Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Born Day Reflections at 30

And thus the passage of time marked by life is upon me once again. It took me a while to own it, but I'm maturing quite nicely if I do say so myself. I like older Erick versus younger Erick. Things make a lot more sense these days then they ever have. As if some sort of veil was lifted and all of a sudden I got a hold of all this maturity I never knew I had. Trips me out sometimes.

None the less, I be 30 years old. For all the societal hype that's place on specific numbers in one's lifetime, this is one of those numbers in which a big deal is made. No longer in my twenties, jokes galore about getting older, and of course the ever looming pressure of being successful and/or accomplished. Whether it's self imposed or from outside forces, 30 is touted as the age in which an individual has their shit together and is on the path they're going to follow the rest of their life. Continually building atop a foundation set in their 20s that will continue into the 30s and beyond. Mean while, I'm over here trying to level up all my pokemon to level 100.

Friends have been getting married, buying houses, and having babies. I'm genuinely happy for folks when great news comes around and is celebrated. It's all a part of getting older and while I don't have those kinds of life changing events going on in my life right now, I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. The feeling of inadequacy is ingrained in us before we even know how to spell the word. It's a continuous process not to be bummed out by the success of others or to let it poison you with bitterness. Making comparisons on what others have and I don't, thinking like that never lead to anything productive or positive for me.

I may not be where I want to be, at least I'm not where I use to be. I take things a day at a time and as they come. Not the greatest plan in the world, but it works. There's only one person outside my family whose been able to see the changes I've made over the years an individual. I cherish my friendship with that person more than others because of that long history. I've learned many a lesson over the years through my experiences and none more important that valuing your relationships. While I've burned some and singed others, I treasure the ones I have.

Gawd, soo much has happened in the last coupe of years that I can't fathom it sometimes. It's easy to look back in regret of some of the stuff I've gone through, but I wouldn't be who I am if it wasn't for said struggles. As painful and emotionally draining as they were, I wouldn't change any of them. They still serve as reminders of how bad things were for me and how good I have them now. Younger Erick wouldn't believe his eyes if he saw me now. And I find myself lost for words as I reflect further into my past with each sentence.

I don't deny the transitions we all make within our lives. They all happen differently for everyone and at different times. I feel like I'm behind everyone and constantly trying to catch up, but once I stop to reflect and ponder, I realize that I'm where I need to be. Whether it be by the guiding hand of cosmic forces I am unable to fathom or just happenstance, moving forward is the key. Being open to new experiences and continually growing as an individual. Those simple acts have helped me mature mentally and emotionally, given that at one point I wanted to end it all and just leave this world.

Being comfortable with solitude and independence were also hard fought lessons. Despite growing up with both my parents and three younger sisters, I have always felt alone. It's a kind of loneliness that penetrates anything and grows exponentially because I never had anyone to share or talk with on a level that I still long for. When I thought I found someone who I could share that deep level of intimacy with, it got thrown back in my face and I spiraled off into depths I didn't even know I had in me.

Writing has been the biggest solace for me. However it came out, putting it down in words has always helped ease pains and clarify obstacles. The multitude of interest I have, culminating and forming the being that I am. I may not be a great man, but I do my best to be an honest man. I live my life for myself, but I don't neglect my social responsibilities to share what was shared with me. To leave this place better off than when I first came into it. A form of equivalent exchange.

And it goes without saying that being undocumented in this country have also played an instrumental role in my development as an individual and in greater society. I'm 30 years old and 23 of those years were spent undocumented. It was sharing those personal experiences that lead to the creation of a blog for me in the first place. A voyeuristic hankering to share what I was going through. Never expecting to get anything back, but hoping someone would eventually read it. Like a message in a bottle.

I reached out from my one man island through the internet and social media, and I found that I wasn't alone in my experience of being undocumented. Before I knew it, I joined the groups that I was writing school newspaper articles on because sitting idly by wasn't enough. I longed to meet my undocu-peers and be part of something bigger than me. And I did. I met amazing people working in the grassroots group, Dream Team Los Angeles. I was there in the first meeting with others who have already been doing work at their college and within the community.

I look back to those days and I laugh at home simple things were compared to now. I'm privileged to have been part of campaigns and actions that have literally changed Los Angeles, California and this country for the better for all undocumented immigrants. The growth I've made through those experiences have become instrumental in me being who I am and the skills I have developed over the years.

Back when my head wasn't on straight, turning 30 years old was something I dreaded. By 30, I knew that I wouldn't qualify for the federal DREAM Act. My options and resources would be severely limited and cut off because let's face it, no one wants to deal with disgruntled 30 year old dreamer when they can manipulate and shape an 18 year old dreamer who says how high when told to jump. Reaching this age meant that I'd have to have my shit together and give up on a bunch of shit that only made sense back in that mind set. That, and I'm a drama queen.

Now I just laugh at how I use to be back then, thinking like that. Everything I learned while being in those DREAMER spaces taught me valuable lessons about navigating the social justice movement and the non-profit-industrial-complex. I've continued to build on the skills I have and taking them beyond expectations.

I'm looking forward to growing older. To see my nieces grow up and my sisters mature into beautiful women. To see what else life throws my way and dealing with it as they come. So much to do in such little time. I just gotta keep moving forward on my own terms. I'm not like anyone else and my life up to this point has been anything but traditional. I acknowledge those who have come before me and keep watch. I am thankful for the life that I have and blessed to have the kind of friends that I do. There are too many individuals who have helped me reach this age and I'm grateful for all of them because it can't be done alone. Thank you.