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What Keeps Me Up at Night?


By Luis

I’m a 17-year-old undocumented teenager living in Arvin, California.  I am going to tell you what keeps me from closing my eyes and falling asleep at night.

Some nights before I fall asleep I think to myself about how my life will be in the future.

This is what I picture: I graduate high school, start working in the fields for a while to save enough money for welding school and for daily necessities like food and gas. During this time I pay rent and other bills to my parents. Once in welding school it will take three months to get certified.

What got me interested in becoming a welder? Some of my family members are welders, and they all bought their houses and brand new cars within five to six years.

What I like about that job is that you can play around with metal and make your own projects on your free time. What I’m really not going to like about being a welder is that there will be times where you have to go out of town to work for more than a week. The worst is that you will be leaving your family and probably will miss one of your kid’s birthdays.

After I get certified, I’m going to look for a job as soon as possible with one of my friends. I will look for a job that pays more than what’s enough to live on. When I have enough money, I’ll set out to save money again to buy my own house and buy a new car.

Then I start to think, why can’t I be what I really want to be, like maybe an orthodontist or doing office work, instead of doing backbreaking labor. Why not do something that pays good money, and allows me to get what I’m wishing for right now: a two story house with an underground pool and two brand new cars out of the factory, like a 2011 Subaru Impreza wrx/sti and a Mustang Shelby GT500. (My ultimate dream is to be  a rallycross and rally racer. I’ve always dreamed of becoming a rallycross driver.)

But then I think about how this is all impossible for me.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a legal resident of the United States, I think to myself. I’m Mexican, and proud of that. But I worry that I’m too dumb for school, or that I will fail in the first few months. Just like that I imagine my welding career is over. Sometimes I think that I can’t do anything good because I’m not from the U.S. I think in order to acquire what I want I have to be from here and have the support to get me through college.

It takes me about an hour just to fall asleep as I worry about these things.

1 Comment on "What Keeps Me Up at Night?"

  1. This is a very compelling essay because the writer is wrestling
    with his own ideas about his future. That’s what the word “essay”
    means in French — to wrestle. It’s not a predictable
    statement–the reader reads on because you want to know
    how the writer deals with his challenges.
    I liked that the writer went so deep inside and shared.

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