Sink or swim

Using unfortunate memories as positive motivation

Isabella Tranello, Sports Editor

Isabella as a kid with her mother. (Courtesy of Isabella Tranello)

I didn’t choose to be born into my parents’ broken relationship; one that never truly resulted in the perfect picture family. I watched others live my dream while I cried in my room, wondering why my father didn’t love me as much as I thought he should have. I wanted the father that many of my friends had. Why was I given a life where my future looked so bleak? What is the point of trying in life when you are given the short end of the stick right off the bat?

As I grew up, I realized that I was more than the misfortunes of my life. Proving others wrong was the point. That was my motivation to keep trying.

We as students and people can all be more than what is expected of us, we just need to have the courage to try. The journey was and never will be easy, but it is worth it.

My first memory of my father was visiting him in a small white cafeteria of a Colorado prison surrounded by other families visiting their loved ones. I sat quietly in confusion, either in my mother’s lap or on the cold metal bench, wondering what she meant by, “your father lives in the big house.”

At the time, I didn’t understand what that meant and I wouldn’t until several years later.

She allowed me to form my own opinions of my father, which led me to take pride in the fact that my father lived in the “big house.” I bragged to everyone I met, without really understanding what I was saying. Parents looked down at me with sympathy, while the children around me were mesmerized at the thought of my father living in a sort of expensive mansion.

A jail is not commonly referred to as a home but with the amount of times I watched my father go in and out of one, I began to believe that he called that his home more than the one we provided for him. He just couldn’t stay away from the crime and the gangs that he found himself wrapped up in.

As I prayed for a father who wanted to be in my life more than in a prison cell, little did I know, my mother was doing the same thing in her room. Her prayers and mine went unanswered, but maybe that was for the best.

My mother tried her hardest to keep him in our life as much as she could. She strived to create a positive family dynamic, but that never happened. She tried to hide me from the judgments from the outside world, but that never happened either. I knew people judged my mother and I when they heard about our situation, but ignored it.. I was proud of my mother and all she had done to take care of me.

We were surrounded by love and affection from family members and close friends, but it was truly just my mom and I.

My whole life was surrounded by negative events, violence, and traumatic experiences, but somehow my mother and I fought through them together. There is no doubt that she had her own temptations and shortcomings, but she showed me more love and care than my father ever had.

She is the reason that I am who I am today. She raised me to be more than the daughter of a convict, more than the child who watched many of her family members get arrested and more than the little girl who missed out on having a solid father figure in her life.

I was not raised in the best of situations nor was I raised in a manner that kept me sheltered from the true darkness that lurks in the world, but I do not think I would have it any other way. I suffered immense trauma as a child and teenager, but I didn’t let it drown me. I decided to swim instead.

I decided that others’ perceptions of my life didn’t mean a thing if I chose to prove them wrong. If I chose to “just keep swimming” as Dory from “Finding Nemo” had taught me, then I could do anything I set my mind to, and I did.

I chose to graduate high school with a high GPA. I chose to leave the only home I had ever known for a fresh start in Seattle. I chose to stay on a successful path. I chose to not let myself sink. Through making these choices, I found out that my future was not as bleak as I had thought.

I could have gone down the road that many of my siblings did and succumbed to the fear that I would never make anything of myself, but I didn’t. My whole life I was told that I would be nothing more than the little girl who was raised in a small trailer with her mother and who never had her father show up for a single monumental event in her life. I simply didn’t believe that. I knew I was meant to be more.

Everyone is going through a tough time nowadays because of the pandemic and other outside factors, but the world is not all dark. Even though things may seem hopeless, we all have a choice. The choice to sink in our misfortunes or to keep swimming through them. My advice to all Seattle Pacific University students, staff and anyone who is struggling is to push through it.

This may be hard to do, but you never know what amazing benefits could be waiting for you on the other side. Be who you want to be and do not let anything defer you. Just keep swimming and prove everyone wrong.