High School-16 years old
Wow! How time flies! Just looking at the picture above seems like another lifetime. I remember how I longed to be an adult to be on my own away from nagging parents and responsibilities.
Now that I’m an adult on my own dealing with my own responsibilities, I’ve decided to reflect on my life as I embark on two of my biggest quests-owning a business–Adrivo: The Travel Session
, and wanting to have a baby.
When I set out to start my own business I didn’t realize all my armor, emotions and struggles would be exposed. The reason for the exposure is due to the nature of the business I’m developing which is about creating a strong support community of like-minded people who want to work together on having meaningful professional and personal lives. The retreats we put together help create the bond and community. The workshops and travel exploration adventures on the retreat take a holistic approach in giving people the necessary tools to be satisfied with their lives. With that being said my business is basically about making people feel that everything is ok and well within and around them. People will come on the retreats to get some peace. In order to offer the peace and comfort I also need to have inner peace within me and the faith that my truth has the power to steer us to a meaningful life. I know I have the inner peace within me because I have felt it when sitting silently inside a church and during my nature walks. I want to bring that feeling to my life all the time and to the people on the retreats.
How do I do that? Well, according to Psychologist Arthur Aron
he says mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. I want people to relate to me when they embark on a personal journey to go on one of the retreats. In order for people to feel safe with me there needs to be a connection. According to Social Worker Brene Brown,
“Connection is why we’re here. The ability to feel connected is neurobiological how we’re wired.” She goes on to say in order for connection to happen we need to be seen but really seen. I want to create strong real connections in order for me and the business to flourish. Vulnerability connects us. It is a great gift we give to another person when we let them see behind any masks or walls of emotional protection. Moreover, vulnerability is a priceless gift to give to ourselves. Vulnerability births places of joy and creativity love and belonging
. I crave joy and creativity so bad.
Here we go the layers start to come off:
I would say for most of my life I have lived with a lot of shame and was scared to expose my vulnerability for fear of being made fun of. I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and my first language was Spanish because my mother is from Spain and didn’t speak any English when she first came to this country. I never thought it was wrong to speak Spanish until my parents put my brother and I in an almost “all white” (Anglo) school where everyone struggled to say my very Spanish name: Adriana Maria Gallegos Espinosa. Also, teachers thought I would struggle in school and not succeed because I knew another language. Thanks to them not believing in me I tended to always get very nervous and struggle on standardized tests. So from a very early age, I already felt different and ashamed of my heritage and the way I looked. In school I would deny I spoke Spanish and was embarrassed to say my name. Until I woke up and realized in high school how awesome it was to speak Spanish fluently. I’ll have to write another post about my identity issues. I never truly felt American, Latina/Hispanic or Spanish because of people’s comments…”you’re not American or you don’t act or talk Latina or you can’t claim Spanish because you were not born in Spain.” I’ll have to dig deeper into the issue but after so many years I could finally say loud and proud “I’m a proud American (Native American and Spanish heritage) and I’m a proud Spaniard. I’m a 100% American and 100% Spanish and that’s how I feel.
I also was very shy. I remember once in fourth grade I started to cry when I had to present in front of the class. Also with family guests, I would be the girl in the corner listening but never saying anything. I was a very good listener and observed everything that was going on. I would later give my mom the analysis report about each person. I always had a fear of speaking out and was scared of authority because felt they had to be treated well and respected at all times. I would study hard and do my homework every night like a good little girl. I never had teachers who truly believed or motivated me in any way until sixth grade. It was math class and Mrs. Northrup made me feel like the smartest kid in class by constantly praising me for my work and tests. She thought I was good in math so she sent me to a summer math camp for top students. Since then I started to really like math (except geometry) and science (only chemistry, biology and anatomy and physiology).
My goal was to be a doctor or do something in the medical field. Well, life took many turns and I ended up in a career I didn’t even know existed…PR/marketing. I was a very lost and confused teen (16-21) and lacked confidence in myself. My parents tried to steer me in the right direction but at that age I wanted to be left alone. During senior year in high school, I just wanted to be an adult and have fun even though my pre-calculus teacher was telling me to take a higher level math course. I ended up hanging out with the wrong crowd and liking the typical “bad-boys.” I just wanted to escape to be on my own.
After high school, I got a scholarship and some financial aid to attend a small catholic university in San Antonio called, “Our Lady of the Lake,” in which I enrolled in their pre-med program. Anyway, I failed my freshmen year because I wasn’t mature enough to study and focus because I continued to hang around the wrong crowd and “bad boys.” That was the turning point in my life. I had failed the pre-med courses, lost a scholarship and financial aid, and lost most of the friends I was hanging out with. What to do? For one, I had to return back to Albuquerque to attend UNM. Since I didn’t have any good mentors I could turn to for advice I said to myself, ” I like what Oprah does and like to watch the news so I guess I can study broadcast journalism.” And that’s what I did studied journalism hoping to be the next Oprah or Barbara Walters.
I graduated from college landed some TV reporting gigs in which I got fired from because according to them I was not well prepared. I later came to DC because a friend persuaded me to come out to help her with the Kerry campaign. My ex-boyfriend helped me drive from Laredo, TX to Washington, DC. I didn’t have a real job waiting for me in DC except volunteering for Kerry and getting a stipend from Americorp. After a month in DC, I ended up landing a job on Capitol Hill which was the best and worst experience of my life. I was thrown into the shark tank and well I drowned but ended up meeting really interesting people who helped me stay in DC by hooking me up with some great jobs. Thanks to the people I met on the Hill I stayed in DC and started a successful career in communications and marketing that has lasted about 10 years and is still going.
As you can see for most of my life I never thought I was good enough and was always in the corner hiding out of fear of being exposed. The fear was so strong that I lied in order for people not to know I had failed freshman year or that I had been fired or just came to DC with no real job or I liked bad boys. I always wanted to portray the good strong girl who had it all together due to my pride. Since from an early age some people told me I would struggle and I always had someone bringing me down I wanted to prove to “the haters” I was perfect. I wanted so in my heart to prove them wrong. And I just realized that I have proven the haters wrong. I never really failed because I’m still here standing strong and ready to start my business, and I met Oprah.
I’m also married to a great man who truly believes in me and hoping to start a family one day. I realized that before bringing a baby into the world I would need to take a weight off my shoulders and heal my wounds of self-doubt and low self-esteem. I thought by now I would already be pregnant because a baby is the one thing I also really want in life other than the business, but I’m not because I think God wants me to heal before bringing someone into the world. I want to be strong enough to teach my kid the lesson below. Probably two years ago I wouldn’t have been able to teach any lessons due to my fear of exposure.
Lessons Learned: To all the young women out there don’t ever feel you’re not smart or pretty enough. Also be proud of being different and of your heritage. Stand tall and strong and know you’re not the only one with problems or feelings of insecurity. All those people who you think are perfect and so confident I can bet a million dollars they also struggle and have their insecurities.
Also try to look for mentors or get involved/volunteer in programs that have to do with what you want to study or are about your personal interests. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and tell someone how you feel. I wish I could have asked for help and told someone how I felt. In the end I had to deal with a lot in order to be here today. I may not be a doctor but through my business I will kind of be a doctor by helping people feel better about themselves by adding meaning to their lives.
I end with some questions I would like you to answer in the community: DC Full Wellness Spectrum.
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?