We Are America

Voices of the Nation's Future

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Photo ofMaria Alameda

Maya Angelou said, “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.” The beginning of new times can be quite difficult as new lifestyles form, friendships or relationships, either stay or leave. Adapting to new ways and trying to accept who I really was brought new challenges. Was I going to keep faking this sweet persona or was I going to finally release my real self. I was stuck in the middle in fear of being judged for my defensive ways or staying close-minded and quiet. During this phase, the heavy rock lying on my chest caused distress, provoked my frustration, and dismissed my emotions. Feeling that I wasn’t good enough to accomplish anything, I let people’s judgments lead my decisions and paint a picture of me that wasn’t truly who I am. At the same time, insecurities, self-doubts, and rumors got the best of me, it was the most down I have ever felt. I only saw the ugly in people and in life. Until one day, my older sister confirmed to me that she was pregnant. I was going to be an aunt and I’m going to have a baby niece. A baby is a big blessing in a Catholic household and there was only excitement within our family. My mother had a big smile, her deep dimples emerged as she looked down at an ultrasound picture of her tiny head, body and small feet. This was the first time I was truly excited and happy because I love babies. It was quite weird for me to start feeling comfortable. I gained trust within my family and my heart was bouncing up and down, close to my chest as it was ready to love again. Not only was I going to be an aunt to a new life, but I was being understood and supported by my current boyfriend although I continued pushing away as I wasn’t used to any of this. As my sister’s tummy grew, we started seeing small kicks ripple under her skin, the slow motion of her stomach stretching and moving up and down. At one point, I leaned down to listen to my niece’s presence and she kicked, hitting me in the ear; it was hilarious. One day, while in class during Zoom, my phone kept vibrating and the buzzing sound was quite distracting, so I answered and saw her adorable head, almost the size of a small coconut. Her yelling and her screams echoed through the phone. My soul was touched by her tiny hand. The day I came to meet her, she was asleep and struggled to keep her almond shaped eyes open. The moment she wrapped her small fingers onto my finger was the reminder of a new beginning. In the end, we are the only ones responsible for our own happiness. It’s the cruel truth, but we are also responsible for choosing who we will stick beside. The wrong people will bring chaos while the right ones will bring pure happiness. My niece is the best gift because she brought new meaning to my life when I needed it most. 

© Maria Alameda. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.