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I would like to share my personal experience and how education has empowered me to make radical changes in my life. I guess at first I had not made that connection, probably because sometimes we take things for granted. But now I understand how important my formal education has been for all that I’ve accomplished. Here goes my story; you be the judge.
Almost two years ago, I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life. I had recently turned 40, and as I looked back, I realized I was not happy with the place I was. I had not pursued many of my dreams, either because I thought I wasn’t ready, or felt I needed to sacrifice them to make my life as a wife and a mother “work.” In other words, I had sacrificed who I am to make others happy. The problem with that equation is that when you are not happy with yourself, there is no way you can make anybody else happy. The truth of the matter, each and every one of us is responsible for their own happiness.
One of the key dreams I had postponed was writing a book. That was something I dreamt of since my teen years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Communication with a major in Journalism. However, I never worked as a journalist. As soon as I graduated, I started working in other fields because I was so anxious to start making money so I could get married. Then one thing led to another, and years went by and I never pursued my dream of writing. As I read other authors, I even often wondered what I had to share with the world that could make a difference. Was it truly worth it to publish? What could I contribute?
Now I realize sometimes we are our worst enemies, by thinking we are not good enough or that we don’t deserve what we desire. Fortunately, in the midst of my depression, I began writing. Suddenly, I felt empowered. My emotional state shifted, and I felt strong enough to face decisions I had been postponing for too long. I quit my job, ended my marriage which had not been working for many years, became a certified Reiki Healer, moved to the US (which was one of those dreams I had given up early on), and wrote my first novel, “El Experimento Chicago”, which won an International Latino Book Award this year.
Once I accepted who I was, and loved myself just as I am, everything changed for the better. Part of that freedom comes from the fact that I had an education, which allowed me to move away and star anew, to find a new job, and to work on my passion. Education opens doors which are sometimes not obvious at first, but that pay off in the long run.
As Latinas, we sometimes feel discouraged about pursuing an education because we might feel there are not as many opportunities for us out there. Or sometimes our upbringing might put emphasis on the importance of getting married and having a family. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to get married, but that should not keep us from getting an education and conquering new horizons for us. We can achieve anything we invest our effort into if we believe in ourselves. Education is another tool to get there. Don’t limit yourself! Embrace your potential!
Yolanda Betancourt was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1974. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Public Communications from the University of Puerto Rico. I am a Reiki Level III (Okuden) healer, blogger, and writer. But above all, I seek every day to get closer to that inner being which permeates inside all of us and makes us ONE with the Universe. You can follow her on: her blog, Facebook, and YouTube.