Embracing My Struggles

Tanya - San Ramon, California
Entered on June 22, 2008

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.