Thanks, Grandma, for blazing a trail for me

Valeria Emanuelli

Valeria Emanuelli, Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas—My American Dream is to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps.

My grandmother is a selfless and inspirational woman. Although she can test my patience, I owe my world to her.

Not only has she supported me in any aspiration, but she influenced who I am today through continued exposure to global cultures, art and diverse experiences.

Although afraid of the world and all its malice, she always tells me to get out there and explore.

“You’re still young! Don’t marry too quickly and have fun!” she says.

As I recorded my video in my tiny college apartment and came to terms with my lack of stable Wi-Fi, empty fridge and a due date I would be missing, I thought about how difficult things must have been for her when she was my age. How she’d been a singer and dancer but gave that up to work or how she’d adopted her siblings after her comatose mother passed and had no father to come to the rescue.

She always put others first, and so when she married and had children, she continued teaching as a professor at a university for a stable income instead of completing her desired degree in journalism.

I had always thought of myself as different, but then again, how different could I be?

After all, we are both firstborns. Any interests I hold have been hers first. She would take me to art museums and put me in ballet. Read and sing to me. Help me write little books full of spelling errors at age 10 and connected me with her peers whenever they were involved in something I was intrigued by.

It was only natural that I’d veer off the path to law school and back into her skillfully planned scheme for my life. Her palms are worn from the days she had to wash clothes by hand and her stature is short, but the woman has an attitude, and it was passed down to me to a certain degree.

When I dropped out of dance and went into martial arts, she was fearful and had a more traditional view of femininity that she expressed, but when I brought home my first broken board she was proud that I could fight my way. When I wrecked my car, she offered hers so I could go anywhere I wanted and live comfortably.

Most importantly, she tells me that I don’t need a man and can do what I want if I am determined. This is the most meaningful part of our relationship–the unconditional support. I know that no matter where I go, she will be proud of me and pray for my success and safety.

For a long time, I didn’t want to admit that I was like her. I wanted to be an individual who was unlike any other.

But after doing some reflection, I realized that the only different thing about is the fact that I am younger and live in a time with more privilege than she did. That I do not have to give up on my dreams and deal with the hand I was given because I had her wisdom to help. And so I want to be the writer she never got to be and the doctor she hoped I’d become with the American Dream that she gifted me.