my dreams despite my fears of failure. I will not surrender to my fears and I will not so easily renounce my dreams. When old doubts and fears creep up on me and I shake like that scared 7th grade girl, I’ll be counting on my friends and fellow seedlings to stand behind me and rub my back until I stop wheezing.

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