It takes one person to be brave for others to take a stand
Everyone has a shadow—even when it is dark, it’s still there. But what happens when instead of letting your shadow follow you, you become your own shadow?
That’s what being undocumented in the United States is like. It’s easier to just blend in with everyone else and not speak a word because if you do, there might be consequences.
I was brought to the USA when I was just seven years old. Growing up I had no idea that not having papers was going to cause a lot of problems for my future. In 8th grade my mother was forced to tell me I didn’t have a social security number when my class was planning a trip to visit Washington, DC.
Ever since, I decided to blend in and never talk about my situation. I felt like a burden—who was going to sympathize with me? Would anyone see me differently if I told them my situation? Throughout high school, I saw my friends working, getting their license and traveling. I felt so useless, but I did a good job at blending in. No one would have ever guessed that I didn’t have papers.
My senior year, I was sitting in class pretending to fill out my FAFSA form [for federal student aid] until I heard a girl tell the teacher, “I wasn’t born here so I can’t fill this out.” I turned and it was a girl who I sat next to every day for the past four years and who happened to be my friend. To my surprise—another girl spoke up and said the same thing. I couldn’t believe it! I wasn’t alone. I never was.
After class I talked to my friend and told her that she and I were in the same position. Our eyes teared up because we couldn’t believe how during these past four years we had been friends and never knew that we shared the same secret. And it was a secret until it wasn’t. I was done feeling embarrassed because it wasn’t my fault I wasn’t born in this country.
I decided to make the best out of my situation and speak up for those who still hide in their shadows. The best thing to do is to use your voice for what you believe in—that is the most powerful weapon a human being can have. For years I was terrified to speak up because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. But drawing attention for what you stand for is revolutionary. It takes one person to be brave for others to take a stand. That is the best chain reaction there could be.