Able to Swim

By: Alexandra Mateo

8 Votes

Able to Swim - Alexandra Mateo

University of California, Irvine


I come from a family of risk takers.

My mom is first generation college graduate, who went on to get her MBA while raising two children.

My dad and his family immigrated across the pacific when he was eight, making their way in a country as confusing as its language.

My parents never hid their struggles or their stories. Instead, they instilled the mindset that we could have the entire world, as long as we were willing to take the risk and jump off our diving boards.

When I turned 17, high school graduation was a stone's throw away and with that was my next adventure. I was going to leave behind my family and high school friends and start a new life in California. I know that packing up and moving to a different state is the plot of many teenage fantasies. There is that freedom to completely start over, without the shackles of your parents. The thing that most people don't think about is how profoundly terrifying it actually is. One day, you're a teenager in your home where any issue can be solved by calling out for your parents. The next day, you're an adult living by herself, Googling how to make money off of recycling because you need to make rent.

But the first step in learning how to swim is getting in the water and knowing you can survive.

The thing about risk taking is that you open yourself up to a world setbacks and mistakes. Maybe it's forgetting to buy groceries or getting lost at the DMV. These setbacks are just a few of the ones that I know too well. That's one part of being an adult - the other part is peeling yourself off the pavement.

The most important thing though is that I survived. It's that thought that keeps me going and gives me strength. I took that leap, took that risk, and found myself able to swim.