Most of us welcome the idea of not knowing what's to come or what awaits us on the long journey of life. Some of us shy away and are quite honestly terrified of the unknown. Prime example when COVID-19 first hit, most were worried about lay offs, while the family oriented folks were worried about lay offs and the health of their loved ones. Many people, self employed and entrepreneurs were scared because their livelihoods were threatened. Yet, some of us thrived in it. COVID-19 didn't affect me like it did for others for two particular reasons. I frankly don't care about things in life like most people do. What I mean by that is that I don't really waste my time on things that I can't control or simply anything that has attachments to the government. Yes, I joined the military at the age of 17 and have no regrets. If they shipped me off somewhere to fight, I wouldn't hesitate to do my job, which I did honorably and moved on with my life. I am also a Republican. I believe in hard work and in offering everyone the same opportunities to QUALIFIED prospects. I don't believe in hand me downs or giveaways. What exactly is the value in that? What exactly are we teaching the next generation? Our kids and our grandchildren? The values in this country alone have changed drastically. For better or worse, here we are so lets make the best of it. The second particular reason is that right when COVID-19 hit is when I also met my ex-boyfriend, and we all know how cute and lovely those beginning stages are... Since I was little, I always focused on what I could control and what I NEEDED to do to move forward and onward. Maybe it was influenced by my parents because I never heard them beg for anything. They simply asked and they were lucky in having good friends and families that would assist when they asked and they always paid back. Well to everyone, but me. Some of you may read that and think well that's selfish, your parents provided food, shelter and education for you, but this is my point of view here, so hear me out or not. When people decide to engage in sexual intercourse, whether they realize the consequences or not, pregnancy is a possibility, unless a medical condition exists, just like STIs. Some STIs can go away, while others will last a lifetime. Pregnancy can occur or not, and that's a lifetime, whether you choose to abort or not, that is something you'll have to live with for the rest of your conscious life. Either way, I didn't ask to be conceived or born. Yet, here I am. A product of a very strong minded, morality right, independent young Dominican woman and a persuasive, man whore, irresponsible Dominican father. From a young age, my mother taught me the basic tools and necessities I would need to survive and care for myself while they both worked full time jobs. So as a four year old, I learned to operate the stove-top, refrigerator and tv. If that's not adulting at its finest, I don't know what is! Kidding... My mother always showed me strength and loyalty. My father just showed me how to spend money and abuse those around us, which is probably why I am so strong minded when it comes to discipline, responsibility and the simple thing called being a descent human being. My mother and I bonded the most when my father stepped out on us because he blamed my mother for something that had nothing to do with her, let alone she wasn't even in the building for the HIS fuck up, but hey, that's another thing he taught me. Get pissed off, blow up, and storm off. Quality skills, I am glad I overcame. I will always have that memory of him getting in his vehicle and driving off, as I went to pull on the door handle because I wanted to get in the vehicle with him. This is what you probably still don't understand, but I loved that man very very much. He treated me like a princess and whether he would admit to anyone or not, I was his favorite. He would come home from work and just grab me and take me to the fair. Strangely enough that never affected my relationship with my siblings, but maybe because they've been there already and already knew my real father. I was still young and believed in the power of love or maybe I was just a child, who believed her parents could do no wrong. I never cried about not getting more than one or two toys for Christmas. I never really begged for anything or became a nuisance to my parents about stupid plastic shit. If they got me something, great, it always surprised me because I always expected nothing. We lived poor, specially here in America, because they both couldn't speak English or had any real education to garner them a descent paying job that wasn't factory related. So while everyone was wearing fancy new clothes every year or week, I wore the same clothing articles every week and the same sole pair of shoes until a hole would develop. We shopped at the thrift store, I got free lunches at school, we had bedbugs once, while all three of us slept in a tiny bedroom... Yes, my parents and I shared a tiny bedroom. I slept on a sandwich bed with my suitcase containing all my clothes right under it, while my parents slept