There was no electricity at night and the candles made the house even hotter. So we sat outside my uncle’s house in Managua, Nicaragua. It was hot, humid, sticky, and I was trying to hide my annoyance due to the ant and mosquito bites all over my body. Then, a neighborhood boy, Santi, came by. He was about my height, 5 foot 3 inches tall, looked about 13, but had a swagger of a 30 year old. He came by asking if my uncle needed the garbage thrown out, for a couple of Cordoba’s, the equivalent of about a quarter. My uncle scorned him in Spanish and said, “No, because last time, you threw it out on the street, not the dumpster!” He glanced over at me and my sister. I could tell he was embarrassed that Santi had come by. But, Santi stayed and asked intensely, “Well, can I at least have some water?!” My cousin quickly came out with a sandwich bag filled with clean water. Santi walked off and it was then that I realized that the boy was drugged. My uncle shook his head and explained, “He does glue.” I asked, “glue?”
Santi sniffs glue to get high. It’s the cheapest drug around in Managua. I asked myself, how could someone abuse drugs at such a young age? It was then that I flashbacked to my middle school, when my peers would ask me if I wanted to get high with them after school. Being drugged is nice because you can forget about your struggles. I see part of myself in Santi: we are both human, we both struggle and we both want to hopelessly escape and just feel good, if even for a fleeting moment. But I can’t learn from my struggles when I run from them. If I wanted to escape from every struggle in my life, I would be lost in time. It is only when I embrace my struggles that I can learn from them. I don’t want to forget my struggles anymore. My struggles are actually my blessings, my sources of wisdom. I struggle when it comes to love, social acceptance, when I am hopelessly lost downtown—my struggles vary in degree and severity everyday, but they are struggles nonetheless.
Through my struggles I have learned to be patient and kind when it comes to the hardships of love, I cannot please everyone when it comes to social acceptance and when I am hopelessly lost downtown, there will always be someone kind enough to give directions. It’s when I struggle that I come out of my comfort zone and I’m forced to grow and progress. Without seeing and feeling these emotions firsthand, I wouldn’t be as compassionate, resilient and optimistic. I’ve learned to prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and always, always be optimistic. I know that no matter what, I have to keep going, keep living and embrace life—especially all the struggles that come with it.