How ‘Finding Nemo’ taught me more in 5 Seconds than any psychology book ever did

By Juan S

I’m always smiling, but I wasn’t always like this. For the most part I was shy, quiet, and scared of trying something new. Now I’m nothing like I was before. What helped me breakout of my shell was to finally not care about my immigration status. Yet, behind this smile and positive attitude remain my insecurities, depression, and anger.

I was born in Puebla, Mexico. Me and my parents came to the U.S close to 19 years ago. Yup, a long long time ago. My memories of Puebla are based on the stories narrated by my father and mother. Like the story where a dog would play with me and drag me by my diaper

I figured I was undocumented when I was in 8th or 9th grade. I just remember thinking I was weird, but it didn’t bother me. As time passed on it seemed like being undocumented was a sin. For a while I hid my status. But after years of not saying a word I finally had enough. I didn’t care anymore. When my friends found out, they were all very supportive. Sure they asked questions, but that was it. It was as if they didn’t care I was undocumented. I will always thank them for that.

I wish I could go back. I wish my parents could go back. That’s what kills me the most. It kills me that my parents cannot go back and see their families. As much as I’m frustrated angry, sad, or depressed about my status, I have it easy. I can come home and kiss my parents every day. My parents can’t. It’s been so long since they’ve seen their families. A couple of months ago my father’s grandma (my great-grandma) died. I’ve never seen him cry with such sadness. Seeing my dad cry like that made me sad, depressed, and extremely angry. All I could say was “Todo va estar bien. Por algo pasan las cosas.” (Everything is going to be all right. Things happen for a reason)

It angers me of that my status limits what I can or cannot do. I can’t get financial aid or get internships that would help build my resume (I’m an engineering major) for future employment. Even when I graduate, I don’t know I’m going to do because I cannot be legally employed. Maybe I’ll stay here. Maybe I’ll go back to Mexico. Maybe I’ll go to another country.

But for now I will remain smiling and make the best out of my situation.

Dory from Finding Nemo said it best “When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?  . . . Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.”

We will keep swimming, even when it seems impossible.

Juan S is an electrical engineer major planning to transfer from a CCSF to a four year institution. A community/student organizer in San Francisco, he also likes sports (especially baseball, college wrestling, and brazilian jiu jitsu), music, and tattoos. He eats a ridiculous amount of food for such a tiny person. He also like hugs and stuffed animals. Seriously.


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