in a full size bed right next to me. My dad stepped out every time, I needed to get dressed and that is how I spent my freshman year in New York, because my mother had to bring me to live with him, because her work visa was about to expire and the United States declined her immigration paperwork from obtaining legal residency. Through all of that, I never once complained, felt embarrassed about myself or whined about the situation, except for the bedbugs, because I was allergic and truly was traumatizing. Here's the thing, since the age of 4, 9, and 14, I knew I wanted more for myself, but I didn't shout it or talk about it. Quite honestly, I didn't really know how to come up with a plan or what I really needed to be doing or thinking about doing. But at the age of 14, I knew I needed a job and that's what I did. I got my first job at 14 years old, which allowed me to buy my first two pairs of converse and a new outfit. I moved out of the tiny bedroom and crashed at my cousin's in Bronx. At the age of 16, I was attending school full time, playing sports, dancing, and working full time. I paid my own rent, phone and phone bill. I bought my own food and did my own homework and most of the time any group assignments were handled by me and me only. I will never forget the I went to school all day, went to work till 11pm, just to get home, shower, and write a paper all night. My roommate felt so bad for me she tried to stay up even though she couldn't help me. She obviously crashed at some point but I stayed up all night and when my alarm went off, my roommate woke up and asked if I got it done and I literately just finished. I didn't sleep at all and had to get up, get dressed and go to school and do it all over again. That is how I spent my high school years. Busting my ass to provide for myself, because even when I tried living with my dad for a couple of months at my mom's request, he was never home to do any parenting. He had no idea how I was doing school, what I was doing or if I was even okay? I mean my mother only left the country forever. Once I moved out of the home, I walked away from my immediate family forever. Once I joined the Marine Corps, I walked away from my entire family forever. I don't like negative energy around me. When I was little and younger, I simply stayed quiet and minded my own business because the little assistance I did get from any family member was huge and again I was in no position to truly be begging or complaining about shit to anyone. The Marine Corps broke me down to the bare minimum. Translation: The only thing that remained the same was my skin and bones. My mindset was reset, my body was transformed and my mentality reached a new level of potential. No one could stand in my way and I was a bad motherfucking Marine. I accomplished things I had honestly didn't even know existed. I was as unexperienced as anyone could be to join the military but I did it and I regret nothing. I met some amazing people and established a true foundation of a person I would be proud to say I am. Of course, fast forward from 2012 to 2021 and I've endured a lot of heart, mind, and body fucking changing events. But I am here standing, well sitting and typing this for you, so I managed to surpass all of it. Of course, not without some damn struggling, mind altering, mind fucking, mental health destroying shit, but here I am nonetheless. This is Melianne Hernandez. Call me Mel for short. I sit here today, proud of everything that I have endured from betrayals, heartbreak, physical, mental and financial abuse, mental health problems and career-life altering experiences, but I am here. Alive to say, things will get better. They will not happen overnight and it will takes weeks, months, maybe even years for some of you and that is just the plain truth. I am 26 years old. I reached my dream job that I had to walk away from because of the trauma I endured, which left me incapable of separating my personal life from work. I then dove into my second dream job, which I had to just walk away from because of a physical injury that continued to be reinsured and wouldn't get better by staying in that line of work. Now, I have begun my third career, which I honestly believe will be my sweet spot until I complete my bachelor's degree next year and then work on my master's to allow me to fully pursue the ultimate sweet spot. To help each and every student and/or adult that allows and permits me to listen, guide and watch them grow and rebuild a new version of themselves so that they can also begin to enjoy their life, for real this time. I've been on this journey for so long, but I keep reminding myself because of all the life altering events that take place, which tend to make you forget why you're even doing this shit half of the time. I finally know and understand my standards as a woman, human being and an adult. I am setting the bar, rules and momentum. I am focused, determined and obsessed in enjoying every bit of this journey. So here is to all my crazy people who are fighting to find their own way in this crazy world we live in...keep it going!