As a child I wondered
Who the woman I would become
Would be like?
At eleven I learned
How to carry myself in public,
At thirteen I felt certain
I already knew myself,
By sixteen I felt wise,
At eighteen I was freed,
And at twenty one I realized
Thirteen year old me
Was really just a child
Masquerading as a self actualized adult.

I stumbled through
The next eight years
Coming to terms with
My adolescence
Trying to embody this adult
I had always tried to be.
At some point I realized
My mind spent too much time
Reliving my past
As though trying to find something
That was never missing.

Today I am twenty nine,
And I can say with certainty
The woman I am today
Is the one
Eleven year old me would be proud of,
Thirteen year old me would dismiss as boring,
Sixteen year old me would imitate,
Eighteen year old me would be skeptical of,
Twenty one year old me would be excited for.

I am a mosaic of my past
That has come to represent
Someone that is still the same
And so very different at the same time.

This birthday feels like
A placeholder
An antecedent
To the next stage in my life
Where I’ll share my life with someone else
Hopefully live as part of a family.

-Vanessa Hernandez

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