Different Path, Same Destination: My Story by Hugo Vera


Growing up, I was always inspired by the works of Sandra Cisneros. Like Cisneros, I too come from a Mexican-American background. Growing up as a Chicano, I have had first-hand experiences with the belief that Mexican men are supposed to be intimidating, strong, and respected at all times. My parents have two sons and one daughter. As the oldest son, I was always expected to live up to my father’s expectations. What I did not know was that what my father had expected from me differed greatly from what I wanted to be. My father grew up a popular, athletic child. He loved to play baseball and to spend time with friends. I was the opposite. I grew up a very unpopular, chubby child with no athletic desire whatsoever. My father tried desperately to get me to love soccer, but failed. I played city-soccer for two years. And during my soccer career, I was always benched for as long as the coaches were allowed to. It was humiliating. Not to mention, I was a “geek.” I spent my free hours playing Lego Star Wars: The Videogame (but rest assured, I do not regret doing so in the slightest). I combed my hair over to the point that my father once rolled his eyes and said, “Son, maybe the boys at school would stop picking on you if you didn’t look like a dork.” That hurt; a lot. That was when I knew it was time to show my father that he doubted the wrong man. I wanted to see him regret those words and I would. I joined the wrestling team during junior high, and kept on wrestling for six years. In the process of becoming a wrestler, I slimmed down. I won two championships (boy, did those make my father proud). I became active in high school activities. I was an officer in four clubs. I was the President of the Creative Writing Club, I was on Class Council, I participated in “Youth & Government: Mock Legislature and Court” at my local YMCA, and all of my high school achievements culminated with me being inducted into The 2014 Irvington High School “Viking Top Ten” (An annual honor awarded to the ten seniors with the most achievements and school contributions). My father and I are much closer now. We have a new level of respect for each other, and we have reconciled after he called me a “dork.” At first I wanted only to win my father’s admiration and approval. Instead, I earned the much more valuable asset of his respect. I love my father and he is my personal hero. However, we both agree now that no father should ever belittle his own son, motivation or not. I became just as admired and accomplished as my father. But it did not result from me trying to be the child my father had been growing up. It resulted from me accepting who I was, and by carrying out my own plan. My message to young boys everywhere is this: strive to be the best human being you can be, but always be mindful that in the end, the only expectations you need to live up to are your own. Thank you for teaching me this. Dad, I love you.


Hugo Vera: Eagle Scout. Wrestler. Journalist. Writer. Irvington High School Alumni. Comes from Mexican and German descent. Freshman. Go Spartans! 


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