“We shape ourself to fit this world and by this world are shaped again.”-unknown
Nature vs. Nurture.
One can say that a person’s traits are predetermined by genetic inheritance and other biological factors. However, I feel experiences and events shape a person’s traits through learned behaviors. Each of us have experienced monumental life events that have provoked change of being. As I reflect on my life so far, I find myself reminiscing of each life event that has led me to this very moment. Here are nine (9) life events that have shaped me into the person I am today:
1. My mother suffering a stroke and becoming paralyzed on her left side. Age 8
This was the first traumatic event that I can remember experiencing. A lot of my inner child pain stems from this event. My mother was in the hospital for almost 2 months, bouncing from MRIs and CT scans to physical therapy sessions. She suffered from seizures. She could no longer walk without the assistance of a leg brace and cane. She could no longer move her fingers. She was left-handed and had to relearn how to write with her right hand. She even underwent brain surgery. It was hard being so young watching all of this unfold and not fully understanding what was taking place. I was watching my mother morph into someone I did not know. At the time, my mother was only 35 years old. At my current age of 32, I can only imagine how difficult this transition must have been on her, especially mentally.
2. Moving from Bronx, NY to Blue Springs, MO. Age 9
Go to Google. Pull up a picture of Bronx, NY. Pull up another picture of Blue Springs, MO. Now put them side by side and compare them. It’s like comparing apples to pizza. They’re that different! Moving from a huge city to a quiet, suburban town was quite the culture shock, especially when I was the only Puerto Rican in my school and regularly took an hour car ride with my parents to Kansas City, just so we could get some Goya products and Adobo. But moving here also showed me that there was so much more than the Bronx and the rest of the boroughs. Missouri was beautiful through the seasons, especially autumn. Trees lined the streets with shades of orange, red, and yellow. I was surrounded by nature and at that young age of 9, I realized how much it brought me peace.
3. Meeting my ex-best friend. Age 10
We were both from NY and moved to Tampa, FL around the same time. We clicked from Day 1 and our friendship lasted 20 years, up until a year ago. She was my favorite person to laugh with. We spoke every single day. Most of my life events included her by my side. My friendship with her taught me that blood is not always thicker than water. That your friends can become your family too. And although we no longer speak, I am grateful to have so many memories, good and bad, with her.
4. My mother leaving my father and I. Age 13
I have not completely sorted out my feelings about this. Naturally, being a teenage girl and having my mother walk out on us, I was distraught. My abandonment issues originate from this very life event. I rather not delve too much into the details because my intent is not to speak poorly about my mother. But when she left, I lost my mother’s side of the family. Family that had been so involved in my life were just…gone. Poof. A whole magic trick. This life event conditioned me to be distrustful, resentful, and feeling unworthy for most of my adolescence and young adulthood…I’m working on it now.
5. Graduating from college with my Bachelor’s Degree. Age 25
I would consider this my greatest accomplishment because of how much it took to achieve this! When I started community college at the age of 18, I didn’t take my education seriously. I would skip class and blow my financial aid money on shopping and eating out at restaurants. I failed my first year of college, lost my financial aid, and was threatened to be expelled. Then as I began to recover by getting better grades, I made the decision that I wanted to move back to NY. That move halted college altogether. When I moved back to Tampa at age 20, I immediately enrolled myself back into college. I took every semester including summer and winter intermission. I rode two-hour bus rides back and forth to school and my job. I transferred to a university and took every semester there as well. Juggling school full-time with a full-time job was draining and at times, discouraging. Some days I couldn’t afford to eat because the rest of my school loan money was used to cover the remainder of my rent payment. Many nights I cried thinking I couldn’t do it anymore. However, my resilience was unmatched. I’m proud I pushed myself through.
6. Traveling to Spain and Morocco. Age 25
As a graduation present to myself, I booked a 14-day trip to Spain and Morocco. IT WAS AMAZING. I had wine and sangria with every lunch and dinner. I ate delicious paella and tapas. I witnessed history through the architecture. I watched a flamenco show. I rode a camel! I even got a tattoo that says, “Dream. Explore. Discover.” This life event created my (possibly) unhealthy obsession with traveling. My heart just feels at ease when I go someplace new. I am thrilled with the idea of seeking new experiences and viewing new surroundings, and I am constantly chasing that thrill.
7. Losing my first child. Age 29
I wrote about this experience in my 2019 blog post here so no need to rehash the details. This experience is why Ang Meets Soul exists. As I have written in some of my other posts, writing became my outlet for the pain and loneliness. I began sharing my experiences through my site in hope of spreading awareness and kindness to others. I wanted to connect with people. I wanted to shield others from unnecessary heartache. So, I bared my skin and exposed my deepest thoughts with a vulnerability that even I was uncomfortable with. This experience transformed my very being and sparked healing.
8. Getting married. Age 30
I’ve said this many times and I will say it again, you CANNOT pay me to plan another wedding. This was the most stressful planning process I have ever experienced, and in the middle of a pandemic. The number of obstacles that were thrown at my husband and I was borderline debilitating. And despite it all, we still managed to make it down that aisle. It only foreshadowed of the lengths we are willing to go to be with one another. I won’t sugarcoat this- marriage is hard. It’s beautiful but hard. Takes a lot of compromise and sacrifice from both ends. It takes constant reinventing, of yourself and the relationship, to keep up with the changes. Because nothing can ever stay the same, including the person you are. You will evolve and you must be willing to evolve with your partner and the relationship as well. Marriage teaches me commitment, consistency, and dedication.
9. Giving birth to my daughter. Age 31
When I found out I was having a daughter, I felt a wave of emotions. It felt as if I was given a second chance to build the mother-daughter relationship I always yearned for. I was also terrified because I did not want to be like my own mother. I did not want to unintentionally damage my daughter with my emotional baggage. Pregnancy is beautiful. You witness the miracle of life grow inside of you. Every sound of the heartbeat and gentle kick inside of your stomach reconfirms this repeatedly. And then you get to the end of your pregnancy, and you can’t wait until your child is in your arms. I had a traumatic birth experience and was in bad shape after my daughter was born. Luckily, I recovered but looking back at it, there is something powerful (and terrifying) about the ability of women to hang by a thread of life and on the brink of what feels like death, while bringing a new life into this world. It is the ultimate act of selflessness. Motherhood keeps teaching me this. I am a better person because I want to be a better person for my daughter.
So there you have it. These life events have brought forth the person you see today. And I am sure more future life events to follow will force me to shift and pivot. That’s the beauty of life. A new day presents a new opportunity to grow and evolve.
What are some life events that have shaped you into the person you are today? I would love to hear from you. Sending all my love! ❤