Journals The Tattoo

Fighting for my dreams at age 17

Miami, Florida, U.S.A. — The year 2007 is almost over, and I can’t help but be relieved.

With a deep breath, I say farewell to the year 2007 and welcome 2008 with open arms.

I can’t help but be anxious to start anew. This past year has been filled with many changes and many struggles.

I moved to a different part of the city, and not wanting to have to deal with changing schools, I made the decision to be home schooled.

Many people told me the decision was a bad one, but by that point, I disagreed.

I have never, nor will I ever, regret that decision. I feel that I made the right choice.

My school would send me the textbooks and the tests, and I would send them my answer sheets, along with a check (yes, I had to pay for the homeschooling, myself), and they would send me a report card.

I aced everything with flying colors, and received my high school diploma, by mail, a few days before my 17th birthday.

I must admit, though, I did miss out on half of my junior year and all of my senior year. I didn’t go to prom and my mother didn’t get to see me graduate.

I missed my friends dearly and living farther from them made our friendships difficult.

Missing out on the high school experience, and my friends, is the only flaw that came with my decision.

But I knew that graduating early would allow me to get a jump start on my college career. I am now a college freshman attending Miami Dade College, where I’m majoring in mass communications and journalism.

I actually don’t start college until January for the spring term, though. And I am very excited.

Another change that came with moving was having to get a new job.

I left behind my job as a part-time cashier for a fast food restaurant and got a full-time job as a hostess for a casual dining restaurant.

Now I pay rent, to help my mother out, as well as my phone bill and my schooling.

I was forced to say goodbye to all of my friends at my old job, but I also made a lot of new friends at my new job.

As a teenager, friends are a big part of my life and meeting new people has helped me to cope with having to move.

Unfortunately, living in Miami without a car makes transportation very difficult. It is very dangerous for young girls to walk around Miami by themselves and take the public bus. I could never do that, especially at night. So that makes spending time with my friends even harder.

Now that I’m getting older and I’m realizing more and more what my responsibilities are, I miss being a little child. I miss being as carefree as I was when I was seven years old, how nothing mattered but playing games and being tucked into bed by my mother.

Now that I am older, I know where my priorities are and what matters most.

Another huge change that occurred during this past year, was my grandmother having a heart attack.

She was hospitalized and then sedated because the more stress she endured, the weaker her heart became.

That first night, I refused to visit her, because I was scared. I had been in this position before, my other grandmother passed away almost four years ago, and she was the only person who really believed that I could do anything, and she believed in my dreams, she believed in me.

I hated seeing her as sick as she was when she was in the hospital. It is really frightening to witness someone you dearly love in this situation.

My sister was so upset by my selfishness that she yelled at me saying, “Grandma practically raised us, and now you can’t even visit her when she’s sick!”

Well, I guess saying that my sister knocked some sense into me would be an understatement. And so, the following night I went to visit my grandmother.

Seeing her with all those tubes in her, and hearing the humming noise the contraption that helped her heart beat was making, drove me to tears.

My sister attempted to comfort me, and left the room to speak to a nurse.

Sobbing, I held my grandmothers hand and whispered, “Que te pongas mejor abuela.” Translation: “Get better, grandma.”

A few days later, my grandmother passed away.

I was really upset by her passing, but I knew that she was no longer in pain.

Yet another turn took place in my life, when I found out that an old friend of mine was killed in a fire when attempting to burn down a house, to earn the insurance money.

I couldn’t believe that he would do that. And I couldn’t believe that he got caught in the fire.

He was in his early twenties. Hearing about this, I realized how short life really is.

We shouldn’t waste so much time being angry and stressed out, we should forgive easily and love hard, because we’re not promised tomorrow.

In realizing all this, and learning as much as I have about myself and about life, I decided to make some of my own changes, to better myself.

I became more in touch with my spirituality and I’ve also been trying new techniques to relieve stress and anxiety, like meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.

It’s all been working pretty well. I feel better about myself and the choices I’ve made so far. I’m working very hard to pay bills and to pay for school, and also saving money for a car, and I’m preparing myself for school next month.

During the 17 years of my life, I have been through many hardships and I’ve seen many things.

I understand that life is hard, but it’s the bad and difficult things in life that make us appreciate the good things so much more.

I once heard someone say, “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

So I vow to fight for my dreams and for what I believe in. I vow to never change who I am, for anyone.

Jenny Coloma is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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