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When life gives you lemons

I wanted to be like her, get on the bus and go where she learned all those beautiful songs. I would get on the bus, and my mom struggled to convince me that the time for me to go to school had not arrived yet. That long-awaited day finally arrived! I had my uniform, polished shoes, and white socks. To my disappointment, we would no longer have to get on the bus. We lived near the school, so we walked to school. I left most excitedly, but when I came back, my mom saw me downcast – how did it go? – she asked me, to which I replied: bad. When she asked me to elaborate, I said to her: what is the point of this place? They lock us in a room all day! The teachers wouldn't let us be, and they wouldn't let us play. That would be the beginning of a neverending cycle of having great expectations of what life would be like. Met with the disappointment of experiences never being what I envisioned they would be.

Years after a stormy school life, where I lost absolutely every course and made more than twenty teachers angry, I graduated from high school.

Then I surprised everyone when I fell in love with academic life. I graduated from university cum laude. Later, I earned one of the most prestigious scholarships in my country to study abroad. I traveled, published in scientific journals, guided students, worked at laboratories (with my cute stereoscope and insect collections), and found myself choosing between love and science. I embraced love. There was a new great disappointment, the "help" of mentors full of personal dramas. Credits for work I did were published by the more renowned scientists with more experience and left me in the acknowledgments. One of the things that I struggled the most with was how poorly female scientists treated me when I got pregnant while working for them. My post-doctorate demanded that I give up the salary that corresponded to me for maternity leave. It pretty much ended my academic life. And with those lemons, I started to think about businesses that would use knowledge to improve the way we live.

As a new mother, I had given up everything that mattered to me. It was time to reinvent myself, scrape my feathers, become the ugly, vulnerable chick and grow large wings and fluffy dawn to form a home in a new place. At times I was bored, shed many tears, and lost sleep. All to support the new life we created.

A note here, making a home, getting married, and having children are riddled with romanticism. And it is taboo to talk about how harsh and lonely it can be. They don't say that the honey from the honeymoon runs out and the hard work begins. Lemons will be given to you in your new family life. It is up to us as a family to define the ingredients of our own lemonade.

Regarding the life I didn't have, talking to friends who still are in academia, I realized that my dream of leading a laboratory filled with students was another romanticization. Just as being like my sister and going to school. There is no such thing as the perfect career and place and life. Those are spaces that we create. Life is what we make by weaving what we have in the present moment. And so I left the dream of being an academic. I thought that once there, I would have what I was looking for. That allowed me to embrace other dreams and create and invent what didn't exist at the time. I made the lemons that life gave me, my own lemonade.

Romanticizing things teach us how we want to live life and fills our mind with dreams to achieve. However, you must know that no one else will build the world we dream of. We can only achieve those dreams by believing in ourselves. By building support networks, and choosing and cultivating friendships that lift us. All peppered with getting up every day, hoping we can achieve anything we set our minds to do.

So if the world keeps throwing lemons at you, that is, if life sabotages you. When your experiences are uncomfortable. If the life you are living overwhelms you. Instead of complaining and suffering for it, stand up and do everything to name what you feel. So that you can turn those lemons into lemonade.

For example:

  • If you have a job where you don't feel happy, use this job you have now to save, make yourself known in other circles, and prepare what you need for the next job. Remember that the best time to find a new job is when you already have a job.

  • If you have just become a mother or had a difficult birth from which you find it upslope to feel like yourself, use this moment to discover who you are now, find your strengths, and use them. For example, if you like to talk to others, find a center or events where mothers support each other.

  • If you've just flunked your studies, use that frustration to search and find someone to support you with what you don't understand. You will find groups of people who, like you, do not understand the subjects. You'll find friends who sit in the cafeteria to help you solve problems, and if you don't win the exams, you'll at least feel more understood.

  • If your children grew up, made their lives, and you feel like they forgot about you, enjoy that free time you have to reinvent yourself and find activities where you can tell your stories. That your experience serves other women and that you feel that your stories help someone else.

We don't need to be well all the time, problems arise, our emotions bubble up and it's up to us to decide what we're going to do to manage them. The world would be a better place if when life gives us lemons, we make our own lemonade and take pride from that.

In Esperantza, we want to be your cheerleaders. We want to assist you. That's why we offer mental health sessions, tutoring to sharpen your language or academic skills, and nutritionists to support you in self-care. All these services are carefully crafted with you in mind. So that you can become be the best version of yourself.

If you need help finding your version of lemonade, we offer a free appointment to tell us what barriers you have to be the best version of yourself.

Make your appointment now!


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