Dark Clouds With A Silver Lining
By Chenicia Cummings
I wrote this piece because I know how difficult it can be to succeed when dealing with unfortunate circumstances, like death or teenage pregnancy. It’s assumed that these events are setbacks. I want people to know that despite hardship and difficulties, they can achieve anything.
It all started on the day Erica was born. Life changed drastically. I gave birth to my child at the vulnerable age of seventeen. Erica came into my life, and it forced me to take on the roles and responsibilities of motherhood. My dreams, goals, and aspirations of becoming a social worker felt impossible to achieve with a baby. I struggled with being a teenager, and a parent to her.
So much happened after Erica was born. My body physically changed. I lost friends, and my grades dropped. I went from being a student who received A’s and B’s, to a student who could barely pass any of her classes. I felt as if I wasn’t good at anything anymore, and as if my life would never get better. It felt as if one negative thing occurred after another.
My senior year in high school was somewhat of a turning point. I brought my grades up and came to the realization that there was hope for me to achieve my goal of becoming a social worker after all. I was also accepted into college. I had joy.
I am from a low-income family, and I always thought it would be impossible for me to make it out of my neighborhood. Few people have. There were many times throughout my four years at Rider University where I felt like dropping out. I worried about caring for my daughter. I struggled with giving in to my family’s expectation to fail. Hardly anyone ever makes it from where I’m from. College was just too hard, or at least that’s the excuse they’d always give. I didn’t want to be like them. I wanted to be better, for me, and for my daughter.
Erica helped me to stay in college, and she showed me that despite having her, I was still capable of making something out of myself.
While traveling home for Thanksgiving break, every college student’s favorite time of the year, I got into a car accident that injured me and killed my daughter. The loss left me lost for words. I felt I had no reason to live. My daughter was gone.
I came to a crossroads: stay in college or drop out. I wanted to do the latter. The pain of losing my daughter was too much, but I also knew that she wouldn’t want me to give up, especially during my last year in school, so I stayed.
Being in college after losing my daughter was even harder than being there and taking care of her. I knew I had to be the first one in my family to finish, and that I also had to be an inspiration for the other children in my community. I wanted them to know that you can make it out of the hood and accomplish something for yourself. And despite what I had been through, I pushed myself to graduation. I did what no one in my family and community had done. I know I made Erica proud. As I delivered my valedictorian speech, I told everyone in the room, “If I can do it, then you can do it too.” I never thought that I would get to achieve my dreams having had a teenage pregnancy. Having my daughter ensured that I did. No matter what has happened in your past, you can accomplish anything you put your mind to.
Chenicia Cummings is a class of 2020 Girls Write Now mentee based in Brooklyn, NY.